How Powerful is the Poker Industry Today?

It took a while for the poker industry to gain mainstream notoriety in the United States, and it hasn’t been without its testing times since. Regardless of adversity, the poker industry has turned into a global phenomenon.

We can all remember seeing poker in early Hollywood films like The Cincinnati Kid starring the enigmatic Steve McQueen or even the James Bond movies. In the many James Bond films, it wouldn’t be long before you’d see the English secret agent sat at a poker or blackjack table surrounded by women. And ultimately, it was the aforementioned films that gave, what is now classed as a sport, the springboard for poker to rake in millions daily.

Poker first made its bow on national television in the United States back in the 1970s but it was only really the start of its journey to mainstream success. During this time the sport wasn’t commanding large television audiences and it was only the die-hard fans that were tuning in to watch.

But something was on the horizon that would change the face of poker forever. The innovative “hole cam” made its debut on live television in 1997 and brought a new dynamic to tournament poker. It was designed by World Series of Poker bracelet winner Henry Orenstein and first made an appearance during the Late Night Poker television series. If anything, the “hole cam” helped the crowd become more involved in the proceedings and gave them an insight into what cards the poker players were dealt and were playing with.

HoldemThe “hole cam” really hit a mainstream audience in 2002 when the first $1 million tournament was set to take place. The tournament, which was aired on live television was entitled ‘The Poker Million Tournament’ and finally brought poker to a wider audience. Following on from this, it enabled the World Series of Poker events to secure prime time slots on the Discovery Networks in the United States.

With the sport now commanding regular television slots, it also saw the uprising of many online poker rooms and the industry began to grow exponentially. Sponsorship deals were struck between online and major tournaments to help stabilize the infrastructure of the annual tournament schedule and prize money increase dramatically. A prime example of this was the deal that online poker giants Betfair struck with the European tour in 2007 where they were the presenting sponsor for all the events.

As the television slots started to increase in volume, so did the star appeal of some of the most successful stars of the sport. Johnny Chan became a legend in the sport for his uncompromising play and ability to bluff without showing a sign of emotion. Chris Moneymaker was the first Internet qualifier to ever go on to win a bracelet at the WSOP, which in turn cemented his legacy in poker’s greatest all time winners.

Las Vegas currently rakes in a reported $6.4 billion a year from gaming revenues according to LVCVA, however the figures for online gaming are staggering regardless of the implications from the Black Friday cull. Even though there are still bans in the United States and Japan, globally online gaming revenues have quadrupled over the last 10 years. In a report by The Globe and Mail they state the online poker business is now worth an unbelievable $36.9 billion a year.

Is all this success down to the “hole cam” raking in a wider audience? It was definitely a contributing factor as it new dynamic allowed the viewer to see the player’s moves and action from a different perspective.

The future of poker looks bright at the minute, with a new slew of “modern day poker players” learning their stripes on the circuit. And although most states in the United States still prohibit online play, it is expected that the majority of states will allow online gaming again soon because of how it can help the economy.

What do you think about online poker being prohibited in your state? Let us know below your thoughts.

#WIP – The Red Path

I’m not sure, to be honest, what this is or where it is going.  I’m pretty sure that it is about an assassin, of sorts, and is probably in a low to medium fantasy setting (magic, fantastical creatures, etc) and there are rumblings in my mind about just who this character is and why he may be ‘fated’ to do something.  All I know is what he has said so far, which is:

Everyone dies.

As soon as you’re born, out of the darkness and into the light, bloody and screaming, you are dying. In my line of work you normally go out the same way. If you’re lucky then the blood may be someone else’s as well, mingling with your own as you take the screaming bastard that did you in with you, out of the light and into the darkness, quick and fast. If you’re unlucky then you get to add lingering pain to the blood and screams, insides spilling out as you lie festering in your own guts and shit. If you’re very lucky, of course, then the pain, the blood, and the screams are someone else’s and their death comes at the end of your blade; and you get enough coin to last a week in one of the better whorehouses before picking up the blade and walking the red path once more.

If you’re very lucky you get to live.

Because everyone dies, you see, but not everyone lives. Not truly.

This is how I did both.

The Last Plague by Rich Hawkins


A pestilence has fallen across the land.

Run and hide. Seek shelter. Do not panic.

The infected will find you.

