|Poker is doing great business in Las Vegas, and the reason for that is the growing interest in the game, sparked by online poker tournaments and TV coverage, according to industry figures. |
'It's absolutely incredible,' said Doug Dalton, MGM Mirage's poker operations director. 'The surge in interest is unbelievable. It's boosting play on Internet sites, but also in live card rooms and especially in tournaments.'
The Travel Channel began broadcasting World Poker Tour events last year, and have become a ratings hit. ESPN has also seen solid ratings from its World Series of Poker shows.
The Vegas card rooms seeing most of the action are at The Bellagio, The Orleans, The Mirage and Binion's Horseshoe, although smaller poker rooms are everywhere in Las Vegas.
Chris Moneymaker won the $2.5 million championship in May's final event of the World Series of Poker while competing in his first casino tournament, having previously only ever played online.
His success has been the inspiration for other online poker players to hit the land based casinos, experts said.
'People have aspirations of seeing themselves on TV, winning the tournament,' Las Vegas Advisor Publisher Anthony Curtis said. Curtis said people who may have been daunted by the atmosphere at a land based casino poker table have been able to prepare by watching the TV games and by playing online. 'They're not as afraid,' Curtis said. 'They're not absolute virgins. The poker rooms get a double bang. The new players learn by watching TV, and practice in anonymity online.'