Limo and Newhouse Become Loose Cannons for New “PokerStars Big Game” Season
Last Updated: November 9, 2023
The first PokerStars NAPT festival in 12 years is in full swing in the crowded Resorts World Las Vegas poker room, and while most eyes are focused on Main Event action, there was plenty going on the sidelines, as PokerStars ran qualifiers and auditions for the new season of their popular Big Game show.
It’s been over ten years since the show last ran, and this time around PokerStars wanted to make the selection process for “loose cannons” a test of both poker and other life skills.
To make this happen, the organizers first run two freeroll tournaments with a shootout format, with ten tables in each of the freerolls playing down to a champion, who would qualify for the second stage of the selection process.
The second, and perhaps the harder stage, saw all the table winners auditioned by a jury made up of Joe Stapelton, James Hartigan, and Nadya Magnus, who were tasked with finding the right candidates to play on the show.
In the end, it was Lily Newhouse and Nikki Limo who earned the title of loose cannons for the new season, which is going to be filmed in full over the next two days, with a variety of professional poker players and entertaining recreationals joining the loose cannons for two sessions of $100/200 NLH cash games.
What Is a Loose Cannon?
PokerStars Big Game was one of the most popular TV poker shows back in the day, and a lot of its popularity came from the unique format that included a single player acting as the “loose cannon” in each season.
The role of the loose cannon usually went to a recreational poker player who would sign up and get auditioned by PokerStars staff before getting a place on the show.
While all the other players at the table would play with their own cash, the loose cannon was staked by PokerStars to play against the pros. Any profits the loose cannon made were theirs to take, but nothing under the initial stake would be up for grabs.
This format made it so that loose cannons could try and wait for an opportunity early on, but would have to pick up the pace and play some big pots later in the show if they were not over the starting point.
During the early seasons of the show, some loose cannons were happy to lock up a small win, while others played fearlessly and took every chance they got regardless of their profit/loss numbers.
All of this made for some good stories, with players like Nadya Magnus, Ernest Wiggins, and Massimiliano Martinez becoming legendary characters in the history of the show.
Now, more than a decade later, the Big Game is back, with the first new season being recorded during the NAPT Las Vegas as we speak, and the two new loose cannons given the opportunity to follow up on the success of their predecessors.
Choosing New Loose Cannons
The selection process for the new loose cannons was a bit different than it was in the past, as PokerStars decided to first test the players’ poker skills, and then put them in front of a jury that would pick the players who would be “best for TV” out of the group.
The winners of the 20 shootout tables from the two freeroll tournaments that were played on November 5 all came in for auditions in front of a jury made up of the show’s hosts and former Big Game loose cannon Nadya Magnus.
Each of the contestants had to undergo two rounds of audition in order to qualify as the loose cannon.
The first round was made up of a simple interview, in which players were asked to talk about themselves, what they believed made them worthy of a spot on the show, and anything else they thought was relevant.
The three judges eliminated some of the contestants in this round, with Nadya Magnus apparently being the most ruthless of the jury, while Joe Stapleton had the role of the jokester, adding some positive vibes to the experience of those who would be eliminated.
In the end, the remaining contestants entered a phase in which they played the game of “Two Truths and a Lie” with the jury, which was designed to find out how communicative and witty they could be.
After an exhaustive process, two brand new loose cannons have been chosen for The Big Game. Here @J_Hartigan explains how that process worked, what was involved, and who made the final decision.
— PokerStars Blog (@PokerStarsBlog) November 8, 2023
The jury eliminated players for various reasons, with one extreme being Ronnie Bardah, who was deemed as overqualified. The WSOP bracelet holder was eliminated with three votes against, despite probably being the best poker player of the group.
In the end, it was decided that Nikki Limo, who cohosts a podcast and has more than 540,000 YouTube subscribers would be a perfect pick for the role of a loose cannon.
She was joined by Lily Newhouse, who works as a mindset coach for many poker players and has been involved in the industry for some time, and who will act as the loose cannon for one of the two sessions.
New Big Game Coming in Early 2024
With the loose cannons now selected, the filming of the new season of Big Game, dubbed “Big Game on Tour” is in process, and it looks like it’s going to be a fun one.
Early previews of the Big Game set have given us an insight into some of the cast of players we can expect to see in the games, with Phil Hellmuth, Alan Keating, Jennifer Tilly, and Lex Veldhuis all among the confirmed participants.
The new season will be split into two halves, each including hands from one of the two cash game sessions being played over two days on the NAPT sidelines.
You can expect to see each of the loose cannons battling with a $50,000 stake against the pros and take home any profits they make.
The new season of Big Game will be available on PokerStars media channels in early 2024, so stay tuned and don’t miss out what will surely be one of the most entertaining poker shows we have seen in a long time.