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Poker profits going beyond money

As a Team PokerStars Pro based in Germany, I do what I can to help poker achieve some mainstream exposure here. I try to find ways to introduce the game to people who aren't necessarily familiar with poker otherwise, as well as help shape public opinion regarding the game.

For example, not long ago I was involved in a television show here called "Suddenly Rich." The show focuses on people who have won the lottery or who inherit large sums and all of a sudden one day they are rich. I appeared on the show as a kind of expert to comment on a fellow who'd won a big jackpot in Las Vegas. He immediately began buying new cars and a house, and he left his wife and experienced this abrupt life change. So I was on to talk about dealing with such a situation and how the hasty decisions he was making would likely come back to hurt him.

I suppose I was able to bring a unique perspective to the program. I'm a poker player who has had some success, including winning a WSOP bracelet in 2007. But I also had a career as a doctor from the mid-1980s until just a few years ago. So I have an academic background and perhaps can offer some perspective to situations such as the one brought up on the show, while also perhaps representing poker players in a good way, too.

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Another fun thing I've done this year to help promote poker is to do two different poker-golf tournaments. I know there have been some events in Las Vegas where poker and golf have been combined, but these were a little different. These were three-day events in which players spent days playing at three different golf courses, then during the evenings they played in three different poker tournaments. You'd get points for everything -- both the golf and the poker -- and the winner was the one with the most total points.

The events were fun and in some cases also introduced poker to people who aren't necessarily poker players. There were a lot of well-educated people who played, and they really enjoyed the competition and even were able to see some parallels between poker and golf. The events also helped highlight what I'd call the "friendly side" of poker, showing how it really can be a social game, too.

There are so many benefits to be had from playing poker that go beyond making money, it's easy for me to promote the game as worthwhile.

Michael Keiner is a member of Team PokerStars Pro Germany

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