Top Stories of 2023, #5: Game of Gold Impact and Success

Game for gold

Few things have been a bigger surprise this year than the monumental success of Game for gold.

Over twelve episodes, some of poker’s biggest names and personalities competed in a series of team challenges. Along the way, some were eliminated while others earned gold coins. In the final episode, the remaining players’ gold coins were converted into chips for a final six-player tournament with a top prize of $456,000.

The first episode received around 485,000 views in the first six weeks GGPoker Youtube channel. What’s surprising is that viewership doesn’t appear to have dropped significantly.

The second episode saw a drop in views to 340,000 views, but a drop in the second episode is not uncommon.

What was unusual was the way the show captivated these viewers. The twelfth and final episode reached more than 90% of that number (~320,000 views) after just two weeks of running.

For four weeks in winter 2023 Game for gold was everywhere.

A great line-up

Daniel Negreanu
Daniel Negreanu

GGPoker has selected an excellent selection of players to appear on the show. Each of the sixteen contestants had solid poker play and great on-screen presence.

The first lineup included old school legends like Daniel Negreanu, Jason Koon, David Williams, Josh Ariehand eventual winner Maria Ho. Plus aspiring people like Nikita Luther, Kyna EnglandAnd Andrew “Andy Stacks” Tsai.

There were online poker legends like Fedor Wood And Daniel “Jungleman” Cates; established breakers like Michael Soyza And Kevin Martin; and like streaming and social media personalities Luke “Robin Poker” Robinson, Olga Iermolcheva, Charlie CarrelAnd Johan “YoH Viral” Guilbert.

Part of the show’s success is due to the clever advertising that ran before it aired, and part of it is due to the list of A-list celebrities that GGPoker featured on camera with its sponsorship deals.

However, none of this would have been worth much if the show hadn’t struck a chord with the audience.

Highlight reel

Maria Ho
Maria Ho

Game for goldThe first season had many iconic moments.

There were dramas, like the life-or-death battle in the first round where four of the best players were eliminated together. There were epic strops from Williams, Jungleman and Carrel – the latter two going head-to-head in the most entertaining Indian poker game ever filmed.

There was Iermolcheva’s hyper-aggressive debut game, Luther’s amazing heads-up matches and Ho’s final $456,000 win. Throughout the show, Robinson’s good-natured and relentless optimism and the underdog story of England’s run to survive, always at the bottom of the table but only eliminated in the final, were heard.

All of these storylines were supported by the show’s main gimmick of having teammates watching and effectively commentating on every game. Most importantly, the storylines attracted audiences, with viewers choosing their favorite films they cheered for and the villains they reviled.

It was an engagement engine that sparked podcast discussions and attracted post-mortems on X three times a week while the episode was airing.

An idea whose time has come

Game for gold
The Game of Gold set

Building a reality TV show around a series of team challenges in the style of shows like Survivors was one of those ideas that is so elegant and simple that it seems obvious in retrospect.

Poker TV has been focused on sports broadcasts for decades. The first poker TV followed the model of highlight shows with the WSOP tournament broadcasts and their descendants.

Then with High stakes poker The step was to create the feel of a live broadcast by showing each hand. With the internet, broadcasts have evolved from a live broadcast to a live stream.

Game for goldThe success of , shifting the model from sports broadcasting to reality television, has broken that mold and shown that there is at least one other way to make a good poker show.


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