I get a lot of weird offers from random companies who want to pay me to put up ads or to do “link exchanges” (this is when you put each other’s links on your sites, in order to help search engine results). Mostly I get these emails from shady gambling sites who are just trying to ride the coat-tails of more successful sites by getting a link from them. I pretty much ignore all of them.
But I was amused when I got the following offer to write a guest post on my blog. Here’s the email:
I never actually thought she’d write the article, as it seems such a blatantly silly idea. But then a few days later I got an email with the blog post attached. It was surprisingly well-written; not what I expected at all. It’s not really worth reading; it’s boring, with a lot of info you probably already know, and it has some questionable assumptions and conclusions. But I’m posting it below, complete with a link to Legacy Headstones of Ohio, because a deal is a deal. And also because I felt bad she had spent time on it.
The Death of Poker
In the early 2000s, poker experienced a gigantic surge of popularity. High level exposure through television, film and literature led to increased interest in the game. The winners of the 2003 and 2004 World Series of Poker both entered the tournament through relatively inexpensive online satellites, encouraging a slew of beginners to try their hand at Texas Hold ‘Em. The 1998 film Rounders, starring Matt Damon, and the 2006 James Bond film Casino Royale both centered around high stakes poker games that meant life or death to the heroes. At some point in the last several years, however, interest in poker began to wane, and its strong presence in the public consciousness began to slip away. Former WSOP champion Joe Hachem bemoans the current state of the game, saying that poker is dying. What happened?
Online poker contributed enormously to the growth of the game. It comes as no surprise, then, that a series of legal entanglements for the world’s biggest gambling websites has stunted that growth. In 2006, The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was signed into law, prohibiting transactions between gambling websites and American banks. This led to the shutdown of such popular sites as PartyPoker.com and PacificPoker.com. In 2011, after a landmark Supreme Court case, the FBI shut down a number of gambling websites, including Full Tilt and PokerStars, the two biggest poker websites. This led to a freezing of accounts containing millions of dollars in player funds and the interruption of lucrative endorsement deals with some of poker’s most visible professionals. While the Poker Players Alliance, a Congressional lobby with over 1 million members, continues to fight the UIGEA on behalf of players everywhere, the progress has been slow. Only New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware have since passed legislation allowing online gambling.
Player skill level
In the late 90s, a little research and attentiveness at the table was more than enough to find success in many card rooms. Casual players, or “fish”, would find their way to casinos and home games in the hopes of getting lucky, and would soon find their pockets empty after matching wits with more experienced players. After the poker explosion of the early 2000s, knowledge of poker strategy and psychology was readily available in the form of blogs, instructional videos, ESPN commentary, and hundreds of books written by some of the most successful professional players. It wasn’t long before intermediate and advanced strategies were common practice even at low limit tables and humble home games, and a little reading wasn’t enough to gain an edge over most opponents. Confronted with a sharper learning curve and tougher competition, many hopeful beginners got discouraged and called it quits, and the fish seem to have left the game entirely.
There’s still hope!
Like any sport or piece of popular culture that experiences a sudden boom in popularity, poker was bound to fall out of favor again. If anything, this only means that the game will return to where it was in the 90s, and regain some normalcy. The modern televised game is not as exciting as it once was because of the emphasis on math and strategy. What the game needs now, if it is to return to its former glory, is professional players with personality like Daniel Negreanu, who bring an element of fun and social interaction to the table that makes the experience more than just a game. Find a way to put entertaining players front and center, and the attraction of poker will return.
Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who writes for Legacy Headstones, a leading Ohio-based headstone manufacturer and vendor.