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Take one part WPT, mix with twenty-five parts celebrity editions of any game show and reality show you can think of... and you get Celebrity Poker Showdown, a six-part elimination tournament to decide who is the best home-game poker player in Hollywood and win part of a $250,000 prize pool. And it's all for charity, of course.

Recaps by Chris Wolvie, GSNN

Dave Foley and Phil Gordon
EP: Joshua Malina, Marcia Mule, Andrew Hill Newman, Bryan Scott
Packager: Bravo
Airs: Thursdays at 9:00pm ET on Bravo

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Web design by Jason Elliott. Logo by Chico Alexander. 

What follows is a televised-hand-by-televised-hand account.  Obviously, since it's only a two-hour show, most hands are not televised so you're going to see a lot of jumping of the dealer button.

What's a "dealer button"?  What's "all-in"?  What the heck is this weird poker game they're playing?  Well, I'll do my best to give the rookies out there a run-down while maintaining the flow of the hands for the veterans.

Welcome to Las Vegas, Nevada.  What happens there stays there... unless you televise it to a cable and/or satellite audience.   In this case, it's CELEBRITY POKER SHOWDOWN from the Palms Casino.  Five celebs have converged on the poker table to play for their favorite charity.  The winners of each table moves on to the Final Table, where they will play for a $100,000 share of the $250,000 prize pool.

And host Kevin Pollak introduces us to the big five this week:


Hank Azaria
playing for the Alzheimer's Care Committee
Azaria is best known for his animated voice work, specifically from being almost every non-Simpson role in the hit Fox series The Simpsons.  Will he get the others to eat his shorts or will his playing make him go "DOH!"?

Michael Ian Black
playing for Endeavor House
Black has mostly been on short-lived TV shows, but has found a bit of a niche on Comedy Central's Crank Yankers.  Can he truly "call this in" or will he be hung up?

Peter Facinelli
playing for R.P. Foundation
Facinelli has been in films like "Scorpion King" and, recently, was a star on Fox's Fastlane.  Will he drive fast through the other players or will he run straight into a rock of bad hands?

Mo Gaffney
playing for Planned Parenthood Federation
Gaffney had a recurring role on Fox's That 70's Show and has recently on the WB's Run of the House.  Will she have run of the table or will this comedienne be laughed out of the building?

Nicole Sullivan
playing for Alley Cat Allies
After a few voice-acting gigs for Disney, Sullivan landed the role of Holly Shumpert on CBS's King of Queens.  Will she get the Kings and Queens she needs to win this table?

Each celebrity will start with $10,000 worth of chips and the game will continue until one celebrity has all $50,000 and earns the right to play in the Final Table later in the year for a piece of that quarter-million dollar price pool.

No Limit Texas Hold 'Em is the game being played.  A dealer button will be passed around the table after each hand to show the dealer where to start handing out cards (to the right of the button).  The two players to the right of the button post blinds, forced bets to insure there's money in each hand.  Each player is dealt two cards face down, called hole cards, then will either call the highest bet, raise the bet or fold their cards and remove themselves from the hand.  After the bets are in, three community cards, called the flop, are dealt face-up on the table.  After another round of betting (and/or folding), a fourth card is turned up, called the turn.  More bets (and/or folds) are made, then the fifth and final community card, the river or fifth street, is turned up.  After more bets/folds, the best five-card poker hand (made of any combo of the five community cards and the two hole cadrs) wins the pot.  The game is called no limit because, at any time, any celebrity can go all-in and bet all their chips.  But, if they LOSE the hand they go all-in with, they're eliminated from the tournament

At the announcers' position beside the Losers' Lounge are your hosts Kevin Pollack and poker expert Phil Gordon.  They'll be calling the action emanating from the main room and greet those that bust out.

Tournament director and announcer Robert Thompson tells everyone it's time to SHUFFLE UP AND DEAL!

Initial blinds are $100 (SB) and $200 (BB).  The Dealer Button (D) starts on Nicole.

Peter Mo Nicole (D) Michael (SB) Hank (BB)
A? K?   ?????  ????? 7? 7?   ?????
Calls $200 FOLD FOLD Raises to $500 FOLD
Calls $300
Peter has "Big Slick", the best non-paired hand in Hold 'Em.  But Michael's "wired" sevens make him a moderate favorite.
FLOP: 2? J? K?

