The Texas Holdem poker movement has taken the country by storm. Globally, there are over 100 million players who play poker. Poker’s popularity is largely due technology and several trends.
The poker-mania is making it seem like there’s an actual “gold rush” today. While estimates by analysts are not perfect, they do estimate that Americans will spend $4.5 trillion on poker-related merchandise in 2005.
* Play poker online
* Poker tournaments
* Online poker room financial brokerages (e.g. Firepay. NetTeller. Citadel.
* Casino poker rooms
* Game units available for your TV
* Poker chips and dealer buttons. You can even get “collector’ edition dealer buttons signed in person by the pros.
* Instructions to build poker tables
* Poker software (poker games, calculators, poker odds, tournament organizers, tournament director kit)
* Texas Holdem Poker Rule and Starting Hand Cards
* Poker schools and training courses
* Strategy ebooks and poker books
* Poker shirts, hats and clothing
* Poker clubs in your area
* Texas Holdem poker supplies of all kinds are free.
PokerPulse.com provides a snapshot of online real-money poker players. PokerPulse is a website that tracks real-money online poker game statistics and keeps track on the top poker rooms. Based on these statistics, it is estimated that online poker sites turn over an average of $110 million U.S. per 24 hours and have hundreds of thousand of active players each evening.
How far can poker go with the global inertia it has today? It will look like CB Radio. One flash in the pan and then it’s gone. Will it become a passing trend and memory with occasional reminders of Smokey & the Bandit? It is hard to say, but it seems that with all the advertising and momentum and so many young people (including many children playing online), it could be the poker big bang and its expansion just beginning.
Poker is a controversial and new phenomenon. Is this really a skill game? Online poker rooms may be just as much about gambling than traditional casino games and online betting operations. It is an industry that is shaping and creating new ones. Let’s examine what actions of various parties may lead us to believe before we attempt to find the answers.
For example, traditional credit card processing companies (MC, VISA and AMEX), decided to cease using their credit card services to fund players’ online poker accounts. Today, there is an entire cottage industry to fulfill the immense demand for funds transfer between bank accounts or online poker room accounts. This process processes millions of dollars per day.
Advertising poker-related items via Google AdWords (or the Yahoo/MSN equivalent, Overture) will reveal that they have a category named “Gambling URL” which will be in play. Any website that can be linked to online poker is considered “gambling” and advertising services are therefore refused. So what has happened as a result of this? Apart from the loss of advertising revenues, this has also made it difficult for the poker industry compete for the “namespaces” poker-related searches. Search for “Texas Holdem poker” keywords to find the right results.
It’s astonishing to see how clogged up search engine namesspace has become. Poker website operators use every SEO technique (SEO) known to man to try and increase visibility, page ranking, and routing of more visitor to their websites.
I believe the answer to the question, “Is playing Poker gambling?” is yes. It depends. It all depends on how skilled the player is. It depends on your skill level.
By only playing certain starting hands from specific positions at the table and by understanding the game situation and adapting your play accordingly, understanding the styles of other players and developing strategies for winning, throwing your weight (chip-stack) around at the right time and sitting out at others times, you can beat the odds. The majority of players are not gambling. For those with the right skills, it may be gambling. This is because skill is much less important to such players. Many people are often unaware of the reasons they’ve been beaten because the basic rules can be deceptively simple.
This is what makes it so different from traditional casino games. Online poker rooms make a “rake”, which amounts to a certain percentage of the money they have in play (e.g. 10%) and this is how they generate their revenues. It doesn’t matter who wins, as the poker operator is paid for hosting the event.
I’ll write more about popular online poker venues in a future article. However, suffice to say there is gold in the hills and the claims of the market leaders who are making billions by offering their highly-developed online service businesses to millions worldwide.
These business aren’t allowed to operate in the U.S., so they’re almost unregulated (at minimum by U.S. standards), and new ones keep coming up every month. Although I don’t want to make it sound as though everyone who plays online is gambling with real money, this is not the case. There are many people who use the internet to play and socialize with friends and family using instant messaging.
Is the poker phenomenon a fashion fad, or another fad that will take its place in the video library alongside Smokey and the Bandit, and the CB radio wave of the 1970’s? It’s difficult to know. One thing is certain. It is clear that many people are enjoying playing at online poker sites, traditional casinos, and in their home games, while a large army of others supply the demand and make a lot.
Until next time – Good Luck!