The Taping of the second season of Celebrity took place over two weekends at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas. Each weekend they filmed two separate tournaments that consisted of five preliminary matches and one final match. Each tournament will be edited into six two-hour episodes which will be broadcast weekly. Each episode of "Celebrity Poker Showdown" features five celebrities competing against each other for a piece of the $250,000 Cingular Wireless prize pool in a game of No Limit Texas Hold'em poker for the charity of their choice. Each week a new crop of stars takes to the table to challenge their peers. The winner from each week's game will go on to compete in the championship final sixth episode and then a new tournament will begin all over again with twenty five new celebrities. I chose to attend the second weekend of taping.
Arriving at the Palms
The first tournament was scheduled to tape at noon on Friday. I arrived at the Palms Casino at 11 am for what would turn out to be a very long and exciting weekend getting first hand knowledge of the work involved in the taping of a poker tournament. Associate Producer Julie Slotnik Strum had left my media pass at the front desk with instructions for contacting her when I arrived. I called Julie and proceeded to the Key West Room at the Palms where the tournament would be taped. There was already a line of 50 or more spectators waiting to get in to take a seat for the taping. There was a sign on the door stating that taping was in progress. Julie met me a few minutes later and explained that they were in the process of taping celebrity interviews that would be edited into the show and some promos that would be broadcast on Bravo during the upcoming season. She suggested that we should wait in the Green Room until it was time for the first tournament.
The Green Room is a term used for the place where celebrities wait before making their way on stage or rather in this case there way to their seat at the poker table. The room was located in the lounge behind the bar near the entrance to the Palms. There was a large guard at the entrance to insure that no unauthorized people entered. Julie escorted me in and introduced me to Dan Silberman, Press Manger for NBC (The Bravo Network is owned by NBC) who would answer any of my questions during the weekend. In the center of the room was a poker table set up with lights all around it.
Dan explained that the table was set up for the celebrities to practice playing Texas Holdem during the weekend before their scheduled tournaments. The lights were there to simulate the conditions they would be playing under during the taping. Seated at the table was Country Music star Travis Tritt, actors Sean Astin, Matthew Perry, Rosario Dawson, and football great, Jerome Bettis. Pro Poker player Phil Gordon was giving them some instructions and advice for playing No Limit Texas Holdem. There were several other stars relaxing at the tables in the room waiting for a turn at the practice poker table. As the time for the tournament approached, all the celebrities scheduled for the first match were escorted from the green room to the set in the Key West Room.