The return of Poker After Dark only on PokerGO excited the poker community and the show roared back with Tom Dwan, Andrew Robl and Matthew Kirk blowing the cash game action out of water. Host Drea Renee has the best seat in the house as host of PAD and the tall task of interviewing players mid-game.
“It’s really exciting to be that close to the action and watching these players play with that amount of money,” Renee said. “I’ve been around it for years and it still blows my mind that people can gamble that kind of money, possibly lose, and then just have a glass of wine and go to the next hand.”
“It amazes me every time,” she added. “I lost in a small $1/$2 game at the Commerce and it still haunts me.”
Losing six-figures over multiple nights with multiple cooler hands, one would think players were too tense to relax. “Everyone seemed to be in good spirits for the most part,” she said. “It’s the first week back and I think people were excited. Yes, some were losing and down, but I still saw smiles at the table.”
Renee has been a fixture in poker for years, before her TV work she traveled the world as a massage therapist during poker’s biggest events. “I’ve known most of the players for many years, but I think the biggest surprise was Bill Klein,” she said. “I didn’t know he was so funny and charismatic, I really enjoyed interviewing him.”
Drea Renee had a bird’s eye view of millions exchanging hands. (Photo: Poker Central)
But the first time she encountered Dwan was on the PAD set. “Tom is a beast,” she said. “I met him for the first time and he is all laughs and cool off the table. Then I would see this amazing transition into work beast mode, I’d be afraid to have him on my left at the table.”
Dwan and Klein were two of the quieter players at the table – she had Jean-Robert Bellande and Kirk holding court during the game. “JRB is the table captain of the game. He’s good for the show because there’s so many levels to him,” she said.
“There’s the JRB who’s winning and drinking wine and then there’s the losing JRB who is a different color,” she continued. “But also engaging and interesting for the viewer, he’s entertaining for sure.”
“Aussie Matt is quite the character as well,” Renee said. “He’s like JRB in that he’s great for on camera, he’s great action for the table and exciting to watch. I’ve known him for years and he’s a friend of mine, so I always enjoy watching him play.”
“He has his table presence and his real-life persona, and they are totally different,” she said. “I still don’t understand how he plays with as much as he does and just moves on to the next day. It’s unreal and even though I’ll be on the sidelines weekly, I’m sure I will never get used to it.”
Lauren Roberts struck Renee as especially interesting. “She’s a beast and I love watching her play,” said Renee. “She’s so kind and supportive to me and it’s great for women in poker to see her at the table hanging with the guys like she does. It was awesome having her on the comeback episode of PAD.”
Renee was excited when she first heard about PAD returning but was juggling a couple projects. “I was in the middle of the WSOP madness when I first heard about it and I was really excited,” she said. “I had a few meetings and phone calls, then once it was set in stone is when it really hit me.”
“It’s an amazing opportunity for me, I’m honored to be part of its comeback,” Renee said. “I’m grateful for Poker Central for opportunity and Mori (Eskandani of Poker PROductions) for believing in me.”