PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Poker legends from across the country brought their skills to Pittsburgh’s first televised poker tournament, at Rivers Casino.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the championship round. The big stars were eliminated by six unheralded contenders, including three poker-faced players from Pittsburgh.
Video cameras add to the pressure. Pittsburgh is one of the stops for “Poker Night in America,” on a network yet to be determined.
“We’re going around the country, taking some pros that people know and a lot of people that people don’t know yet, and making them stars,” creative director Nolan Dalla explains.
It started with 296 players. Six remain. Daniel Hill of Bloomfield played some poker in college. But this is the “big time.”
“You always think you have a chance,” Hill says. “You have to have everything bounce your way, and play well. And I think I played pretty well.”
Don Trenney of Moon Township owns a bar in Hopewell.
“I do it more recreationally than professional or amateur,” he admits.
Larry Pileggi of Pittsburgh had the lead in chips at the start of the day.
“I started playing poker two-and-a-half years ago,” he says. “It’s just a hobby for me. I’m not one of the pros here. I have a day job. I teach at Carnegie Mellon.”
One of the six amateurs will go home with $72,000. The other five will divide $100,000 or so. Not a bad hand in the bunch.