This weekend sees Season 9 of the popular apocalyptic drama return to our TV screens. Set in a zombie-infested United States of America, the show has been loved and hated in equal amounts since its inception in October 2010.

With Season 9 about to air, there have been major debates over the characters who have survived this far. But far more important us have been the casting decisions made this latest season. Frankly, they’ve nailed it, replacing many of the established Hollywood superstars with poker players was a move straight off a televised final table.

It’s going to be a bloody mess.

Gus Hansen as Rick Grimes

With Andrew Lincoln departing, the casting overhaul has been kicked off by the introduction of everyone’s favorite Dane in the starring role. Gus Hansen has long been heralded a sheriff by players unlucky enough to have to face him at the felt. Now he’s got a badge and gun, he’s going to be even more fearsome, especially with new added hair and beard. There’s no way he’s getting written out.

Chris Ferguson as Negan

The hat, the hair, the attitude. Everyone’s favorite baddie is about to get a whole lot badder as the man formerly known as Jesus and often referred to as the anti-Christ following the Full Tilt scandal tools up with Lucille, the baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire.

John Juanda as Glenn Rhee

What do you mean Glenn’s dead? Glenn is never dead and if he ever did die, he’d be back as a ghost and haunt the show forever. At his most alive, Glenn never had the greatest skills in dealing with confrontation. With Juanda inhabiting the role with precision, he’ll never miss a shot. Zombies will be on the back foot from the first time Juanda calls them.

Phil Ivey as Michonne

Following his return to the 2018 World Series, Ivey has been taking shots all over the place. But if there’s one thing guaranteed to raise his profile, it’s donning gigantic dreadlocks and tooling up with a samurai sword in order to trim out the zombie population as the apocalypse continues. Just don’t ask him to say very much on camera.

Phil Hellmuth as Daryl Dixon

Armed to the teeth with a crossbow, bad language, and a nagging sense that he’s always right, there could only be one man to fill the stinking shoes of everyone’s favorite redneck. Everyone knows that Daryl is the heart of the show and, like the cockroach, is destined to be the only player remaining – something that we can still say about the Poker Brat.

Erik Seidel as Gregory

A lugubrious persona combined with the ultimate survival instinct to traverse decade after decade of innovations, if there’s to be a new breed of survivor in The Walking Dead it’s almost certain to be Gregory. That sounds exactly like Seidel, a man who’s hung around the highest reaches of the all-time money list in poker for longer than most players have been alive. Plus, he’s got that look to the sky that will help those cliff-hangers.

Most of these poker players are probably far better off playing themselves at some of the high stakes games around town. Looking to catch them in action? Subscribe to PokerGO right now and watch all your favorite players live and on-demand. 

Phil Ivey, Phil Hellmuth, Erik Seidel, Chris Ferguson, John Juanda, Gus Hansen, The Walking Dead