What has been amazing to see has been the explosion of interest in tournament poker in recent years. Tournament poke has finally hit the main stream - capturing the minds and dreams of millions of people. Four major television networks in the United States have started to show different tournaments. Magazines, from People to Airline magazines have started featuring star player profiles from around the world. Players are finding themselves being approached for endorsement deals. Television is making poker players famous and the buzz among the players because of these new opportunities is turning the game of poker into a massive spectator sport with new potentially golden opportunities for players who can make it to a final table and get on television.
A lot of the credit for the explosion of interest in poker and tournament play can be attributed to the launch of the poker series called the World Poker Tour. These hyped up televised poker tournaments featured each Wednesday night on the U.S. Travel Channel have forever changed the way people and players look at the game of poker. The ratings from these shows have guaranteed this series to run for a long time to come. During the 2009 World Series of Poker ESPN ran a show about the 2002 World Series of Poker that apparently got better ratings than two NHL playoff games it had to compete with that night. Bravo Channel has started a series on poker, as did the Fox network.
Players making final tables not only have the chance at cashing big because of the increased prize pools in these tournaments but are being offered thousands of dollars from different companies to wear their gear at the final tables that will be shown on television. There is everything from normal big buy-in tournaments being shown on television, to Women's showdowns, to a new series called the Celebrity Poker challenge, a charity based poker show featuring big named stars facing off and playing Texas hold'em in front of the camera.
The newly generated hype and opportunities have changed the way a lot of the pros view their profession. They not only have increased prize pools to compete for, they also have other opportunities now that just weren't there a year and a half ago. A good example of the growth in the number of players in tournaments could be seen at a recent Bellagio tournament series held in December of 2009. The $2500 pot-limit event in December of 2009 saw its entries swell to over 400 players.
More and more players are bucking up the money to enter these tournaments chasing the dream of the massive prize pools and potential fame that can come along with getting on television. Cardrooms throughout North America and Europe are adding more tables and experiencing growth beyond their expectations. People are able to compete in these tournaments in casinos across the United States, to Aruba, to France, to Austria, to Cruise ships now. The players themselves have forever changed the way they look at these tournaments. They can see opportunities coming from the fame of getting on television and are changing everything from their games to their appearance so that they appear more camera friendly. Some circuit professionals have undergone different types of cosmetic surgeries from tummy tucks, to liposuction, to face lifts, to stomach stapling, to hair transplants in an effort to improve their camera appeal. A lot of pros that used to live it up good when they were on road trips are now waking up and going to work out trying to capitalize on any opportunity that might present itself because of the media involvement now in poker.
All of a sudden now there is not only the opportunity at massive prize pools but new opportunities presenting themselves to make a lot of money from poker, without even having to risk putting money on the poker table. One television appearance could mean great endorsement deals to players and that has players taking the game more seriously trying their best to get one good result that will be caught on television. The new opportunities are astronomical and the smartest players are trying to ride that new wave that has happened in the past decade.
One of the best reasons for playing tournament poker right now is the potential return on your investment for the tournaments. The prize pools are just massive now giving a player the opportunity to win enormous amounts of money by winning a single tournament. There are so many new tournament players that the opportunity for the better players right now is better than it has ever been in the past. Rookie tournament players - sometimes referred to as "dead money" - will pay their entrance fees without a reasonable shot at winning the tournament. The more experienced players get bigger prize pools to go after and the weaker players get every reason to improve their game. And dreams do come true sometimes. In his first major live poker tournament Chris Moneymaker cashed in for $2,500,000 at the 2003 World Series of Poker Championship. Buy those poker books, get into as many tournaments as you can, and take a shot at a dream!