Poker Magazine Deals First Hand

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Don't confuse All In for yet another shelter or lifestyle magazine. It's for readers who want to improve their poker game or reclaim the deed to the house they lost in a game of Texas Hold 'em.


That's the premise for this new national paid-circulation poker magazine.


"The opportunity is to build a major enthusiast title in a niche that has not [generally] been explored before," said All In founder and publisher Bhu Srinivasan in New York. "And one of the primary reasons is that poker wasn't acceptable and wasn't mainstream up 'til now. Television made it acceptable. Television brought it from the backrooms to the boardrooms."


TV networks are said to have generated some of their highest ratings with poker programming. Popular shows include the Travel Channel's "World Poker Tour," ESPN's "World Series of Poker" and Bravo's "Celebrity Poker Showdown."


Online poker playing has added to the game's popularity. Investment bank Bear Stearns estimates the poker industry's 2003 revenue at $4.2 billion. Ninety-three percent of the poker-playing audience is male.


It is this market, particularly those ages 21-49, that All In vies to reach. But the poker magazine publishing segment is treacherous. Nearly a dozen related titles have disappeared over the past few decades except for Bluff and industry leader Card Player magazine from Las Vegas.


"They go after the professional and semiprofessional tournament players, and we go after mainstream audiences," Srinivasan said.


Launched in December, the bimonthly All In guarantees a rate base of 150,000 starting with its March/April issue. The publisher hopes to increase the rate base to 500,000 by the end of 2006.


The magazine's trim size is 8.25-by-10.75 inches. Paper is 60-pound stock and grade #3. Advertisers include Oakley, Belvedere Vodka, Samuel Adams, Bellagio, Crown Royal, Mirage, ESPN and the Travel Channel.


Time Distribution Services is distributing All In. The magazine sells for $4.99 at retailers like Wal-Mart Stores, Target, Barnes & Noble, Borders and 7-Eleven. A year's subscription costs $17.95 for six issues.


Mail drops, keyword buys on Google and Yahoo's Overture and Amazon are expected to generate interest and subscriptions.


"For a major consumer enthusiast title, 10 to 15 percent of the copies will go through newsstand and 85 percent are subscriptions," Srinivasan said. "To get to the subs level could take three to five years."


All In's editorial is aimed at consumers who play poker for fun, not for a living. The professional poker market is more the province of Card Player, a biweekly with 65,000 copies distributed via newsstands, card rooms and hotels. One-third of the distribution is paid circulation at $39.95 for 26 copies yearly.


Consider editorial from All In's debut January/February issue. Former World Series of Poker champion Chris "Jesus" Ferguson is on the cover. He will contribute regularly. So will poker celebrities like Howard Lederer and "Celebrity Poker Showdown" host Phil Gordon.


Inside that issue is Gordon's take on his charity poker tournament with quarterback Tom Brady of the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. Another article features Annie Duke's $2 million victory at the World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions. And a 25-page spread focuses on the art of bluffing.


Each issue will have poker book reviews, player rankings, a calendar of notable poker events and gadgets.


"There's a reason why Maxim, Stuff, FHM, Esquire and Cigar Aficionado feature some type of poker article or tidbits in every issue," Srinivasan said. "It's because poker is popular for that audience, and what we're trying to do is bring about a complete magazine about poker that simulates those same sensibilities."


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