When Great Britain is hit by a devastating epidemic, four old friends must cross a chaotic, war-torn England to reach their families. But between them and home, the country is teeming with those afflicted by the virus – cannibalistic, mutated monsters whose only desires are to infect and feed.


richAbout the author

Rich Hawkins lives in Salisbury, England, with his wife and daughter. He has several short stories published in various anthologies. ‘The Last Plague’ is his debut novel.

The last plague is released 31st August 2014 and can be purchased online here.

Torsobear: Yarns From Toyburg Brings Fluffy Noir Comics To Kickstarter


Torsobear is a story about the inevitable loss of innocence in a brutal world, first created by Brett Uren, for the digital anthology, Outré. Expanding on the original short story, Yarns From Toyburg pulls a host of new and established creators into exploring the twisted world of Fluffy Noir.

Torsobear introduced the character of Ruxby and Hazbrow, childrens’ toys who are thrown into a chilling noir cycle of murder, deceit and intrigue, where the horror of events stands in stark contrast to the bright and cheerful world in which they take place.

The toys of Toyburg blissfully enjoy their waking lives. Most will never encounter anything nasty. But when they sleep, all will experience the strange and sometimes disturbing violation of The Playtime. Sometimes, they remember.

The book will be offered via a Kickstarter campaign and first week pledges will get a special extra reward of a sketch from the creator on the inside front cover of the book, in addition to any other rewards for their pledge level.

torsobearsampleThe basic pledge packages for the book alone will be:

Digital price – $10

Hardcopy price  – $25

‘In the fluffy noir world of Torsobear, not all toys play nice!

Welcome to the city of Toyburg, where the streets are teeming with crime, passion, and murders most foul. They are walked (for the most part) by grim detectives, burned-out has-beens, femme fatales and tragic heroes.

The dismembered bodies of teddy bears are being found in back alleys of Mindy Mile district, and it’s up to our hero, rookie detective Ruxby Bear and his partner officer Hazbrow to solve this string of murders, no matter how high and far the clues take them.

Between cases, we take a look into the lives of Toyburg’s citizens, police and criminals. No matter where you turn, this city has something sinister hidden just behind the storybook surface.

Remember, it’s always fun until someone gets hurt… ‘

Stories Included are:

Clean heart, dirty paws – Brett Uren

Dress to impress – Frank Martin/Joel Cotejar

Rich toy, poor toy – Grainne McEntee, Matt Rooke

Some assembly required – Cy Dethan/Peter Mason/Nic Wilkinson

She sang for buttons, she unstitched my heart – Brett Uren/Harold Saxon/Mick Schubert

The collector – Glenn Møane/Carlos Nicolas Zamudio/Jon Scrivens

A new hopelessness – Kieran Squires and Faye Harmon

The big wind up – Janos Honkonen/Saoirse Louise Towler/Mick Schubert

Home invasion – Brett Uren/Brockton McKinney/Harold Saxon

Sour in the sweet – Jake Young/Randy Haldeman/Brett Uren

We all fall down, playing it the hard way – Brett Uren

You can find out more and keep up to date at:

The Torsobear blog – http://torsobear.comOn Twitter with #torsobeartorsobear_ft

Sign up to receive via <> to receive an email alert when the Kickstarter goes live.

Contact any of the creators you may know to be put on the alert list so as not the miss the first week pledge reward.

Read the original Torsobear story for free:

Expected Release if Kickstarter is successful: 14/07/2014

Page Count: 104
Format: Full colour

Please contact Brett Uren at for more details, creator interviews and samples.

The small gods are appeased

I’m not sure which small god I originally offended, or how (possibly the small god of WordPress, perhaps the small god of technogoly or maybe even just the small god of having bright ideas 😉 ) but somewhere along the line I must have done it because during a recent upgrade of my WordPress software, and a couple of the plugins, something happened … namely, it stopped working (or, as my wife likes to say, I broke it).

Obviously there is an element of Sod’s Law (maybe you know of that as Murphy’s Law where in anything that can go wrong, will go wrong … but only when and where it really matters 😉 ) in all of this as I am attempting to take part in ‘write365’ and write something, every day, for a year.

… admittedly there was also an element of stupidity as I (of course) ignored the hint to take a backup before doing anything and just merrily went about, willy nilly, upgrading this, that and everything.

