With Christmas shopping gathering pace, US retailers say that the poker boom has turned playing cards, chips and all poker-related items into major-sellers as gifts.
The popularity of poker on television has provided a huge impetus to sales. "The World Series of Poker" on ESPN along with "Celebrity Poker Showdown" on Bravo and the "World Poker Tour" on the Travel Channel are among the top cable hit shows.
It seems like the teenagers are in love with poker," said Kmart spokeswoman Caryn Klebba.
Wal-Mart spokeswoman Karen Burk said the huge interest in poker will make decks of cards top stocking stuffers this year.
Sears, Roebuck is selling a $99 gaming set that comes in a portable velvet-lined case with 300 chips and two decks of cards. Georganne Greece, a buyer for the company's game room group, said they expect poker supplies will see a huge surge in sales in coming months.
Books written by some of the game's best-known players, such as Phil Hellmuth and Doyle Brunson, have been top sellers at Borders bookstores, said Beth Bingham, a spokeswoman for Borders Group Inc. In the last year, Borders has added 20 percent more poker- related books. "It's not just the book titles," Bingham said. "There's a lot more product. We're carrying poker games, a Texas Hold'Em game."
Restoration Hardware, the furniture and home decor retailer, sells playing cards and all the extras - mechanical card shufflers, playing card coasters and shot glasses.
Dave Glassman, a spokesman for Corte Madera, the California-based company, said at first the items "didn't get much visual importance in the store." Now the items are front and center inside its stores and catalogues.
Join the game, Santa Claus, there's a seat left on the 3-6 Hold'em table.