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Monday, October 10, 2005

BTDino alliance

Poker mania has produced TV shows, best-selling books, magazines and a host of celebrities. Even the venerable New York Times has hired a poker columnist for the first time in its history. Nearly 2 million play online poker each month. In New Jersey and Nevada alone--the only two states that track data--revenue hit $152 million in 2004, up 45% from 2003.

Fun aside, the headlines and the big money comes down to the tournaments. Two major brands dominate.

The older, more established (36 years in the running) is the World Series of Poker, which is owned and operated by Harrah's Entertainment (nyse: HET - news - people ), now in the process of merging with Caesars Entertainment (nyse: CZR - news - people ).

Cable-TV channel ESPN, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Co. (nyse: DIS - news - people ), broadcasts the tournament. The series consists of several tournaments offering smaller prize money, in addition to the main tournament, which decides the world champion. This year, some 6,600 will compete in the main tournament July 7-15. Many of the competitors paid $10,000 to enter, with the hope of winning a jackpot of some $8 million.