Anyhoo, after some intense and prolonged work (ok, in truth when I found out that things weren’t working I spent some time banging the monitor, a bit more shouting at it and – when that didn’t work – I even turned it on and off again. Nothing helped!) I’ve finally tweaked, tugged and … erm … other productive words beginning with ‘t’ enough that I am able to post to my blog again, as well as (hopefully) ensuring that the automatic links to LiveJournal and Twitter are working, which means you, my ever faithful and wonderful readers, are lucky enough to have me back in your life.

… go with that last part, it is good for my ego …

Also, in case you were worried – and of course you were, because you are not only faithful and wonderful readers, but also kind, considerate and caring too – I haven’t failed in my ‘write365’ endeavours at all. Nay, for just because I haven’t been able to update my blog doesn’t mean I haven’t been blogging – I have journal style pieces … on ACTUAL paper, in ACTUAL ink … ready to transcribe back on here!

So, screw you Murhpy, I beat you!!!

… erm, fate risking comment, I suppose but, really, what’s the worst that can happen? 😉

A 500 word story

As she surveyed her sister’s new house, Anne’s green eyes – eyes as clear as jade one moment then turbulent as a stormy ocean the next – glittered darkly with barely suppressed emotion. Her perfect forehead hardly moved at all as neatly trimmed eyebrows arched steeply over them; her regular visits to an exclusive clinician for her ‘pampering’, as she liked to call the Botox treatment, made sure that her skin didn’t betray any of her forty one years of life. Getting old she could deal with, after all there was no other choice, but looking old – that would never, ever, do.

Tugging at her long, red hair – as she always did when anxious about something –Anne’s manicured fingers twirled a lock of hair in ever tightening circles. The nail of each finger mirrored the same shade of red as her lips, each one exactly the same length, as always. Catching herself, realising that she was making a mess of the neatly coiffured hairstyle that had take nearly two hours to get just ‘so’, her frown deepened. With precise motions she patted the hair back in place and then, as she picked off non-existent piece of lint, she smoothed down the sleeves of her pinstripe jacket.

The double door of the house opened as she approached it and there, standing in the warm glow of the interior lights, stood her sister. Smiling. Fixing a smile on her own face, having to work hard to force her lips to obey and relax from their tightness into an approximation of warmth, Anne walked forwards.

Their parents had named her, and her sister Shirley, after the title character in ‘Anne of Green Gables’. It had been her mother’s favourite book, one that she had read over and over while confined to bed during her difficult pregnancy. A twin pregnancy was like that, she had been told, difficult. What the doctor’s couldn’t have told her, couldn’t have known, was just how ‘difficult’ at least one of those twins was going to be; Anne. From birth she had been the one that had demanded constant attention – crying through the night to simply be held to her mother’s breast regardless of how often she fed. Shirley, of course, was content to sleep the night through or even just lie in her crib, awake but quiet, and watch. To outsiders the girls were identical – both tall and slim as they grew, both with fair skin, luxurious red hair and sparkling green eyes. To Anne, though, Shirley had the clearer complexion, the longer hair and even the greener eyes. Shirley always had, in Anne’s mind, everything that Anne wanted.

Holding out both arms in a welcoming embrace Shirley smiled warmly, the twinkle in her eyes reflecting the smile. Her hair hung loose and natural, her skin unadorned with any make-up but still, despite the faint network of lines on her forehead, glowing. The house beckoned and, Anne sighed to herself; it was going to be a long night.

A 250 word story

The moment they had been building to came in a silent explosion of gasping breaths and, breathless, they stared at each other; into each other. His bright jade eyes, unblinking, hers – deep brown – filled with wonder.

The sheen of moisture that coated their skin was the only thing that separated them now – a translucent barrier; their two bodies, literally, become one. He sighed and she felt him deep within; she tightened and, enveloped, his eyes widened.

Conjoined – her hardened nipple brushing, softly, against him, his chest hair caressing her skin like a thousand hungry lovers’ fingers – their perfect moment lasted eternity in an eye blink.

As the tension left their bodies, limbs still entwined in a crushing embrace, she bit her lip, brow furrowed. Barely moving, not wanting the sensations to end too soon, he leant forwards and brushed a small kiss against her forehead.

“Are you ok?” He whispered, mouth dry.

