Poker Predictions for 2006

by Lou on January 4, 2006

I predict 2006 will bring a number of changes to the world of poker. At the risk of going out on a limb, here is what I predict will transpire over the next 12 months.

Expect More Consolidation:
All new industries go through periods of consolidation as they mature, and poker is no different. Let’s face it; if you don’t have customers, you won’t have any games to offer, and anyone venturing to your site won’t stick around very long.

In 2006 the strong will continue to eat the weak, and marginal rooms will continue to seek networks as a key to survival. It’s already happening. In the last quarter of 2005 Prima Poker added scads of rooms and now tops out at nearly 40. Networks bring together thousands of people playing simultaneously at dozens of card rooms, to create one unified body of players. Seamless networks will continue to revolutionize online poker by giving the smaller rooms a shot at competing with industry giants such as Party.

Expect Online Card Rooms, Casinos, and Sports Books Will Provide Integrated Gaming Opportunities:
In the brick and mortar world, you can easily see the model for gaming success. Walk into any large casino and you’ll find poker, sports books, and table games under one roof, all just footsteps away. This will happen online too. Why not allow online poker players to place sports bets or wager on blackjack, baccarat, craps, roulette, slots, or a variety of other table games while playing poker, and do so from the same bankroll? It sounds like a good idea to me.

This is nothing new, either. It’s merely a form of “cross-selling” that works well in the financial services industry, so why not in gaming? By making it easier for players to wager on all sorts of games, online operators will broaden their customer base by offering more wagering opportunities.

While I’m not a blackjack player, I know lots of poker players who are. So while I’m playing poker at two or three poker tables simultaneously, others will be playing poker at one table while playing blackjack and making occasional sports bets at the same time. Something for everyone? Sure. Why not?

Expect TV Poker to Simmer Down:
If anything grew more rapidly than the general public’s interest in poker over the past few years, it’s all the televised poker shows that seem to air 24/7 for your viewing pleasure.

The bar set by the World Poker Tour for production values is quite high, and it’s becoming harder and harder to watch televised poker where there’s no stage set or theatrical lighting, and the show chooses to rely on ambient overhead casino lighting — which at best is flat and lacking all drama. It’s like watching a play in a theater with the houselights on instead of with theatrical lighting. It just doesn’t work.

I expect all of the shows with poor production values to die out from lack of ratings, and the next group to bite the dust will be the gimmicky shows with little real poker interest and little to attract viewers who have now become spoiled by watching televised poker with high production values and dramatic poker.

Poker on TV has grown so fast it outstripped its audience. Considering how fast the audience for poker has grown, that seems almost an impossibility. But it happened. Go figure.

The Barrier to New Poker Rooms Continues to Grow:
If you want to open a new, stand-alone poker room in 2006, it’s a much more difficult hill to ascend than it was even a few short years ago. The big continue to grow bigger, and you’d have to come up with some very fresh offerings to attract a critical mass of players. Without that critical mass, a new room will never have a sufficient number of games to continue attracting new players while retaining the ones they already have.

One of the big differences between an online casino and online poker is that where poker is concerned, the customer and the product are indistinguishable.

If you’re playing blackjack online, you don’t care (and it doesn’t matter) how many others are playing table games in the same online casino. But unless you’ve got the players, you won’t have any poker games.

That’s the challenge to new poker rooms: How to get players when they have the option of playing at established online poker sites where a variety of games is available to them day or night. I’m not saying a new room can’t succeed, just that doing so in 2006 will be incredibly difficult outside of joining an established network or forming a new network with other poker rooms that have decided that joining forces is a better way to go than struggling to survive with only a relatively few customers.

2006 promises to be a very interesting year. Let’s see how well these predictions pan out.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: