In their January issue on the magazine racks now, Bluff Magazine has taken the unusual approach to ranking the top twenty "Most Influential People In Poker". In their article, they don't just look at the people (or places) with the most money and power, they also take in such intangibles as popularity, respect and the very general category of wielding their influence. When the list comes together, it looks like the status quo is represented on the list rather than any earth shaking revelations.
"The Poker Power 20", as Bluff is calling the list, looks at more than just people. "To truly reflect the juggernaut that poker has become, 'The Poker Power 20' includes the companies, the brains trusts and the innovators that have aided poker's phenomenal commercial success," said Bluff's editor, Michael Caselli. An inside look at the list can sometimes leave one scratching their heads.
Five poker rooms are a part of the list, with PokerStars leading the way there. Other people of influence, including Steve Lipscomb and Lyle Berman (the founders of the WPT), World Series of Poker Tournament Director Johnny Grooms, and poker superagent Brian Balsbaugh, all have places in the top twenty. Even ESPN and Harrah's have earned a mention in the list, as well. Players, however, are the predominant feature of the "Poker Power 20".
Without giving away who is ranked as the most influential person in the game, such players as Phil Hellmuth, Johnny Chan and Doyle Brunson are the champions that you would expect to see. It is surprising that 2003 World Champion Chris Moneymaker has earned a spot, but not either 2004 World Champion Greg Raymer (who has been a prominent and successful advocate for the poker world) or the reigning champion, Australia's Joseph Hachem (who has led an avalanche of interest in poker in that country).
While it was a difficult task, the Bluff magazine list seems to be a rather "ho-hum" compilation. The usual people that you would expect to see there are there, rather than any real adventurous or prominent picks. It seemed that the list went for those organizations and people that currently have a place of notoriety and seemed to lack for forward thought.
Perhaps that is an article for a future issue of Bluff Magazine! While the "Poker Power 20" is a good representation of the state of the game today, it would have been interesting to see Bluff take a chance and pull some surprises out of their collective hats. I, myself, would have given a good slot to someone such as Phil Ivey, who could surpass all current poker records, and Howard Lederer, who is one of the most respected poker people in the game today. The "Poker Power 20", however, does give an excellent look at the state of poker today. To get a preview of the list, check out bluffmagazine.com and to get a look at the entirety of the "Poker Power 20" (and find out who is Number One), the January issue is currently available on any bookstore rack.
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