on the rise like a stack of chips
As reported by The Associated Press
VEGAS -- The best poker player in the world quickly does
the math and doesn't like his odds at this week's World Series
to a poker craze created by TV, the Internet and last year's
remarkable storybook victory by a young unknown, a staggering
2,576 people are competing this time for a record $5 million
I started playing in 1987, I had a vision that if you became
one of the top players, you could expect to win the championship,"
said Howard Lederer, 40, a man with a lead-piercing stare and
a numbers-crunching mind that have led others to regard him
as the best in the game. "Even if I'm the favorite, I'm
of several hundred pros and a smattering of amateurs competing
in the grandest of poker events are over. Everybody from "Spider-Man"
actor Tobey Maguire to a former Oklahoma beauty queen was betting
on being crowned the next poker king on Friday in the 35th annual
World Series of Poker at Binion's
Horseshoe Hotel & Casino.
839 men and women played in the No-Limit Texas Hold'Em event,
in which players are dealt two cards each and make the best
poker hand they can using those plus five additional common
cards that are turned face up on the table. An aptly named accountant
from Spring Hill, Tenn., Chris Moneymaker, won the top prize
of $2.5 million.
was considered "Dead Money" in poker circles, someone
destined to lose early. Instead, his Cinderella story is credited
with transforming the game.
advanced to the finals after paying $40 in a qualifying Internet
event. For those who do not get lucky in the satellite tournaments
on the Internet or at Binion's
leading up to the World Series, the buy-in fee is $10,000.
Since his astonishing victory,
the 28-year-old Moneymaker has become a poker celebrity. His
face appears in poker magazines and people ask for autographs.
also points to the Internet in creating the groundswell of interest
Andy Bloch, a 34-year-old Massachusetts Institute of Technology
and Harvard Law School graduate, believes there is another ingredient:
"Two letters: TV. It's a great game for television."
the finals in 2003 and has been replaying Moneymaker's performance
again and again. This year the network plans to air 22 hours
also have capitalized on the craze. The Travel Channel offers
"World Poker Tour," and Bravo has "Celebrity
Series of Poker has come a long way since cowboy gambler Benny
Binion began a poker tournament to crown the world's best player
and winner Johnny Moss took home $30,000 in 1971.
World Series comprises more than 30 events that involve different
variations of poker, such as pot-limit Omaha and seven-card
games wrapped up last week before the much-anticipated No-Limit
Texas Hold'Em finals began Saturday.
betting, a player can risk all his chips with every turn of
a card, guaranteeing high-stakes action and big-time losers.
And another person's misery makes for great reality TV.
the defending champ, Moneymaker lasted only three hours before
losing his stack of chips to an opponent who landed one of only
two cards that could have beat him.