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Million Dollar Challenge
Million Dollar Challenge logo
Format Poker Gameshow
Starring Chris Rose, Daniel Negreanu
Country of origin  United States
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 1 (2nd greenlighted)
No. of episodes 5
Executive producer(s) Mark Mayer, M&M Productions
Original channel Fox
Original run October 11, 2009 – December 27, 2009
Status Running

Million Dollar Challenge (also referred to as the PokerStars Million Dollar Challenge and Million Dollar Challenge) is the most watched poker show in television history.[1][2] It is sponsored by PokerStars. The show, which aired on the Fox Broadcasting Company, debuted on October 11, 2009.[3] The show is hosted by Chris Rose and features Daniel Negreanu.[4] The first season inlcuded five episodes following the FOX network Sunday National Football League coverage. The finale aired on December 27. Season 2 has been greenlighted.[5]


Show description

Daniel Negreanu is the main star of the show

Million Dollar Challenge is a poker game show where amateur poker players attempt to defeat celebrities, professional poker players and, eventually, Daniel Negreanu in order to win the show's grand prize, $1 million. In the first round, the amateur (with Negreanu at their side, acting as their coach and lending advice) must defeat a celebrity such as Jayde Nicole, Jerome Bettis, Joanna Krupa, John Salley or Tito Ortiz. If the contestant is able to defeat the celebrity the contestant wins a trip to the Bahamas and advances to the second round. In the second round, the amateur (with Negreanu now helping them from a sound proof booth, giving them advice through a listening device in the amateur's ear) must defeat a professional poker player such as Vanessa Rousso, Barry Greenstein, Joe Cada or Chris Moneymaker. If the contestant is able to defeat the professional the contestant wins $25,000 in addition to the trip to the Bahamas. At this point, the amateur has a decision to make. Keep the money and walk away $25,000 richer, or risk the money (the trip is still theirs to keep) and play Daniel Negreanu heads-up for $100,000, knowing that if they lose they walk away with nothing but the trip to the Bahamas. In the season finale, the champions from each episode compete against each other in a sit-n-go tournament, the winner of which plays Negreanu for $1 million.[1][3]

Season 1

The first three episodes of the season were the three most-watched Poker television shows in U.S. history.[6 ] The show aired on Sundays after the FOX National Football League coverage. In the first episode that aired on October 11, contestant Father Andrew Trapp defeated John Salley, Rousso and Negreanu, winning $100,000 and a trip to the Bahamas in the process, all of which he promised to donate to his church in Garden City, South Carolina. Trapp also won the chance to play in a mini-tournament (Episode 5), the winner of which would play Negreanu for $1,000,000.[4][7][8] On October 18, after contestant Tracy Nguyen defeated Bettis and won a trip to the Bahamas, but lost to Barry Greenstein, the next contestant Sergeant Denny Luna defeated Nicole, Moneymaker to win $25,000 and a trip to the Bahamas. Luna then chose to walk away (and not risk the $25,000 he had already won) rather than face Negreanu in the $100,000 match.[9][10] On the November 22 episode after contestant Oluwasegun Odumuyiwa lost to Bettis, Brian Barboza defeated Nicole, Rousso and Negreanu, winning $100,000 and a trip to the Bahamas. Barboza also won the chance to play in a mini-tournament, the winner of which would play Negreanu for $1,000,000.[11] In December Joanna Krupa and Joe Cada were announced as newly-added as celebrity and professional opponents.[12] Ortiz and Krupa appeared on the fourth episode, which aired on December 13.[6 ] Cada appeared, but he did not play a hand. Dwayne Buth, playing on behalf of the Cal State Fullerton wrestling team, lost to Ortiz. Mike Kosowski, a first responder during the September 11 attacks lost to Krupa.[13] The final airing of the competition among the previous winners was expected on December 27.[14] However, when the contestants on the fourth episode all lost, a single table tournament was held to determine the fourth contestant. Kozowski won and then bested Luna, Barboza and Trapp, in that order, in the Challenge of Champions for a $100,000 prize and a chance to play Negreanu for $1million. In three hands of heads up play, he bested Negreanu.[15]

