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TelevisionWeek's new blog by World Poker Tour boss Steven Lipscomb marks this publication's second blog by a member of the television industry. As the founder of WPT, Steve often is credited with starting the televised poker boom. He's also known to say a controversial thing or two.

Just as Rich Goldfarb, senior VP of sales for National Geographic Channel, offered candid insight into the upfront advertising selling period, Steve plans to pull no punches in discussing the people, practices and pitfalls of the television business.

And remember: TVWeek.com encourages you to respond to what you read here. So feel free to post comments on Steve's blog.

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Saved . . . by an Externality . . .

August 28, 2006 3:39 PM

In law school at the University of Chicago (where the law and economics movement was born and bred), we talked a lot about “externalities”. An externality is loosely defined as an unintended consequence of something you did – or at least a result that was not your primary intent.

Reinventing poker for television – and sparking this global poker phenomenon has had some amazing effects: We’ve created a new genre of television. Land-based poker tournaments in the U.S. this year will generate about three hundred and fifty million dollars in prize money (as opposed to about thirty million just four years ago). People don’t laugh at you when you refer to poker as a sport anymore. Women are playing poker in home games by the tens of thousands. And, professional poker players don’t lie to their family and friends about what they do for a living any more. They sign autographs, instead.

Proud of each and every externality, thank you.

But, there is one particular unforeseen impact that I’ve become particularly fond of – the poker charity tournament – a long overdue substitute for rubber chicken dinners and “am I dead, yet” cocktail parties.

In the past month, I have had the pleasure of participating in two wonderful charity events – featuring a poker tournament. And, it’s fantastic.

You get to have an impact, make a difference – and you get to play – really play. And, unlike casino nights or the like, when you are playing a poker tournament for some small (or large) prize, you get a thrill out of eating all those other muckety-mucks’ for lunch.

And, we all think we can play . . .

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