Posted on 08/06/2007

Photo taken on August  6, 2007


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Brook's Pocker

Brook's Pocker
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The card game once reserved for smoky back rooms and heavy- drinking hustlers has exploded into a nationwide craze. Poker tournaments draw millions of TV viewers. Casinos that were closing card rooms en masse a few years ago now can't open new ones fast enough. And young and serious players are hitting the tables in droves.

"We've gone from a world where people were embarrassed to say they were poker players to where they're the hit of the family reunion," says Steve Lipscomb, who created the World Poker Tour. He estimates the poker-playing public has grown from around 50 million five years ago to more than 80 million in the United States today--with no end in sight.

Poker didn't get to be the new "it" game by chance. Celebs like Ben Affleck and Matthew Perry have given it the gloss of cool. And the Internet has lured thousands of players, both experienced and not, to ante up as much as $100 million collectively each night, according to PokerPulse, which tracks online statistics (major sites, like , often host 40,000 players a night).