About Us

About the Pro-Am Poker Equalizer

The Pro-Am Poker Equalizer is a unique tournament featuring an exciting mix of professional poker players and celebrity enthusiasts playing for a first-place prize worth $500,000.

Filmed at the South Coast Casino in Las Vegas, each episode features six players (four professionals and two amateurs) playing in a six-handed Sit & Go tournament. The winner of each game will advance to the next round and play for a chance to take home the $500,000 prize.

So, what’s the “Equalizer”?

Because they’re professionals, it’s safe to assume that players like Phil Ivey, Chris Ferguson, and Howard Lederer might have an advantage over their celebrity competition. With that in mind, we have handicapped each of the pros in this tournament by forcing them to start with only 100,000 chips, while each celebrity will be given 150,000 chips with which to play.

A Brief History of Poker

Poker is an ancient game with a distinguished history. The first four-suited deck of cards was created in Islamic communities sometime before the 10th century. Some scholars speculate that these cards made their way from Persia to France via the sailing trade. Regardless of how they ended up in France, that’s where many of the features of the current card deck originated. The French re-cast the deck in the image of their own royalty, changing the original deck’s “court-cards” to kings, queens, and jacks.

From France, these cards leapfrogged to the most likely possible spot in the United States – New Orleans. With its vibrant French influence and bustling port, New Orleans provided the perfect hotbed for an explosion of card games. It was here, in the 1800s, that a recognizable ancestor of modern-day poker first appeared, although the decks only had 20 cards, and many of the rules were different. This game took off on the Mississippi riverboats that plied their way up and down the American heartland – thus spreading poker throughout America.

In the following 100 years, poker’s popularity increased, although there were some changes along the way. The 20-card deck became a 52-card deck, and new combinations of cards were added to possible winning hands. In addition, new forms of the game were developing: stud poker, lowball, and split-pot games. It wasn’t until the 1960s, however, that poker’s most popular current variation arrived – Texas Hold ’em. This is the type of poker that you’ll be seeing in the Pro-Am Poker Equalizer.

Modern tournament play became popular in American casinos after the World Series of Poker (WSOP) began, also in the 1960s. However, while poker was popular in the casinos, it wasn’t until the late 1990s that it exploded into the American mainstream. The invention of the hole-card camera turned the game into a spectator sport, so broadcasts of the WSOP secured a huge TV audience. Then, in 1998, the poker film Rounders captured America’s imagination just as Internet poker rooms began to flourish, making the game accessible to millions of players who would otherwise have to travel to gambling meccas like Las Vegas and Atlantic City to find a game.

While these developments helped spur the game’s growth, poker’s next big boom can be attributed to a former accountant from Tennessee named Chris Moneymaker. Moneymaker won the 2003 WSOP Main Event and $2.5 million in prize money after earning his tournament seat through a $40 online qualifier tournament. With the “Moneymaker effect” in full swing, the WSOP quickly grew to become the richest sporting event in the world, with the 2006 Main Event featuring more than 8,600 players and boasting a total prize pool of more than $86 million.

Poker’s history is as colorful as the men and women who have played the game for the past century and its popularity shows no signs of waning anytime soon. We expect that its future remains as bright as the professionals and celebrities who will be matching wits during the coming weeks of play on the Pro-Am Poker Equalizer.