Every area of life has its Has-Beens. Poker is no exception. Here are a few of the more memorable poker Has-Beens:
Two years ago, rakeback at online poker rooms was all the rage. It took a while, but finally online poker rooms figured it out: rakeback incentivizes sharks to play a high volume. Sharks kill games. The easiest way to look at the effects of a site not having rakeback is to look at how non-US facing networks have faired since the UIGEA. The two largest networks? Party Poker and iPoker, neither of which allow rakeback. Sites that insisted on having rakeback, such as the Cryptologic network, have been hollowed out by sharks and are now just a skeleton of their former glory.
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The first online poker room for real money, Planet Poker, opened its doors in 1998. It was on its own stand-alone network for its entire existence. The first major blow to the poker room was when it was discovered that their RNG could be hacked. Planet Poker was never able to recover from this incident (a bit odd since a certain other poker room has fared just fine following millions being won by a 'superuser'), and Planet remained a fringe poker room for most of its existence. Struggles with payment processing from the UIGEA pretty much finished off this place.
World Poker Tour
It's becoming painfully clear that the World Poker Tour is just a shell of its former glory. The Foxwoods Poker Classic, an event that historically lured more than 400 players per year, drew just 257 participants this week. The World Poker Tour is spread too thin. There just simply isn't enough money in the poker world any longer to justify a $10k buy-in tournament every two weeks. It's time for the WPT to go lean. Axe all but 6-7 of the most popular events and try to parlay the resulting heightened level of prestige into a better TV deal.
The King of the Has-Beens. Remember the 2002 WSOP Champ? I sure didn't and had to Google "2002 WSOP Main Event Winner" errr....I mean, I went to this page that hasn't been updated in two years. Anyways, Varkonyi, some average chump that loves Q-10 offsuit, was able to milk being a WSOP winner for awhile when poker-related companies would pay anyone, ANYONE to endorse their product. Not surprisingly, the Varkonyi appeal didn't take too long to fade.
This site used to be a titan among online poker sites. While on the same network as Party Poker, it used to provide a significant portion of the players to the network. Eventually, this site just became a glorified rakeback skin for Party Poker. Realizing this, Party booted Empire from its network which forced it to become a standalone room. Empire Poker became a shell of its former self. It was eventually bought out by Party Poker and is once again a skin on that network.
The "Mad Genius" was able to cash in during the early years of the poker boom. The popularity of his mediocre book on poker tells, mainly due to the fact that it was the only book on poker tells, allowed him to get some nice endorsement deals. Unfortunately for Caro, his endorsement seemed to be the death kiss of most poker rooms. He first endorsed Planet Poker and then later JetSet Poker. What do these sites have in common? They are no longer in operation, and are now on our official has-been list.
"Professional poker player" being a meaningful title
Four or five years ago "pro" poker players commanded TV time, endorsement deals, and autograph requests. Today, the notion of being a "pro" poker player carries about as much weight as saying you're an accomplished video game player. Who cares? One in every three 22 year olds in society who own a hoodie and likes smoking marijuana is technically a "pro" poker player. The title has lost its luster. It requires nothing magical to be a "pro" poker player. All one needs to do is simply claim that they are one and viola, they're a pro! That hardly puts them in the same class as popular poker TV personalities with seven-figure endorsement deals.