Michael, the first one after the dealer button who's still in, bets first -->

Bets $500 FOLD
WIN $1,700

After a number more (non-televised) hands, the blinds go up to $200 (SB) and $400 (BB).  Blinds increase during the tournament.

Michael Hank Peter (D) Mo (SB) Nicole (BB)
????? ?????  A? Q? K? 10? Q? 6?
FOLD FOLD Calls $400 Calls $200 CHECK
Mo only had to call $200 because she had $200 bet already in the Small Blind.  Nicole checked, or didn't bet at all, because her Big Blind was $400.
FLOP: Q? J? 2?
Mo has an open-ended straight draw, meaning one of two cards (9 or Ace, in this case) gives her a straight.  Peter and Nicole have flopped the "top pair", pairing a hole card with the top-ranked community card.

Mo bets first this time --->

Bets $2,000 FOLD Calls $2,000
TURN: 9?
Ouch.  Had Mo not been scared off by Peter's big bet, she would have made a straight, and only a King on the river would have had Peter winning the pot from her.
Bets $2,000 FOLD
WIN $5,200


Nicole Michael Hank (D) Peter (SB) Mo (BB)
J? 5? ????? ????? A? 4? A? 6?
Calls $200 FOLD FOLD Raises to $2,000 Calls $1,600
Nicole has a "Motown" hand...as in Jack(s) 'n' Five.
FLOP: 9? 6? 7?

CHECK Bets $600
Raises to $1,200 Calls $600
Peter did a "check-raise".  He checked at first to see what Mo would bet, then raised that bet.  Sometimes, those check-raised against would fold, but Mo felt (correctly) that she has the better hand.  If the raise was more significant, Mo might have folded.
At this point, Peter is "drawing dead".  No card in the deck can help him beat Mo's hand.  Even if an Ace comes on the river to pair Peter's, Mo would have two pair.
Bets $2,000 ALL-IN
Peter's bet is reduced to cover Mo's all-in.
9? 9? A? Q? 7? 9? 9? 6? 6? A?
WIN $9,600


Michael Ian Black $14,400
Peter Facinelli $13,400
Hank Azaria $10,200
Mo Gaffney $9,200
Nicole Sullivan $2,800


Blinds are now up to $300 (SB) and $600 (BB).

Hank Peter Mo (D) Nicole (SB) Michael (BB)
10? 6? A? Q? ????? ????? A? J?
FOLD Raises to $2,000 FOLD FOLD Raises to 4,000
Calls $2,000
The Ace-Queen, or "Big Chick", is far superior to the Ace-Jack, or "Ajax".
FLOP: 4? 2? 8?
Both players have a flush draw.  But Peter's flush, should a heart come off, will be a "nut flush", the best kind of flush one can get.
This is good strategy.  Both were seeing if the other had two hearts in the hole and already had the flush.
Bets 2,000
Calls $2,000
COMMUNITY: 8? 8? K? 4? 2?
Bets $1,000 Calls $1,000
8? 8? A? K? Q? 8? 8? A? K? J?
WIN $14,300
Behold the power of the "kicker", or tie-breaking cards.  Peter and Michael had the same top four cards (pair of eights with Ace-King), but Peter's fifth card beat Micahel's


Peter Mo Nicole (D) Michael (SB) Hank (BB)
K? J? ????? Q? 5? ????? ?????
Calls $600 FOLD ALL-IN
Calls $1,900
Peter is a 62% favorite in this hand.
FLOP: A? Q? 9?
Nicole's ahead with a pair of Queens, but Peter can still catch a King or, better yet, a 10 to make a "Broadway" Ace-high straight.
TURN: 3?
A? A? K? Q? J? A? A? Q? Q? 9?


Michael Hank Peter (D) Mo (SB) Nicole (BB)
10? 3? 6? 5? A? K? 8? 2? A? 10?
FOLD Raises to $2,000 Calls $2,000 FOLD Calls $1,400
Hank and Peter have "suited connectors", which is good in Hold 'Em because you're automatically given a chance for a straight and/or flush draw on the flop.  Too bad for Hank that Peter has the best suited connectors you can get.
FLOP: 6? 8? 5?
Hank has flopped two pair, but Nicole has a flush draw.
Bets $2,000
Calls $2,000 FOLD
TURN: 2?
Calls $1,800
There are eight clubs still in the deck of 36 (excluding "burn cards" before the flop and turn).  She has a 22% chance of making the flush, which is what she MUST get to knock Hank out of the tournament.
6? 6? 5? 5? 8? A? 10? 7? 6? 5?

