Introduction

             Poker has had an explosion of growth in the 21st century.  Poker has had booms in popularity before, particularly when hold’em was legalized in California in 1988.  However, nothing in poker’s history compares with what is happening now.

What’s Behind the Growth?

Two factors have propelled poker to its current heights, and there doesn’t look to be any limit to the growth.


            First, today, you can watch poker on television almost every day of the year. The biggest success has been the phenomenal World Poker Tournament, making superstars of tournament players.  Network research has shown that poker has great  “sticking power” among channel surfers: those who happen upon poker tend to continue to watch.  Viewers see apparently ordinary people winning millions in tournaments and they become fascinated by this ultimate and yet most accessible to reality shows.  This exposure has helped create an unprecedented interest in the game.

            Second, while in the past people may have had the willingness to play poker, apart from weekly home games, most didn’t have the opportunity.  This is certainly no longer the case, however.  Once confined in the United States to a few Western states, public cardrooms – some land-based, some on crushing or permanently docked riverboats, some full-blown on Indian reservations – offering virtually nonstop games have spread to many states. Those states that don’t have official  cardrooms offer regular “charity nights” that include games for poker players.  Twenty years ago poker was available in the united States and the United Kingdom, and that was about it.  Now, the of many European countries, as well as Canada, Australia, and countries in Central and south America, offer poker.  And, even if a live poker game is not available in your area, the advent of Internet poker allows you to play from the comfort of your own home.  In fact, Internet poker has largely contributed to poker’s recent exponential growth.