(Distributed July 4, 2006)
POKER PRO, ACTOR PAIR UP FOR NEW PPT SHOW
At age 10, poker pro Mark Seif was booted from his parents’ home game in Los Angeles because he bluffed his dad out of a pot playing five-card draw. At age 15 growing up in Honolulu, Matt Corboy planted the seeds of performing make-believe that grew into a successful stage and screen career.
This week, the professional poker player who loves to act at the table and the professional actor who loves to play poker pair up on television to launch the Professional Poker Tour, which is as real as it gets on the felt.
Now that the World Poker Tour’s fourth season on TV has ended, the PPT moves into the WPT’s Wednesday night time slot on the Travel Channel for 24 weeks with a new formula that WPT Enterprises believes will keep fans tuned in. The new wrinkles: The PPT features 250 top pros battling each other, plus each of five tournaments is shown from start to finish, not just final table action.
“This is different than any other tournament you’ve seen on television because all of the players are seasoned pros who had to qualify to be a part of the PPT,” Seif said. “It’s basically the PGA of poker. You get to see poker on a whole new level.”
Seif, 38, elevated his own game to new heights at last year’s World Series of Poker in Las Vegas by capturing two Texas hold’em events he played consecutively less than a week apart. He was the only double bracelet winner at the 2005 WSOP, but that breakthrough first victory was particularly sweet.
“You have to understand, I had gone to the World Series for years and pretty much blanked out. I hadn’t done anything but make one final table in a no-limit hold’em event. After I won that first hold’em tournament last year, I felt like the weight of the world had come off my shoulders,” said the attorney-turned-poker pro.
Fans watching the U.S. Poker Championship recently on TV saw, and heard, a lot of Seif. He held the chip lead for several days before finishing 11th in that tournament, played last winter in Atlantic City. ESPN’s cameras watched Seif closely as he talked his way through hand after hand.
“I do talk a lot at the poker table. I think that’s mostly in my background as an attorney. I like to get information from my opponents and use it against them,” said Seif, who helped put away bad guys using those same skills when he worked in the district attorney’s office in L.A. about 10 years ago.
So did his gift of gab land Seif the PPT announcer’s role? Combined with his aggressive flair at the poker table, you bet.
“I think Matt and I were chosen because when we came in to audition, there was instant chemistry between us, and that came across to the producers and directors,” Seif said. “While we have different backgrounds, Matt and I have a lot in common. This guy lives, breathes and loves poker.”
The 33-year-old Corboy, who turned his back on a college business degree for Hollywood’s bright lights, holds many acting credits including the role of villainous police officer Ray Carlson on “The Shield” and guest stints on “The West Wing and “Cold Case.” He and Seif “have almost a sibling relationship, like brothers separated at birth,” he said.
Beyond a love of poker, both also share the role of first-time father. Corboy’s son, Finn Patrick, was born about a month ago, just two months after Seif’s daughter, Sarah. They juggle parental duties in different ways, though.
“I’m lucky in that most of my work is in town,” said Corboy. “We do travel a bit for the PPT, but a lot of the work is done in a post-production facility less than a mile from my home. I’m around the house a bunch, and I get to tuck him into bed almost every night.”
Seif’s solution to all the tournament travel: “I bring Jennifer and Sarah with me almost everywhere I go. I really don’t think I could be away from either of them for very long. My lifestyle now is certifiably crazy. Jen is very supportive. She’s my pillar of strength.” The family recently moved to Las Vegas.
Together, Seif and Corboy follow the announcing footsteps of the WPT’s poker pro Mike Sexton and Hollywood personality Vince Van Patten.
“I know about poker,” Corboy said, “but I’ll leave serious strategy talk to Mark. He’s one of the top pros in the world. I’m the guy who’ll comment on what the players are wearing, how they’re acting at the table, the stats — you know, the game within the game.”
Viewing the action from behind the mic isn’t easy for the super-competitive Seif.
“I think the PPT definitely is a player’s type of poker show, but yes, I do feel like playing sometimes as I’m watching. I’m always telling Matt: ‘Man, how can I get dealt in? I want to take these guys!’ ”
Many amateurs watching at home probably will be saying the same thing.
E-mail your poker questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org for use in future columns. To find out more about Russ Scott and read previous LuckyDog Poker columns, visit www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2006 RUSS SCOTT
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