Poker Million Is Back And Better Than Ever
Will it be a pro who emerges victorious like 2007 winner Joe Beevers or will an amateur take the title, like 2006 winner Rajesh Modha or 2005 winner Tony Jones?
The heats will be filmed over eight days from the 22nd to the 29th of July, then the remaining players return in December for the Semi-Finals & Final Table which will be broadcast live on Sky Sports across three consecutive nights in December.
The structure of the tournament is simple. There are twelve six player heats with the winner from each going through to the semi-finals. The second place finisher in each heat play two satellites and the winner of each goes through. These fourteen players will be joined by two more players in the semi finals – How these players qualify will be announced by Ladbrokes in September. Then an elite six will make it to the final table.
Assessing the field
Ladbrokes offered a market on the tournament and placed Julian Gardner as the favourite. A big compliment for the Mancunian player, but one he definitely deserves. Julian doesn't seem to play as many tournaments as some of his peers, but when he does he is feared at the table.
From across the pond, Mike 'The Mouth' Matusow will make the trip over the Atlantic, along with Phil 'Unabomber' Laak and his fiancé Jennifer Tilly.
The British charge is led by in form players Neil Channing and Julian Thew. The ever-dangerous Roland de Wolfe is sure to be in the mix, along with Devilfish and the full compliment of Hendon Mobsters.
The Scandinavians will be out in force led by Juha Helppi, Andreas Hoivold, Theo Jorgensen and teenage sensation Annette Obrestad.
And don't forget the Irish in the shape of the gentleman Liam Flood, Ciaran O'Leary and the father and son combination of Donnacha and Eoghan O'Dea.
With so many good players, every heat is looking like a tough one and it's difficult to even try and pick a winner.
If there's a heat of death it would probably be heat 10 or 11. The tenth heat sees 2007 winner Joe Beevers face a re-match against last year's runner up Marty Smith, who will be sporting some new wristwear courtesy of his WSOP win. Another bracelet winner, the newly slimline Mike Matusow takes his place in this tough heat along with inaugural Poker Million Champion John Duthie.
The eleventh heat is perhaps even tougher to call. Ram Vaswani is the bookies favourite and he is joined by the irrepressible Tony G and internet sensation Annette Obrestad. With three such aggressive players, fireworks are sure to ensue, but don't rule out Stuart Fox, Eoghan O'Dea or John Magill.
But perhaps the best TV of all, but probably for all the wrong reasons will be the celebrity heat. Former England striker Teddy Sheringham at least has some experience in these six seater shootouts and snooker player Steve Davis is a veritable poker veteran these days, after his second cash in the main event in three years. However one can only speculate on the complex strategic play that may ensue between luxuriously sideburned comedian Dave Gorman and lads favourite Abi Titmuss. The celeb heat is rounded off by DJ and presenter Max Rushden and actor Charlie Condou (no, me neither).
With so many great players in the Poker Million is impossible to even start to predict what is going to happen. What is for certain is that we are in for some great play, with the heats as compelling viewing and the live semis and final in December on Sky Sports again set to be an unmissable poker event.