Esfandiari and Laak to star in Underground Poker

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Poker pros, and longtime friends, Phil Laak and Antonio Esfandiari are taking another shot at television with a new show called Underground Poker.  The Discovery Channel will air the pilot episode Wednesday September 10 at 10 pm ET/PT.

The show promises to be unlike the typical poker program.  The Discovery Channel bills the show as:

Two poker legends and best friends, Phil Laak and Antonio Esfandiari, travel to the Big Easy looking for the perfect game — Cards, gumbo, booze, and voodoo… and a recluse named Neighborscheig.”

The basic premise is that the two poker pros travel to different cities to find private, underground games.

Esfandiari talked to PokerNews and revealed many things about the show. For example, that the games are ‘real poker games, none of the poker is staged”and that they meet some interesting characters along the way.

The banter between Laak and Esfandiari that poker fans have seen when the two have appeared on televised poker programs is very evident and more likely even more likely on the new programme.

Underground Poker grew from a conversation on the set of Runner, Runner.  Laak and Esfandiari had cameos in the film and became friends with producer Jennifer Killoran.  She thought the pros should have a show and eventually made it happen.

The production company shot the pilot episode in New Orleans in August 2013.

Only one show has been shot. According to Esfandiari more episodes are planned if the show does well.

Esfandiari revealed that the evolution of the show was fairly unique. First it started a as a five-minute teaser, which quickly more than doubled to 13 minutes. Before long, the production company decided to put together a full pilot, which was shot in August 2013 in New Orleans.

“The end goal is the show does well, people like it, and we can do more episodes,”said Esfandiari. “So right now it’s just the one show that we shot, and when they air it we’ll see how it goes.”

Laak says that finding the right game was one of the hardest parts. The producers had worked with local bloggers and poker players and the two pros did some legwork themselves.

They eventually found a $1/$2 game with a $100 buy in.  Laak says that Esfandiari initially didn’t want to play the game, but Laak professes to love “super-small”stakes games.

He also lets viewers know that the half-hour program features only a hand full of actual poker hands.

If the show does well and is picked up as a series the two expect to travel throughout the US and maybe other countries to shot episodes.  They are hoping the poker community gets behind the show.

Both pros plan to live Tweet during the first broadcast of the programme.