HPT’s 8th Season Debuts Today
Phil Hellmuth Joins National Weekly Broadcasts
Fargo, North Dakota (May 3,2012)- Heartland Poker Tour, the nationally-syndicated poker show produced out of Fargo, North Dakota, debuts its eighth season today on 250 TV stations across North America. HPT airs a thousand times per week, 52 weeks each year and is available to over 100 million U.S. households. New inSeason VIII, eleven-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth will join the broadcast each week as host of the pro tips segment. The “Poker Brat” is undeniably one of the most recognizable and accomplished players in the industry.
“Throughout eight years in the business, we’ve been fortunate to work with many of the legends of the game,” said Co-Founder Greg Lang. Greg “Fossilman” Raymer and Daniel “Kid Poker” Negreanu have both hosted the pro tips in previous seasons.
Longtime on-air partners Fred Bevill and Chris Hanson are back at the broadcast desk. The pair will commentate their 200th episode of HPT this July from Route 66 Casino in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The entire Dakota-based crew “family” travels together from coast-to-coast offering poker fans a moment of glory on national TV. Tour stops in 2012 include Florida, Oklahoma, Missouri, Nevada, Colorado, Minnesota, Indiana, New Mexico, New York and Iowa.
The overall look of the show has changed dramatically since the first episode was produced in Minnesota in 2005. “Advancements in technology, investment in equipment and an experienced production team keep the show evolving,” said Bevill, who also produces each episode in addition to his on-air role. HPT is now filmed with thirteen high-definition cameras on three different sets. Creating thirty to forty original episodes per season, HPT is one of the largest producers of poker content in the world.
“The appetite for HPT programming continues to grow,” said HPT Director of TV Distribution Mark Schlader. “Stations and viewers recognize HPT as a high-quality and compelling show.” HPT typically draws a .15 rating nationwide.
Viewers can now catch the action at the felt three different ways. In addition to the hour-long episodes airing on popular networks such as MAVTV, Comcast Sports, and Altitude, HPT recently added live coverage on HPTpoker.com. Fans of the show can log on and view the director’s cut as the show is being filmed. HPT’s Jaymz Larson hosts the web stream and calls the action at the Final Table. Viewers can expect improvements and upgrades to the live coverage throughout the season.
By popular request, HPTpoker.com also now offers full-length episodes on demand at no charge. All thirty episodes of Season VII are currently available online. Season VIII episodes will be released on HPTpoker.com two weeks after broadcasting nationwide.
As new episodes begin to air this week, viewers will see some familiar faces at the felt. Will Failla, World Poker Tour Player of the Year, takes down a tournament at River City Casino in St Louis as Hellmuth and pro Allen “Chainsaw” Kessler cheer him on. In Las Vegas, 2011 World Series of Poker November Niner Phil Collins beats out the most-accomplished Final Table in HPT history. The six players at the table have combined lifetime winnings of over $20 million.
Although high-profile A-listers play HPT tournaments, the grassroots tour largely attracts recreational players. Founded in 2005 by Lang and Todd Anderson, HPT carved a niche in the industry by catering to the casual player. "We get them out of the garage game, into the casino, and on TV," says Anderson. At every stop, hundreds of players compete for one of six coveted spots at the televised Final Table and "life-changing" money, typically six figures for first place. To date, HPT has awarded $34.6 million and crowned 103 champions.
A couple of stars from Middle America emerge early in the season, such as the tattooed Dr. Gary Lambert, a chiropractor from Quincy, Illinois known as “Lambo”. The 47-year-old father of six has made two Final Tables since filming for Season VIII began in January. He currently leads HPT’s Player of the Year race.
Plumber Terry Presley of Huntsville, Arkansas also gets a lot of national TV exposure in Season 8. An early frontrunner for POY, Presley comes out on top in Oklahoma and earns a spot at the Final Table again in Las Vegas. “Presley and Lambert are definitely players we’re focusing on in upcoming episodes,” said Bevill, adding, “It’s early in the season. The biggest stars of the year may be players we haven’t met yet.” Filming for Season VIII is ongoing through November. Broadcast and tour information is available at HPTpoker.com.