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Holdem was mainly covered only on ESPN until just a few years ago, and during those early years game received only infrequent airtime for one hour episodes of World Series of Poker main event. Early into 2005, it already appears that at least five different networks will host holdem shows sometime this year. Examples include: Travel Channel (World Poker Tour), ESPN (World Series of Poker), FOX Sports (the Poker Superstars Invitational), NBC (National Heads-up Championship), E! (E! Hollywood Home Game), and Bravo (Celebrity Poker Showdown). The vast majority of these shows consist of many weekly episodes; several, in fact, have more than ten new episodes planned for 2005. As above examples illustrate, most of major media conglomerates have adopted some form of show about most popular game, Texas Holdem. And believe me, they are looking for more opportunities.
It appears that sport has established itself as a contender for regular airtime on national networks going forward. Its rise into public eye rivals television rise of other professional sports. An appropriate comparison, in my opinion, would be climb in popularity and resultant paychecks on PGA Tour over last decade, particularly heavy increases in popularity following appearance of a young superstar by name of Tiger Woods. The baseline of PGA audience and prize pools has been re-established during this time. Holdem should see similar results.
So, while incredible growth rate cannot be expected to continue indefinitely, it appears that new plateau has not been reached. Just look at sports most popular event for an illustration. The main event ($10,000 entry) at 2003 WSOP had 839 entrants when Chris Moneymaker took home $2.5 million for first place. Just one year later, main event of 2004 WSOP boasted well over 2,500 players (Greg Raymer won first place and $5 million). Most of people who follow poker on a regular basis expect that there will be at least 6,000 entrants in main event of 2005 WSOP.
All signs seem to point to a continued increase in game until it becomes big enough to be considered a part of our daily lexicon. While there may be a component of population that has adopted or viewed this as a fad, it does not appear to be perspective of millions of railbirds and raisers that enjoy skill and competition of game itself.
Trent Gresh began playing poker seriously in 2001 and became a full-time player in 2004. Mr. Gresh focuses mainly on Texas and Omaha Holdem. You can find out more about Mr. Gresh through his poker blog at Case Ace Poker.