Jennie Garth, star of the WB's "What I Like About You" and the '90s classic "Beverly Hills, 90210," knows the pressure of performing.

Yet the burden of playing a part is nothing compared to what she experiences on "Celebrity Poker Showdown."

"It's the most stress I've been under in I don't know how long," she said.

Despite that pressure, Garth said she enjoyed participating on the second season of the star-studded game show, which begins on Thursday at 9 p.m. on Bravo. The show, taped at the Palms casino in Las Vegas, features celebrities who play in groups of five. Each two-hour episode features one game of Texas Hold 'Em poker.

The celebrities also have more at stake than their reputations -- they're playing for the charity of their choice. Everyone gets at least $5,000. Championship winners -- and this year there are two championship tournaments instead of one -- receive $100,000.

Poker expert Phil Gordon, who has won two World Poker Tour events, said the pressure is immense, so much so that it brought at least one contestant to tears.

"There was one celebrity who cried for about five minutes" after losing a place at the table, he said. He wouldn't name names.

During the show, Gordon offers commentaries -- which the celebrities cannot hear -- and explains the rules of the game to help viewers follow along. Those tuning in can see the players' cards, thanks to miniature cameras built into the poker table.

Celebrities are taught to hold their cards so the TV audience -- but not opponents -- can see their hands.

That's not all the coaching the players receive. They also get a booklet filled with tips from Gordon.

"The production company sends them books and software they can play with" to prepare, said Gordon, who also offers tutoring sessions for the stars. "They wanted to play well."

Those who don't play well enough to stay in the game are sent to the Losers Lounge, where host Dave Foley -- formerly of NBC's "News Radio" -- joins the stars to watch the rest of the game on a TV monitor.

"The Loser's Lounge is not fun," Garth said. "They try to make it look all pretty with snacks and drinks, but you just want to go home."

Actor Peter Facinelli, Garth's husband, is back for season two.

"It becomes almost like a sport instead of a game," he said. "The competition level is raised when you come to the table. It's the embarrassment of being out first. You want to at least get down to the last couple of players."

There are two levels of playing, Facinelli said, that indicate a player's experience.

"The first time I played, I was at the first level. I was concerned with my cards. The second level is concerned with other people's cards and the other people at the table," he said.

"From the first tournament to the second, I got that it didn't matter what my cards are. It matters what the others' cards are. Look at the players and see how they react to the cards that are on the table."

That's where acting skills can come into play as the celebs try to maintain a "poker face."

Garth said being the only woman at the table worked in her favor because her opponents weren't able to read her.

"They didn't know what I was thinking or what was going on in my head," she said.

One of Gordon's tips is to remember that bluffing is an important part of the game.

However, Facinelli says fortune also plays its part. "You can play your cards as perfect as you want, and you could still lose. At the end of the day, it just comes down to dumb luck."

Season 2's Famous Faces

Celebrities play in groups of five:

Wanda Sykes

Jerome Bettis

Mena Suvari

Travis Tritt

Rosario Dawson


Matthew Perry

Lauren Graham

Sean Astin

Chris Masterson

Sara Rue


James Woods

Mo Gaffney

Danny Masterson

Dule' Hill

Timothy Busfield


Norm MacDonald

Star Jones

Adam Rodriguez

Jeremy Sisto

Michael Ian Black


Andy Richter

Jon Favreau

Tom Everett Scott

James Blake

Maura Tierney


Hank Azaria

Seth Meyers

Amy Poehler

Jeffrey Ross

Gail O'Grady


Dave Navarro

Jennie Garth

Richard Kind

Willie Garson

Jerry O'Connell


David Cross

Jason Bateman

Will Arnett

Judy Greer

Peter Facinelli


Angie Dickinson

Jeff Gordon

Kathy Griffin

Penn Gillette

Ron Livingston


Kathy Najimy

Bobby Flay

Michael Badalucco

Steve Harris

Mimi Rogers