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History of Poker

Small Ball, the Bluff, and the Boom

by James McManus |  Published: Oct 17, 2008


The "Poker Boom" unofficially detonated on the evening of March 30, 2003, with the Travel Channel's first broadcast of the Five-Diamond World Poker Classic at Bellagio. Produced by Steven Lipscomb, the show's lavish production values blended tabletop holecard cameras, informative sidebars, and beginner-level explanations from Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten, and all of it was hosted by Playboy cover girl Shana Hiatt, who often wore just a bikini. (The commentary would become more sophisticated as casual viewers began to pick up on the tactics and lingo of tournament hold'em.) The World Poker Tour went on to average 1.1 million viewers during its first season, with reruns attracting an estimated 4 million per show.

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