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TV Networks embrace poker . . . again

ESPN seems to cover every major sport these days, with soccer being the fastest growing part of the portfolio. It’s amazing how much impact ESPN can have when they “bless” a sport. With poker, we saw a huge explosion in popularity over the past 15 years, and the amount of poker on television certainly fueled that growth, with ESPN being a huge part of that. Viewers will be reminded of that now that the World Series of Poker is around the corner, and ESPN will have plenty of coverage across its various channels. The WSOP poker buzz takes the game to another level, and every sport/game needs a signature event to take the excitement to another level, but poker on TV has become much more than just an annual circus around this event.

Poker on television has grown for years, though the shenanigans by the feds has at times thrown some cold water on the poker boom. That hasn’t done much to slow down all of the various television outlets desperate for entertainment content, so finding a poker game on TV usually hasn’t been that difficult. But the uncertainty surrounding the federal regulatory climate has had an some impact on the game. It’s always a buzz kill when big name sites get into a fight with the feds.

Now things are heating up again, as recent court decisions have basically given a green light to the states to set up their own regulatory frameworks. Unfortunately the dysfunction in Washington has made it impossible to get uniform rules throughout the country, but state actions are reinvigorating the poker movement.

Meanwhile, the television big wigs are paying attention, and we’re going to see another big push into poker content. Showtime will air the 2009 documentary “All In – The Poker Movie” about how poker became part of the mainstream culture in the US. This will be the TV premiere of this film. More TV shows like “Queens are Wild,” , a new reality show from NBC Universal is another example. It will follow four female poker players around the world. Babes and poker – we agree that’s probably a winning formula!

So get ready for the next TV poker boom!

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Online Poker Tips


Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There are no restrictions to the amount of pure entertainment that can be had from the comfort of the couch. Streaming the latest movie releases or primetime shows is a surefire way to instant enjoyment, but there is a huge online sector of entertainment that can easily neglected – online poker. There are countless sites that offer exciting poker experiences that you can play from the convenience of your home. Once you have found the perfect site for you, here are some tips you can use to get more out of the game.

For Beginners

If you’re just starting to learn how to play online poker, there are some tips and tricks you’re going to want to learn. For starters, familiarize yourself with the features of playing poker online. Play low-stakes games, and only at one table at a time. Make sure you’re not distracted while playing. These tips should get you off to the right start.

Come up with Your Strategy

Every online poker player needs a strategy. Are you going to play a set amount of games? Are you going to play all of your games on one site, or use multiple sites? How much will you bet before folding? These are just some of the decisions you should make before you start playing. Keep an eye on your bets, and make sure you’re not exceeding the amount you intended to spend on the matches. Make sure you know when to walk away from the table.

Keep Your Reputation Clean

Once you start playing online poker, your persona is going to be known to other regular players. To ensure that you will be welcome at the games and tournaments, you want to keep your reputation clean. If you’re always complaining and griping, you’re not going to be welcome. But if you’re courteous and friendly, you’ll be welcome to come to any game and tournament you’d like.

Join Tournaments

Many online casinos offer poker tournaments you can join that offer great incentives. This will give you a chance to earn some great rewards, and compete against other poker enthusiasts in an online environment. The buy in usually differs per game depending on the stakes.

Find Bonuses

Certain online casinos offer added bonuses from playing on their sites, such as the bonus at sportsbook.com. These bonuses are intended to help entice players to play at certain online poker venues, and can help you earn a great deal of money while playing online.
Online poker can be a fun hobby that earns you money, but you want to make sure you’re not in over your head. Follow these tips to help ensure you won’t be.

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Hidden Netflix Gems – The Grand

Hidden Netflix Gems is a new feature designed to help readers answer that burning question, “What should I watch tonight?” It will be updated every Saturday before the sun goes down.

While most sports movies tend to take themselves very seriously, with triumphant underdogs and platitude-filled speeches in their third acts, some sports just inherently lend themselves to comedy. Bowling is a great example of this, as evidenced by the success of films like the Farrelly brothers’ Kingpin and the Coen brothers’ The Big Lebowski. Poker is another, though the game itself is so relatively inactive that it’s debatable whether it should even be called a sport, and Zak Penn‘s underrated improvisational comedy The Grand takes full advantage of a poker tournament’s many humorous possibilities.

Similar to the revered work of Christopher Guest and his regular ensemble of actors in films like Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show, Penn assembles a talented ensemble cast and gives them direction on who their characters are, then leaves the dialogue and the development of situations largely up to them. In fact, the poker tournament at the center of the film is a real tournament, and its outcome was undetermined in the script; the winner at the end of the film actually just beat the other actors, regardless of narrative expectations. This approach gives the film extra vitality and excitement, and with so much room to breathe, the cast creates lively, hilarious characters that often riff on and expand their real public personae.

Woody Harrelson stars as “One Eyed” Jack Faro, the owner of The Rabbit’s Foot casino, which he hopes to save by winning an annual tournament called The Grand. Of course, it is the drug-addled, 74-time divorcée Jack’s own bad investments and reckless behavior that has jeopardized his ownership of the casino in the first place, but despite his many vices, Jack is a charming and lovable rogue worth rooting for. His main competition in the tournament includes the Schwartzman twins, Larry (David Cross, who had a good real-life run on Celebrity Poker Showdown) and Lainie (Cheryl Hines); the Rain Man-like genius Harold Melvin (Chris Parnell, best known as 30 Rock‘s incompetent Dr. Leo Spaceman); and oblivious newcomer Andy Andrews (Richard Kind).

As funny and well-developed as all these primary characters are, however, it is the bit parts that really shine in The Grand. Legendary filmmaker Werner Herzog brings a deadpan menace to his character, “The German,” a ruthless cheat who brings a small menagerie of animals with him to the casino’s hotel because, as he says, “To feel alive and to get this energy, it is essential for me to kill something each day.” Dennis Farina is also particularly memorable as LBJ “Deuce” Fairbanks, a Las Vegas veteran nostalgic for a less family-friendly time in the city’s history; as he fondly remembers it, “It was a place where the Jews and the blacks had to enter the casinos through rear entrances. By the way, on this corner right here, I stabbed a bum.” Though barely released in theaters and largely ignored, The Grand is a consistently funny, anarchistic good time for poker fans and novices alike.

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