Even though online poker may not attract quite the hype and headlines that it used to, it remains an incredibly popular game of skill and chance, and may even be entering a new golden age. If you’re a fan of this excellent card game and like to play poker online, or are just curious about what lies ahead, here’s our take on the future of poker in 2021.
In the article, “Could online poker’s growth in 2020 lead to another ‘poker boom’ in 2021?,” analysts from gambling news site CalvinAyre explained that poker had come a long way since qualifier Chris Moneymaker scooped the WSOP (World Series of Poker) Main Event in 2003 (in his first live poker tournament) – and that another poker boom could be on the horizon this year.
While the authors recognized this suggestion might seem contradictory, considering many live events – which help attract new players to poker – were canceled, they suggested it was possible that poker sites could pivot towards online events. Considering the success of many online-only events in 2020, the analysts went on to answer “yes” to that article’s question, citing the growth of many online sites as proof that the demand for poker is great, even if it is solely in the online space. And with vaccination programs now taking place the world over, it’s possible we may see a return of live poker games sooner rather than later, which could further fuel a boom in the game’s popularity.
More states consider legalizing online poker
Sports-betting fans were undoubtedly elated by the news that the federal ban on sports wagering would be removed from May 14, 2018. This opened the door to allow states to decide their own laws regarding sports betting; many have taken steps to make the practice legal, including New York and New Jersey, or are in the process of legalizing the gambling pastime.
This change doesn’t have a direct impact on poker but indicates a legal and cultural shift towards more gambling-friendly laws that may have an influence on an ongoing case involving online poker legislation in the US. This case explores whether the Wire Act could be applied to online lottery and interstate online poker, according to the article, “Appellate Court rules against DOJ, clears way for online poker” from PokerNews.com.
The state of New Hampshire recently won a second case against the US Government regarding this legislation. Interestingly enough, the Obama administration recognized that the Wire Act was only applicable to online sports betting, but the Trump administration took a different stance when it released a memo regarding the act in 2018. PokerNews highlighted that this was unsurprising considering that one of Trump’s biggest backers, the late Sheldon Adelson, was very opposed to people playing poker online.
With former Obama administration member Joe Biden now President of the United States, and the passing of Adelson, it seems likely that this legal win by New Hampshire will not only see more states move to legalize online poker but that others will also look to join the shared-player pool by allowing interstate games to take place online. (This is an exciting space to watch!)
Live events will be few and far between
While many people are undoubtedly hoping for a return to “normal” soon, particularly since many countries have started to roll out their Covid-19 vaccines, it’s highly likely that it’ll still be many months before we get there. Vaccines, a key tool towards achieving herd immunity, will take time to administer to all those willing to take them, which means many people are still at risk during this period.
Live events will have to choose between going ahead while still implementing Covid-19 safety measures – such as masks, hand sanitizer, and transparent shields between players – and postponing, or canceling their annual events. While smaller tournaments may choose to press ahead with protective measures in place, it’s hard to imagine mega-events such as the WSOP happening owing to the sheer number of people who would likely attend, and the risk of them turning into “superspreader” events.
Crackdown on online cheaters
With more gamblers playing online from the comfort of their homes, it’s unsurprising to find out that some less scrupulous players will try to cheat their way to victory; after all, in online poker, real money is involved. Cheaters think they’re unlikely to get caught, but that couldn’t be further from the truth – they’re highly likely to be identified and banned.
Poker players who believe in playing fair are constantly on the lookout for inexplicable increases in skill, as Fedor Kruse discovered after his roommates found out that he was cheating using Real-Time Assistance (RTA). While RTA doesn’t guarantee a win, it dramatically increases your odds of doing so, which is why Kruse’s roommates didn’t hesitate when they found out the truth about his sudden increase in skill. They confronted the new poker player, who promised to stop cheating, but when he didn’t, they spilled the beans on his use of RTA.
Unlike bots, which are automated and run on the player’s computer, RTA requires that you manually input information about the current state of the game. To avoid detection, players like Kruse run these tools on a separate device, making it impossible to identify with traditional bot-busting tools. However, poker sites are constantly developing new tools to deal with cheaters, so it’s no surprise to hear that more sites are coming up with ways to identify and ban players who abuse RTA, and that bans are being dished out to the offending gamblers.
While the battle against cheaters may be a constant arms race, expect poker sites to develop increasingly innovative methods for finding online cheaters and rightfully banning them in 2021.
Poker will have another ‘period in the sunshine’
In the article, “BetMGM CEO: US online poker will again ‘have a period in the sunshine’” from USBets.com, Adam Greenblatt, CEO of BetMGM, shared the following insight:
“I think we will see poker have a period in the sunshine,” Greenblatt said when fielding a question about the 10-year trajectory of the US-regulated online betting market. “I think we will see shared liquidity across all states . . . The US will once again reclaim its position as a leader in that product vertical.”
With BetMGM’s online poker service expanding to cover two new states, it’s unsurprising that the CEO has this view. Having expanded its digital poker footprint into Michigan and Pennsylvania, players in these states can look forward to being able to enjoy great poker experiences such as Texas Hold’em, Omaha, and 7 Card Stud, as well as taking part in regular online poker tournaments with this well-established virtual poker provider.
Whether this marks a shift towards more rapid legalization in other states that triggers a new “golden era” for poker, we shall have to wait and see, but at very least, more people than ever can now play online poker legally with BetMGM.
Enjoy online poker and more at BetMGM
It’s great news that more fans across the US will soon have a way to enjoy great poker games online at BetMGM. Our site has a variety of poker tournaments for you to choose from, including our great Daily $10K, Mega Tuesday, and Sunday $35K events. We also have numerous promotions that you can enjoy across all our games, so be sure to check those out as well. And if you decide you need a break from our digital poker tables and want to try something else, you can also enjoy our exciting sports betting plus lots of other casino games.
Whether you prefer to play solo or play online poker with your friends, there’s so much for you to enjoy when you register at BetMGM.