The Rise of Poker’s Popularity

Many people have asked what were the events leading to poker becoming so popular in the last 10 years.

The answer is probably a combination of many factors, with the most common explanations being :

(1) The poker-themed movie Rounders was released in 1998. The movie features actors Matt Damon and Edward Norton as high stakes poker players, and this helped to increase the ‘cool factor’ of the game. Many poker players say they were influenced by Rounders, and the movie was definitely a contributing factor to the current popularity of poker.

(2) Chris Moneymaker winning the main event of the 2003 World Series of Poker was a major event in the rise of poker’s popularity. Before the event Chris was working as an accountant and part-time restaurant server.

Chris Moneymaker was not a professional player and there was no way he would have paid the $10,000 buy-in for the main event – in fact he later had to sell stakes in his entry to family members to afford the flight to the event! No, Chris didn’t have to pay the $10,000 buy-in – instead he paid only $39 for entry into an online WSOP satellite tournament.

The story of a regular guy winning his way to $2.5 Million from a $39 online satellite was an inspiration for countless new players. As Chris said himself, “If I can win it, anybody can.” It is also worth noting that Chris credits the movie ‘Rounders’ as sparking his interest in poker!

(3) The internet and advances in technology are one of the primary factors in the rise of poker. Of course Chris Moneymaker would not have achieved his legendary status without the availability of online satellite events.

These satellite events would not have been possible without widespread broadband access, cheap computers in most homes, online payment processors and the maturation of online poker software.

So as internet and computer technology reached more homes, it was a ‘perfect storm’ allowing poker to go beyond the old standard of home-based games and popularize online gaming with real cash rewards.

(4) Many people have credited advances in poker TV coverage as being instrumental in increasing the excitement – with the most cited change being the decision to display the player’s hole cards to the home viewers.

This changed everything, turning what may have been relatively dull coverage into a more interactive experience as home viewers felt the excitement and anticipation as hands played out and risky decisions were made.

In conclusion, all of these factors influenced the rise of poker in some way. Inspirational stories of regular players winning huge amounts, along with the possibility of earning real income while playing a ‘cool’ game in the comfort of your own home – sounds great doesn’t it?

Posted: November, 2011.