Poker World Predictions for 2012
Happy New Year! The last year on earth is upon us. Let's take a look at some predictions for the poker world between now and the end of the world. Our predictions for 2011 proved to be fairly solid: a disappointing WSOP for Phil Ivey (how about ZERO events played?!), Hellmuth not to sign with an online poker room, and no legal online poker at the federal level in the U.S. all proved to be spot on.
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Real Money Online Poker Back in the U.S.
This year, we should see some form of real money online poker return to the U.S. After passing legislation earlier this year, Nevada recently began accepting applications from companies wishing to operate an online poker site. The approval process is expected to be rather expedient which should leave operators a chance to go online by the end of the year.
At the present time, it is unclear if legal online poker in Nevada will be open only to those within the state's borders or if they will try to include other states who may wish to opt in. States like California and New Jersey may be ripe for such an opportunity or pass legislation of their own. The Justice Department's recent interpretation of the Wire Act may allow states to feel more comfortable about legalizing online poker in 2012.
No Legalized Online Poker at Federal Level in the U.S.
There is hope among poker players in the U.S. of federal legislation to be pushed through Congress at the end of this year similarly to how the UIGEA was passed in 2006. But even if this does happen, it's likely to be a moot point with the world set to end on December 21st.
In all seriousness though, there is probably a better than 50% chance that another year goes by without pro-poker federal legislation in the U.S. Poker basically just needs to get lucky in order for it to happen. All it takes is Harry Reid deciding to use up political capital in some unforeseen manner to kill legal poker's chances. But 2012 is the mostly likely year for it to date, so this prediction, which we have made for something like seven consecutive years now, is rather marginal. It would be nice to be wrong for once!
888 Poker Continues to Surge, Overtakes Party Poker
888 Poker seems to be doing everything right these days. They are far and away the winners of the "oops, there goes Full Tilt" sweepstakes. They passed the Ongame Network (home to Betfair Poker) this year and their player base has grown to about two-thirds the size of Party Poker's. These advancements seemed unthinkable just a couple of years ago. But superior software, promotions, and marketing have paid off in a big way. 888 Poker is currently giving away $50,000 worth of LG electronics per week through February 12th.
Speaking of cool online poker promotions, Party Poker's multi-table tournaments will be rake-free for the month of January.
Full Tilt Resurfacing Takes a While
The notion that Full Tilt would be able sell assets to Groupe Bernard Tapie who would repay players and relaunch the site's offerings all in an expedient process seems fairly misguided at this point. While a deal still appears to be on to repay Full Tilt players worldwide and relaunch the site's games, it's not going to happen overnight. The new owners will have to start from scratch with the licensing process before they can begin taking customers. They have no experience in the online gaming industry. Expect the return of Full Tilt to be a long and sometimes frustrating process. In other words, more of the same from that brand. But hey, at least players will still be repaid, right? RIGHT?!
To echo a prediction we made for 2011, expect to see more people bowing out of the poker world or at least downsizing the game's scope in their life. Recently, poker pro Dusty "leatherass" Schmidt announced his plans to take a break from the game to reconnect with his passion for golf. The 30 year old hopes to regain PGA Tour eligibility, a status he once he enjoyed prior to turning to poker. Between increasingly difficult global competition and frustrating legal issues in several jurisdictions, it will be unsurprising to see other successful poker players take a similar path and pursue opportunities not directly related to a game of cards.