In an article for WCNC, reality TV writer Brian Moran writes:
However, the biggest problem with poker on television is that it’s focused on pretty much everything but poker. The shows are stuffed with feel good stories and hands that are 50 - 50 races with people’s dreams on the line. It’s entertaining, but the sometimes mundane hand to hand strategy disappears and 50 well played small pots are buried in editing in favor of five misplayed big pots.
That is until ‘Poker after Dark’ premiered last Monday. The tournament spans five nights showing every hand (sic) with very little commentary. I once wrote, “I’m a huge poker fan and I can’t help but think that it could be much more compelling if the announcers would recognize when it’s time to zip it. So often an altercation will erupt at the table and I’ll be dying to know what’s going on. But I have to listen to Norman Chad making lame jokes about his ex-wife.” NBC agreed and television at 2 a.m. has never been so good.
On PokerNews.com Stephen Noh writes:
One of the biggest problems featuring televised poker is that nowadays, the market is being inundated with watered-down poker shows that lack substance. However, the announcement of NBC's highly anticipated Poker After Dark was expected by many to buck this trend. The show's all-star cast of players and the reunion of ex-WPT hostess Shana Hiatt, along with deep-stack play and table chatter mimicking the immensely popular High Stakes Poker seemed to be a sure recipe for success.
While some of the table banter between players is interesting, this new format has received its fair share of complaints. First of all, players sometimes talk over each other and the conversations can become incoherent or difficult to catch.
Furthermore, the little announcing that does take place is often nothing more than random quips from commentator Ali Nejad that does not add anything to the show.
Noh also feels that a lack of commentary makes the action harder to follow, but I think improved graphics would be a better solution.
Writing for Casino City Times, Aaron Todd says:
... in order to become a real success, there are some basic problems that need fixing.
First of all, the announcer is terrible.... The show would actually be better without the Nejad (sic)....
I also hope they pull the cash off the table and just give the players $20,000 in chips.... It's clearly an attempt to play off the success of High Stakes Poker on GSN, but the cash on display makes it unclear whether it's a tournament (it is) or a cash game (it isn't).
When the players aren't arguing about who the biggest donkey is, they are trading some great gambling stories.... The unfortunate thing about Stevie Z's diamond smuggling story is it took place during the most interesting hand of the whole show, so you didn't know where to focus.