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Poker News | World Series of Poker | WSOP2009 | The Works

Is Poker Dying?

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Let's face it – the poker boom is over. Long gone are the days where you could turn on the television and find some type of poker show on at any given time of the day. Yes, there is still plenty of poker to be found, but it's not nearly as prevalent as what we used to see back in the 2003-2006 poker heyday. Much of that is just due to the natural course of things. Fads come and people become super involved in them before they die out. Poker is more than a one hit wonder though as it has been around for a long time and while it's not sure to leave any time soon, the question has to be asked... is poker dying?

There is no denying the impact the UIGEA has had on poker. It's created a stigma that makes poker seem illegal to play to many casual observers. This in turn has led to decreased interest in advertisers and sponsors for poker tournaments. The WPT had a great idea in the Professional Poker Tour (PPT) but the lack of sponsors prevented that from ever taking off. And while this bill only impacted American poker players, make no mistake about it, the poker economy is made or broke by these same players.

Attendance numbers, especially at non-WSOP events, continue to decrease. Take away the chance of being on television and the results are staggering. Remember the USPC in Atlantic City? In 2000 before the poker boom, the event was won by Richard Tatalovich. There were 106 entries in the $7,600 event and he took home $318,000 (John Juanda took 2nd). In 2001, the field was even smaller with Men The Master taking home first place in a field of 76 (Juanda interestingly enough took 2nd again). In 2002, only 72 took part with John Hennigan winning (Juanda only took 7th this year).

Enter the poker boom and the ESPN cameras and you have 2003. Now a $10,000 event (how cliché huh?), the field was still small with only 99 players but it was an action packed final table with the likes of Phil Hellmuth, Erik Seidel, and eventual winner Toto Leonidas. The field increased to a record high of 177 the following year and in 2005 unknown player Jimmy Caporuscio took home $831,532 when he bested a field of 226. See the trend here? The numbers are increasing steadily – as was often the case during the poker boom years of 2003-2006. In 2006, young phenom Alex Jacob won with the field now at 261 players.

Now cometh the monster known as UIGEA and coupled with the removal of ESPN cameras, the USPC field dropped to 164 (still at 2004 numbers, so not terrible per se) in 2007. The telling story, however, is the 2008 USPC. 52... yes that's right... 52 players showed up to play. This number was the lowest in the history of the event. Part of the problem is surely the over saturation of $10,000 events but for the longest time this event was considered one of the “majors” in poker. Now it's on the verge of being eliminated.

It's likely that the numbers at the 2009 WSOP will tell the story that poker is alive and well. For the WSOP, that's probably true. Outside of this little seven week window though I think it's safe to say that poker is dying... a slow and quiet death. The one good thing is that poker will never go away completely, but it's unlikely we'll ever see the craze we saw in years preceding Moneymakers win in the WSOP.

*Editor’s note:  I, however, do not agree with our writer.  I believe a woman will win the Main Event of the WSOP, the UIGEA will be overturned, poker will sky rocket and keep climbing.  Life without poker would be dull and hateful.  Stay tuned to see whose prediction comes true.*

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