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Poker News: August 7, 2006

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Copyright © 2006 Poker Mag

HEADLINE: Poker - Popularity Explosion

Gone are the days when poker was played in back rooms by a handful of regular players. Now it seems as if you can't turn on the television without seeing coverage of a poker tournament or instructional show. The media has jumped on the poker band wagon, fueling its popularity.

Poker, particularly Texas Hold-'em style, is broadcast on major networks such as Bravo, ESPN and The Travel Channel. The Travel Channel reports that their World Series of Poker shows are among the highest rated in their lineup.

There are World Championship games, tournaments and even a show where all the players are celebrities (regardless of their poker skills). The shows are hosted by current poker players, many of whom are very successful at their profession. The media coverage has turned many of these players into mini celebrities in their own right.

One thing that is appealing to television viewers is that poker is relatively easy to learn. Most of the televisions shows have a primer at the beginning, explaining the different hands and betting procedures. So, in essence, a novice could sit down at a table and begin to play. Which is not to say they will do very well! A common saying with poker is "5 minutes to learn, a lifetime to master".

Part of the success in drawing interest to poker is the 'hole camera'. The hole camera is a camera lens at every player's seat which allows the viewer at home to see what cards each player is holding. This way you are able to see the action unfold and can learn from watching what players do. You may even find yourself rooting for someone to take a certain action, forgetting that they cannot see what you can! The hosts of the show will often explain what they expect the players to do, based on what they are seeing from how the other player bets, or reacts to the action. So you can actually pick up quite a few playing tips just by listening to the commentary.

The television popularity of poker has spilled over into other areas besides television. Many casinos who did not offer poker before now hold tournaments. And retail sales of poker related items has surged as well. You can go into any large chain bookstore and see dozens of books on poker, whereas five years ago their might have been a handful. The sale of poker chips, home poker tables and even poker home decor has taken off.

The internet has also taken a slice out of the poker pie. The increase in the number of online casinos has skyrocketed in the last few years, with larger businesses such as Party Poker or Ultimate Bet actually sponsoring players in the live televised tournaments. Many online casinos offer a free version, where you can play poker without actually investing any money.

With the surge in popularity of poker, it is important to remember that it is gambling and can lead to addiction or even bankruptcy! There seems to be no slow down in the ratings for shows, so poker will be here for a long time to come.

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Article downloaded from the World Wide Web on August 6, 2006:

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