5 Predictions for 2011
Happy New Year! At the start of any year, it's fun to make predictions for what might happen. We did it last year and were sort of right on a couple of our predictions. Unfortunately, there was no major poker world sex scandal that we know of. Maybe 2011 will be the year for that.
Without further ado, here are five predictions for the poker world in 2011:
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A Disappointing WSOP for Phil Ivey
Two years ago, Phil Ivey, widely considered the game's best all-around player, won two bracelets before reaching the November Nine. Last year, he won "just" one bracelet. Right now, Ivey seems like some unstoppable force at the WSOP. People are predicting he'll pass Phil Hellmuth for career WSOP bracelets within just a few years (even though Hellmuth currently has 11 bracelets to Ivey's 8). That is just ridiculous. Winning a WSOP bracelet is an incredibly difficult thing to do and it only gets tougher and tougher each year. Is Phil Ivey the best all-around player in the game? Almost without a doubt. But that doesn't ensure he'll win a bracelet every year or even come close. This year, the poker world will be reminded that even the great Phil Ivey is not immune to the variance of tournament poker. Not only will Phil Ivey not win a WSOP bracelet, but he won't reach more than a single final table.
No Change the Poker's Legal Situation in the U.S.
What?! The editors of PokerTips predicting that the status quo will remain the status quo regarding poker's legal situation in the U.S.?!? Shocking, right? But even though we've been saying it for years now, we're going to say it again. Someone has to offset all of the unwarranted optimism out there regarding poker's chances to become legal in the U.S. 2011 will be another year of disappointment for the wide-eyed optimists. Poker's legal status in the U.S. at the end of the year will be a lot like it is now.
Phil Hellmuth Will NOT Sign With An Online Poker Room
We're kind of going out on a limb with this prediction, but it makes some sense. Just last week, it was announced that Phil Hellmuth parted ways with his sponsor UB after nearly ten years of working together. Immediately, this created a buzz throughout the poker world with everyone trying to guess what online poker room Hellmuth will sign with next. Our prediction? He won't sign anywhere.
There are really only two poker rooms that make any sense for Hellmuth to sign with: PokerStars and Full Tilt. He's not going to sign with a room that doesn't service U.S. customers and he's not going to sign with some dinky room like Victory Poker that might not even be around this time next year. Between his two viable options, it's tough to picture him representing either one. Hellmuth is a rogue personality. Both of those established rooms have a huge stable of well known pros that they sponsor. It just seems unlikely that they could merge Hellmuth's massive image and personality into their existing line-ups of players. Expect to see Hellmuth remain unaffiliated with an online poker room through 2011. It is, however, entirely possible that he will sign a deal with some type of mainstream company that does not profit directly from online poker. This becomes even more likely if he winds up appearing on Dancing with the Stars as has been rumored might happen.
More Poker Retirements
In 2010, we saw the likes of Mike McDonald and Peter Eastgate announce their retirements from the game. As the viability of playing poker professionally continues to decline, look for more high-profile pros to announce their semi-retirement from the game to focus their energies in other ways. These retirements won't come from ultra-marquee names like Daniel Negreanu or Gus Hansen. Instead, look for players who have had a tremendous amount of success in poker but have not generated quite enough fame to coast through life on auto-pilot while serving as a sponsor of a major online poker room. Additionally, anyone who appears to be considerably bright, ambitious, and capable of enjoying success in other areas of life is a pretty strong candidate to "retire" from poker. A couple examples of people who seem to fit this mold are Phil Galfond and Vivek Rajkumar.
Look for mergers and closures of business across the entire poker industry as it contracts. For multiple reasons (natural inertia, struggling industry), online poker rooms will continue to drift towards consolidating down into just a small handful of large networks. The days of people starting new online poker rooms are all but over. The ones that are already around are having a hard enough time competing with the big guys. Larger rooms gobbling up smaller rooms either by buying them out (merging) or by the smaller rooms simply shutting down business with be the trend for years to come. Expect the same to be the case for things like poker magazines and TV shows. Poker media in general is a bubble. The current number of media outlets and programming choices simply cannot sustain itself. While things like poker media websites are unlikely to shutdown altogether, they will likely cut back on costs substantially which means less content being produced overall. Televised poker programming will also see cuts as there is currently more poker on TV than people really care to watch. Overall, the whole industry will be contracting a lot over the next several years until it reaches a more sustainable level.