The Texas Holdem poker phenomenon has taken the country by storm. There are reportedly over 100 million active poker players worldwide. Poker’s popularity is largely the byproduct of technology and several recent trends: 1) online gaming, where players engage and socialize in real-time over the Internet, and 2) the broad publicity created by high profile TV shows like the World Series of Poker (WSOP) and World Poker Tour (WPT).
With all the poker-mania, there’s a modern day “gold rush” underway today. Analyst estimates are a bit sketchy, but some estimate that people will spend up to $4.5 billion U.S. in 2005 on poker-related items of every kind, including:
* Online poker room play
* Poker tournaments
* Online poker room financial brokers (e.g., Firepay, NetTeller, Citadel and others)
* Casino poker rooms
* Game units for your TV
* Poker chip sets and dealer buttons (you can even get “collector” edition dealer buttons signed by the pros – got some as Christmas presents this year!)
* Poker tables and instructions for how to build poker tables idn poker
* Poker software (poker odds calculators, poker games, home tournament organizers, tournament director kits)
* Texas holdem poker rule and starting hand cards
* Poker schools and training courses
* Poker books and strategy e-books
* Poker hats, shirts and clothing items
* Local poker clubs
* Free Texas Holdem poker stuff of every kind imaginable.
To give you an idea of how many people are now playing with real-money online, have a look at PokerPulse.com. PokerPulse keeps tabs on the top online poker rooms and tracks how many real-money poker games are running at any point in time. Some estimates based upon these statistics suggest that online poker room companies are turning over in excess of $110 million U.S. every 24 hours, with hundreds of thousands of online players active any given evening.
So, with the worldwide inertia that poker has today, how far can it go? Will it be like the CB Radio – a brief flash in the pan and then suddenly – poof! Will it be just another fad and memory, with occasional reminders like Smokey and the Bandit? Hard to say for sure, but with the momentum, advertising and so many young people, including many teenagers and children playing across the Internet, it could be that the poker big bang has occurred and its expansion has only really begun…
As with many new, controversial phenomenon such as poker, there’s the social morality aspect and question: Is playing poker gambling? Is it really just a game of skill? The question of whether online poker rooms are just as much about gambling as traditional casino games and online bookie operations is certainly one that is shaping some industries, and creating some others. Before we look for the answers to those questions, let’s explore what the actions of certain parties might lead us to believe.