“Yes, but …” she released her grip from his back, caressing the skin on his ribs as she brought her hand sliding down between them.


“It hurt.” She winced as she reached the point where the gap between them became nothing; where he ended and she began. Holding up her hand she stared at the crimson fingertips. “I’m bleeding.”

“Don’t worry,” he whispered through another kiss. “Trust me, that’s normal …”

“Hang on; how do you know that?” She stared at him, pulling away, eyes suddenly narrowed. “You said it was your first time too!”

A 100 word story

She stood in the dimly lit room and tried to look into the mirror. It shouldn’t be hard, she knew; a conscious choice, electrical impulses sent from the brain, a muscle contraction and then – just like that – her head would lift up.

In the last fifteen minutes, however, it hadn’t worked. She still couldn’t bring herself to look at her reflection.

Then, finally, it wasn’t a conscious choice at all that made the decision but, rather, an autonomic reflex: a sneeze.

As her head jerked backwards she caught the merest glimpse of her herself.

It was enough.

More than enough.

What if?

I don’t know about you but I clearly remember the days when stories that were told to me started with something as simple as ‘once upon a time’, ‘in the beginning’, or something along those lines.

When I started to realise that getting told stories led to me making up my own (I was doing that before I started writing them down – before I could properly write) most of my childhood stories started the same way: at the beginning.

Over the years, however, and most especially over the last year or so, I have realised that I have changed how I go about the creation of a story. In the past it was definitely more about a plot that I would create characters for or a character that I would create plot for. Occasionally I may have had an actual line of dialogue that set the whole story moving in my head; more than once I had an ending and worked from there to the beginning. Now I start with something much more simple: a question.

What if?

Two simple words, really but, from them, I have found a wealth of ideas and creativity. My novella, ‘The Crimson Blade’ (available on Amazon in the ‘By Might or Metal’ anthology if you are looking for it 😉 ) came about when I asked the following question:

What if the good guys don’t win?

Seven words in that simple question led to me writing twenty-three thousand words in about four days. Just a couple of days ago, before I sat down and wrote the fifty-word story, I asked another very simple question:

What if you would do anything for your next hit?

Ten words that time, and I got fifty words at the end of things. From a purely mathematical standpoint the payoff on the second wasn’t quite as good but, thankfully, I worry more about English literature than mathematics.

I should, I suppose, point out that while I start with the one question, ‘what if …?’ I don’t end there. Instead I go through the why, how, when were type questions and, if I am lucky, things start to almost write themselves. For example when I asked ‘what if the good guys don’t win?’ it led me, obviously, to ‘who are the good guys’ and ‘who are the bad guys’. A big question was ‘why don’t they win’ followed by ‘how do the bad guys get the upper-hand’ but, at the end of the day, it started with ‘what if’.

Two days ago, when I knew that I was going to write a small, throwaway, 100 word story I asked myself a simple question and then started writing long hand. That questions was:

‘What if he could fly?’

Unfortunately for me, two days later, I am actually still writing longhand and, at the moment, probably have about 30 pages in an A5 notebook; at a rough guess I would say that I am about a third, possibly a half, of the way through what is turning into a very interesting story indeed.

Unfortunately isn’t the right word, of course, it is fortunately – because I know that once I bring the longhand notes to the keyboard I will multiple the questions many times which will lead to more answers in terms of characters, plot, settings, quandaries, exposition, dialogue, narrative and, if I am very luck the two words at the start of my story, ‘what if’, will lead to the very best two words of all for any writer who embarks on a story:

The end.

The letter of the law

The thing about this write365 lark is that, for a whole year, you commit to writing. I obviously loved the concept so much that I signed up to do it – and am doing it.

Today, though, brings me an interesting quandary. You see I have been – and still am – writing. The thing is that I got an idea when I wasn’t near a PC and, as I thought it would be a cool one for a 100 word story, I didn’t want to type it out on my phone … so I started writing longhand, instead. The problem is that (roughly as my book doesn’t have word count 😉 ) I am closer to 500 words rather than 100 and think that it could go another 500, possibly more.

So i’m having to tweak the rules, a little, because I don’t want to start a new story while working on this existing one but I also don’t want to post the WIP as that will mean typing it up to post unfinished and rough.

That said you do have this entry to console you along with the knowledge that, while you aren’t seeing it I AM writing still 😉