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Inside Straight: News

Reviews, News, and Interviews From Around the Poker World

by Card Player News Team |  Published: Dec 12, 2008


Dewey Tomko and Henry Orenstein in Poker Hall of Fame
Induction ceremony took place at WSOP main event
By Bob Pajich

Dewey TomkoDewey Tomko and Henry Orenstein were inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame on Nov. 9, as part of the World Series of Poker main event's final-table night.

Tomko is a three-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner and a two-time main-event runner-up, and has played in more consecutive WSOP main events than anyone else, 35.

"It's a great honor, I'm proud of it. I'm kind of more happy for my family and friends than myself," Tomko said. "A lot of people - my family, my friends - dealt with all the stress I put them through, all the heartaches. I have a lot of people to be thankful for. I'm very thankful to the Binion family, very thankful to Harrah's. I never even thought about the Hall of Fame 15 years ago."

Tomko grew up in Glassport, Pennsylvania, a former factory river town outside of Pittsburgh, and several of the old-timers who taught him to play cards in the back of pool rooms there came to the ceremony.

Some of Tomko's highlights include eight cashes in the last three WSOPs, a third-place finish in the 2005 $5,000 deuce-to-seven draw lowball event (good for $138,160), and dozens of final-table appearances throughout the years. He was inducted by longtime pal Doyle Brunson.

Henry OrensteinOrenstein also has had some poker success (he holds a WSOP title in a stud event from 1996), but the Holocaust survivor, who is now in his 80s, has as much to do with the popularity of poker as any of the players. He holds the patent for the holecard camera, which changed the game of poker completely. Without it, TV poker would not be as compelling and the poker boom wouldn't have been nearly as big as it was.

The first table with cameras that he built was on display at the induction ceremony.

The Poker Hall of Fame was bought by Harrah's when it purchased the WSOP in 2004. There are 37 members, including Tomko and Orenstein, and 16 of those members are still living and playing.

Some of the more active players who are in the Hall include (year of induction follows name): Bobby Baldwin (2003), Billy Baxter (2006), Lyle Berman (2002), Doyle Brunson (1988), Johnny Chan (2002), T.J. Cloutier (2006), Barbara Enright (2007), and Phil Hellmuth (2007).

Barry Greenstein Builds Gymnasium With Children Incorporated
Gym at a Lakota Sioux Reservation Opened in October
By Bob Pajich

Barry GreensteinChildren who live on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in Todd County, South Dakota, now have a place to play basketball, thanks to Barry Greenstein and the nonprofit organization Children, Incorporated.

An open house was held at the Barry Greenstein Gymnasium in October. The gym is part of the Rosebud Dormitory student residence and school on the reservation. It's not known how much Greenstein donated, but he funded the entire project through Children, Incorporated.

Before Children, Incorporated got involved with Rosebud Dormitory in 2003, the dorm consisted of four sleeping rooms and a dining hall. Now, more than 140 Lakota Sioux children are housed and educated at the dorm.

The gym only adds to the children's well-being and quality of life, according to Children, Incorporated.

"This gymnasium, which proudly displays a sign over the entrance that reads Barry Greenstein, brings new hope to this community. The children and their families are so grateful," said Marian Cummins, Children, Incorporated CEO. "This is now a haven for the children, a refuge and an inspiration to this community plagued with teenage suicides. They now have a building they can call their own."

Ratings Rebound for 2008 World Series of Poker
Episodes attract biggest audiences in more than two years
By Stephen A. Murphy

Phil Hellmuth After seeing a decline in viewership numbers in 2007, ESPN's broadcasts of this year's World Series of Poker attracted some of the biggest audiences it has seen in more than two years.

"The viewership and interest we've seen this season tells us that the World Series of Poker still has a very strong following," said George McNeilly, the senior director of communications for ESPN.

According to McNeilly, ESPN's 30 WSOP episodes are up 6 percent from last year (with an average Nielsen rating of .90) and its main-event episodes are up 10 percent (with an average Nielsen rating of 1.01). A Nielsen rating of 1.0 translates to 1,145,000 households.

The final hour of ESPN's Oct. 21 episode, which saw the final 79 players of the tournament narrowed down to 27, had a bigger audience than the 2007 main-event final table, according to McNeilly.

The 10 p.m. hour of the Oct. 21 episode earned a 1.44 Nielsen rating, while the 2007 final table had a 1.38 rating.
ESPN's Oct. 28 episode, which ended with only the "November Nine" left standing, boasted a 44 percent increase from last year and obtained a Nielsen rating of 1.59. The last time ESPN had ratings this good was when Jamie Gold talked his way through a monster field of 8,773 players in 2006.

Mike MatusowSeth Palansky, WSOP communications director for Harrah's Entertainment, attributes much of the ratings increase to this year's new format, which held off the playing of the final table until all previous episodes had aired. He believes the buzz of "who will win" rather than "who won" energized the casual fans of the game.

This year's main event also benefited from a deep run by two of the more entertaining professionals in the game, Phil Hellmuth and Mike Matusow. The "Poker Brat" and "The Mouth" finished in 45th and 30th place, respectively, and received plenty of airtime.

Ty Stewart, the corporate director of the WSOP, recently told Brandweek, a subsidiary of Nielsen Media Research, that people shouldn't put too much stock in this year's ratings.

"To evaluate what we're doing just through TV ratings would be shortsighted," Stewart said. He said that the organizers of the tournament were trying to re-energize the event and make it compelling to a broader audience, and it seems that it worked this year.

ESPN went into this year's broadcast projecting that about 1 million people would watch each episode when it premiered, a number it easily surpassed as the march to the final nine went on.

World Series of Poker TV Ratings

Wondering how this year's World Series of Poker ratings compare with other major sports events and TV shows? Well, the Oct. 28 episode of the WSOP main event garnered a 1.59 Nielsen rating, outdueling the NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship; on April 27, NBC's third episode of that tournament received a 1.0 Nielsen rating, down from 1.11 in 2007 and 1.49 in 2006.

Poker is still not that close to the "big boys" in terms of ratings success. ESPN's Monday Night Football game between the Denver Broncos and the New England Patriots got a 7.0 rating on Oct. 20, while ABC's Bank of America 500 NASCAR event on Oct. 11 earned a 3.8 rating.