I didn't think much of it at the time, but over recent years it's been difficult to miss the rapid growth of poker in the UK. At business seminars, I've met accountants who tell me they are European ranked and operate poker businesses as a sideline, and increasingly you hear stories linking chess and poker.
Apparently, there is a school of thought that chess players, as master strategists with the ability to concentrate for long periods of time, are ideally suited to be poker sharks. It even turns out that team mate and Chess Tales contributor Paul Dargan is something of a poker expert.
In France, they took the chess and poker tie-in very seriously, inviting WGM Almira Skripchenko to take part in a televised poker competition. It seems Almira, pictured above, impressed (unsurprisingly!) and an appearance at the Ladies World Poker Championship followed.
Other chess celebs 'turning poker' include International Master Angus Dunnington who liked it so much he's now working for a poker company, and Greg Shahade, who's managed to get PokerStars.com to sponsor the US Chess League.
Poker like chess is also being played increasingly online. In the UK, the betting exchanges lke Betfair and Betsson, and traditional bookmakers / casinos like Betfred Poker are running some good introductory offers (free bets!) if you fancy trying the game. Whilst, in the US, you might want to check out DuplicatePoker:
Play Texas Hold'em. Play for Free or Play for Cash. Get $25 Free for First Time Users. DuplicatePoker.com
And finally a few pointers to further reading:
and from the USCF, ten reasons not to quit chess for poker