Social networking and poker meet

Capitalising on the trend towards social networking in Internet gambling, a savvy webmaster has been making good progress with a website branded Twitter Poker Tour.com, which sets up weekly online poker micro-tourneys at PokerStars and Full Tilt and is modeled on the comfy "home game" concept. "Just a group of online friends playing poker," the site describes itself, providing a venue where poker players can use the "tweets" concept (text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length) to communicate, socialise...and get into some low budget poker action.

It's apparently catching on, with up to 50 players a week active and the numbers growing fast, claims Trevor Holewinski, the man behind the scenes. That's not too bad, considering he only started out in late October this year, although he has had some prior experience, having founded PokerPlasm.

Momentum rarely builds by itself, and Holewinski is clearly a clued up guy when it comes to promoting TPT. He inspans regulars who visit his site to spread the word, using not only Wikipedia, search engines, other portals, blogs, widgets and online media outlets, but social networking vehicles like YouTube, Digg, Stumble, Delicious, Facebook, Reddit and Sphinn with considerable skill and success.

TPT keeps players in the loop on tournaments, but generates its own social networking as well, with a chat room and blog, prizes, polls, a leader board, social media buttons and other interesting and useful content that gathers up players and takes them to the action.

Users can receive updates via the Twitter website, SMS, RSS, or email, or through applications such as Tweetie, TwitterFon, Twitterrific, Feedalizr, and Facebook. Four gateway numbers are currently available for SMS: short codes for the United States, Canada, and India, and a United Kingdom-based number for international use.

Twitter Poker Tour events are usually based on a $5.50 buy-in, No Limit Hold'em format, and the site does not take any rake on its tourneys or charge for membership, indicating that the business model is aimed at building traffic with the future in mind.

Illustrating the power of social networking, Twitter itself was founded in early 2006 and has become an Internet phenomenon, with well over 5 million visitors in the latest stats for September 2008 alone, a fivefold increase in a month. The company is backed by Union Square Ventures, Digital Garage, Spark Capital and Bezos Expeditions, led by Jeff Bezos of Amazon fame.

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