The Poker boom

The Poker boom

If you’ve ever watched professional Poker you are well aware of how huge it is becoming year after year. Poker professionals are bona-fide celebrities now and some of them get endorsements worthy of athletes from companies. But let me tell you a little about the Poker boom which started way back in 2003.

This Poker boom is a period between 2003 and 2006, during which poker, primarily no limit Texas Hold’em became a lot more popular all around the world. During these years the online poker player pool was doubling in size every year.

The seeds of this boom were planted way back in 1998 when the movie Rounders came out. This movie gave viewers a new perspective over the game of poker and how it’s not all influenced by luck alone. This same year the World Series of Poker Main Events started being broadcast and thus the race was on.

In 2003 there were two main events that triggered this Poker boom. The first was the World Poker Tour’s inaugural season debuting on the Travel Channel on American cable television. This only escalated when in May 2003, amateur Chris Moneymaker won the 2003 WSOP Main Event. He won his seat on the event via a $39 satellite tournament. He was one of 839 entrants in the 2003 event, an increase of around 200 players from 2002 and almost doubled the 393 competitors that played in 1999. The field in 2004 Main Event more than tripled to 2576 players. At the 2006 Main Event there were already 8773 competitors, about 14 times as many as in the 2002 Main Event.

People also believe that the NHL lockout of 2004-05 had something to do with this because ESPN filled the air time which was left open with Poker programming. Others just consider this as a classic speculative bubble.

Many consider that this boom ended in October 2006, when the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) became a law in the United States, and a lot of online poker sites had to leave the United States. In the first WSOP after this law passed saw attendance drop by nearly 28%, from 8773 in 2006 to 6358 at the 2007 Main Event.

If we look at the 6685 entrants in the 2011 Main Event, it would seem that the “Black Friday” indictments have not reduced the level of poker activity. Three of the biggest online poker sites which were serving players in the United States had their web domains seized and quickly shut down by the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Allegedly these establishments were in violation of federal bank fraud and money laundering laws. But despite all of this, two of them still continue to serve international players even today, while a lot of smaller sites still allow US players.


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