Is poker dying or growing stronger?

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Poker as we know it today has been around for over 200 years and still it continues to grow more and more popular every year. Millions of players are placing their bets as we speak, participating in tournaments or sitting in with poker players from all corners of the world.

How is it that this industry keeps blooming?

Before we delve into the depths of today’s poker situation and trends, let us talk numbers. Up to date estimates claim that worldwide poker is worth more than $9 billion. Certain sources say there are more than 100 million poker players worldwide, which puts it above the number of people that play golf or billiards. Compared to previous years, this number has been rising, not falling. Yet you can hear rumours that poker is slowly declining to its demise. Well, let me show you why that is not true.

Poker is evolving with the times

Sure enough, we cannot compare the huge boom online poker saw in the 2000s, which certainly gave the above mentioned 100 million players a nice little boost. The reason is simple—it was around that time that Texas Hold’em became more widely known among people and it was that time that technologies such as computer began to be spread among the common people, no longer being accessible only for the wealthier. The truth is the wider knowledge of Texas Hold’em poker presumably owes to the computer revolution as well, since information could now travel much further and faster.

Now computers and tablets and smartphones are pretty much commonplace it is much easier for anyone to join in. And even though the growth of the number of people that join every year has slowed down, the total number of players does keep growing. Why? We have no recent new channels where to play poker. So the game found a different path to continue its evolution. Game developers around the world keep inventing new versions of the original card game, adding more special features, organising new kinds of competitions and tournaments to attract new players and to keep the existing players engaged in the game. Voila, there are no signs of dying, just evolving.

The poker players are evolving with poker

If we speak about evolution on one side, we cannot neglect the other side. As the game continues to change and progress, so do inevitably the players. The more popular poker is growing, the more players that take part, the bigger the competition gets, the more interest players take in the game, the more they actively seek to learn about it and the more time they spend thinking about it.

Players today will build their own strategies, follow certain patterns, study other player’s games, count probabilities, search for information and tips on the internet… the list goes on. Poker is no longer just a gambling game or a social pastime, for many it has become a skill game, thus attracting a new sort of players—those who are tempted by the challenge. They have not replaced those who play the game for the money or those who play it for fun, they merely joined them and just like that poker’s player base has expanded again.

The society is evolving with the poker players

The circle goes on as with new types of players new facilities had to be invented to satisfy their requirements, not to mention that for those who jumped on the wagon and established these facilities, it was a very lucrative venture to undertake.

Take for example the huge poker tournaments you can see on TV today. Not only does it expose poker to general public in much more straightforward way than ever before but in many ways it has become like any other televised sport. People have their favourites, their role models that they admire, or follow, or try to learn from. How many people nowadays wish they were a genuine Bret Maverick (as portrayed by Mel Gibson in the film Maverick)? Who wouldn’t want to become a brand ambassador at one of the large poker operators, just like the Brazilian professional poker player Vivi Saliba or Sweden’s Martin Jacobson? It is not only the poker environment that has changed, it is also people’s perception of poker that is different.

The poker culture is evolving with society

With poker becoming such a huge phenomenon in today’s world and with such high demand for various poker-related services, we can watch the emergence of a whole new culture. We can now enrol in a poker school if we believe it will help us to truly master the game. Anyone can find a poker coach that will train on how to bring the luck to their side.

We could find many other examples but suffice it to say that poker has become an innate part of today’s world and that it is unlikely to change. Because having come here, we could finish the circle by drawing the line back from the poker culture to the game itself. Inevitably the way poker is perceived nowadays and with all these new services and educational opportunities, it changes the way the game is played, and the whole cycle starts anew.

The developments in the past will be reflected in the developments in the future

Let us consider one last dimension of the evolution of poker and why is it not going to die. Since we have walked through the poker situation up until now, it is only fair that we should look into the future. Will there be more poker players in the future?
The answer is yes. Because who would the future players be? Right, the millennials. Why will they want to play?
Well for one, it will be for the same reasons people always wanted to play. For the thrill, for the money, for the challenge, for the social aspect and most importantly—for the fun.

Second of all, because it is easy. We have all the means to play poker anywhere, anytime, in any form, on any device, with anyone from any place around the world, at any level, for any amount of money from the tiniest—or even zero—investment up until staggering buy-ins of hundreds or thousands dollars.

In today’s fast-paced world where people are used to have everything at the reach of their hand, we can hardly find anything as convenient as poker and that will surely draw a lot of people. On that note, let us conclude this journey by saying that the rumours about poker dying are just that—rumours that are not to be taken seriously because if anything, the poker industry is thriving.


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