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The Miller Lite Hole Cam?

After weeks of showing us final tables from all of the smaller tournaments at the 2004 World Series of Poker, ESPN has finally started airing episodes from the 2600-person, 5 mil grand prize main event. It's not as though I need something else to do with my time, but I must admit that it holds my interest a little more persistently than watching 1 or 2 pros take on 7-8 no-names at the final table of pot-limit Omaha or Razz. No offense or anything, but after a while it just blurs together for me.

Anyhow, what I wanted to remark on was the advertising. If you've watched any of the WSOP this year, you've noticed that Miller and Toyota are stamping their brand across everything and anything they can think of. I'm not going to whine about the purity of the old broadcasts--televising poker and showing the hole cards pretty much lets the cow out of the barn in that regard. Instead, I wanted to note that Miller and Toyota basically have it all wrong. Maybe I was predisposed by this discussion over at Crooked Timber to notice it, but for my money, the most successful advertiser at the WSOP didn't pay a dime. Several of the top players, and the younger set by and large, wear headphones to their tables, and attached to those headphones, you see distinctive, white iPods.

You don't see Annie Duke tossing back Miller Lite, or Phil Hellmuth parking his brand new ForeRunner. Instead, you see top-notch poker pros listening to iPods. I have no idea if this was a plan on the part of Apple, or if it was just convenience that so many iPods showed up--Apple is either brilliant or damn lucky. One thing that's not luck is that the iPods are instantly recognizable, in a way that almost no other brand of mp3 player is. By the end of the broadcast tonight, I was pretty surprised that I hadn't seen an iPod commercial. Or rather, that I'd seen one long iPod commercial. Either way, I can't help but think that Apple will benefit from it...