PCA 2014: Enter the Shark Cage

Every year a meeting is held at PokerStars HQ. Behind steel doors and amid teams of people in orange boiler suits driving around on monorails, a group of creative types meet to brainstorm ideas that are, if not off the wall are off two walls, the result of which is taking centre stage today.

The Shark Cage is the latest creation by those bidding to add even more drama to a game already full of surprises. But having read the spec and seen the cast list for the first heat they may be on to something.

Here are the details.

The Shark Cage will be a $1 million winner-takes-all freeroll in a double-shootout format. They'll be eight heats, each featuring six players, five being pros or celebrities, with one internet qualifier completing the line-up.

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The first heat is officially under way

None of which explains what sharks and their cages have to do with anything, but a glimpse at the stage makes things a little more obvious. It's here that an enormous--there's no other word for it--cage is perched, looking like something out of a Rutger Hauer prison film set in the future.

In this the main drama will unfold as a player is effectively punished for one orbit for making the wrong decision on the river. Pull off a successful bluff on the river and you're rewarded with extra chips should you reach the final, while your opponent enters the cage. Fail though and it's you that endures this special kind of public humiliation. Frankly, it sounds ridiculous enough to be terrific.

Along with a 30 second shot clock to keep things moving the cast of players will ensure entertainment either way. The first heat is now underway with Phil Laak, Lex Veldhuis, Tony Dunst, Jennifer Harman and Jason Alexander each getting to grips with the qualifier.

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The line up for the first heat

It sounds only vaguely plausible, but we can confirm it's taking place today, to be broadcast later in the year. We can't tell you any results but can be pretty confident in saying it'll be worth the wait. Jason Alexander, in a cage, on TV. What's not to like?

Actually, the only thing that could go wrong is if nobody bluffs.


Follow hand-by-hand coverage of the Super High Roller event on the dedicated $100,000 Super High Roller page. Also watch the action live on EPT Live.

Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter.