Friday, June 09, 2006

The Latest Contenders in the "The Next Poker" Championships

Yeah, yeah, Oddjack did a similar piece a year ago, ranting about how tired they were of reading someone proclaim tiddlywinks or somesuch on its way to being "the next poker." It's still funny, and it still hasn't changed. Just as poker isn't going away, nor are the non-poker-savvy types who (a) have a sport, activity or game they wish to pimp promote, and (b) remain aware of poker's seeming overnight success. That these folks seldom know why poker became the ratings hit it did has nothing to do with it; describing something as "the next poker" is standard hyperbole, if hardly something for which artistic license should be decreed.

So what's the current leader in the "The Next Poker" sweepstakes? There's no way for sure to know, but we can get a measure of the amount of hype flung into the wind by doing composite web searches through a portal such as Yahoo! For the purpose of this unofficial ranking, we've assembled a count of sites on which the phrase "be the next poker" appears on the same web page as the activity in question. ("Tiddlywinks" received a 0, by the way... as did "Sudoku.")

Some prominent contenders:

Bingo:     161
Blackjack:     149
Skill-based games:     104
  -- this is video poker, slots and the like... skill?!?!
Backgammon:     78
Darts:     54
Bowling:     48
Billiards:     39+
Dominoes:     35
Fantasy Sports:     32
Roshambo (Rock-Paper-Scissors):     26
Scrabble:     16
Mahjong:     12
Arm-Wrestling:     5
Paintball:     1

Bingo? Well, it's hardly a scientific search. Somehow, the thought of watching a VFW hall full of hunched-over, 78-year-old nursing-home refugees hovering above their purse-, drink-, and totebag-guarded displays of 20 paper bingo cards --- poised daubers in one hand and clutched rosary beads in the other --- just doesn't seem like it's going to bring in the big corporate sponsors. Besides, if your neighbor spikes a B-12 for a criss-cross, can you really call him or her a donkey?

Then again, I could be wrong, to the joy of bingo-supply sellers everywhere.

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