Game of Gold
The first episode of GGPoker and Poker After Dark's new hybrid poker and reality TV Show, Game of Gold, got off to an exciting start.

GGPoker are pushing the envelope and opening the floodgates to a new TV poker genre with their reality and poker mix Game of Gold. Over the next 12 weeks, we’ll find out which one of the 16 players involved remain in the hunt for – and eventually win – the only prize on offer for the eventual sole survivor of Game of Gold – $456,000.

In this and every article in this series, we’ll be discussing the episode of the title as well as any and all episodes leading up to it. We won’t be spoiling any further into the series, so if you’ve only made it this far, don’t worry, you won’t find out anything you don’t want to about the drama to come.

Now… let’s get to the GOLD in this week’s episode.

The Players Arrive

“Kevin won Big Brother Canada… he would probably be the favorite.” ~ Josh Arieh

Walking into the arena on by one, each player was given their own ‘talking head’ intro, stating where they were from, where they lived now and a few soundbites about how they were looking forward to the action… or not! First up was Josh Arieh’s chosen pick for the most dangerous player, former streamer and online PokerStars pro, Kevin Martin.

“Kevin won Big Brother Canada… he would probably be the favorite,” Arieh said in his own pre-game interview.

As the players came in one by one, they were given a card, each of which had an ace on it, in one of the four suits. Whichever suit they held was the four-person team they were on. Fedor Holz didn’t quite get the concept… or was just thinking positively beforehand, believing if he drew an ace then he must have been lucky… before he saw that everyone else had one too.

The levels of confidence on show were extremely varied. Jason Koon was polite about everyone, but retained his heart of steel.

“I hope no-one fears me in day-to-day relations,” he said. “But in poker I’ve probably earned that and they deserve to feel that way.”

Round 1 – Team Sit ‘n’ Go

As host Ali Nejad – part of the Poker After Dark co-branding that put together this PokerGO/GGPoker hybrid show – confirmed that the sole prize of $456,000 would be awarded to one winner from the 16 players, he also explained the concept of Game of Gold. Collecting coins by winning poker matches was the key. In the final round, each player would convert their coins into chips, with 20 coins given to each player to start the competition.

In Round 1, a four-tier Sit ‘n’ Go poker format, each team would have to put  a player into a separate round of four-handed action, with Game of Gold coins on offer for finishing first, second, third or fourth. The rounds increase in amounts, until the fourth ‘mystery’ round, where no-one yet knows exactly how many coins are on offer for each placement.

Round 1 Team Sit & Go
Round 1 is a Team Sit & Go with gold coins on offer in every tier of team play.

Ali Nejad confirmed the four teams that would comprise this first game.

Team Spade: Johan ‘YoH ViraL’ Guilbert, Nikita Luther, Charlie Carrel and Fedor Holz

Team Heart: Andy ‘Stacks’ Tsai, Lukas Robinson, Olga Iermolcheva and David Williams

Team Diamond: Josh Arieh, Dan ‘Jungleman’ Cates, Kyna England and Maria Ho

Team Club: Jason Koon, Daniel Negreanu, Kevin Martin and Michael Soyza

“Either we’re the best team, or the spiciest team… or the worst team.” Said Dan ‘Jungleman’ Cates, filling his teammates with pride.

Another player was more than confident in his team’s chances.

“We have no weak links.” Said Daniel Negreanu, de facto team captain of The Clubs.

Let the Games Begin

“It’s stuff like this you don’t want to call with.” ~ Dan ‘Jungleman’ Cates

As the four teams headed to separate ‘green’ rooms, they discussed who to put forward in each round. As it happened, the four players selected by the teams to face off in round one were Nikita Luther (Spade), Olga Iermolcheva (Heart), Kyna England (Diamond) and Michael Soyza (Club). As Ali Nejad told the teams, whichever team took the most coins would win, while the team with the fewest coins would be eliminated.

“If we start off hot, it’s going to be an entirely different strategy than if we start off cold.” Jason Koon of Team Clubs said.

As it happened, Kyna England started off hot, rivering a straight against Michael Soyza, the only male player at the first four-handed Sit ‘n’ Go. As Kevin Martin, Daniel Negreanu and Jason Koon commiserated and managed the damage report, Team Diamond’ Josh Arieh – who called the exact river card out of the air – and Maria Ho were loving it. Arieh was dancing on top of a chair and Dan Cates performed exercises with the six-time WSOP bracelet winner in celebration.

Game of Gold Exercises
Some Game of Gold exercises helped Team Diamond: Maria Ho, Dan Cates and Josh Arieh (l-r) stay sharp between rounds.

England and Soyza would clash again, with the former raising it up with Kc9d. Soyza wasn’t going to be put off, re-raising with AsAh.

“It’s stuff like this you don’t want to call with.” Said Cates.

“You said it, Jungle,” said Arieh. A flop of Ts9c6s was dangerous and Soyza’s c-bet of 350,000 chips. Eventually England folded the river to a shove but Soyza had taken a big pot. Each room was dealing with the action in a different way. David Williams spoke to his teammates about how table dynamic was having a huge effect, most specifically on how wide each group would call three-bets. He predicted that by Round Four, all the strongest players would be calling too light.

England took a couple of hits, and drifting to short stack, moved all-in with Ad8s. After Nikita Luther made a super-swift fold with AhQd, each room couldn’t believe it, especially since Iermolcheva called with AsKc. With the board still to come, the credits rolled.

Will England fall? Could Soyza take control of the first round? Will Josh Arieh pull a hernia in celebration or commiseration?

Watch the action from Episode 1 of Game of Gold right here: