Poker on TV
By: Tom Howze
Poker on TV has been the catalyst that allows millions of people to view real poker being played by today's young guns and poker legends. A day does not go by without advertising for another Texas Hold'Em TV poker scheduled event for cable or television. It is becoming the basis for corporate investment in a growing industry and a motivation for players to enter numerous tournaments that offer millions of dollars. Software is being developed for hand held devices and cell phones to play poker. Deals are being made to broadcast live tournaments over the Internet from land based casinos. And if that's not enough, then there are a growing number of television shows based on poker. Even charity events are bringing in money for those who need it behind the affection started by televised tournament events. Plus women are coming to the tables in droves, along with magazines on different versions of the game like Texas Hold'Em marketed especially to women. And the end is not in sight for this trend as more people learn to enjoy and watch the game of poker.
With an estimated 50,000,000 people in the United States alone who play the game, corporations began scrambling to capitalize for all the money that could be made when tournament event ratings showed reflection of the public's appetite. ESPN's poker audience went from 408,000 viewers in 2003 to 1,300,000 per broadcast in 2004. The 2005 World Series of Poker broadcasts will have over 2,000,000 people watching each televised episode when ESPN starts showing them in June. World Poker Tour episodes will be shown in 60 countries and if Steve Lipscomb has his way this will increase to 200 countries. And others are close behind with programs like Celebrity Poker and Poker at the Plaza which are pulling in big ratings. Online poker rooms are now becoming a billion dollar industry. They provide many satellite tournaments that anyone can play in to get a chance to be a television star competing for big bucks. Even states within America such as North Dakota, Illinois and Georgia are competing to pass legislation to legalize poker over the Internet for a piece of the revenue pie, despite the direction of the federal government. Outside of the U.S., England is at the threshold of permitting its land-based casinos to take bets online from U.S. citizens.
Proponents of the game state that the effects of the televised tournaments toward society are positive. Enough to where a person can find "family nights" for playing being offered by organizations promoting the game. Many of the present day champions have stated that they learned how to play from ages as young as 5 from their parents or relatives at home. Kids and teenagers with guidance can learn how to plan strategy, manage money, solve complex problems and understand the psychology of human beings. But every coin has two sides. A concerned number of people are voicing the opinion that the creation of gambling addicts is taking place. More and more land-based and online casinos are taking this seriously by offering help for gambling addiction and the creation of new programs for assistance for those who have problem issues. Having help available for players will become increasingly important as the enthusiasm of the game goes forward.
Is there a limit to the "all in" attitude for Texas Hold'Em tournaments being watched by the public? With retail sales, record ratings for television and cable plus big business pouring millions into it, the trend is still clearly reflecting the upswing. And if state legislation moves in favor of regulation of the online gambling industry for the tax revenue, it might not go away anytime soon. Because no one sits down at a table looking to bust out early, they sit down to win.
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