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The growth of online poker rooms has been phenomenal over the past few years and the popularity of poker doesn’t look like it’ll subside anytime soon. What’s behind the explosion of online poker?
Well for starters, televised poker tournaments have created an expanded fan base. Every day it seems, there are at least three poker tournaments to watch on multiple cable networks. The World Series of Poker has generated serious interest in the game. People who would not normally visit a casino are now trying to get in on the poker action. The last three WSOP Main Event winners were amateurs that beat out large fields of professional poker players.
In 2003, Chris Moneymaker created a serious splash in the world poker scene. The accountant from Tennessee spent $39 to enter a satellite tournament at PokerStars.com and after winning this online tournament, Moneymaker won a seat at the main event of the 2003 WSOP. Moneymaker made it past the 839 entrants and after a critical bluff forced Sam Farha to fold a pair of nines, Moneymaker spot at number one was solidified. He managed to turn his $39 investment into a $2.5 million payday.
After Moneymaker’s 2003 performance, every amateur player in the world began to think that they were one satellite victory away from making millions of dollars. In just one year, from 2003 to 2004, the number of entrants for the WSOP main event more than tripled (from 839 to 2,576). The number of entrants also increased the amount of prize money that the winner would take home. To the shock of many poker analysts, another amateur player, Greg “Fossilman” Raymer, ended up winning the entire tournament. Raymer took home $5 million and amateur players everywhere again began to salivate.
In 2005, Joseph Hachem finished ahead of 5,619 entrants and became the third consecutive amateur player to win the the main event at the WSOP. Unlike Moneymaker and Raymer, Hashem didn’t qualify for the event online. Hashem had to pay the full $10,000 buy-in, but his investment paid off. Because of the swelling number of entrants, Hashem first place finish earned him $7.5 million.
Aside from the WSOP, there are plenty of other televised poker tournaments that feature big money. The Bravo network has its celebrity poker tournaments, the Travel Channel features the world poker tour and the Fox Sports network televises a new tournament almost every week. Televised poker tournaments have converted even the casual player into a WSOP hopeful. People want to learn how to play this game, because every night they see someone on the television earning serious money.
So in this age of telecommunications, multimedia outlets and instant entertainment, the Internet provides the perfect outlet for those who want to get in on the poker madness. Deposit bonuses drive players to join various online poker rooms. Some people play to learn the game. Others play to pass the time. Then there are players whose primary motivation is money. The exposure of televised poker tournaments and big paydays that accompany them will continue to drive players of all stripes to online poker rooms. The explosion of online poker is not likely to end any time soon.