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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Party time gambling

Party Poker has not looked back since. Its next break was the explosion of poker on television in the US, a phenomenon that almost has to be witnessed at first hand to be appreciated. Sports bars will regularly show television coverage of poker tournaments, with under-the-table cameras revealing players' cards, allowing the viewer to know when the innocent-looking guy in seat seven is running a monster bluff.

Hollywood celebrities have jumped on the bandwagon, with the likes of Ben Affleck and Nicole Kidman playing in a tournament that generated a television audience of 13 million. Party Poker's coup was to sign Mike Sexton as its public face. Think of Sexton as a Gary Lineker of televised US poker. Clearly he could not plug the site on TV but Party hammers home its association elsewhere.

"The World Poker Tour going live on TV in April 2003 brought poker from people's kitchen tables into their living rooms," says Bhargava. "People were discussing it at work and so on, and wanting to play the game having seen the TV programme, and we got the word out that if you do participate in an event like this you can do so online. We saw our market share go from up 20% to 50% in a fairly short period."