We’re about to cross into a brand new calendar year. The poker industry has been somewhat flat in 2010, in part due to the sputtering global economy and in part due to regulations in the United States and elsewhere against the game. What could give poker a rebirth? What does this writer consider to be paramount to the game’s survival? Read on to find out.
More Ladies, Please
The female population in poker can potentially grow leaps and bounds. A female winning the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event would ignite a boon of women in poker, and it wouldn’t be small either. This year, Breeze Zuckerman was the Last Woman Standing in the Main Event, but only lasted until 121st.
Prior to the WSOP, 2010 had represented a Year of the Woman of sorts. UB.com pro Annie Duke picked up the win in the National Heads-Up Poker Championship and Liv Boeree trumped the pack at the PokerStars European Poker Tour (EPT) stop in San Remo. Also earlier this year, Vanessa Selbst took down the North American Poker Tour’s (NAPT) Mohegan Sun Main Event. However, the Year of the Woman has fizzled ever since.
U.S. Regulation, One Time
The prospects of legalized and regulated online poker in the United States are fading quickly in 2010. With Congress already having adjourned for November’s general elections, online poker players will have to wait for the so-called “Lame Duck” session in order to see discussion of Congressman Barney Frank’s (D-MA) HR 2267, the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act. The bill stands at 70 co-sponsors on both sides of the political spectrum, but may easily fall by the wayside this year. If it’s not acted on, it’ll be deemed dead and must be reintroduced in 2011.
November’s elections might throw another wrench at us. If Republicans are able to take control of the House of Representatives, then Frank will likely lose his post as Chairman of the powerful Financial Services Committee. Frank has been internet gambling’s top proponent on Capitol Hill and losing his leadership would most certainly be a bad beat for online poker players in the United States.
Live Qualifiers, Por Favor
The success of live poker tournaments indirectly hinges on the number of online qualifiers in the field. With the creation and heavy promotion of its NAPT, PokerStars, the world’s largest online poker site, has seemed to de-emphasize sending players to major live events like the WSOP and stops on the World Poker Tour (WPT). This, along with other factors, has led to smaller WPT fields. Consequently, WPT officials decreased the buy-ins of several major events in order to bolster attendance.
Meanwhile, Party Gaming’s purchase of the WPT will likely result in the site sending even more of its players to stops on the longstanding tour. The WPT has also expanded its presence in Europe to grow its player base. However, in order for major tours to survive, they’ll need the support of sites like PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker.
Charity, Charity, Charity
Most fundraising experts can tell you that poker provides an excellent vehicle for any cause. Charity poker tournaments run constantly, both online and offline, and raise funds for a variety of worthwhile organizations, from Ante Up for Africa to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. With several lawmakers on Capitol Hill opposed to poker for moral reasons, reinforcing the power of the game as a charitable driver can only be beneficial for our image.
Poker is fortunate to have a multitude of individuals who constantly raise funds for charitable causes. The group includes Annie Duke, Barry Greenstein, Beth Shak, and 2006 WSOP Main Event champ Jamie Gold. Let’s hope that, as the Delta slogan claims, good goes around!