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BY Alan Mckinlay

EVER since Channel 4 had the brainwave of putting cameras underneath a glass table, poker has been a spectator sport.

Partly due to its incredible popularity on TV, poker players have become as wealthy, and almost as famous, as real sports stars.

As part of his three-part series on gambling, £50 Says You'll Watch This, writer and comedian Hardeep Singh Kohli promised to discover what ingredients made for a successful

He even managed to get a seat in a high-stakes game for American TV to compete alongside well-known players.

Phil Laak, whose tasteless poker nickname is "The Unabomber" seemingly has it all - wealth, fame and a Hollywood actress, Jennifer Tilly, for a girlfriend.

Not only is Tilly Kaal's arm-candy, but she is now a poker champion in her own right, having won the women's World Series of Poker - and the £80,000 that goes with it.

But Hardeep managed to offend Kaal by simply uttering the f-word in the warm-up - and I don't mean "flush".

"We can't have that," said humourless prude Kaal, "there might be 10-year-olds watching."

This rather destroyed my image of poker greats being hard-drinking, wisecracking products of the wild side of life.

He clearly had one eye on the future of his "sport". The other was firmly focused on unnerving poor Hardeep, who never recovered from his faux pas and was first out.

Hardeep, while looking in vain for clues as to what made a great poker player, forgot about the other side of the chip - if you haven't spotted the sucker in the first half-hour, it's you.




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