Underground Poker TV Show Axed After Just One Episode

Antonio Esfandiari has confirmed the news that Discovery Channel has axed the poker reality TV show Underground Poker. The show, which featured well-known poker players, Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari and Phil “The Unabomber” Laak, documented private high-stakes underground poker games in America.

The Underground Poker show had plans of going around the country to give viewers a taste of what playing underground poker games was all about, however, unfortunately viewers won’t be able to now given that future episodes of Underground Poker have been ditched.

Regulars of the Two Plus Two poker forum may not be that surprised about the premature axing of the show. Even though Esfandiari always denied the show wasn’t scripted as that wouldn’t portray a very authentic depiction of underground poker games, the reaction from many forum members was that the acting in the first episode looked to be very fake and scripted. Considering the fact that underground poker games are raided frequently it’s hard to imagine that many hosts of private games would be that happy about being on camera and having their games televised for the world to see.

The idea for the reality poker TV show was conceived a few years ago, when Esfandiari and Laak met Jennifer Killoran during the production of Runner Runner. They did a cameo role in the movie and spent 15 hours or so just doing a single scene which never actually made the final cut.

Killoran, who was the executive producer of the film, thought Antonio and Laak were hilarious on the set and they quickly developed a close friendship. According to Killoran, it was apparent that both of them had fantastic chemistry, which is a vital ingredient in the success of a reality TV show, and so it wasn’t very long before they discussed the concept of Underground Poker and went about bringing it to the small screen.

In 2013 they put together the pilot episode which was produced in New Orleans where the duo went about searching private high stakes poker games to play in and televised a few of the hands that they played. The idea wasn’t meant to emulate other poker shows, the first pilot episode only showed around five hands. Emphasis was clearly on depicting the underground poker scene.

The first episode went to air on Wednesday September 10 as part of the All-In, All-Night series. The end goal was to see how well the first show was received by the audience with the aim of playing in other underground poker games in different cities around the country. But it goes without saying that Discovery Channel were unimpressed by the pilot episode.

Even with this being the case, both Esfandiari and Laak haven’t given up on the idea that the unique reality poker show might have a future on another network. Both poker pros have featured on High Stakes Poker and Poker After Dark and the filming of Underground Poker just adds a little bit more experience to both of their TV careers.

There is no no denying the fact that the two poker players both are very interesting characters in their own right and great for TV, so it’s not unthinkable that another network would give their show the go ahead, although they would still need to convince some viewers about the show’s authenticity.

Esfandiari conceded that “With any TV series the first show is never going to be great. If we had a full season I think we could deliver a great product,” and although the show wasn’t picked up by Discovery, Antonio and his partner in crime are still optimistic about the show’s future and think that there is a pretty good chance that it will get picked up elsewhere.