A Look Back at 2003
PokerTips.org recently celebrated its 10th birthday. A lot has changed in the poker world in the past 10 years (and a lot has changed on PokerTips.org as well!) In this week's shuffle, we look at the poker world ten years ago.
Chris Moneymaker and the 2003 WSOP
You can't talk about 2003 in the poker world without first mentioning Chris Moneymaker. He launched the poker boom with his satellite-win on PokerStars turn WSOP Main Event championship victory.
With his victory, the view of the WSOP went from something that only the old diehards play to something any Joe with some basic poker skills can qualify for. In 2003, only 839 people entered the Main Event. It was still an impressive leap up from 300 or so people average of the 90's, but nothing compared to the 6500 or so that play now in the post-UIGEA poker world.
Some credit the online poker boom largely to Moneymaker. Personally, I think it would likely have happened anyways, but Moneymaker's win certainly sped up the process.
Back in 2003, cash games were still dominated by fixed-limit hold'em. While limit hold'em cash games still exist, no-limit is now the more popular option.
Casinos were reluctant to offer no-limit cash games back in the day. The reason was primarily that new, inexperienced players would lose their money too quickly. For example, a brand new player would often call a preflop raise with ace-rag and lose his entire stack if he hit top pair. In limit-hold'em, he'd only lose part of his stack at least. Being a calling station doens't work well in limit or no-limit hold'em, but at least in limit hold'em you lose your money at a much slower pace.
Nowadays, fixed-limit hold'em tournaments are considered a novelty. Ten years ago, they were extremely common. In fact, some sites had their premiere tournaments be fixed-limit hold'em ones. Ten years ago, the main event at Party Poker was their Party Poker Million II event, which was a $5,000 buy-in limit hold'em event held on a cruise.
Paradise Poker and PokerRoom
If you are a true veteran, you remember these cardrooms fondly. Back in 2003, Paradise Poker was the largest online poker room. It was soon taken over by both Party Poker and PokerStars when the poker bubble heated up as Paradise Poker didn't advertise enough. PokerRoom was another great site that was the origin of the Ongame network. It featured some of the smoothest software at the time, and was the only poker room available for people that had Mac computers.
While there were still plenty of Europeans and Canadians that played online poker, the US was by far the largest market of players. Americans were more familiar with poker in general and poker rooms were easily able to market to Americans and get them to deposit via e-walletes in pre-UIGEA times.
Because of this, most poker rooms did not even have their sites or software translated into other languages in 2003. The first room to offer multi-lingual support was Everest Poker, and that was pretty much the only reason that poker site blossomed. PokerTips.org was also one of the first poker information sites translated into multiple languages; in fact we had our site translated long before most of the online poker rooms.
Yes, we still have e-wallets nowadays like Neteller and Moneybookers. Back in 2003, there were a lot of them, especially for US players. In addition to Neteller, there were some such as Firepay and Prepaid ATM. Firepay was a casualty of the UIGEA, and Prepaid ATM managed to fold even before the law was passed.
One thing I've ranted a lot about is how the fish aren't protected enough. That's because back in 2003, they were....and guess what, games were much more profitable.
In addition to limit hold'em being popular, sites generally limited the stakes in no-limit games. Party Poker didn't have a no-limit game above $1-$2 no-limit in 2003. 888 Poker limited players to just one cash game table at a time. There was a lot of concern to keep the fish from losing their money too quickly, so they would continue playing and feed the nascent poker economy.