With the popularity of Poker at an all time high, the future of the game is ripe with possibilities. We’ve already seen an incredible expansion of online sites, and live tournaments are gaining momentum everyday. In Canada, we’ve seen a rapid expansion of gaming facilities, and a number of them feature large, well populated Poker rooms. The growth will have to settle down eventually, but the masterminds of the industry will always be looking to keep their product out front.
Right now Satellites are the hottest tournaments in the game, and that’s not about to change anytime soon. What we are seeing now, and what we will be seeing in the years to come, is larger and larger promotional incentives for online players to win satellites. For example, Full Tilt Poker is currently offering an incredible $10 million to anyone who qualifies and wins the World Series of Poker through their satellite network. Prizes like this are raising the industry standard, and contrasts starkly to the backing agreement 2004 WSOP Champion Greg Raymer had, in which he paid out almost half of his $5 million tournament winnings to his backers.
One of the signs of things to come is Party Poker’s recent announcement of their upcoming IPO. Party Poker, who control an estimated 55% of the online poker industry, are set to go public sometime in 2005, and they will be one of the first gaming sites to be publicly traded. Will this move affect the industry? Certainly! As a publicly traded company, Party Poker now has shareholders to answer to, and with any luck this will mean new innovations throughout the industry that should benefit us, the players.
The Television networks are also thinking about the future; TV coverage of Poker has grown exponentially in recent years, and the quality of production is climbing. Now you can watch Greg Raymer talk you through his WSOP tournament hand-by-hand, or hear Daniel Negreanu discuss Pot Odds on cable TV. Frequent airings of tournaments, player features, and celebrity challenges are just some of the cards television networks have to play in the future of Poker.
Casinos are certainly going to be in on the action also; Satellites, player incentives, and Pro seminars are all becoming the standard for the live player. Despite what online play offers, there remains something to be said for the physical experience of sitting down at a table full of poker players with a stack of chips in front of you.
With the multi-faceted growth Poker is seeing, it’s safe to say this incredible game will be at the forefront for some years to come. From humble beginnings as a pastime for outlaws, to a multi-billion dollar industry with publicly held companies, Poker History is being written every day with a storyline that’s almost as exciting as the game itself!