Most would agree that poker has made its way into the mainstream. One of the ways to help make this judgment is to acknowledge all of the TV shows that feature the game of poker. Of course this boom was fueled by the explosion of Texas Hold'em and this is the game most often being played on the tube. But other forms of poker are making their way into the spotlight as well.
The oldest and most well known poker tournament, The World Series of Poker, has been covered for some years before the poker explosion, but it did not gain primetime exposure and great popularity until recent years. Interestingly enough, a fresh new poker show can claim a lot of responsibility for fueling the push of poker into the mainstream and helping other poker shows come to fruition. The cutting edge new show is the World Poker Tour.
Without a doubt, the invention or addition of hole card cameras on the World Poker Tour tables made the game much more enjoyable to watch. This allowed the audience to see how different people play hands. With this new insight into pros and successful amateur players' minds, the general public was fueled even stronger in its belief that anyone could win. As a result the number of poker players around the world, especially in the US, swelled to record levels.
These record levels of poker players affected the whole market. One of the starkest examples is a record numbers of players for several years in a row at the World Series of Poker (this was only derailed after the passage of legislation that was harmful to online poker). Online poker sites enjoyed incredible growth as well, especially from US players. Poker players hungry for information and knowledge led to many new poker related publications and books. Retailers of supplies enjoyed tremendous sales increases and the high interest led to many new products coming to market.
Now the World Series of Poker is televised more prominently and is in its second year of postponing the final table for several months for increased interest and anticipation. While most poker TV shows feature coverage of a tournament, High Stakes Poker illuminates the exciting world of cash game poker. By featuring poker pros playing with hundreds of thousands of dollars of their own money, this show has easily captured the attention of the poker viewing public.
Other innovative shows which vary the format of tournament poker are Poker After Dark and the National Heads Up Poker Championship. Poker after Dark does feature tournaments, however the games played is varied quite often and the players are hand picked. The table has six players that you will usually know or will have heard of each player. It is like watching a talent packed final table in every episode. The National Heads Up Poker Championship describes itself with the name. Once again this is a tournament, but the players have to work their way through the field one player at a time. This definitely takes a different mindset and different set of skills.
In summary, the poker boom was fueled by many factors and poker TV shows were a big part of this phenomenon. Most notably was the great success of the poker table hole card camera, first used on the World Poker Tour. Second stage contributors were websites that allowed the average poker player to play online from the comfort of their homes. These poker sites benefited greatly, but also contributed heavily to the growth. A third major benefactor and contributor were the many poker supply retailers who supply multitudes of poker chips and tables for the masses of home and public games that appeared all over the world.