Poker, Year-Over-Year: Looking Back at What’s Ahead for the Game

by , Dec 28, 2017 | 12:10 am

It’s 2018 and poker is changing. Well actually, depending on when you’re reading this, it still could be 2017, but 2018 is essentially here, and a flip of calendar brings with it something old and something new.

Here’s a quick rundown of what we expect to see more of in poker in 2018, as a continuation of what emerged in 2017:

Year of the Vlogger

Some of our autocorrects still haven’t learned that the term “vlogger” isn’t a typo for “blogger.” But poker fans can tell you one of these terms really has replaced the other. And much to our delight, Pokerati friend and former podcast partner Andrew Neeme is setting the bar.

His videos, which began only a year ago and come out at a clip of about two a week, have led his YouTube channel to reach more than 75,000 subscribers and generate regularly more than 200,000 weekly views. Combine his numbers with other popular vloggers such as Doug Polk and “The Trooper” and poker vloggers in 2017 got more dedicated eyeball time from people who care about poker than FoxSports and ESPN.

No wonder online poker sites that sponsor live tournaments like 888poker are inviting these guys to play in their events across the world. In Las Vegas casinos, Neeme and fellow vlogger Brad Owen host a MUG – their term for “meet up game” – where their audience joins them at the tables for some drinky, low-ish stakes games. Earlier this month, their game was $2/$3 NLH at Westgate Las Vegas, and supposedly at one point the wait list to get in on the game stood at 33 players.

With so many people in 2017 seeing what the best of these vloggers can do, we only expect their significance to grow in 2018.

Unskilled Online Poker?

If you follow the world of casino games, you know that “skill games” have been much the buzz in recent years. We’re seeing slot machines reward players with bonus spins based on their manual dexterity at games such as Space Invaders. Skill games, they say, or maybe skill-based games, even though most of the millennials casinos are desperately trying to attract can see through the rhetorical rigmarole for games of chance that still take your money in the end.

But while gaming companies attempt to turn slot machines into skill games, we’re seeing PokerStars trying to bring a little more gamble to their tables … and mix it with a little social-skill-based-social media-community-gamification-blah-blah-something-poker-kids. Whatever it is, we admit we didn’t play “Power Up” in 2017. And as much as we scoff at the idea of earning special powers that allow you to zap an unseemly turn card, we expect to see more action like this in 2018.

Bring on Sports Betting

Daily fantasy sports kinda skipped us, but the real deal, just regular ole sports betting, was much the buzz in 2017, and we expect it to continue to be so in 2018.

The US Supreme Court heard arguments earlier in December in the case of Chris Christie (as governor of New Jersey) vs. the NCAA (in cahoots with various professional sports leagues), where they’re considering the constitutionality of PASPA, the “professional and amateur sports protection act,” which limits more regular, non-DFS forms of sports betting (the kind that’s legal in the UK and a lot of places around the world) to Nevada.

Gamblers should learn sometime by June whether or not the Supreme Court says, officially, “Whoop! A hundred bucks on Rutgers!” If that happens, 20 states are ready to kick off legislative efforts to get in on the action.

However, if SCOTUS says “screw off, degens!” (we’re paraphrasing here), then the American Gaming Association is ready to ride a wave of popular support for legal sports betting to push for a legislative repeal of PASPA, a prospect the AGA brought to public attention at gaming conferences throughout 2017.

While sports betting isn’t poker, their economies can be rather intertwined. And whatever happens with the Supreme Court will affect poker. After all, if states are acting to create rules and regulations for sports betting, you can safely bet they won’t be able to help but also look at online gambling and poker.


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