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Poker's new upsurge in popularity is due to televised showings of championship poker tournaments, such as The World Poker Tour and The World Series of Poker. This has resulted in millions of people all over the world playing either online or at land based casinos. Even movie stars and professional athletes are getting into tournament action. This really became evident when actor Ben Affleck won $356,400 and a tournament title at Commerce Casino's California State Poker Championship in June 2004.
And big business likes poker too. Bear Stearns estimated that annual revenue from poker was $4.5 billion in 2003. Another analyst group feels 2005 revenue will exceed $10 billion. PokerPulse.com stated that $117,116,301.00 was wagered at online poker rooms in a 24 hour period on August 25, 2004.
People see the excitement and money that is involved in poker tournaments by watching poker on TV, which is one reason the perception of poker gambling went from being played in dark rooms to a preferred status. The seasoned professional players are excited about this as well. They are not winning as many tournaments as they have in the past due to the influx of many new players, but they are winning more than ever because of their levels of expertise at the game.
Plus, the makeup of the top players has been changing. In the past only people who played for years and built up instincts for knowing how to win were champions. Now the newer top players are highly educated, highly successful and are analytical in nature. You will see individuals from top professions like Financial Analyst, Rocket Scientist, Attorney, and Mathematician along with industry CEO's in the ranks of champion. People like Phil Ivey and Chris Ferguson who can perform mathematical calculations in their heads with ease will be the future.
But not having an Ivy League education won't stop enthusiastic poker players from playing the game. On a televised episode of the 2004 World Series of Poker tournament, a former homeless man stated in a game he got off of the streets by learning to play poker. He stated that he learned the game by losing $1500.00, one penny at a time. (For the record he did not win that tournament, but did leave Binion's with over $40,000 in cash.)
And with the 2003 and 2004 World Series of Poker Champions earning their seats from online poker room tournaments, the Internet will eventually be the main producer of players. A huge number of online poker rooms have been sponsoring seats to top tournaments with buy ins less than $100, which is a far cry from the standard entry fees for these events at land based casinos. So keep an eye on what is going on in the poker world, because the excitement is just getting started!