So Hank, heartbroken that his mother's charity will not be getting a shot at most of the $250,000 prize pool, retreats to the Losers' Lounge and meets with Kevin.  He illustrates with the foam balls in the centerpiece of the table what happened to him: he essentially lost his "nuts".  The Alzheimer's Care Committee does get $5,000 for Hank's participation, but he says, "SCREW that!  I wanted to win!"

Nicole Sullivan $19,100
Peter Facinelli $16,300
Mo Gaffney $7,500
Michael Ian Black $7,100

That's the beauty of No Limit Texas Hold 'Em: in just a few hands, some one can go from "short stacked" to "chip leader" with patience and good cards.  That's why they always say that, as long as you have "a chip and a chair", or money and a seat at a table, you're never out of a tournament.

Blinds are up to $400 (SB) and $800 (BB).

Nicole Michael (D) Peter (SB) Mo (BB)
6? 2? A? 3? 10? 3? A? 9?
FLOP: K? 7? 6?
Nobody HAS to bet after the flop, turn or river unless bets are already made.  Since Peter checked, Mo doesn't have to bet in order to see the turn card.
TURN: 9?
Mo has a pair of 9s...sometimes grotesquely called "German virgin" ("Nein" is German for "no"...you figure out the rest), but Peter has a flush draw.
  CHECK Bets $1,000
Calls $1,000  
COMMUNITY: 9? 9? K? 7? 6?
Mo now has a "set" of 9s, three-of-a-kind.

After more hands, blinds go up to $500 (SB) and $1,000 (BB).

Mo Nicole (D) Michael (SB) Peter (BB)
????? A? 4? ????? Q? 5?
FOLD Calls $1,000 FOLD CHECK
FLOP: Q? 8? 6?
Bets $2,000
  Calls $2,000
TURN: 4?
  Bets $2,000 Calls $2,000
COMMUNITY: Q? 9? 8? 6? 4?
Bets $3,000 FOLD
With the top pair, Peter "mucked" his hand, which means he folded a good hand.  Nicole was bluffing that she was holding a spade flush when all she had was bottom pair.  Nicole was playing by Peter's reactions, not just by her cards.


Nicole Michael (D) Peter (SB) Mo (BB)
A? 7? A? K? ????? 10? 10?
Calls $1,000 ALL-IN
Michael's bet is lowered to cover Mo's all-in.  It's pretty close, despite Mo's pair, since Michael has two "overcards" or cards of higher rank than Mo's.
FLOP: 3? 4? 6?
TURN: 5?
If a 7 comes off on the river, the pot will be split, since neither Michael or Mo can beat the straight on the Board.  If a 2 comes off, Michael wins with a "wheel" or a five-high straight (A-2-3-4-5).  Michael can also still win with an Ace or a King, a grand total of nine "outs".
A? K? 9? 6? 4? 10? 10? 9? 6? 4?
With that "double up" by Mo, Michael is down to a mere $600 in chips, which isn't even enough to cover a Big Blind.  When you're extremely low on chips like that, they say you're "riding the felt", as in there's very little between you and the felt of the poker table.

Fortunately, Michael managed to pick up some SMALL pots during the commercial break and...

Nicole Sullivan $27,500
Peter Facinelli $10,800
Mo Gaffney $10,500
Michael Ian Black $1,200

And a small pot more later...

Peter Mo (D) Nicole (SB) Michael (BB)
10? 5? J? 6? A? J? 3? 2?
FOLD FOLD Raises to $1,700 ALL-IN
Nicole "tapped" Michael, meaning she bet exactly how much it would take for Michael to go all-in.  Being that he was in the Big Blind, it only cost Michael $700 more to go all-in anyway, so he called it blind.  Too bad his hand wasn't better that 3-2, grotesquely called "Polish Big Slick" (as in the polar opposite of Ace-King...don't write me 'cause I didn't make this up).
FLOP: 7? 4? K?
Michael's fortunes have turned slightly.  He has a flush draw.  One more diamond and he doubles up.
TURN: 5?
Now he also has a "gut-buster straight draw", needing a 6 to make a seven-high straight.
7? 7? A? K? J? 7? 7? K? 5? 4?

