On Sunday, the second episode of the new season of the PokerStars “Million Dollar Challenge” aired on Fox. The program flanks NFL coverage on the network and features PokerStars pro Daniel Negreanu coaching and then playing against online qualifiers. This week, sign language interpreter Carmenlita Cothron tested her luck.
In the first round, Cothron squared off against celebrity defender John Elway, a former Super Bowl winning quarterback with the Denver Broncos. Cothron and Elway each began with 20,000 in chips and the qualifier received one time out to consult with Negreanu. Elway doubled up after falling behind early, moving all-in for his last 1,800 in chips with K-Q suited on a 9-10-Q-Q board. Cothron called behind with J-9 for bottom pair and an open-ended straight draw, but another nine on the river gave Elway a higher boat.
In the final hand of the first round, Elway moved all-in before the flop with J-4 of diamonds and Cothron called with A-3. The board fell Q-K-6-2-5 and Cothron earned a $5,000 trip to the Bahamas for next year’s PokerStars Caribbean Adventure.
Next up for Cothron was a PokerStars sponsored pro, 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event winner Chris Moneymaker, who ignited the modern poker boom. Negreanu moved from being seated alongside the qualifier to taking his place in an isolation booth. Negreanu could see Cothron’s hole cards and feed her advice through an earpiece, while Moneymaker could axe all communication between the two by calling for the “Dome of Silence” twice during the match.
In a key hand, Cothron raised to 1,600 pre-flop with pocket eights and Moneymaker called behind with 8-5 of clubs. The flop came 2-3-4 with one club and Moneymaker check-called a bet of 1,600. The turn brought a second club to the board, giving Moneymaker flush and straight draws, and he check-raised all-in for 19,600. Moneymaker also quickly invoked the “Dome of Silence,” but Cothron called and her pair of eights held to take a 6:1 chip lead.
Moneymaker committed his remaining chips with J-3 of clubs and Cothron called quickly with Q-3. Negreanu admitted that he would have folded the queen-rag hand, but instead Cothron came away with the win and collected $25,000. PokerStars “Million Dollar Challenge” host Chris Rose then asked Cothron if she wanted to take the money and run or risk it to play Negreanu for $100,000. Cothron’s family and friends encouraged her to go on and she took her seat opposite “Kid Poker.”
There was virtually no action shown from the final heads-up match. In the final hand, Cothron raised to 2,000 pre-flop with Q-10 and Negreanu called with J-9 of hearts. The flop came 9-4-4 and Negreanu check-raised to 8,000 with nines-up. Cothron called despite having just queen-high, but lucked out when a lady hit on the turn. Negreanu open-shoved all-in for 9,200 and Cothron called with queens-up, leaving “Kid Poker” drawing thin to the river. The final card was a king and Cothron banked $100,000. She also earned a seat in the Tournament of Champions at the end of the season. That table’s winner will face Negreanu heads-up for $1 million.
The “Million Dollar Challenge” was PokerStars’ answer to Full Tilt Poker’s “Face the Ace.” The latter lasted only one season and resulted in a copyright infringement lawsuit filed by Brandon McSmith in Las Vegas. The “Million Dollar Challenge” will return with an all-new episode on October 10th on Fox, so check your local listings for more information.
If you want to catch yourself up on the much-heralded first season of the show, which aired in late 2009, then click over to GSN.