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No limit to poker's potential

Last year's winner Jamie Gold makes a bet in front of a stack of $12 million on what proved to be the final hand of the 2006 World Series of Poker no-limit Texas Hold 'em main event in Las Vegas.

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Scott Jagow: The World Series of Poker is underway in Las Vegas. Organizers were concerned this year's tournament might suffer from the new ban on Internet gambling. Last year, gaming sites paid for players to buy into the World Series. But so far this year, buy-ins are up. The real test will be the main event in a couple weeks, broadcast by ESPN. Our business of sports commentator Diana Nyad is here to talk about it. Diana, why does poker seem to be everywhere on TV now?

Diana Nyad: To my mind it looks like the ultimate reality show. I mean, you know, we're in the heart of reality television, but most of it, can we really relate to it? I mean people are on an island eating spiders and frogs and I don't know, I can't relate to it. But poker, since you're a little kid, you go in the basement, you have a little poker game with your friends or your dad teaches you how to play poker. And so what's happened is this camera that they've installed under the table so you can see the first two cards and so all of a sudden you're on the inside and there's a little bit of an adrenaline to it. And I've gotta tell you, I've learned a lot watching on television. I'm no million-dollar player but I've gotten a lot better.

Jagow: So you are a player?

Nyad: I am. Yeah, yeah.

Jagow: And you're going to actually watch the World Series of Poker this weekend?

Nyad: I've got a buddy who's entering, she's a literary agent, she's been playing for about 10 years, no-limit hold'em's her game. The tournament actually lasts for about six weeks and there are 55 different events. This weekend for instance there's an event, it's a $1,500 ante. Last year she entered, there were 15,000 people in her event and she came in 11th.

Jagow: Wow that's pretty amazing.

Nyad: Yeah it's great.

Jagow: Now how much can you win at the World Series of Poker?

Nyad: Well in the main event, it's a $10,000 entry fee. Last year they had just close to 9,000 people enter and the guy who won it happened to be a Hollywood agent, everybody hated him. He won $12 million.

Jagow: $12 million?!

Nyad: Yeah when this even started in 1970, the original winner won a silver cup, and last year's winner won $12 million.

Jagow: But that firs tournament probably wasn't on TV was it?

Nyad: You know, it wasn't. It didn't start televising until pretty recently.

Jagow: How are the ratings?

Nyad: You know last year the World Series of Poker pulled in for ESPN a 1.3 rating, which if you were the NFL you'd say 'OK we're dying here' but I know I'm always busting your chops on hockey, because you're such a huge hockey. . .

Jagow: Yeah if you were the NHL . . .

Nyad: They'd be celebrating and it's not a bad rating. The World Poker Tour is the highest rated show on The Travel Channel. So I don't think it's going away anytime soon, it's growing.

Jagow: Alright Diana Nyad, our business of sports commentator, thank you

Nyad: Thank you so much.

Jagow: In Los Angeles, I'm Scott Jagow. Thanks for tuning in and have a great weekend.

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