And a disgruntled Michael joins Hank and Kevin the Lounge de Losers.  Kevin says, "Not even Nostradamus predicted the two of you would be the first to join us."  $5,000 goes to Endeavor House, but Michael says "To HELL with that!"  Such great losers, ain't they?  Before things get too violent, We go back to the NON-losers who are still playing:

Mo (D) Nicole (SB) Peter (BB)
A? 2? K? 9? Q? 4?
Calls $1,000 Calls $500 Raises to $3,000
Calls $2,000 FOLD  
Nicole had a "dog" of a hand (K-9).  It's offsuit so it's a "mongrel".  If they were suited, they'd be a "pedigree".
FLOP: 10? 10? K?
Had Nicole stayed in, she would have flopped two pair.
  WIN $14,800
Another bluffed win.  Phil Gordon says that, with a pair on the board, the first one to bet usually wins.  And we just saw why.

At this point, Richard not only wear his cap like a rally cap, he dons THREE pairs of glasses, making him look... well, like a superstitious and/or non-serious poker player, really.

Nicole (D) Peter (SB) Mo (BB)
K? 7? Q? J? 8? 8?
Raise to $2,000 Calls $1,500 Calls $1,000
FLOP: 6? 9? J?  
John flopped "top pair", meaning he's paired one of his hole cards with the highest-ranked card on the flop.  Timothy flopped "second pair" or "middle pair".
  Bets $3,000 Calls $3,000
TURN: 7?
Peter has a flush draws, but Mo has an "open-ended straight-flush draw".  She needs a 5 or a 10 for a straight, a diamond for a flush (though Peter's flush would beat that) and a 5 of diamonds or 10 of diamonds for a "straight flush", the best hand in poker.   She can ALSO win with an 8, so she has TEN outs (a 5, a 10 or an 8).  Still, she only has a 23% chance of winning. 
  Calls $3,000  
  J? J? Q? 9? 7? 8? 8? J? 9? 7?
  WIN $18,000 OUT

Po' Mo.  She sulks her way to the Losers' Lounge where Kevin treats her to a one-hit wonder by A Bit of Honey (look it up).  5 grand is going to Planned Parenthood Federation...and, unlike the guys, Mo is actually HAPPY for that.  She admits that the last hand was exciting, particularly with the straight-flush draw.  And, unlike Hank and Michael, she admits she had fun.

So we're down to heads-up action between a Queen of King of Queens and a supporter in "The Scorpion King".  Who will be king of the table?

Nicole Sullivan $26,200
Peter Facinelli $23,800


Nicole (SB) Peter (D) (BB)
7? 5? K? 10?
Raises to $3,000 Calls $2,500
Nicole has a "Heinz" hand (5-7, as in "varieties").  Peter's hand is sometimes called "Woodcutter" (since, if you say it fast, it sounds like "cuttin'".
FLOP: 9? 5? 3?
  Bets $3,000
Raises to $6,000  
Nicole "grinded out" Peter, raising modestly to force Peter to think about what he bet and possibly fold.  Had Peter just checked, he'd most likely still have that $3,000 he bet.

Blinds are up to $1,000 (SB) and $2,000 (BB).

Peter (SB) Nicole (D) (BB)
10? 5? 10? 4?
Calls $1,000 CHECK
Peter has "Woolworths", since that store started off as a "five-and-dime" (get it?).  And Nicole has a "CB" hand ("Ten-four, good buddy.").  Peter is a slight favorite.
FLOP: 4? 10? 6?
Nicole flopped top pair and bottom pair.  Peter just has top pair.
  Bets $6,000
Calls $6,000  
  Bets $4,000
Calls $4,000 FOLD
This might be strategy on Nicole's part.  By betting less on the turn than on the flop, it tells Peter that she's not too confident now about her hand, like she was on a flush draw.  Peter took the bait.
COMMUNITY: 10? 8? 6? 4? 2?
Pretty "even" Board, don'tcha think?
  Bets $2,000
Calls $7,800
For all Nicole knew, Peter had caught a small straight or three deuces on the river.  Still, she was confident that her two pair would hold up...and they did.
10? 10? 8? 6? 5?   10? 10? 4? 4? 8?
Tens-fours, good buddy...Peter is over and out!

And, so, Peter hands $5,000 to the R.P. Foundation.  But it's Nicole Sullivan, who was down to $2,800 earlier in the game, who rises to the occasion and wins the event.  Kevin presents her with the silver chip that signifies her entry into the Final Table to get part of the quarter-million-dollar prize pool for Alley Cat Allies.  Kitties everywhere will be singing Nicole's praises tonight!

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