US online poker is experiencing something of a renaissance — a resurgence after a dark period for poker and for people in general. As the sun starts shining more, poker is booming, with more tournaments, live games, poker content, and tournament guarantees likely to be smashed.
In this article, we’ll explore three top reasons why poker is booming again, not just with professional poker players but also among recreational players and even new amateurs who are just learning how to play Texas Hold ‘Em with friends and family, online or in person.
Returning to Post-Pandemic Life
One of the big reasons that poker is booming is that we’re now living in the post-pandemic era. After years of being unable to play in person, with casinos being shut down in an unprecedented era for Las Vegas and other gaming establishments country-wide, the pure ability to play again is bringing people back to the poker tables. After having to stay at home for months upon months, only surrounded by family or themselves, people are eager to see other people again, have fun, and revel in playing a hand of cards with others in person. An added excitement is lending itself to the game again.
As more and more rules were lifted, people returned to poker tournaments and cash games in droves. Venues responded and brought different and exciting reasons to come play in their hosted festivals. Plenty of new players also emerged. While live poker was ground to a halt, online poker thrived. Loads of newcomers discovered rooms like BetMGM Poker and PokerStars, taking up poker during the pandemic as a way to beat the boredom. Once action returned to the live felt, so did a new class of poker enthusiasts.
Moreover, poker’s boom can partly be attributed to tournament guarantees being smashed. The excitement of returning to poker has brought more and more people out to play. For instance, the WPT World Championship held at the Wynn in December 2022 blew away its guarantee of a $15,000,000 prize pool, almost doubling that amount with an astounding $29 million final prize pool.
Live Poker Events Are Peaking, in Particular for Women
The World Poker Tour also heightened the focus on women in poker, bringing more women out to the tables with meet-up games and the Ladies Championship. One major beneficiary was Lara Eisenberg, who netted $481,500 after placing 2nd in the $1,100 buy-in WPT Prime Championship.
In addition, organizations such as Poker Power have emerged as leaders in the field to help bring more women to the game of poker, with initiatives such as awarding Platinum Passes (worth $30,000) to the PokerStars Players Championship (PSPC) in the Bahamas, which was held earlier this year. Tournaments geared towards women are being held from Las Vegas to Malta and have multiple groups supporting them, from Poker Power to the Women’s Poker Association (WPA).
More tournaments were created to help with this demand, too, most recently with the Moneymaker Tour, named after 2003 WSOP Main Event Champion Chris Moneymaker, who claimed a $2.5 million first prize after qualifying for the tournament via an $86 online satellite. The _Moneymaker Tour_’s first stop will take place at the Palm Beach Kennel Club from May 10-24, with $1 million in guarantees across the tournament schedule.
The World Series of Poker usually brings in thousands upon thousands of players for months at a time in the summer, but it was postponed in 2020 and didn’t end up running until the fall of the next year, 2021. It wasn’t until the WSOP returned in the summer of 2022 that things seemed to return to normal, albeit at the Paris and the Horseshoe this time around, bringing a fresh start. This fresh start included the second-largest field ever at the WSOP Main Event with 8,663 players. It’s widely believed that the 2006 record of 8,773 players will fall at the WSOP 2023 this coming summer.
The Poker Content Boom
A third reason or component why poker is currently robust is its invigorated poker community, as new and classic poker commentators bring insight, humor, news, and information to their poker consumers. Vloggers and content creators such as Joey Ingram and Doug Polk, podcasters such as Matt Berkey, and humorists like Caitlin Comeskey, Greg Liow, and Will Jaffe have added to that sense of community, and poker Twitter’s incessant buzz definitely added a lot more attention to whatever was going on in the poker universe at that moment. Daniel Negreanu posted videos throughout the WSOP, keeping his fans and poker enthusiasts informed on his experience at the series. As people watch, they want to join the fun and the community and try out their hand in a tournament. This engagement is widely replicated across YouTube, Twitch, and other channels as poker fans follow their favorite creators.
These are the top three factors helping along the renaissance and renewal of poker, bringing excitement and hope for the future of the game.
Christina Bradfield is an author currently living in Las Vegas. Her love for poker began at a young age when her mother introduced her to Texas Hold’em in a home game where she learned not to put her cash winnings in her pockets.