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Who Started the Poker Boom?


Previously, poker was the preserve of men who participated in smokey casino games and secretive tournaments. Nonetheless, thanks to a series of events within the last decade, the game has considerably grown in popularity.

During this period, the number of consistent players increased from a few thousands to hundreds of thousands internationally. This occurrence has been appropriately dubbed as The Poker Boom.

Due to the growing popularity of poker on television, poker enthusiasts were becoming instant celebrities. And the advancements in internet technology created a whole new generation of dedicated poker aficionados.

Thanks to satellite competitions, the $10,000 World Series of Poker (WSOP) tournament was rising in popularity every year. Moreover, ESPN was striving to film and produce the 2003 event. No fan could predict the result of the final tournament or how the conclusion of events would end up shaping the future of poker once and for all.

During the Poker Boom period, the online poker table was also increasing in size each year. The genesis of the poker boom can be traced back to 1998 when the movie Rounders was released and the online poker game was introduced at Planet Poker. These occurrences built a strong foundation for the periodic telecast of the WSOP main events, which were filmed every summer and televised at a later date.

Two particular 2003 events contributed to the start of the poker boom. In 2003, the WPT (World Poker Tour) was launched on the Travel Channel of the US cable TV. The impact of the poker bloom increased in May 2003, as Tennessee accountant Chris Moneymaker bagged the 2003 WSOP Main Event. Chris won the event through a $39 satellite competition on the online PokerStars poker room. Chris Moneymaker was among the 839 contestants in the 2003 tournament, an increase of approximately 200 entrants from the 2002 event and almost twice the number of competitors that entered the 1999 event (393). By the following year, the number of entrants had increased by over 200%. By the next event, the number had increased by approximately 1300%.

All of a sudden, poker became a game that virtually everyone could play and win, therefore accumulating riches overnight. The number of main event entrants has continued to grow over the years as everyone tries his luck to become an instant millionaire and celebrity. Casino card rooms began to draw huge crowds and online platforms were packed with new memberships from the world over.

During that period, the increase in the number of poker players was christened the “Moneymaker Effect”. Nevertheless, history shows that the poker boom started much later and took a number of main events to sink in.

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