Two Loose Cannons: Find Out Who Won $50k Stakes to Play PokerStars Big Game

Two Loose Cannons: Find Out Who Won $50k Stakes to Play PokerStars Big Game

Via an American Idol style competition, Nikki Limo and Lily Newhouse were chosen as the first PokerStars Big Game "loose cannons" in over a decade. As such, they will receive a $50,000 stake to compete in a high-stakes cash game against pros and entertaining recreational players.

The contest began on Sunday from the PokerStars North American Poker Tour (NAPT) with a free qualifier shootout poker tournament at Resorts World in Las Vegas. Each table winner 20 players then advanced to an intense interview process on Monday judged by Nadya Magnus, Joe Stapleton, and James Hartigan.

Magnus was one of the original loose cannons when the popular show first aired in 2010-2011. She won over $60,000 on that day, her first introduction to televised poker. Stapleton and Hartigan will commentate on the show when it airs in 2024. Filming will take place at Resorts World this week, however.

The purpose of the audition phase was to find the two individuals who best exemplify a true loose cannon is at least a somewhat competent poker player, would benefit greatly from winning a significant amount in the game, and has a colorful personality.

Judges Seek Perfect Loose Cannons

On Monday morning, one by one, the 20 players faced the judges to be questioned and critiqued. Each participant was first given an opportunity to share who they are, their experience on the felt, and why they'd make for an appealing loose cannon. And there wasn't much sugarcoating going on with this panel.

Take, for example, a woman who told the judges she felt her appearance on the show would help to grow women in poker. But Magnus, who made it clear to the contestants that she's "brutally honest," disagreed, and didn't hold back when she informed the hopeful loose cannon that she didn't feel she'd do anything to grow poker.

"Your answers to me were very indecisive," Magnus told the contestant who was voted out in Round 1.

Stapleton was a bit less brutally honest but instead would often crack a lighthearted joke when he didn't feel a contestant was qualified, while Hartigan sometimes would defer his vote to the other judges before giving his two cents. It took two "yes" votes to advance to Round 2.

There was one player who was "overqualified," according to the judges, and that was Ronnie Bardah, a former Survivor contestant and accomplished longtime poker pro. He impressed the judges but was voted out 3-0 in Round 1, just like on Survivor.

Limo, a social media influencer with 540,000 YouTube subscribers, and Newhouse, a mindset coach for poker players and CEOs, impressed all three judges in both rounds with their colorful personalities, backgrounds, and poker knowledge.

As such, the respected poker players advanced to Round 2, along with seven others, later in the day.

Follow live updates from the PokerStars NAPT here!

Time to Find Some Loose Cannons

The remaining contestants were separated into two groups for one final audition round. This time, they were tasked individually to play the "Two Truths and One Dare" game. Each player would write down and share with the judges two truths about their life and one lie.

After they were done speaking, the judges then asked them questions to further explain each supposed truth to see if they could call their bluff. Bluffing the panel didn't guarantee advancement, nor did failing to do so serve as an automatic-disqualifier. The judges simply wanted to see more of each contestant's personality, bluff or no bluff.

One participant (Paul Vato), who bears a striking resemblance to WWE legend Jim Ross, previously owned a cigar shop in Las Vegas. He reached the second phase and was able to successfully bluff the judges when he claimed he'd dated and dumped a former Playboy model during COVID. That wasn't the lie, although the judges believed it was.

At the end of the second audition round, players returned to the studio together, split up in two groups, for the judges to reveal their fates. For the cigar guy, what he showed just wasn't quite enough compared to Limo, who co-hosts the Aceholes podcast with Caitlin Comeskey. Ditto for Newhouse, who also impressed the judges.

Both winners, given their social media presence, should not only help attract more women to poker but people in general.

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