The new booming pastime of competition poker has taken Australia and the region by storm over the past few years.
More than 6000 players are registered with various 'Pub Poker' leagues offering games every day of the week across the Illawarra alone. 'Pub Poker' is a generic term for leagues offering free or $5-$10 entry to Texas hold 'Em poker knock-out tournaments hosted at pubs and clubs, and now even bowling alleys.
Games last a few hours depending on how well you play to avoid elimination. Play is friendly and relaxed, new players and novices are always made welcome. Prizes vary from token up to thousands of dollars.
Information about games near you can be found on www.pokertalk.com.au - a lively player run website not aligned with any one league but covering all of them. For the uninitiated, Texas Hold 'Em, or just Hold 'Em poker is the same version you see the celebrities play on television.
The unexpected success of televised poker has probably sparked the recent boom in pokers popularity. It's surprisingly good drama to see players agonise over a tough decision - especially when the pocket cameras show the TV viewers each player's cards as they blunder into a crushing defeat.
Professional Poker players are growing in celebrity status, albeit not yet in the general public, as poker is such a game of character.
A boost for poker in Australia was Melbourne player Joe Hachem winning $US 7.5 Million at the world series of poker main event in 2006, to become our best known player of several Australians on the international scene.
Closer to home Australian Poker League is about to host the biggest prize paying free tournament this country has ever seen. With over $1,000,000 in prizes the Wild Turkey Tournament of Champions is set to put Pub Poker in Australia on the International map in a big way.
Reference: this story is based on an article written by David Brown and published in the Wollongong Advertiser.