Bodog’s Calvin is the New Hef

It’s good to be Calvin Ayre.

Calvinnation03smallOne of the true pioneers of online gaming, Calvin founded a software company back in 1994 that eventually blossomed into Entertainment Group.

Now he lives life like the Hugh Hefner of online wagering.

The day before the WSOP main event, we ventured over to the Bodog Poker + Sports Marketing Conference to hear Calvin, along with Daniel Negreanu and poker tournament guru Matt Savage, address a room packed with online gaming types and about 72 or more Bodog models. Not just the typical, half-strung-out hired talent you’d expect at a trade show, the Bodog girls there were of the caliber you’d expect to see at Hef’s mansion with a mix of the All-American beauty pageant type (like Miss Nevada, who was there among the mix sporting a Bodog beater and greeting conventioners). Calvin obviously knows what he wants his Bodog brand to represent, and to his credit, he is doing a superb job (as well as spending lots of money) to develop it. Bodog has been focused on online wagering for years now and has joined the poker game with a clear strategy of targeting 18 to 34 year-old-males who want to play on a site their dad or grandpa aren’t necessarily playing on. Bodog’s marketing campaign is slick, hip and sex-imbued, selling more of a lifestyle than a website. From our talk with Calvin afterwards, this is exactly what he is aiming for as he ventures into more entertainment projects like Super Bowl parties, festivals and possibly even a record label. We got to experience one of his parties later that evening at Rain inside the Palms, and it was an impressive production with a Rio Carnivale theme enjoyed by celebs like Shannon Elizabeth, poker pros like Bodog-pro David Williams as well as the likes of Negreanu, Hasan Habib, and others . . . and of course Bodog girls in every direction.

Back to the Bodog conference, after Calvin spoke, Negreanu took the stage and delivered mostly rehashed anecdotes about how poker used to be, how it is changing and what needs to happen for it to grow even more. Of interest, Negreanu did stress the need for major networks to get in on the televised poker bandwagon.

According to Negreanu,“Poker has not peaked. Once networks get involved, we’ll truly know where we stand.”

NegreneaubogdogIronic enough we found out where we stood that same day, perhaps same instant, as news came out that CBS signed a deal with ProJo Poker Enterprises to televise eight ProJo Poker Tournaments starting Christmas Day. Events will include the ProJo Christmas Poker Classic, the U.S. National Team Poker Championships, the U.S. National Amateur Poker Championship and the U.S. Grand Nationals Professional Poker Championship. The agreement will also include the finals, to be held early next year in Las Vegas.

What‚Äôs interesting with these ProJo events is that professionals don’t play in the early rounds until it‚Äôs down to eight “average Joes.‚Äù Then four professionals will meet four “average Joes” at the final table for $40 million total. It‚Äôs an interesting twist we‚Äôve been expecting, as poker blends more into true reality TV fare.

Kudos to CBS, your grandpas favorite network, for taking the first step. We gather that if Bodog would ever get into the televised poker game, it would be Spike TV where we’d see it, complete with a “Man Show” feel of barely dressed girls hopping on trampolines around the final table and celebrity dealers like Bodog supporter Shannon Elizabeth tossing the cards and pushing the chips.

Yes, it’s good to be Calvin Ayre.


6 Responses

  1. snake

    September 29, 2005 9:58 am, Reply

    yeh somehow we missed this but it makes that photo priceless…i mean a typo is one thing but mispelling the name of your keynote and doing so in 10 foot block letters…well someone in the crowd had to be cringing.

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