‘Late Night Poker’ to Return, Rob Yong Aiming to Bring Classic Show Back

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The iconic “Late Night Poker” could be returning to a TV near you more than 20 years after the first season aired in the UK, thanks to Rob Yong.

rob yong
Dusk Till Dawn owner Rob Yong wants to host a new series of “Late Night Poker” at his club. (Image: Playground Poker Club)

Although it’s little more than an idea at the moment, the owner of Dusk Till Dawn is eager to bring the show back with a mixture of old-school favorites and current stars. He’s asked Simon Trumper, one of “Late Night Poker’s” original stars and now Club Director of Dusk Till Dawn, to make it happen. If he can, the plan is to stream the show from the poker room’s new TV set-up.

‘Late Night Poker’ was an early hit

“Late Night Poker” was first shown on British TV station Channel 4 in 1999. It featured a series of single-table shootouts with the winner of each shootout progressing to the final. The format is commonplace now but, at the time, it was new to viewers.

Although it predated the online poker boom, “Late Night Poker” gained a cult following due, in part, to the fact viewers could see each player’s cards. Along with the WPT, “Late Night Poker” was the original showcase for Henry Orenstein’s invention, the hole-card camera.

That made poker a marketable TV product and, in turn, gave some of the game’s top players a chance to show off their skills. Now familiar faces from the British poker circuit, including Dave Ulliott, aka Devilfish, and the Hendon Mob, all played in the show’s first run.

A suited and booted, mild-mannered Phil Hellmuth added some international interest in 2000. Flying across the pond from the US, he won the third season and £45,000 ($61,500) after beating Adam Heller in the final.

Players still hold iconic show in high regard

The original “Late Night Poker” ran for six series until 2002. Two spinoffs, “Late Night Poker Masters” and “Late Night Poker Ace,” kept the franchise alive before the main show returned in 2008. The reboot featured more players and bigger prize pools, but didn’t capture the original’s allure and ended in 2011.

Bottling the original show’s magic might not be possible given the way poker has changed. The first “Late Night Poker” was played in a dimly-lit room and players were allowed to smoke at the table. Moreover, commentator Jesse May was required to do a lot of the legwork as there was little table talk.

Despite its underground vibe, the show was a hit and that’s why Yong wants to bring it back. Today’s pros will be invited, as will some online qualifiers. However, the real attraction for those who remember the original show, will be the return of previous champions.

Season 5 winner Padraig Parkinson was the first person to list the players he wants to see back on the felt. Forgotten names such as Kevin O’Connell and Bruno Fitoussi are on his list, as is Tony G, who’s already said he’d play.

The prospect of reviving the show and bringing back some old favorites has also piqued the interest of poker’s younger generation. Shaun Deeb, Sam Trickett, and many more have not only paid homage to the show that helped popularize poker, but have also asked to play on the reboot.

If Yong can bring “Late Night Poker” back and combine its enduring charm with a dash of modernity, it could again become a hit.

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