Could You Cut it on the Big Stage?As you may well have heard by now, we are in the midst of a poker craze that’s sweeping the planet via online casinos with all the implacable force of an advancing rhinoceros. Everyone wants to be like those super cool guys with sunglasses on TV, who toy with thousands of dollars like you and I toy with cold mashed potatoes.
Swept up by the buzz, 50 million of us are firmly in the clutches of this raging trend and now play poker regularly online or in bricks and mortar card rooms. In fact, an astonishing $115 million is now wagered each day in internet poker rooms alone.
However, It was not always thus. Only a few years ago casinos were shutting down their card rooms, due to high operational costs and low rakes, to make way for rows and rows of economically bankable slots. Binion’s Horseshoe, home of the World Series of Poker for the last thirty years, was a crumbling relic in a distinctly down-at-heel part of Vegas, a monument to faded glamour. When Harrah’s bought the place, they were probably thinking of tearing it down. But then something peculiar began to happen that would revive the Horseshoe’s fortunes and would see it become the most clamorous, glamorous destination in town.
Over in England, a show was airing called Late Night Poker, in which someone had the bright idea of creating a table camera that would show the hole cards, transforming the game of Texas Hold ‘em into fascinating spectator sport. The idea was picked up by the World Poker Tour in the US, and audiences began to grow and a momentum started to build; ignited by TV and fuelled by the Internet poker rooms that were springing up and offering new converts all the practise they could ever want.
ESPN began to cover the World Series of Poker, which caught the publics’ imagination and brought a little pizzazz back to the Horseshoe. And then a man named ‘Moneymaker’ stepped into the spotlight.
Chris Moneymaker’s story is a gambler’s dream: an American Everyman from Tennessee, with an unlikely name, mounting debts and a child on the way, who had qualified on the Internet and never played a ‘live’ tournament before, suddenly found himself, seemingly out of his depth, at the final table of the World Series of Poker. And he won. He won $2.5 million!
The mainstream press suddenly woke up and took notice; after all, it was a great story. Moneymaker’s face, and poker, made the front pages, but, more significantly, it set the wheels in motion and made the average Joe realise he could go all the way too. The poker masses had become self-empowered and the following year, this year, at the Horeshoe, the world and his wife were clamouring for a seat at the tournament.
A record 2500 competitors turned up, allowing for a total prize pool of $20 million; and amongst them an army of Internet qualifiers. The Horseshoe could barely accommodate the hordes of budding cardsharps and had to split them into two groups to play on separate days. Amid the chaos and the media frenzy, Greg Raymer, also an amateur an internet qualifier, kept his cool to win the crown and $5 million, the largest cash prize for an American sporting event of all time.
So how do you so it? Could you be the next Moneymaker on the Big Stage at the World Series? Have you got what it takes to become one of the world’s newest and most unique kind of celebrity? As the Moneymakers and Raymers of this world will tell you, it’s damn well worth a try.
A seat at the WSOP will set you back $10,000, but not if you take the route of the last two World Champions, and qualify online. A buy in to an Internet satellite tournament can cost as little as $10, and the dividends can be unimaginable.
However, there’s a bewildering plethora of sites out there all offering tournaments and you need to find one tailor-made for your needs and abilities. Entry fees vary, so you need to find one that caters for your pocket. For instance, Pokerstars.com was the website of choice for Moneymaker and Raymer, so you can’t fault its credentials.
Gambling.com is an excellent web resource that will help you make these tough decisions. Its part of a new breed of gambling specific search engines that really separates the wheat from the chaff, and gives you exactly what you search for. So if you simply need some practise and want a gentle a low stakes game, Gambling.com will show you exactly where to go. Likewise, if you intend to hit the big time, or find a satellite that can put you in the big time, it can provide you all the information you’ll need.
Poker has become so popular because it’s an endlessly fascinating game that has depth of strategy and scintillating excitement in equal measure. Moreover, a new breed of poker player has emerged who has shown us that, with a little determination and self-belief, $10 dollars, some serious study and a run of luck, we too can be poker stars.