Keenan Constance

First Look at the New Poker Series That's Changing the Game

Get ready for heartbreaking and inspiring real-life gambling stories on 'Hand Histories'

One of the reasons the World Cup is such an international phenomenon—besides the obvious nationalism that allows fans to root for their teams with fervent intensity—is the fact soccer is one of those sports with so much tension that all it takes is a few minutes to get a casual passerby invested, with or without knowing the rules. Poker works the same way.

Anyone who’s ever been to a casino knows the appeal of walking by a table full of gamers with white knuckles, gripping two cards while smoking and sweating. The tension is palpable, and onlookers start to gather by the dozen. In the last couple of decades, poker has exploded on the national scene, televised on networks like ESPN. If you’re anything like me, you’ve found yourself battling insomnia, enraptured by an all-in bet on cable TV at 3 a.m. And, like the World Cup, a fundamental understanding of rules is optional.
Whether they play for the titles or the prize money, the turn of a card can bring the highest high or the lowest low for an individual poker player.
Poker’s popularity has led to a generation of superstars like Phil Ivey and Erik Seidel. The thirst for watching more poker has even led to the launch of networks like Poker Central, where diehards can get their fixes every second of the day. Much of the network appeals to those fully entrenched in the poker lifestyle—the online players, the casino-goers and the people glued to the happenings of every tournament.

However, Poker Central has a new show with wide appeal: Hand Histories. The six-episode documentary series is a retrospective on some of the most miraculous moments in poker history, told by the people who lived them. The most brutal losses, incredible wins and high-octane drama are reenacted in excruciating detail. The beauty of the show is that the stories are told in a way that the hardcore fan who remembers them can get an in-depth look at the thought processes that led to the crucial decisions, including strategies and mistakes that were made, or crucial gut decisions that led to life-changing wins. There’s a lot of insider talk about plans of attack and execution that are worthwhile to take notes about for people trying to win at the next table.
“Whether they play for the titles or the prize money, the turn of a card can bring the highest high or the lowest low for an individual poker player,” says Sam Simmons, vice president of content for Poker Central. “We’re looking forward to sharing with our viewers the visceral stories behind these well-known hands—directly from the players who lived them.”

The first episode features Matt Affleck talking about one of the most tense, improbable moments in World Series of Poker history. If you’re a fan of his, then you know what happened—Affleck had a surefire win in his back pocket that could have won him eight million dollars, only to get one of the unluckiest breaks ever. The eight-minute video is captivating—poker fan or not. Watching people relive the times they screwed away millions of dollars is something that anyone can get behind. Or watching people replay the lucky card that set their family up for generations can sure make you want to have a productive last few hours of work.

The six-part show debuts on OTT subscription service PokerGO on July 23, with additional episodes launching later that week, and the first promo can be seen here. The premiere with Affleck will air for free for a limited time on Poker Central’s YouTube channel, and future episodes feature Daniel Negreanu, Brian Rast, Bryan Piccoli, Joseph Cheong and Jeremy Ausmus. It’ll be the perfect opportunity for fans to fall deep into the YouTube rabbit hole of dramatic poker moments, so kiss your productivity goodbye.

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