Ok, let’s not kid ourselves. We’re not about to be set for another poker boom, but there are some nice changes that we can look forward to.
First, we have a date for the Full Tilt relaunch. Within a month, over a hundred million dollars will flood the poker economy. Just think about that. It’s a sort-of stimulus plan for the poker world. Tens of thousands (if not more) people will suddenly have a significant cash infusion in their pocket. That should certainly create some gamble in people and interest in poker.
Second, the date of for legal poker in the US is officially coming. Within a few months, legal online poker will be played in Nevada. It’s only a matter of time before it spreads to a few other states. So not only are ex-Full Tilt players suddenly receiving over a hundred million dollars to play with, Americans will soon be able to once again open their wallets and play (at least in a few states and at a few sites).
Neither of these circumstances were a given. The poker world has hit a few outs for the better for once. Before we all celebrate like it’s 2005 again, I hope we have all learned from the mistakes of the past and can perhaps use this bit of good news to reinvigorate poker.
No, this isn’t a lecture about not playing at sites that illegally accept US players. I think everyone’s learned that lesson. For this boom to catch on, we need to hope the poker rooms have really learned what killed online poker in the first place.
Poker’s a negative sum game. There’s nothing that can change that. One man’s gain is another man’s loss and considering everyone has to pay rake, most people will end up losers. However, in the past, by letting players multi-table and use HUDs and tracking notes, poker rooms have essentially allowed the sharks to gobble up the fish quickly. Yes, the fish were going to lose anyways, but it’s one thing to lose 2 big blinds an hour and another to lose 10. The loss rate was simply unacceptable for most casual players, which is why they left in droves.
It’s not like the poker rooms didn’t see this coming. Back in 2003, one could hardly find a game above $1-$2 no-limit and a lot of sites restricted player notes and multi-tabling. Eventually, the short term greed of the poker rooms took over and the need to generate as much rake as possible to impress potential investors sewed the seeds for allowing rampant multi-tabling and the eventual destruction of easy games.
We have one good shot at bringing poker back. Between a huge surge of cash and a renewed US market, there’s a chance poker can really be mainstream again. However, for that to happen, it needs to be fun for the masses….and fun means affordable. Protect the fish. Use anonymous tables if needbe. Do whatever it takes so that the sharks have the least advantage possible.
In the long run, this works best for everyone in the poker industry. Since the recreational player sticks around, the shark can gently sheer him instead of skinning him and having to constantly play against other tough players since that’s all that’s left. The poker rooms may make less rake in the short term but certainly more in the long term. In short, casual players will stick around and lose their $100 or so a month at poker instead of blowing that on sports betting or other vices.
The next twelve months may set the stage of poker boom 2.0. Let’s just hope we all learned our lessons from the first boom and bust.