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Monday, October 24, 2005

Guess the casino

In the last couple of years poker professionals -- many of them Las Vegas residents -- have struck endorsement deals with Internet poker sites and regularly tout them during casino appearances.

In a bar near the lobby of the Rio resort, poker legend Doyle Brunson recently held court with fans under the glare of camera lights to promote his latest poker book, SuperSystem 2.

Amid jokes and colorful stories, the so-called "Babe Ruth of poker" mentions Doyle's Room, a recently launched Internet poker site for which the Las Vegas resident is a paid spokesman. He also wears a cowboy hat with the site's logo.

Before the news conference, Brunson said he plays online poker on occasion and is working on a book about Internet poker strategy.

"It's so convenient you can play at home in your bathrobe," he said.

Most poker pros now gamble online, lured by multi-million-dollar jackpots that rival those of the biggest land-based casinos as well as nonstop games and rapid play, poker experts say.

Many of the world's best poker players live in Las Vegas or live between Las Vegas and Southern California, both home to some of the industry's most lucrative poker tournaments and richest live casino games.

"In Nevada you have a higher percentage than normal playing online than the rest of the country," said Card Player magazine co-publisher Barry Shulman, also a top pro. "The people who go into the casinos play online. It took the casinos about five minutes to figure that out and at first they were concerned that Internet poker would kill their business. Look around town. Poker rooms are packed."

Local pros also are well-represented online, Shulman said.