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Austria and German News

Poker Phenomenon

by Michael Keiner |  Published: Dec 01, 2006

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Most of the articles related to the worldwide poker scene are clearly targeting and reporting topics revolving around the relatively small group of some hundreds of professional players. Overall, we shouldn't forget that the pros are only the very small visible edge of the phenomenon called poker. Behind every single pro there are thousands of recreational players, trying to improve their skills in $1-$2 limit games or having some fun while playing $10 sit-and-gos during their weekly home game. In Germany, we might have 80 to 150 poker pros, but at least 800,000 people are playing online or in small-stakes live games. Don't get me wrong, I define a pro as somebody who is able to make a living from the game for longer than one year! Despite these facts, the huge number of hobby players in Germany have no real lobby. They rely on randomly acquired information about what is going on in the poker world, and where to play without violating any laws in these times of changes. Some poker enthusiasts became aware of these deficits and didn't want to talk about it any longer, but do something for the recreational players. Last spring, they founded the Deutscher Pokerverein (www.deutscherpokerverein.de), a nonprofit organisation that is supporting the interests of the poker base. They organize live freeroll tournaments in many cities all over Germany, provide their members with up-to-date information about legal developments, help young talents find their way into the international tournament circuit, and offer educational tools for players. The concept was a big success, and in the short period of only six months, the organisation has more than 1,500 members. Thomas Michalski, the president of the group, convinced me during a long meeting in Schenefeld about the targets of the Deutscher Pokerverein, so I decided to join them, trying to help them mainly with public relations work.

Back to pro business, I finally can tell you some very good personal news. Right in front of the Barcelona EPT event, 888.com, the home of PacificPoker, made me a very good offer to become a sponsored pro and represent the company in most of the high-value tournaments in Europe, including the EPT tour, the Master Classics in Amsterdam, and a lot of TV invitationals. Additionally, we will produce some poker tutorials for German TV and will do several moderations on poker shows. I happily agreed to the offer, and a contract was made for one year with an early option for prolongation.

While playing some TV tournaments this year, I heard the same standard phrase: Logos and branding are strictly forbidden at the table. Imagine, for example, if football club A, sponsored by "T-mobile," has to play a Champions League match in the stadium of football club B, sponsored by "Vodafone." Now, B is going to tell A that they are not allowed to wear the branded shirts during this match, because both sponsors are competitors in the market. Wouldn't that be a big joke? But exactly this is happening in the world of poker. What are the marketing directors of the hosting TV poker shows afraid of? Do they really believe that the audience doesn't know about the competition in the market?

Take it easy, guys; TV spectators already know that several different Internet poker providers exist in the world of online poker, and each one of them has different players under contract. And it wouldn't be the end of the world if a player who doesn't belong to the hosting company won the event of the hosted show. Next time, it will be someone else. Overall, with more liberal politics regarding the question of branding, you will get more top players entering the events, and everything will be much more real. Think about it! spade

Michael Keiner is a German poker pro sponsored by 888.com. You can find him playing online at www.pacificpoker.com.