CINCINNATI, Dec. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Try going in to Sam's Club to buy an "Official World Poker Tour(TM)" (WPT) Poker Set this holiday season. You might find one if you just happen to be there when the merchandisers bring out a new palette. But don't wait too long while you're making your decision. If your store is like most of them across the country, the display will be empty very shortly. "Sam's cannot keep the Official WPT product in stock. The minute the stores put it out, it's gone," said Scott Kling, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for U.S. Playing Card Company, the world's leader in playing cards for more than 100 years and the manufacturer of the best-selling Bicycle and Bee brand cards. "Sam's buyers report that poker products are the biggest hit of the holiday season and the WPT is sure making us feel like we played our cards right betting on this one." The products, manufactured by U.S. Playing Card Company, a division of Jarden Corporation (NYSE: JAH), under a license from WPT Enterprises, Inc. (Nasdaq: WPTE), the creator of the hugely popular World Poker Tour which airs Wednesday nights on the Travel Channel, have taken the retail marketplace by storm. Sam's Club is carrying the "Official World Poker Tour(TM)" (WPT) Poker Set in a handmade wood case with a suggested retail price of $199.99. It features 400 11.5-gram heavyweight, professional quality clay-filled poker chips (125 blue, 100 red and 75 black). The 11.5-gram chip, known as the "true" poker player's chip, is similar to those used by the top casinos on the WPT tour. An exclusive WPT spade design and casino stripes are molded into the chip using two colors. USPC WPT chips are easier to shuffle and manipulate than other poker chips in the market because they have specially designed rounded edges and a rough clay surface. Two colorful decks of casino quality WPT cards are included, along with Texas Hold 'Em instructions. From Hawaii to Florida, Sam's Clubs are reporting the same phenomena, as have other retailers. In a Honolulu Advertiser article, Hawaii Costco store manager Robert Loomis said of the poker sets with heavy clay chips, "If we could have the quantities, it would easily be our No. 1-selling non-food item in the store. No one expected them to be selling the way they are." Internet search engine Lycos lists poker items as its No. 1 researched topic on its annual list of "Top 10 Most-Researched Toys of 2004," upending video games from 2003. In issuing the list, Lycos cited, "The popularity of poker gifts has been fueled by the global phenomenon of the World Poker Tour, which continues to average a 'millionaire a month' in its 16-tournament season." Among the chain retailers selling selected WPT products are Academy Sports & Outdoors, Albertson's, Associated Grocers, Costco, CVS/Pharmacy, Discovery Stores, Hallmark Stores, Kroger, Lewis Drug, Nordstrom, Rite Aid, Sam's Club, ShopRite, Walgreens and Wal-Mart. "We have stepped up our production in a major way to meet the demand of our retail partners," said Kling. "The World Poker Tour products are a class unto themselves and we are pleased that the market recognizes that these authentic branded items are the premium gifts for this holiday season." The complete line up of other poker products from US Playing Card includes: * "Official World Poker Tour" Poker Set (SRP/$199.99) with 400 chips, a fine-wood case, two decks of cards and The Official World Poker Tour Rules Book available exclusively at Sam's Club through the end of the year. * "Official World Poker Tour" Tournament Set (SRP/$149.99) with 300 chips in a metal briefcase lined in padded black velour, with the embroidered WPT logo inside the lid and on a metal logo plate above the handle. Two decks of WPT cards along with Texas Hold 'Em instructions are included. * "Official World Poker Tour" Texas Hold 'Em Book Set (SRP/$20.00) with The Official Poker Rule Book, plus one white and one black WPT logo deck of cards. * "Official World Poker Tour" Plastic Playing Cards (SRP/$35.99) -- A two deck set for avid players who appreciate the unique feel, smooth shuffle, and unmatched durability of plastic cards. * "Official World Poker Tour" 11.5-Gram Clay Chips (SRP/$35.99.) -- 100 chips with specially designed rounded edges and a rough clay surface that make a robust click, just like the sound heard at tournaments. * "Official World Poker Tour" 8-Gram Clay Chips (SRP/$19.99) -- 100 chips that bear molded WPT spade logos and authentic casino stripes. * "Official World Poker Tour" Logo Decks (WPT logo on white or black background) and "Official World Poker Tour" Decks (WPT logo combined with traditional Casino Bee diamond back). (SRP/$3.49 each) * "Official World Poker Tour" Table Top (SRP/$75.00) features a reversible felt with poker on one side and blackjack on the other, has room for eight players, includes reversible cup holders, and folds for easy storage. Many of these products are also available online at www.worldpokertour.com. For more information, go to www.worldpokertour.com or www.usplayingcard.com. About US Playing Card Company Founded in 1876, The United States Playing Card Company ("USPC") is the world's largest manufacturer and distributor of playing cards and a leader in the marketing of poker chips and sets, collectible tins, puzzles, and card accessories for the North American retail market. USPC is also the largest supplier of premium playing cards to casinos worldwide. USPC brands include Bee (R), Bicycle (R), Hoyle (R), and Aviator (R). USPC's International holdings include Naipes Heraclio Fournier, S.A., a leading playing card manufacturer in Europe. USPC is a division of Jarden Corporation (NYSE: JAH). About The World Poker Tour(TM) The World Poker Tour is a series of 16 high stakes poker tournaments filmed in exotic locales and leading poker rooms. The show is the highest rated series in the history of the Travel Channel and continues to increase its viewing audience worldwide. With its mix of expert commentary, on-screen explanatory graphics and 17 cameras -- including the revolutionary WPT cam revealing the players' hole cards -- the WPT has transformed poker into a televised spectator sport. It has also inspired the poker boom among fans and amateur players, who play at home with friends, and others who are now coming out to compete in WPT tournaments. Last season, the WPT offered more than $35 million in prize money. Filming for Season Three has already begun and prize money is projected to reach $70 million. The Season Three shows will begin airing in March 2005 on Travel Channel. For more information on the World Poker Tour, go to: www.worldpokertour.com. About WPT Enterprises, Inc. The World Poker Tour is a creation of media and entertainment company WPT Enterprises, Inc. (Nasdaq: WPTE). WPT Enterprises is engaged in the formulation of branded entertainment through the development, production and marketing of televised programming based on poker and other gaming themes. To date, operations have principally revolved around the creation of the World Poker Tour brand through the production and licensing of a television series exhibited on the Travel Channel that is based on a circuit of previously established high-stakes poker tournaments under the "World Poker Tour" brand. WPT Enterprises, Inc. is a majority owned subsidiary of Lakes Entertainment, Inc. (Nasdaq: LACO). Photos and media information can be found online at: www.worldpokertour.com.
SOURCE US Playing Card Company