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Monday, October 24, 2005

Show me the money

"It's easier for them to win online than to drive to Bellagio and play for eight hours straight," he said. "The Internet is bringing so many new people into poker. The quality of (online) poker on average is going up but for the pros there's more money in it."

Online poker helps supplement income for poker pros who don't have to travel around as much to play in big money games, said Russ Hamilton, the 1995 World Series of Poker champion.

Hamilton is a spokesman for UltimateBet.com, a site based in the Caribbean island of Aruba.

"The big pros play online," Hamilton said. "There's a lot of people making a living online."

Poker pros say the law surrounding online poker is unclear but are careful not to go too far in their relationships with Internet poker sites.

Brunson, said he is a consultant for DoylesRoom.com and does not have an ownership stake in the site.

"It's a gray area," Brunson said of Internet gambling. "That's why we can only be consultants, not owners. It's a touchy situation."

Las Vegan and poker pro Howard Lederer is paid to promote FullTiltPoker.com, an Internet poker site that opened in July. Lederer is part owner of the company that developed the gambling software for the site but said he doesn't have a stake in the gambling operation.

"The software is a constant project," said Lederer, a two-time World Series of Poker champion.

About two years ago, Lederer and other top players were approached by a group of players with the idea of creating a poker site with star power and input from professional players.

"The site was designed with well over 100 years of poker experience behind it," he said. "These are poker people, people who understand online poker. We play in small stakes games (with customers) and answer questions. It's a true endorsement of the site."

Lederer admits his poker game has suffered somewhat because he is now involved in so many related business opportunities.