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The poker craze is bigger than ever

The June 2005 IPO of Europe’s PartyGaming, the parent company of PartyPoker.com, at an offer price of £116 per share established an estimated valuation for the company of roughly $8,500,000,000 (US dollars). That’s not a typo. PartyGaming vaulted into the top 100 companies listed on the London Stock Exchange overnight, and over the following month jumped up almost 50% to a price of about £175 per share. Poker’s hot, and investors apparently see it getting much hotter.

PartyPoker.com, while undeniably the industry leader with an average of more than 20,000 simultaneous players online at any given time, is still only one of over 250 online gaming sites. Conservative, and somewhat dated, estimates are that over $100 Million is wagered in online poker rooms every day.

Poker: An American original

America is at the forefront of the poker craze with an estimated 80 Million Americans playing poker periodically. It’s an American game, after all. Nonetheless, the rest of the world is quickly getting in on the action. 2005 World Series of Poker winner, Joe Hachem, of Melbourne, Australia, walked away with $7.5M and will undoubtedly fuel the already growing international interest in poker.

Poker players are celebrities, or is it the other way around?

You know something is hot when celebrities are jumping on the bandwagon. I mean, their time must be pretty valuable right?

Some of the celebrities were widely known to be associated with the poker world before the craze even started, as was Ben Affleck who proved he’s the real deal with his 2004 California State Poker Championship win netting over $350,000. Other high profile celebrity poker player’s include Tobey Maguire, James Woods, Shannon Elizabeth, to name a few. Some are even cashing is as did Jennifer Tilly with a $150,000 win at this year’s Women’s No-Limit Hold’em Event at the 2005 World Series of Poker.

But the real celebrities of the poker world are the professionals who’ve made a name for themselves at the final tables of the popular World Poker Tour, the historic World Series of Poker, and the various other televised poker events. Pros like Doyle Brunson, Howard Lederer, Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, Annie Duke, and Gus Hansen are reaching celebrity status with anybody who has even a passing interest in poker. Upstarts like Chris Moneymaker and Greg Raymer are going from unknowns to poker legends in one tournament, which is giving hope of fame and fortune to players everywhere.

The media frenzy

You can’t turn on the TV without seeing a poker show these days. The Travel Channel, ESPN, Bravo, and even NBC are ramping up their poker content. In June of 2003, there were exactly zero airings of poker-related shows. A year later, there were 60 airings in the month of June. In 2005, nobody wants to bother to count because it’s become commonplace. Poker is everywhere on TV, and audiences are growing, with the World Poker Tour at over 5 Million viewers an episode.

Magazines are getting into the fray as well. While Card Player magazine has been steadily growing its readership for over for 18 years, upstarts like Bluff and All In Magazine are reaching circulations of over 100,000 in less than a year of founding.

The craze is growing, and with it largely still being an American craze, many believe that we’re still in the early adoption phase. Whatever stage the craze happens to be in, one thing is for certain. Poker is here to stay in a big way.

Get some chips, and get in on the action!


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