What to expect from online poker in 2011
A very contentious year of online poker is now behind us –the poker world has not seen this kind of shakeup since the infamous UIGEA legislation was passed in 2006—so I thought I would take a look forward and examine what online poker players can expect to happen in 2011. Mind you, these are just my personal beliefs and opinions:
1. Big site will get bigger
Expect PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and the new Party Poker/BWin conglomerate to continue to gobble up the lion’s share of the market. As it stands now PokerStars controls some 50% of the online market, with Full Tilt Poker controlling a further 25%, and Party Poker controlling a good portion of the European Market.
This is probably the worst thing that will happen in online poker in 2011, and will lead to many of the other problems on this list.
2. The fracturing of the market will continue
As more countries pass legislation that cuts them off from the worldwide online poker market –France and Italy being the best examples—this will further push the dominance of the major sites as they can withstand losing these single markets, while other sites are crippled by the loss of a significant portion of their player base.
You can see evidence of this in Everest Poker, which was becoming a serious player in the online poker world before the French-based site was forced to create a France-only site, basically halving its player base overnight – EverestPoker.fr has an average of 1,200 players, while EverestPoker.com has 900 or so players. Imagine EverestPoker.com players going from 2,000 cash game players to 900!
3. Smaller sites will be merged or closed
As the market fractures, and more online poker players turn to PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker for game selection these smaller sites –and possibly whole networks—will find themselves in deep doo-doo. My guess is that 2011 will see the closing –or absorption—of many of the smaller online poker rooms who can no longer compete globally.
4. A new major player will emerge
The one bit of good news I see coming in 2011 is that there is still room for another major player to emerge and challenge the supremacy of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, and it is one of these “second-tier” poker rooms that I see benefitting the most from the struggling of the smaller sites. Likely contenders will be the Cereus Network of UB Poker and Absolute Poker, Lock Poker, or Victory Poker, all of whom have shown the drive and innovation necessary to be an industry leader, not to mention they are all US-friendly sites.
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