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Technology is Driving the Poker Revolution

In the last two decades, the world has changed faster than anyone could have imagined. Every single aspect of life has been affected in one way or another. 

Image Source:: pokerstars.com

It has also had a dramatic effect on the gaming industry, and not just in the obvious ways. Now that there is an alternative – a big shiny all-singing, all-dancing alternative, it has meant that traditional brick-and-mortar casinos have had to up their game. But the one game it has had a bigger impact on than any other - by a distance – is poker. It has taken the game from one played in Las Vegas strip casinos, smoky basements and testosterone-filled mancaves to one that can be played anytime, anywhere. Not only that. It has also meant that those playing are able to reach to a far higher level and standard than the previous generations could ever dream of.

The Changing Face of Poker

The internet and emerging technologies have had a greater impact on the game of poker than anything else in its long and illustrious history. Today there are more than 60 million poker players in the United States alone. That is over 10% of the total adult population. There is no way on earth that that would be the case if people had to physically go to a casino or find a group of willing buddies and sit down around a table to play poker.

Suddenly you could play a game of poker for just a couple of dollars while waiting for your bus, or lying in bed on a lazy Sunday morning. It wasn’t just the convenience, but the fact that you could set the terms of how much you wanted to play with. No pressure, no obligation. It was suddenly the game to play, no matter what your age, sex, race or social background. Today, more than a third of those playing poker regularly are female.

The big poker revolution or boom is said to have really taken hold around 2003, and Chris Moneymaker’s victory in the 2003 WSOP certainly contributed to the effect. Not only was poker and online poker seen as a fun way to spend a couple of hours, but now people were realizing you could actually become a champion in it, if you had the aptitude and practiced a lot.

Chris Moneymaker  Image Source: vegasseven.com

Another massive shift in the way people played poker came with live streaming and online tournaments. Instead of playing the same people from college or work, the world had suddenly and literally quite literally opened up. A 21-year-old student nurse in Denver could be around an online table with someone from Chicago, New York, London, Paris….

The advent of online poker had another dramatic effect too. Not only were more people playing, but people were also playing a lot better on average. Players were becoming real students of the game, studying strategies and techniques. Added to that, another feature of online games was the ability for players to look at their past hands, see how the play developed, where they went wrong, and learn how to improve from their mistakes in the heat of battle.


Riding on the back of the world’s newfound love for the game of poker, and giving it another almighty adrenaline shot in the arm was Twitch.tv. This gaming community video platform was established in 2011, and its success has been nothing short of phenomenal. More than 1.7 million different broadcasters are featured every month on the platform, giving content on a whole range of topics and categories that are devoured by more than 100 million unique viewers. On average, each of those viewers are watching 106 minutes of footage every single day. For many, this is bigger – and better – than television.

Image source: 1080.plus

One of the best – and most popular features on Twitch is the livestreaming by professional poker players of their games and tournaments, complete with commentary. There really is no better way to get inside the heads of some of the best practitioners of the game, and see what it is like to take part in the biggest tournaments in the world.

 Two of the leading advocates of this have been Jason Somerville and Jaime Staples, particularly when it comes to one of the other recent phenomena of online poker – Scoop. Since its inaugural year in 2009, the Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP), held by PokerStars, has gone from strength to strength, attracting almost three and a half million players vying for a share of the $440 million plus prize fund. The beauty of Scoop is its three tiered buy-in structure, meaning that the 15 days of (often grueling) competition is accessible and affordable to every poker player on the planet.  Even if you aren’t taking part, many of the games are available on Twitch, giving you incredible, first-hand experience of the white heat adrenaline rush of big tournament play.

What Will the Future Look Like?

Image source: www.pokernews.com

If you were to look into a crystal ball, what will the poker player of 2020 and 2030 be doing differently from today’s players? There is no reason to believe anything other than that the game’s popularity will continue to grow. As more and more countries catch up with the leading nations in terms of participants, tournaments and games in general are likely to have a much more international flavor.  Technology is also bound to have an even greater influence. Virtual reality, in the form of devices such as the Oculus Rift is already here. As prices come down, VR will begin to be the way to experience online gaming. Instead of simply watching the streamed games on a screen, or playing via your phone, laptop or pc, players will be able to sit in right where the action is, and short of actually feeling the cards and baize will have as a good a view and experience as those in traditional casinos today.  

Like with all change, you have to adopt it, and adapt to it, or risk getting left behind. And that is certainly something that poker – and the millions and millions who play it every day have done. In spades.