Ladbrokes Flush with Poker Success
By staff
Hilton's betting and gaming division Ladbrokes now boasts Europe's most popular card room - online or offline - as over $2 million a day is being won across the tables of

Since its launch in May 2002 has attracted over 25,000 customers from 75 countries. The site is dealing up to 50,000 games each day - and is currently growing at around 20% a month.

From a standing start Ladbrokes now has the third biggest poker operation in the World - despite not accepting business from the USA - believed to be 80% of the global poker market. With no US players however, the site is even more popular in Europe as Americans are considered stronger and more aggressive players than their European counterparts.

Ladbrokes is aiming to build on its success by linking up with Barry Hearn's Matchroom Sport to stage one of the world's biggest ever poker events - the Poker Million Masters. The event sees 28 of the world's leading poker players take on 6 wildcards - including Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance, former snooker World Champion Steve Davis, Jimmy White and Barry Hearn. The final 2 places in the 36-strong field are taken by players who have won their place at the table in online tournaments - Alan 'Mudd' Mudster, and Swedish tobacco shop owner Jonny 'Hugo' Akesson.

Sky Sports is to broadcast highlights of the heats in February next year. The draw for the event takes place on Tuesday with the heats beginning on Wednesday 18th December. The final will be broadcast live on Sunday 16th March. TV stations in Canada, South Africa, Australia, Holland and throughout Scandinavia will also broadcast the tournament.

Sky TV viewers will be able to see the players' cards via cameras placed underneath glass panels on the tables.

Ladbrokes and Matchroom Sport formed Poker Million as a joint venture last year to capitalise on the growing public interest in poker.

Ladbrokes eGaming Managing Director John O'Reilly commented: 'Poker already has a growing following around the world, and the Poker Million will help us build on the success of'

Barry Hearn, Executive Chairman of Matchroom Sport said he believed poker had the potential to become a mass TV audience sport: 'In 2000 Poker Million on the Isle of Man achieved a TV Audience on Sky in excess of many leading Premiership football matches. Poker has all the ingredients for great TV - big personalities playing for big money - a massive test of skill and courage.'

For further information please contact:

Simon Ansell Tel: 020 7465 7735 / 07802 704 048

Luke Riches Matchroom Sport Tel: 01708 782212

Julian Sheldon BSkyB Tel: 020 7 705 3872

About Ladbrokes

Ladbrokes, the betting and gaming division of Hilton Group plc, is the world's biggest bookmaker. It provides its customers with a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week service via over 2000 licensed betting shops in the UK, Ireland and Belgium, state of the art call centres in London and Liverpool and its interactive services. Over 400,000 registered customers from 160 countries bet on the Internet with Ladbrokes at and at the online casino was launched in May 2002.

About Matchroom Sport

Matchroom Sport is one of the leading world sports events organisations, creating and marketing an impressive portfolio of major televised sports event programmes.

For over a quarter of a century it has been creating, promoting, organising and televising major events worldwide under the charismatic leadership of Executive Chairman Barry Hearn. Hearn is a renowned showman and sports enthusiast with a legendary ability for creating exciting and highly visual events and has built an experienced team of production and sales staff.

Matchroom Sport has established a strong worldwide reputation among broadcasters, sports organisations and the viewing public for promoting successful events and edge of the seat action. The company leads the way in televised sports as varied as championship boxing, nine ball pool, big game and coarse fishing, snooker, golf, darts, poker, tenpin bowling. It produces and broadcasts all its events for televising both live and delayed across the world.

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