According to Lyle Berman, executive chairman of the World Poker Tour (WPT), there are a number of similarities between pro poker and pro golf. As reported recently in Jeff Haney's Las Vegas Sun column, Berman believes interest in poker is a long way from leveling off, but when it actually does plateau it "will continue to experience peaks and valleys in its popularity, the way golf does."
"Poker as a spectator sport on television is here to stay," Berman said. "When you think about it, watching Tiger hit a drive isn't much different from watching how Chip Reese or Gus Hansen plays ace-king. You have a similar set of circumstances, but with different possible outcomes each time."
Berman's view is centered on the belief that golf has experienced highs and lows over the last number of decades, from the heyday of Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus to the newfound love of Tiger Woods, and he expects interest in professional, televised poker to vary in a similar manner.
He envisions a future where poker tournaments demand more intense coverage on sports networks, and a poker or gambling cable network launches on TV. "More people play poker than golf," Berman declared. "Certainly there could be a poker channel if there's a golf channel."