Many fans of Poker TV consider Million Dollar Cash Game (often called Full Tilt Poker’s Million Dollar Cash Game, due to sponsorship from the internet poker site) to be Europe’s answer to High Stakes Poker, which aired a year earlier in the United States. In fact, the similarities between the two shows are astounding; not only do the two have a large overlap in terms of players, but the concept of the shows is identical: instead of televising a tournament event (or series of events), these shows aim to show the life and evolution of a high stakes cash game. Both Million Dollar Cash Game and High Stakes Poker had a $100,000 buy-in until HSP upped the ante last season, raising their minimum to twice that amount. Not only the concept and players match up with these shows; Full Tilt Poker has sponsored both of them, and the style of the game play is very similar in terms of the kind of tactics and aggression on the part of the players (but with the same table setup and many of the same players, that is to be expected).
Season one of the Million Dollar Cash Game included Phil Ivey (“the Tiger Woods of poker”), Gus Hansen, Eric Seidel, Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson, Jennifer Harmon, Allen Cunningham, and Mike Matusow. The featured players for Season 2 were Phil Ivey, Patrik Antonius, Allen Cunningham, and Tony G., while Season 3 included the world record holder for most WSOP bracelets (with eleven bracelets), Phil Hellmuth, David Benyamine, Patrik Antonius, Phil Ivey (who has won five WSOP bracelets himself), Mike Matusow, Gus Hansen, and Chris Ferguson (a former World Champion). Season 4 saw debuts from Cyril Mouly and Andrew Feldman. While Patrik Antonius and Mike Matusow (who has also appeared as a regular on both High Stakes Poker and Poker After Dark) rounded out the action, Season 4 of Million Dollar Cash Game is best known for what transpired between Phil Ivey and Tom Dwan, the latter of whom was locked in an online head-on battle with Antonius at the time. Season 5 brought back Ivey, Dwan, and Antonius, as well as Ferguson and Matusow, and Ilari “Ziigmund” Sahamies and Peter “Apathy” Jetten were added to the lineup.
Million Dollar Cash Game is home to the largest pot in Poker TV history, an honor that regularly goes back and forth between MDCG and High Stakes Poker. The current record pot is $1.1 million and was won by Tom Dwan, who also holds the highest pot record for High Stakes Poker, the former largest pot before his Million Dollar Cash Game win. When he won the High Stakes Poker largest pot and set his first record for largest take, Dwan was up against series regular Barryes(4 and 2) and a Queen, Dwan liked the look of his flush draw and bet. Greenstein raised, and Dwan re-raise Greenstein, who was holding pocket aces while Dwan had KsQs. When the flop came up with two more spadd to almost a quarter million, causing Greenstein to go all-in. Another queen came on the turn, and when the river fell without an ace, the pot went to Dwan. It was worth $919,000 and immediately made poker news. In his record-breaking pot take for Million Dollar Cash Game, Dwan went head to head with Phil Ivey, who held A-2 to Dwan’s 6-7. Dwan and Ivey saw action pre-flop, as Ivey responded to Dwan’s raise with a re-raise, and after the Q-3-5 flop, Ivey raised $40,000. The turn came up (4h), and Ivey bet again, with Dwan re-raising this time to $240,000. Ivey went all in, Dwan called, and they showed their cards. Both had straights, but Dwan’s was higher, and he took the 1.1 million dollar pot.
While many other Poker TV regulars are under threat due to “Black Friday,” the day in early April when the United States government pressed charges against Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars, and several other sites for “bank fraud, illegal gambling, and money laundering,” causing many televised events and shows to be put on hold, Million Dollar Cash Game is in a prime position to pick up the slack caused by sponsorships that are withdrawn from other shows. Because this is a European-based event, Million Dollar Cash Game is not only safe, but stands to grow in popularity if the other shows and events begin to waver. Full Tilt Poker has renewed their sponsorship of Million Dollar Cash Game through 2013, which means that new episodes will be released for years to come.
Million Dollar Cash Game can be seen on Sky Sports in the United Kingdom, Rogers Sportsnet and The Score (Canada), Fox Sports Network (US– though it may be pulled from the market), the Poker Channel and ESPN (Europe), DSF (Germany), SportKlub (Hungary), and TV11 (Russia), or viewers can see all of the episodes online on either Youtube or Pokertube. Unlike most other Poker TV shows, Million Dollar Cash Game does not air several seasons per year, but rather started the first in January 2007 and has released one a year since then, always beginning the season in January.