09 November 2005

State of Poker

Thought you might be interested in this, which I wrote in correspondence with a name, up-and-coming player, who is in the know regarding the poker community. It started as a reply to an article he wrote regarding the WSOP Tournament of Champions sponsor's exemption controversy. My thoughts below:

I think Harrah’s admitted that this wasn’t ideal, adding the three in deference to Pepsi’s wishes. It was a freeroll with an established entry that then was changed due to a late sponsor coming in. To bankroll $2MM. As poker is stretching, trying to figure out what the future holds, and with no players organization to voice their wishes, the players who are around (now Harrah’s, ESPN, and WPT) are trying to figure out how to keep this thing growing and make it thriving rather than turn it into a Who Wants to Be a Millionaire/ABC fiasco. Can you imagine a world where you personally are in the WPA (World Poker Association) having qualified in 2005 being in the Top 500 players in results? You can still have qualifiers and buy-in’s, but you have to put up half or a tenth of a buy-in with sponsors kicking in the rest.

To me, the specific issue of the sponsor’s exemptions is a red herring and is more symptomatic of larger issues confronting poker; i.e., who’s in charge, and where is it headed? What is the vision for poker in 2010, and who is going to take it there? I know there are a lot of very bright folks (including you and your peers) who are struggling with the How-Do-We-Capitalize-on-this-Poker-Explosion, Can-We-Be-Part-of-Taking-It-to-the-Next-Level, and How-Do-We-Prevent-this-from-Becoming-Just-a-Fad. It seems like a very significant challenge that is confronting the game.

  • One of the biggest players (WPTE) floundering
  • No real center of influence stewarding the direction of the game, either among the players, tournaments, and poker rooms
  • No organization setting any rules or guidelines for poker
  • Lack of quality control with production being created; outside WSOP, WPT, and National Heads-up, the rest is all over the board
  • Everyone and their brother throwing things at the wall to see what will stick/where they can get their part of the action
  • Poker rooms springing up like weeds
  • Building poker around celebrity/individuals seems to be high risk. It’s one thing to build around solid players that aren’t going away (Doyle, Ivey), but there seems to be a lot of risk building around the new guns (Negreanu, Esfandiari) or today’s story (Moneymaker)
  • Fracturing of tournaments, with overlapping events starting to look more like the tennis tours vs. PGA
  • Online poker may be hitting a growth wall
The term poker fad is being heard more and more. I for one would like to see sustainability, but the current path is one towards entropy, which equals chaos, which means flash in the pan.


Blogger Nick Christy said...

I agree with your thoughts. I think we need consolidation between the major players, (travel ch,espn,wsop,wpte,ect) to create 1 "league" with an ultimate goal at the end of the year (i.e. player of the year). I also think we need a way to follow pros threw the year and see how they progress and where they stand in comming up with this. We need to follow nascars lead with what they have done with a fairly individual sport.

11:40 AM  

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