Poker World Predictions for 2010
THE WEEKLY SHUFFLE, 2009-12-20, by Ozone, TwoGunAs we approach a new calendar year, we'd like to run our mouths about some things you might expect to see happen in the poker world in 2010. By the way, will people be calling this "two-thousand and ten" or "twenty ten"? I hope "twenty ten", that's two fewer syllables!
The poker universe in terms of the number of online poker rooms is shrinking, not expanding. In theory, there's really no reason to have more than one online poker room. Ideally, that one poker room would perfectly offer customers everything they want giving players no reason to play anywhere else. Although life is way too inefficient for this to ever actually happen, the trend moves in that direction. Recently, there has already been news floating around of two online poker mergers.
First, it appears Everest Poker will be acquired by Mangas Gaming. This change means little for Everest Poker players. Essentially, Mangas Gaming, which primarily consists of online sportsbooks, will merge their meager poker network onto Everest Poker.
A bigger merger being discussed recently is one between online gaming giants bwin and Party Gaming. If these companies merged, they would form one of the largest online gaming outfits with a market capitalization of around £2 billion. As far as players are concerned, this deal would probably just make Party Poker's network somewhat larger. bwin's poker players would probably just be merged onto the Party network. This could push Party Poker back in front of the iPoker Network, which is home to sites like Titan Poker, to be the largest non-US facing network.
As smaller poker rooms continue to struggle to increase their market capitalization in the face of dominant, large sites, mergers will only make more and more sense for these companies. It is a lot easier for online poker rooms to acquire and retain players when their player base is large. Mergers create an instantly larger player base and therefore are very appealing to small, struggling poker rooms.
Of course, talk of mergers has been going on for five or so years, and few have actually occurred. Our prediction: one decent-sized merger.
WPT Continues to Slide
The World Poker Tour's numbers are hurting and there's little reason to expect a turnaround in 2010. The $15,000 buy-in Doyle Brunson Classic was held last week and saw its participation drop 34% from last year. WPT events are having a very difficult time luring participants over the EPT and smaller US events. A big reason for this is that there are very few online satellites to WPT events. If you want to play, you have to buy-in directly. There just simply aren't that many poker players willing to put up $10,000+ buy-ins to face a field full of sharks on a regular basis. Why do that when you can play an event in Europe with three times the field size many of whom are fishy online satellite qualifiers?
The WPT is scrambling desperately to lure participants. They've even added European venues to their schedule to try to take a slice out of the EPT. I wouldn't expect this to work. Until they are able to promote their US-based events through online poker satellites, the WPT will continue to be a twitching corpse of its once former glory.
No Change in the US Legal Situation
Ever since the UIGEA was passed, poker players have been optimistic that the law would soon be overturned. And ever since the UIGEA was passed, we've said these people are crazy and that the law is here to stay. It has now been over four years since the law was passed, one of which was under a heavily Democrat-controlled Washington, and there hasn't been any real promise that there will be any change in the law. The poker world rallied behind Barack Obama in last year's election in hopes that his Presidency would lead to pro-poker legislation. Again, like we predicted, Obama doesn't give a crap about poker. Expect more of the same in 2010 with regards to poker's legal status in the US: nothing. It's conceivable that in a few years cash-crunched states will begin to explore the possibility of legalizing and taxing online gambling to increase revenue, but for this upcoming year, nothing is going to happen.
On the plus side though, we don't expect the UIGEA to be heavily enforced. It's already been 3+ plus years since the legislation was passed, and its enforcement has been perpetually delayed. On the day of reckoning (if it ever does come), we doubt the banks are going to vigorously attempt to block gambling transactions any more than they are doing currently. The status quo has been in place for a few years now, and that trend will continue for awhile.
By the way, anytime you rakeback-generating, multi-tabling, pizza-ordering, Obama t-shirt wearing online poker grinders are ready to admit we've been right all along about the UIGEA, you can reach us by following the link at the bottom of this article.
Poker World Sex Scandal
Yea, that's right. The poker world is due for a big sex scandal. Even though most poker players are too busy grinding their way to VIP status to bother with women, we expect some type of a sex-related scandal to break out in 2010. What type of scandal, exactly? We're not sure. Maybe a gay confessional from a top high stakes cash game player or a Tiger Woods-style infidelity episode from one of the game's married pros. Maybe it will be discovered that Phil Hellmuth throws the best sex parties in all of Northern California or that Annie Duke used to be a man. If something does come out, remember, we called it first!
The Weekly Shuffle is our Sunday column with our observations and commentary on the poker world. Have an idea for an article? Leave a suggestion on the feedback page.
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