As publisher of Card Player Magazine, Barry Shulman has been instrumental in what you might call the normalization of professional poker. Before he acquired the magazine, he was a successful real estate developer, and he is, by his own admission, a driven man. He says, "I wasn't psychologically suited not to be working very hard. I was fascinated by poker, and I was pretty fascinated by the business aspect of the magazine."
CardPlayer Magazine needs no introduction to poker aficionados. Under Barry's tutelage, it has grown to 126 pages per issue with circulation figures near 50,000. Barry is proud of his baby. "We are the No. 1 print media [outlet] in poker," he says. "And we want to stay the No. 1 print media in poker. We're certain that poker is so popular that mainstream publishers will soon be interested in coming out with a poker magazine. We have to have the kind of magazine that appeals to the mainstream reader. That's why we're getting more professional writers. Every photo is now in color...That's a significant change."
Barry Shulman, CardPlayer guru
Hand-in-hand with the expansion of the magazine is the expansion of the CardPlayer.com site. Indeed, it is Barry's son Jeff, himself a respected poker player, who manages the magazine on a daily basis while Barry devotes himself increasingly to the site. When Barry acquired CardPlayer.com it had only one page. Today, it is an encyclopedic Internet playground for poker enthusiasts of every stripe. Barry says: "The Web site is bigger than the magazine now. We have 10,000 people a day coming to the site, whereas it used to be just 800 a day."
Barry is heartened by recent changes in the poker world, and by the enhanced reputation the game has gained as a result of the televising of tournaments. CardPlayer Magazine, in fact, published an attention-getting article aimed at some of the old pros who were given to agitating at the green felt table. Barry says: "We're anti-smoking and anti-grump. We're trying to be good citizens. Those kinds of things are important to us."
Though Barry plays between 50 and 100 tournaments a year, among them the World Series of Poker and the larger World Poker Tour events, he says: "I don't consider myself a professional poker player or even a semi-pro. I consider myself a businessman who plays poker."