Poker Articles: Poker Mania Worth Millions

Many people consider poker to be a typical male-bonding activity. From time to time, guys enjoy getting away from their wives or girlfriends, hanging out with their buddies, drinking beer, and trying to win some extra money. Other guys like the game because of the other rewards it offers -- strip poker comes to mind.

Other still aren't interested in the winnings as much as they are the process, and the thrill that comes with the risk element. Sure, poker can offer all of these things. But today's game is serious business with serious rewards. And because of these riches, more and more people are trying their hand at the game.

The world's best poker players have become millionaires, and businesses that support the game are making a fortune. Let's take a look at some of the insane money associated with the poker craze. All figures are in U.S. dollars. world series of poker

Poker mania is still a relatively new concept, but a few key individuals laid the groundwork for it way back in 1949. That's when famed gambler Nicholas "Nick the Greek" Dandalos challenged card legend Johnny Moss to a high-stakes poker marathon. This event lasted for five months, with breaks only for sleeping. It was Moss who finally won and collected an estimated $2 million prize.

The event had been organized by gambling icon Benny Binion, and in 1970, he recreated the event. The competition was titled "The World Series of Poker," and its winner would be deemed world champion. Moss won again.

Over the next 12 years, the number of contestants increased to 52. Fast forward to 2003, when a $10,000 no-limit Hold 'em event drew 839 entries. The following year, the number of players swelled to 2,576. The total prize money also increased, from $7.8 million in the mid-'90s to more than $49 million in 2004.

The 2005 edition of the WSOP had a new wrinkle: a circuit of five tournaments. In addition to winning (and losing) money, entrants also gain points. The top 20 people on the points list advance to the Tournament of Champions. world poker tour

It's not hard to find poker on television these days. Many of the ones that you will come across are part of the World Poker Tour, a weekly televised series of poker tournaments united under one banner.

The WPT is currently traded on the NASDAQ exchange, and to some investment analysts, this stock is becoming a must-have. In March of 2005, The Motley Fool ( reported that the WPT had seen $5.7 million in revenues in the fourth quarter of 2004. That represented a significant increase from the same period in the previous year, during which the company pulled in $379,000. For the full year, the company posted $752,000 in profit, or about four cents per share.

The WPT earned $2.5 million from a combination of sources, including international television licensing, product licensing, merchandise sales, and sponsorship fees. Lakes Entertainment, which owns about two-thirds of the WPT, had a fine fourth quarter, as domestic television licensing revenues jumped from $300,000 to $3.2 million.

In less than three years, the WPT has created 22 millionaires and given out more than $100 million in prize money. According to poker tour officials, it took pro golf more than 30 years to reach that mark.

Last year, the company launched the Professional Poker Tour, a series of tournaments open only to the game's elite players. At the inaugural PPT event, first prize was $200,000 and a $25,000 seat at the WPT World Championship. top poker players

The world's best poker players have accumulated riches that are fairly close to what athletes earn in the major professional sports.

Greg Raymer
As a patent attorney for pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, Greg Raymer makes a nice living. But, thanks to his poker prowess, now he's rolling in it. He won last year's WSOP title and a $5 million prize, the largest single one ever earned by the winner of a poker tournament. Raymer's success, however, hasn't changed him. He said that, although he could've bought a $5,000 Rolex with part of his WSOP winnings, he liked his $100 model. He even flew home from the event in economy class.

Phil Hellmuth
Wisconsin native Phil Hellmuth wants to become the greatest poker player of all time, and is well on his way to achieving that goal. He won his first WSOP title as a 24-year-old in 1989. He's second on the all-time series money list, having earned $3.6 million, and has five World Poker Tour top 10 finishes. Hellmuth has parlayed his success on the table into other ventures, including books, an instructional video and a poker game bearing his name.

Erick Lindgren
Erick Lindgren excelled in basketball and football as a high school student in Northern California. But he wound up going pro in poker after working as a blackjack dealer. According to Lindgren's official website, his career tournament winnings exceed $2 million. He won his seat at an event called Poker Million III at an online satellite. Lindgren made the most of his opportunity there, taking home the top $1 million prize. Lindgren also won the 2003 WPT event in Aruba, and walked away with a cool $500,000.