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Late Night Poker

Late Night Poker
Late Night Poker logo
Created by Presentable
Starring Jesse May
Nic Szeremeta
Barny Boatman
Lucy Rokach
Victoria Coren
Gary Jones
Richard Orford
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of series 10
Running time 60-90 minutes
Original network Channel 4
Original release 17 July 1999 - 6 December 2011
External links

Late Night Poker is a British television series that helped popularize poker in the 2000s. It used "under the table" cameras that enabled the viewer to see each player's cards. The show became a cult hit on Channel 4 in the UK when it first aired in 1999.

The show originally ran for six series between 1999 and 2002. After a couple of spin-off series, Late Night Poker Ace and Late Night Poker Masters, it returned in 2008.

Late Night Poker 2011

The series returned to Channel 4 for its 10th series in 2011. Sponsored by Gala Coral Group, 32 players competed for the $150,000 first prize. Commentary on the series was provided by two of the UK's top poker professionals, Victoria Coren and James Akenhead.

Some of the top players in action were Luke Schwartz, Roberto Romanello, Vanessa Selbst, Jake Cody, James Bord and Liv Boeree. The field contained five former Late Night Poker champions, Dave Ulliott (also known as Devilfish), Simon Trumper, Padraig Parkinson, Peter Costa and John Duthie.

The series was broadcast on Tuesday nights after midnight from 3 October - 6 December 2011.


Back in 1999, the Cardiff-based television production company Presentable approached Channel 4 with the idea of producing a series in the form of a poker tournament. At the time, poker had never been shown on UK TV. Channel 4 commissioned the series and Late Night Poker was born.

The first series aired in July 1999 and very quickly built a cult audience. Viewers were captivated by the dark, smoky, intimate studio atmosphere and the quirky characters of the professional poker players sat around the table. The variation of poker they were playing was No Limit Texas Hold'Em, a variation relatively unknown in the UK at the time.

The first series was won by Dave Ulliott who became the UK's first poker celebrity. Other players who became regulars on the series included Series 2 winner, Simon Trumper, Surinder Sunar, Liam Flood, Dave Colclough, Kourosh and the 4 players known collectively as the Hendon Mob, Joe Beevers, Barny Boatman, Ross Boatman and Ram Vaswani.

A celebrity version of the show was produced on 12 October 2000, featuring (in finishing order from 1st to 7th place) Anthony Holden, Al Alvarez, Martin Amis, Victoria Coren, Patrick Marber, Stephen Fry and Ricky Gervais. This led into the creation of spin-off series Celebrity Poker Club on Challenge in 2003.

Late Night Poker ran for six series from 1999 until 2002. A couple of spin-off series, Late Night Poker Ace and Late Night Poker Masters were aired between 2005 and 2007. In 2008, Late Night Poker returned for its 7th series and continued annually until 2011.


An integral part of the series were the tournament referee and dealers. From the very start of Late Night Poker, experienced referee, Austrian Thomas Kremser has presided over the action. In the early series, he was accompanied by dealers Marina Kremser and Peter Schmid.

The commentary on Late Night Poker has at times created as much interest as the action on the table. In the first few series, the commentators were Jesse May and Nic Szeremeta. Jesse actually appeared in the first series as a player under the pseudonym "Mickey Dane".

Other commentators in the series have included Barny Boatman, Lucy Rokach, Victoria Coren, Gary Jones and Richard Orford. For the 10th series, the commentators were Victoria Coren and James Akenhead.


In the 10th series, there were four heats of eight players with the players finishing 1st and 2nd in each heat qualifying for the final. The winners of each heat started the final with 50,000 in chips, while the runners-up started with 30,000 in chips. Each of the heats and final was shown across 2x 60 minute programmes - 10 programmes in total.

Most of the previous series of Late Night Poker consisted of 9 programmes - 7 heats, one semi-final, and the final. Each heat had seven players. The seven winners of the heats progressed straight to the final, and the runners-up went to the semi-final, where one additional player progresses, for a final table of 8 players.

(NB: The first series featured five heats, with the players finishing 1st and 2nd in each progressing to the final. The players who qualified by finishing first in their heat started the final with twice as many chips as the heat runner-ups.)

Although the precise sums of money involved have varied, the typical buy-in has been in the region of £1,500, with a first prize of between £40,000 and £60,000. In recent years, the buy-in had considerably increased. In the 10th series, the buy-in was $10,000 creating a prize pot of $320,000 with the winner banking $150,000.

Under-the-table cameras

Late Night Poker's success is largely attributable to its "under-the-table" cameras (later known as hole cams) which allowed the viewers and commentators to see the players' cards through the transparent table. It is doubtful poker could succeed as a spectator sport otherwise, but American broadcasters have subsequently used a similar technique in programmes such as World Poker Tour.

Nevertheless, in contrast to most Poker shows, in its early series, Late Night Poker tended to use these cameras in a rather minimalist way. For example, in a two-way pot, often only one player's cards were shown, with the commentators trying to infer from the other player's actions what cards he or she held, and how the first player should act. Because of this, the commentary often mirrored the actual decision-making process of a Poker player. Only late in the hand, at the time of a critical decision, would the other player's cards be shown, possibly revealing a startling bluff or an unexpectedly strong hand.


The original 6 series of Late Night Poker did not have a sponsor. However, with the creation of online poker came online poker companies and sponsored players, by the mid 2000s, most TV poker shows were sponsored by one of these online companies.

The Late Night Poker spin-off series, Late Night Poker Ace and Late Night Poker Masters and Series 7 of Late Night Poker were sponsored by PartyPoker. Series 8 and 9 of Late Night Poker were sponsored by Full Tilt Poker. Series 10 was sponsored by Coral.

Series finalists

Season Winner Prize Runner-Up 3rd place
1 Dave Ulliott £40,000 Peter Evans Dave Welch
2 Simon Trumper £40,000 Ross Boatman Ram Vaswani
3 Phil Hellmuth, Jr. £45,000 Adam Heller Paul Alterman
4 Hemish Shah £50,000 Simon Trumper Barny Boatman
5 Padraig Parkinson £50,000 Korosh Nejad Joe Beevers
6 Peter Costa £60,000 Jin Cai Lin Lucy Rokach
Ace 1 John Shaw £50,000 Hung Luc Miles Adam
Ace 2 Raul Mestre $50,000 Simon Ehne Michiel Van Woerden
Masters David Tighe $100,000 Simon Ehne Barny Boatman
7 Andreas Jorbeck $125,000 Roland De Wolfe Andy Black
8 Huck Seed $200,000 Gus Hansen Annette Obrestad
9 John Duthie $200,000 Phil Ivey Carlos Mortensen
10 Sam Holden $150,000 Luke Schwartz Rob Okell