Has Online Poker Become Unattractive For Recreational Players?

3 years ago
Has Online Poker Become Unattractive For Recreational Players?
12 Sep

Even if you are not someone who regularly frequents online casinos, the chances are you are probably aware that the popularity of poker games, online or otherwise, is no longer where it was. 

Ten or so years ago, you could not turn on a television without seeing an advert for online poker, and numerous channels showed late night poker tournaments, often involving celebrities from all walks of life. 

Fast forward to the present day, and while poker hasn’t disappeared completely, it is not filling every aspect of the media like it once was. 

But why? What are the reasons for poker losing its popularity? 

The main hit that poker has taken is in the online world, while online gambling as a whole has been flying in terms of popularity year on year, online poker has started to fade into the background, and there’s a few reasons for this. 

Black Friday

While the phrase Black Friday may be mainly connected to great deals on various products these days, for those in the poker industry, it refers to one day, Friday April 15th, 2011

This was the day that an indictment was unsealed against executives attached to three of the big-gest names in poker in the USA, resulting in prison sentences and seeking over $3 billion in assets from the companies involved. 

While this indictment only affected the USA directly, the knock-on effect was felt around the in-dustry, and for many, the online poker boom, which is considered to have started in the mid-2000s, died that day. 

Many professional USA players fled to Canada, where online poker and casino gambling is still legal to this day.

Bum Hunting

Welcome to one of the most unpleasant terms in the entire gambling industry, and indeed one of the most unpleasant practices. 

A bum hunter is an experienced poker player who plays at low to medium stakes tables in order to essentially prey on newbies. 

These players will wait for the right player, often refusing to play if more experienced players take a seat at the table, sitting out and waiting for the right opponent. 

When a fresh-faced and inexperienced players sits at the table, the bum hunter will make their move, playing against the ‘weaker’ opponent, forcing them into bets, and normally taking their chips easily. 

It is a profitable method for those who are looking to make big money a little bit at a time, and it has turned many people off online poker rooms. 

Usually, these bum hunters will sit at an empty table and refuse to play against anyone who joins unless they see the opportunity to take their chips without too much effort. 

This isn’t only upsetting for those victimised, but also boring for those with a little more experience who find themselves sitting at a table with one other player who continues to sit out until they leave. 

As many of these bum hunters work together, placing one on each table so everyone can profit, this practice can quickly take over an entire online poker site. 

While many sites have now cracked in on this practice of fishing, the damage has already been done. 

Live Dealer Games

Part of the reason why poker is on the decline is that players simply have a much better time play-ing other forms of gambling. 

Live dealer casino games are one of the most popular forms of cross sell between poker and casino gambling. You can see this clearly on PokerStars who have more than 20 private live blackjack tables with Evolution Gaming and an equally impressive portfolio of other table games.

Live Dealer games were instantly popular, but the innovations and evolutions in the niche as of late have seen the live casino experience taken to a whole new level. 

Soaring past the point of just being a way to simulate a land based casino experience from home, Live Dealer titles now offer an experience like no others, and while games like Blackjack and Rou-lette have undergone many a facelift, with a host of modern and creative versions of these games now being available, poker has been somewhat left behind. 

With bum hunting and the after-effects of Black Friday causing damage to the popularity of poker, most casual gamers have discovered that Live Dealer games from the likes of Evolution, Pragmatic Play, NetEnt, and others can offer them a great deal more excitement, without being preyed upon by those looking to make a quick buck at the expense of inexperienced players. 

The world of Live Dealer games is booming, and only looks like it’s going to keep growing as time goes by, and there are limited ways that poker looks likely to catch up. 

Unless innovations in online poker can match those in Live Dealer games, and bum hunting is got rid of once and for all, it seems unlikely that online poker will ever again reach the dizzying heights of pre-2011. 

That isn’t to say online poker is dead, but with even sites like PokerStars seeing the writing on the wall (PokerStars is now one of the biggest Live Dealer sites around) it’s hard to see how poker will ever be anything more than an afterthought at online casinos.

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Writer and semi-retired poker pro from Edinburgh (UK).Read more


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