Friday, January 03, 2014

Online Poker in the New Year

Been perusing some of the “Top Stories of 2013” lists on the various poker sites, including PokerNews where the reintroduction of online poker in the U.S. claimed the top spot on the list. The only other online poker-related story to make that list was the one concerning the process finally getting started for Americans who played on Full Tilt Poker to petition for the return of their funds (#4).

Of the 10 “most read poker articles” on Pocket Fives during 2013 (presented in two parts: 6-10 and 1-5), none really had to do with online poker.

PokerListings did a list of “The 20 Best Moments in Poker in 2013” (20-16, 15-11, 10-6, 5-1), five of which concerned online poker: “Isildur1 Wins SCOOP $10k Main Event” (#20), “Online Poker Becomes Inclusive to Rec Players” (#13), “Moorman Hits $10m in Career Online Earnings” (#7), “US Full Tilt Poker Player Claims Processed” (#3), and “Online Poker Returns to US” (#1). They also threw in the release of the BET RAISE FOLD documentary (#15), which chronicles online poker’s glory days.

Meanwhile on PL’s list of “The 20 Worst Moments in Poker in 2013” (20-16, 15-11, 10-6, 5-1) six had to do with online poker: “WSOP Fails to Get Online Poker Running by Main Event” (#12), “Delays Continue in Never-Ending durrrr Challenge” (#11), “Full Tilt Poker Remission Process Drags On” (#8), “PokerStars Does Not Get NJ Approval” (#6), “Sheldon Adelson Takes Aim at Poker” (#2), and “Gus Hansen Posts Epic $8.4 Million Loss” (#1).

And of BLUFF’s Top 10 videos of the year (by the great SrslySirius) just one concerned online poker -- a funny satire about the “rogue” U.S. sites presented as a “Shamelessly Honest Online Poker Ad” -- not that the format really lends itself to reports focusing on the online game. Though it does lend itself readily to lots of grins (check all of ‘em out).

(Have to say I’ve yet to listen to the TwoPlusTwo Pokercast’s episode recounting their Top 10 list of poker stories from 2013 -- I’m looking forward to seeing how Mike and Adam constructed their list.)

Glancing at PokerScout’s rankings of online poker traffic here at the start of 2014, PokerStars predictably continues to reign supreme with about eight times the traffic of the nearest competitors with the iPoker network -- which includes sites like William Hill Poker and others -- currently leading the chase pack.

Searching the rankings for U.S.-facing sites, Bodog/Bovada continues to find a place in the upper half of the list (according to PokerScout’s best estimates). But all of the others are unsurprisingly way, way down the page, with traffic in the hundreds (or tens).

I suppose comparing these lists could be said to highlight the American-centric nature of the poker news sites (or at least the ones I tend to visit). In terms of people actually playing online poker, there aren’t too many Americans doing so. Thus stories about online poker have become predictably scarcer on the news sites on which Americans do a lot of the writing and reading. (Indeed, that the return of online poker in the U.S. has topped some lists indicates as much as well.)

That said, it’s interesting also to think about how online poker has moved away from the center of the poker world over the last several years, in particular since Black Friday. I haven’t gone back to see, but I’d wager most “top poker stories” from a few years ago were related to online poker in at least a tangential way, with the online game seemingly affecting just about every aspect of the game not that long ago.

But now online poker is over to the side, big picture-wise. Will be interesting to see if it ever returns to the center, and if so whether that happens sooner or later.

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