Instead of working dead end jobs, today many college kids have found unique ways to generate money on the side. One of those alternative means of support is online poker. Raised in the video game age, most of the members of Generation Y easily adapt to the fluidity of online poker.
Even though there's money on the line, it's still a game to them and that's part of the reason why they have been able to separate the financial aspects from their decision making processes. Generation Y is also heavily influenced by television so it's no surprise that episodes of the World Series of Poker and the World Poker Tour were a contributing factor to poker's popularity, particularly in the 18-35 year old demographic.
In 2004, Greg Raymer became the second consecutive player to win the World Series of Poker main event by qualifying online at PokerStars. Raymer stood out from the rest of the pack of players by his unique holographic sunglasses that he'd slide on whenever he was in a hand. He was also one of the more intelligent players in the field and didn't just come out of nowhere. For several years, Raymer was a regular player at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut and a frequent player at the tables on PokerStars. The gregarious and fan-friendly Raymer became the perfect ambassador for poker as millions of poker players envisioned that what happened to Raymer could also be possible for them. While poker's popularity was boiling over in America, the rest of the world started to catch the poker bug. John Duthie launched the European Poker Tour and was astonished at the large numbers of participants all over Europe. For the first time, it was evident that poker was just not an American fad because players from all over the world were just as fascinated and enraptured. The EPT teamed up with PokerStars giving players from all over the world the chance to win their seats online. Thanks to the internet, poker is truly an international game. When Australian Joe Hachem came out of nowhere to win the 2005 WSOP, he was thrust into the spotlight. His victory was indicative of the international flavor that the WSOP had attracted. The field of players in the 2005 WSOP represented six continents and several hundred countries. The media room at the WSOP resembled the United Nations with journalists and photographers from different countries. They spoke in their native tongues, although some words were the same such as "flop" and "all in."
In the press conference that kicked off the 2006 WSOP main event, Joe Hachem explained what his victory meant to poker in his native country of Australia.
"When I left Melbourne, there was just one card room. Now there's eight."
The Moneymaker effect eventually reached Australia, with Joe Hachem as the conduit. Over the past year, Hachem gladly accepted the role of poker's international ambassador, while other members of Team PokerStars are also helping spread the word about poker overseas. Humberto Brenes from Costa Rica has become the face of poker in Latin America, while Katja Thater has been promoting poker in Europe, specifically Germany.
The Post-Modern American Dream has been exported around the world as poker experienced a boom on the international scale. Poker is just not for Americans sitting around in kitchens chomping down on stale cigars and sipping cheap whiskey. The third season of the European Poker Tour grew faster than expected thanks to an influx of players who qualified by playing online satellites at PokerStars. The recent popularity and success of the World Cup of Poker proved that poker will continue to grow. Team Poland won the 2006 WCP dethroning two-time champions Team Costa Rica. And eyes are set on the newest market... Asia.
Since 2003, Chris Moneymaker, Greg Raymer and Joe Hachem have been the focal point of the poker world. The three world champions have been an integral part of igniting the poker boom. Only a few years ago the American Dream had been flickering on the verge of extinction, now thanks to members of Team PokerStars such as Moneymaker, Raymer, and Hachem... the dream is a raging inferno.