02 January 2004

First of all, happy new year to you all. May 2004 bring all your hopes and wishes to
fruition. I continue to think that 2004 will be the biggest poker year ever yet, especially as it starts to reach more and more outside USA.
Ladbrokes, probably the biggest gambling operator in the UK, published (on new year's eve apparently) a report stating that Virtual poker has risen sixfold in a year to £38m a day!. And they claim to have 50000 registered users! Then just imagine the number of people actually registered with party, which has an average of 4351 players online compared to 375 for ladbrokes (according to pokerpulse)!
If there is one factor encouraging the growth of poker, I believe it is television and its capacity to bring the game to mass audiences. in Poker phenomenon grows as game become popular spectator sport, steve Rosenbloom from the Chicago Tribune makes an insightful description of the growing popularity of the game. From Lipscomb (the inventor of poker on TV, one might say) to Hellmuth ("Arrogant? No," Hellmuth insists. "Egomaniacal? Yes." Hellmuth demands his own category and just might be the best in the world. "I think maybe right now I am," he said.) and from Jesus (you'll have to read the article to get this one) to all-in and the nuts, the article does a pretty good job at understanding the poker phenomenon!
Now if only they would stop this outrageous celebpoker show on Bravo! it does nothing good for the game. It is not about celebrities, it is about anyone's ability to play and win. Poker is a meritocracy, and whether your name is Ben Affleck or londonfroggy, your chances to win boil down to how hard you work - well play in fact - at it.
"...But please. Celebrity poker may be as bad as commercial television gets. First, the definition of celebrity hasn't been stretched this severely since the last "Hollywood Squares.'..........Another problem with the concept of celebrity poker is that, by definition, poker players aren't supposed to display their celebrity personalities. It's like inviting the stars of the Metropolitan Opera to compete in the "National Mime Showdown.'........Somebody tell Bravo to hold a time slot.". If those exerpts have amused you as much as they have me, go read this whole denverpost article here.

And the decidedly excellent pokersavvy adds its weight to this hot debate. I'll let them do the presentations:
"Does Bravo's series showcase decent poker? If not, is it at least entertaining? To answer these questions, Pokersavvy offers two reviews, one from a non-player looking to be entertained by
the spectacle, and another from an avid player hoping to see some competent play.

The novice's review:

The avid player's review:

And the answer is?
From the novice: "But as day one of the tournament approached and the promo footage of Emily Proctor tossing her blond, blond hair and saying, "THAT's what I'm TALkin' bout!" played for the seven thousandth time, I started to get a sinking feeling. Turns out, my dread wasn't altogether misplaced."

And from the avid player: "if you are looking to trash 60 minutes of your life watching actors embarrass themselves and debase a beautiful game, Celebrity Poker Showdown may just be for you."

Whilst referring to pokersavvy, allow me to blog here their excellent introduction to their latest email newsletter on 19 december:
"This holiday season, Pokersavvy will be calling upon St. Neot, a 1st century 15-inch tall pygmy monk who spent the bulk of his day in a well, submerged to his neck while praying. (Or so the story goes.) Why St. Neot? He happens to be the patron saint of fish. And all decent players should wish their least-able opponents prosperous and safe holidays.
Be well, fish! And bring your holiday loot to the tables!"

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