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It’s back! Premier League Poker returns in February. The groundbreaking format, developed by Matchroom Sport, features 12 of the world’s best players playing in a unique league for a tasty $1 million prize pool.

The event takes place from February 10th to 16th and will be first broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK in late March.

With a system developed especially to showcase the legendary poker prowess of each player, they will play six times in the preliminary stages. The leading four players will then progress to the final table with the next four battling it out in heads-up matches for the final two seats.

Each player will buy-in for $60,000, with adding $280,000 to make the pool $1 million, up from $500,000 last year. Nine of the twelve players from 2007’s successful event return with the new faces being “Flying Dutchman” Marcel Luske, Annie Duke and Alexander Kravchenko.

As before, 11-time WSOP bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth will lead a top field that also includes Dave ‘The Devilfish’ Ulliott, Tony G, Andy Black, Ian Fraser, Roland De Wolfe, Vicky Coren, Juha Helppi and Eddy Scharf.

Bookmakers has opened a market on the tournament and make Devilfish the 5-1 favourite. Last year, Finland’s Juha Helppi won the title on his birthday, with Scharf finishing second and Hellmuth third. The pros cannot wait to lock horns again:

“After winning four out of six matches in the Premier League last year, I was in massive pain when Juha Helppi beat my K-K with his 8-7 off suit and made me finish third in the finale. I told Helppi, ‘I’ll be back!’ Now it’s 2008, and here I come!” said Phil Hellmuth.

Helppi said: “It will be very hard to take this title from me. I will do anything it takes to defend it!”

Tony G added: “Premier League is something I look forward to for months. It’s the best event in poker in my book. Last year was a disaster for me and I want to prove it was a freaky event. Only winning this year will make things right for me and I want to bust Hellmuth so… so… hard to get him on a boat back to the US.”

Vicky Coren is also looking forward to the event: “I love this event – the league format irons out the injustices of the one-table heat because you get six chances, and that means there is plenty of time for needle and history to build up between the players. And I enjoy the fact that these particular players are all such performers: fearsome sportsmen, with a lot of money in play, but they all seem to have a lot of fun in this event, lots of rabble-rousing speeches and messing about on the side.”

A spokesman said: “Premier League Poker was an outstanding success last year with both players and viewers. Devilfish’s recent form makes him the favourite to win, a status that he is bound to embrace much to the annoyance of Hellmuth and Tony G.”

Eddie Hearn, Poker Director of Matchroom Sport said: “We are delighted to announce the line up for Premier League Poker II. It’s great to welcome back the likes of Phil Hellmuth, Devilfish, Tony G and last year’s champion Juha Helppi and we are also thrilled that Annie Duke, Marcel Luske and Alex Kravchenko will be joining the field. This is one of the strongest line up’s assembled in poker and with the buy in increased to $60,000, coupled with the vast international tv distribution, Premier League Poker is now established as the world’s leading televised poker event.”


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