It took a while for the poker industry to gain mainstream notoriety in the United States, and it hasn’t been without its testing times since. Regardless of adversity, the poker industry has turned into a global phenomenon.
We can all remember seeing poker in early Hollywood films like The Cincinnati Kid starring the enigmatic Steve McQueen or even the James Bond movies. In the many James Bond films, it wouldn’t be long before you’d see the English secret agent sat at a poker or blackjack table surrounded by women. And ultimately, it was the aforementioned films that gave, what is now classed as a sport, the springboard for poker to rake in millions daily.
Poker first made its bow on national television in the United States back in the 1970s but it was only really the start of its journey to mainstream success. During this time the sport wasn’t commanding large television audiences and it was only the die-hard fans that were tuning in to watch.
But something was on the horizon that would change the face of poker forever. The innovative “hole cam” made its debut on live television in 1997 and brought a new dynamic to tournament poker. It was designed by World Series of Poker bracelet winner Henry Orenstein and first made an appearance during the Late Night Poker television series. If anything, the “hole cam” helped the crowd become more involved in the proceedings and gave them an insight into what cards the poker players were dealt and were playing with.
The “hole cam” really hit a mainstream audience in 2002 when the first $1 million tournament was set to take place. The tournament, which was aired on live television was entitled ‘The Poker Million Tournament’ and finally brought poker to a wider audience. Following on from this, it enabled the World Series of Poker events to secure prime time slots on the Discovery Networks in the United States.
With the sport now commanding regular television slots, it also saw the uprising of many online poker rooms and the industry began to grow exponentially. Sponsorship deals were struck between online and major tournaments to help stabilize the infrastructure of the annual tournament schedule and prize money increase dramatically. A prime example of this was the deal that online poker giants Betfair struck with the European tour in 2007 where they were the presenting sponsor for all the events.
As the television slots started to increase in volume, so did the star appeal of some of the most successful stars of the sport. Johnny Chan became a legend in the sport for his uncompromising play and ability to bluff without showing a sign of emotion. Chris Moneymaker was the first Internet qualifier to ever go on to win a bracelet at the WSOP, which in turn cemented his legacy in poker’s greatest all time winners.
Las Vegas currently rakes in a reported $6.4 billion a year from gaming revenues according to LVCVA, however the figures for online gaming are staggering regardless of the implications from the Black Friday cull. Even though there are still bans in the United States and Japan, globally online gaming revenues have quadrupled over the last 10 years. In a report by The Globe and Mail they state the online poker business is now worth an unbelievable $36.9 billion a year.
Is all this success down to the “hole cam” raking in a wider audience? It was definitely a contributing factor as it new dynamic allowed the viewer to see the player’s moves and action from a different perspective.
The future of poker looks bright at the minute, with a new slew of “modern day poker players” learning their stripes on the circuit. And although most states in the United States still prohibit online play, it is expected that the majority of states will allow online gaming again soon because of how it can help the economy.
What do you think about online poker being prohibited in your state? Let us know below your thoughts.