by Ashley Adams
I was playing in a $1 - $2 no limit hold’em game at Foxwoods Resort Casino the other day. I had just gotten beaten out of a $680 pot by the gentleman on my left – when my straight lost to his full house. We were chatting amicably about Poker Player Newspaper. He mentioned that he was interested in reading something different from the regular fare. I asked him to suggest a topic. “Well,” he started “how about writing about the future of poker?” So here’s my take.
It’s December 31, 2022. The 53rd World Series of Poker has just concluded in Las Vegas. Yihau Wu, the winner of its 100th and final tournament – the $10,000 buy-in Main Event – just took home a record prize of $24,000,000. The prize pools rose quickly in 2020 after Internet poker was finally legalized and regulated in the United States. This year, the two largest on-line poker companies: Ypoker. com (owned by Yahoo), and GoPoker (owned by Google) accounted for more than half of the 18,932 entrants in the main event.
The $24,000,000 wasn’t the largest prize awarded this year at the World Series of Poker, however. That would be the $50,478,909 first place prize received by Vanessa Rousso in the sixth annual “Mike’s Million” charity tournament. This $1 million-a-seat event, named in honor of retired Poker Charities Foundation President Mike Sexton, matches buy-ins with donations from corporate sponsors. This year, with 150 seats sold (most via the many satellites held around the world), these sponsors donated a cool $150 million to charity.
Poker has undergone a major transformation during the last ten years, due largely to its full legalization on the Internet and in the United States, Japan, India, and China. China alone boasts 512 poker rooms, including the mammoth 1,000 table Wynn property located outside Shanghai, home to the 2020 International Poker Games. Poker teams from 72 countries competed for the prestigious Holden Cup (named for IPG founder Anthony Holden) – signifying the highest achievement in Duplicate Poker. The next IPG, scheduled for London in 2024, will feature duplicate versions of both No Limit Texas Hold’em and Pot Limit Tsunami – the fastest growing form of poker. Tsunami has been gaining traction world-wide ever since it was invented in Japan in 2015 as a fast-paced alternative to hold’em. Players initially receive only one card, with an immediate two-card flop. They receive their next card with another two-card flop, and then a final down card with a final exposed community card. With only three betting rounds, as opposed to four as in hold’em, dealers deal an extra ten to twenty hands an hour – increasing profits for the house and for winning players.
The Japanese were the first to introduce the game into their schools, as part of their math curriculum. Amateur poker leagues have sprung up in many Asian and American school districts, where students compete for prizes and recognition. Tournament team tsunami is Japan’s second most popular school sport (behind only baseball). Tsunami is now a recognized team sport in 183 school districts in the United States.
In addition to the rise of Tsunami, perhaps the greatest change to poker is the rising popularity of “poker pop ups”. These hand held cell-phones allow users to play poker on internet sites like GoPoker and YPoker. They can play many games simultaneously, expanding their cell-phone screens by using holographic imagery.
A great consolidation of poker rooms has continued to take place – as the large rooms get bigger and the small rooms fold. The Peppermill in Reno, one of only three rooms left in the area, has just expanded to 100 tables. The Commerce now has a new wing, bringing its total up to 420 tables, and Mohegan Sun just added an entirely new “high stakes” room with an additional 50 tables.
“The future of poker is bright”, says newly selected Caesar’s International CEO Seth Palansky. “We are just glad that the American politicians finally woke up and realized that what was good for the poker player was good for the nation.”
Ashley Adams is the author of Winning 7-Card Stud and Winning No Limit Low Limit Hold’em. He hosts the radio show House of Cards, broadcast Mondays at 5 – 6 p.m. in Boston, MA, on 1510 AM, and on the Internet at www.houseofcardsradio.com. Contact Ashley at email@example.com.