Inside My Crystal Ball: 2011 Poker Predictions

by Lou on December 30, 2010

This is the time of year everyone makes predictions about what we might expect in 2011, and I guess I’m no different than anyone else when it comes to gazing into my crystal ball.

No UIGEA Repeal in 2011: While Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid sponsored a bill that would have brought us regulated online poker, he really didn’t seem to go all out in pushing for its passage.  I thought the efforts he made were at the level of merely going through the motions; his heart, soul, and influence-wielding were lacking and he never seemed truly invested in this bill’s passage.

When push came to shove, the spending bill that might have contained Reid’s legislation was filled with earmarks costing taxpayers more money, and online poker offers the promise of significant revenue to a government going ever more deeply into debt.  Yet this bill—which holds the promise of producing income rather than costing money—was the one tossed under the bus.

With a Republican majority in the House of Representatives, I don’t see how the cause of federally regulated online poker will gain any traction in 2011.

Barney Frank, who championed a bill that sought to repeal UIGEA in the House lost his leadership position and no longer has the juice to steer an online poker bill through committee as he did up until the most recent election.

I predict 2011 bring us more of the same: lots of rhetoric by the usual suspects with little in any real movement to overturn UIGEA and bring online poker into a federally regulated environment.

Online Poker Will Become a Reality in Several States: New Jersey looks to be the first state that will legalize and regulate online intrastate poker. That will bring some needed revenue into the Garden State, but it won’t do anything for folks living outside its borders.

However, a number of other states are exploring the possibilities of online poker within their borders too, so New Jersey’s effort may be enough to raise the dialogue and promote this concept in the eyes and minds of other states.

The problem with Intrastate gaming, of course, is liquidity.  If you don’t have the players, you don’t have the games, and our nation’s smaller states—places like Vermont, Idaho, the Dakotas, Wyoming, and many more—simply don’t have a sufficient population to offer a variety of poker games to players living there.  While Intranet poker looks viable in states like New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Illinois, Texas, California and other large states, it doesn’t figure to be much of a solution in small population states at all.

My prediction:  Online poker will become a reality in New Jersey and perhaps one or two additional states by the end of 2011, with a larger number of states beginning to consider this as a viable solution to some of their revenue woes.

Too Much Poker on TV: Too much of a bad thing does not become a good thing simply by virtue of volume.  There’s too much poker on television, too many reruns of previously broadcast shows, and it’s often tough to tell whether it’s a show you’ve seen before.

Many shows are similar, a few are incredibly lame poker-game show mixtures, and only High Stakes Poker stands out from the crowd. The WSOP main event is also appealing, but it is rebroadcast so many times that it quickly loses its appeal after you’ve watched it once or twice.

I predict we haven’t seen the end of the TV poker glut yet. Shows are inexpensive to produce but ultimately stultifying, and in dire need of some creative twist to keep this genre fresh and compelling.

The Bracelet Selling Epidemic is Over: You won’t find much bracelet selling in 2011.  After Peter Eastgate generated a hefty sum for his WSOP main event bracelet, others have sold or tried to sell their bracelets with less than impressive results.

I think the bloom came off this rose rather quickly, and whatever market might have been created by Eastgate’s bracelet auction for charity is pretty much over.

I predict that the market for WSOP bracelets will be ice cold in 2011.

If the Dwan vs. Antonius Match Ends in 2011, Will Anyone Notice? What began as an incredibly attractive 50,000-hand match between Tom “Durrrr” Dwan and Patrik Antonius has been dragging out interminably and now looks like it may never finish. It’s lost whatever steam and momentum it gathered initially, both by virtue of the long time lags between play, and the fact that while Dwan/Antonius initially had the allure of the biggest game anyone had ever seen, the Swedish mystery man Isildur1 showed them what high stakes poker was really all about when he won and lost multiple millions in one-night sessions and created more allure than Dwan/Antonius ever had.

My prediction:  Durrrr will finish his match with Daniel “Jungleman” Cates—the second of his “Durrrr Challenge” matches—before he concludes his match with Antonius.

Resurgence of Brick-and-Mortar Play: As it becomes more and more difficult to negotiate the intricacies of online payment processing, online games will become even tougher to beat than they currently are.  As a consequence, more and more players will seek more beatable games in their local casinos.

This will hold true except for those states that enact legislation regulating intrastate poker. Online poker will bloom in those states, attracting recreational players by the score.  Games there will be full of new players and a goldmine for skilled players.

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