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The Season 8 premiere of High Stakes Poker is on PokerGO tonight at 8 p.m. ET with Episode 1 featuring six new players to High Stakes Poker. One of those players will also be making his TV poker debut as former MLB pitcher Michael Schwimer sets to tangle with the likes of Tom Dwan, Bryn Kenney, and Jean-Robert Bellande.

The six players that surround Schwimer in Episode 1 have accumulated winnings of over $93.4 million that includes three WSOP bracelets and a plethora of other tournament wins around the world. The bright lights and daunting set of High Stakes Poker are foreign to Schwimer, but the high-pressure moments that he will face is something he has experienced in the past as a former professional baseball pitcher.

Schwimer was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008 out of the University of Virginia and spent several successful years in the minor leagues before eventually getting called up to the majors in August 2011. After several appearances for the Phillies, Schwimer was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays, and when his baseball career ended, Schwimer founded Big League Advance.

Watch the Season 8 premiere of High Stakes Poker when it airs tonight at 8 p.m. ET!

“Oh man, it’s so exciting, a bucket list type of thing for me,” Schwimer said about making his High Stakes Poker debut. “I grew up watching High Stakes Poker, Poker After Dark, all those shows, and this was really cool to be able to sit down and play with some of the greatest players in the world.”

There are some similarities between making your debut on High Stakes Poker, and throwing out your first pitch in the major leagues. The nerves, the excitement, and the pressure – both to win and to perform. But did Schwimer feel it more pitching for the Phillies or taking a seat among the likes of Dwan, Kenney, and Bellande on High Stakes Poker?

“Way less pressure! The Major Leagues, that’s my job. This is just fun,” Schwimer said. “If I go sit down there and lose everything, it’s no problem at all for me. But the Major Leagues at the time, that’s my livelihood. That’s a lot more pressure.”

“It’s nice being able to play poker knowing that you’re playing with skill. It’s not necessarily about the money, it’s more about playing well. It’s more of a skill game to me,” Schwimer said about the relationship between poker and baseball. “Put it this way, in baseball, I would rather get very, very lucky, and pitch poorly. But in poker, I would rather play better and lose, then bad beat somebody.”

Michael Schwimer outside the PokerGO Studio for High Stakes Poker | Season 8

Schwimer’s debut on High Stakes Poker was a short one due to a prearranged business meeting, but he does return later in the season among a new line-up of players. Fortunately for Schwimer, his debut on High Stakes Poker was a perfect one as he managed to book a win, show a few bluffs, and make the highlight reel including this hand against Dwan.

Schwimer will be back later in Season 8 of High Stakes Poker, and he also spoke with PokerGO a second time and discussed poker in the trenches as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies and what home games looked like while on the road with the team. Schwimer may be the lone amateur on Episode 1 of High Stakes Poker, but he definitely doesn’t sit back and let the pros run him over.

“Look, I’m not a bad player, but I’m not as good as anybody that I was sitting down with,” Schwimer said. “I was able to catch some hands and make some really good reads I think as well.”

Beginning Wednesday, December 16, PokerGO will be debuting a new season of High Stakes Poker every week. High stakes. Incredible line-ups. What more could you ask for? Make sure to watch all the new season of High Stakes Poker on PokerGO!

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High Stakes Poker, Michael Schwimer