Critical review

Professional poker player Doyle Brunson has been critical of both Million Dollar Challenge and its contemporary rival Face the Ace as terrible shows unlikely to draw viewers.[16] Negreanu responded, via blog, to this type of criticism that the show is not intended for the serious poker player, but rather is aimed at more casual audience.[17] There was some controversy about a poker playing priest on national television that sparked theological debate.[18]


  1. ^ a b " "Million Dollar Challenge," Most Watched Poker Show in Television History, Returns With New Show on Nov. 22". Market Wire. 2009-11-16. Retrieved 2009-12-02.  
  2. ^ Arnett, Kristy (2009-11-20). "Poker Stars Million Dollar Challenge Returns Sunday on Fox: New Episode Begins Right After NFL on FOX". Card Player. Retrieved 2009-12-12.  
  3. ^ a b Bradley, Lance (2009-10-09). "PokerStars Million Dollar Challenge Show to Debut Saturday". Bluff Magazine. Retrieved 2009-12-02.  
  4. ^ a b Cypra, Dan (2009-10-11). "Father Andrew Trapp Wins $100,000 on PokerStars Million Dollar Challenge". Poker Daily News. Retrieved 2009-12-11.  
  5. ^ Cypra, Dan (2009-12-21). "Mike Kosowski Wins PokerStars Million Dollar Challenge". Poker Daily News. Retrieved 2010-01-02.  
  6. ^ a b "UFC Champ Tito Ortiz Opens Up During Best Heads Up Poker Match of Season "Wrestling Saved My Life" Supermodel Joanna Krupa Impresses With Her Poker Prowess – Most-Watched Poker TV Show in History Airs New Episode on Sunday, Dec. 13 on FOX". Market Wire. 2009-12-09. Retrieved 2009-12-11.  
  7. ^ "Poker Playing Priest Wins $100,000 Seat at $1,000,000 Qualifying - Table - Father Andrew Trapp Becomes First Big Winner on Million Dollar Challenge Airing on FOX – Go to PokerStars.Net to Win Seat on Hit Poker Game Show". Market Wire. 2009-10-12. Retrieved 2009-12-11.  
  8. ^ Frost, Janelle (2009-10-11). ""Pokerstars.Net Million Dollar Challenge": Myrtle Beach area priest beats pro at poker - Father Trapp wins $100,000 for St. Michael building fund". The Sun News. p. A1. Retrieved 2009-12-11.  
  9. ^ Cypra, Dan (2009-10-18). "PokerStars Million Dollar Challenge: Denny Luna Walks Away with $25,000". Poker Daily News. Retrieved 2009-12-11.  
  10. ^ "Tulsa soldier takes ‘ Million Dollar Challenge ’ Sunday on Fox". The Oklahoman. 2009-10-16. Retrieved 2009-12-11.  
  11. ^ Jenkins, Tom (2009-11-22). "PokerStars Million Dollar Challenge: Brian Barboza Wins $100,000". Poker Daily News. Retrieved 2009-12-11.  
  12. ^ "Supermodel Joanna Krupa, World Series of Poker Champion Joe Cada - Added to " Million Dollar Challenge " Lineup - Two Episodes Remain of the Most-Watched Poker Program in Television History; Next Episode Airs Sunday, December 13". Market Wire. 2009-12-02. Retrieved 2009-12-11.  
  13. ^ Jenkins, Tom (2009-12-16). "Joe Cada Appears on PokerStars Million Dollar Challenge". Poker Daily News. Retrieved 2010-01-02.  
  14. ^ Ramos, Aliana (2009-12-05). "Local poker playing priest in L.A. for a chance to win $1 million". The Sun News. Retrieved 2009-12-11.  
  15. ^ Cypra, Dan (2009-12-27). "Mike Kosowski Wins $1 Million on PokerStars Million Dollar Challenge". Poker Daily News. Retrieved 2010-01-02.  
  16. ^ Jenkins, Tom (2009-10-15). "Doyle Brunson Blasts Face the Ace, Million Dollar Challenge". Poker Daily News. Retrieved 2009-12-11.  
  17. ^ Negreanu, Daniel (2009-10-11). "Re: PokerStars Million Dollar Challenge - ~4:30pm ET on Fox Sun. Oct. 11". Two Plus Two Interactive. Retrieved 2009-12-11.  
  18. ^ Bailey, Issac J. (2009-11-29). "Gambling creates uneasy alliance". The Sun News. p. A. Retrieved 2009-12-11.  

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