A few weeks ago, 2005 WSOP Main Event champ Joe Hachem sparked a lot of discussion about what direction poker is headed. According to Hachem, “poker is dying” because Main Event champs and famous young pros aren’t doing enough to keep recreational players interested. Furthermore, tables are filling up with bumhunters who kill other players’ enthusiasm. So does he have a point? Yes and no.
It’s true that today’s game has far more bumhunters who’d rather spend three hours looking for the perfect table than three minutes talking about something other than strategy. Additionally, there are far fewer marketable characters in the poker world who are capable of holding Joe Sixpack’s attention.
But as for if the game is dying, well, it could definitely be revived by a well-functioning US online poker market. Here are some points that show why the expanding US market should keep poker relevant for years to come.
1. Regulated Internet Poker has Tremendous Room for Growth
Beginning with the obvious first, regulated online poker has only begun to scratch the surface in the United States. Only Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada are offering regulated markets. Together, these three states have a combined population of over 12 million people, which represents just 1/30 of the US. Sure, there will be states that never get around to regulating online poker. But you also have places like California (38m people) that are rumored to be within a year or two of legalization. And that would be a huge boost to the internet poker economy.
2. Mainstream Marketing
All along, casinos and online poker sites have been excited about the chance to advertise internet gaming through mainstream outlets. PartyPoker have already taken advantage of the opportunity by signing deals with the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils. Similar deals are expected to arise in the future. As this mainstream advertising continues to filter throughout newly regulated markets, you can expect more and more recreational players to enter the game – regardless of whether they have any knowledge of 3-betting ranges.
3. Interstate and Possibly Foreign Markets are on the Horizon
One of the big selling points of regulated online poker has always been future interstate pacts. Nevada has already made way for future pacts with other states, while additional states that legalize online gaming will be interested too. What’s more is that pooling players with foreign markets could be on the horizon. State Senator Ray Lesniak has introduced an amended bill that would enable New Jersey to offer online gaming to people located outside of the United States. Relating this back to Hachem’s point about poker dying, this would help create bigger games and more revenue for the worldwide market.
Internet poker may not be anything close to what it was like 10 years ago, and many people would love to see bumhunting, HUDs and extreme table selection go. But even with these factors threatening growth, the continued expansion of online poker across the US and foreign markets means the game isn’t even close to dying.