Friday is the five-year anniversary of Black Friday. If you were in the poker world at that time, you probably remember that day with perfect clarity as it marked a turning point in the history of the game. While many thought the poker apocalypse was upon us, the five years following has proven that there was life after Black Friday.
On this five year anniversary, it’s time to look back at what we have learned during that time. Some of those lesson were painful and others we initially refused to accept as truth. Below are five things we’ve learned in the five years since Black Friday.
Don’t Keep Your Bankroll in One Place
How many stories did we hear after Black Friday about players who had their entire net worth on one online poker site or another? While we certain can feel for these players, hopefully they learned a valuable less about bankroll management.
Regardless of how safe and secure you feel your funds are, it is never a good idea to keep all of your money in just one or two places and even worse to keep your net worth tied up on online poker sites.
In the future, hopefully players will keep at least a portion of their funds separate from online poker so that they can gain access to it should the unthinkable happen.
Hurry Up and Wait for iPoker Regulation
Some of the dumbest predictions I heard after Black Friday came from experts and poker pros that thought that iPoker regulation was coming in a matter of months or within a year. I remember Phil Hellmuth stating that he thought that online poker would be regulated within six months.
I’m a big fan of Hellmuth but this is one time that I felt he was out of touch with reality. The truth is that online poker regulation has been a slow process, possibly slower than we ever could have expected.
Once it became clear that state regulation is going to be path taken by the industry, we started to again see crazy predictions. We’re supposed to have 20 states online by 2020. At this rate we will be incredibly lucky to have 10 online.
This is going to be a slow process and one that will probably take decades. In the end, don’t expect more than 25 to 30 states to regulate iPoker.
Online Poker Isn’t As Profitable As Claimed
This isn’t exactly helping matters either. By and large, online poker has failed to meet estimates in the three regulated states. Delaware Poker has yet to turn a profit and we have already lost one operator in Ultimate Poker due to an inability to turn a profit.
While there is a market for online poker, it isn’t as large as hyped. Fortunately, casino gaming is helping to pick up the slack in New Jersey and shines a positive light on iGaming as a whole.
Will the industry perform better when larger markets enter the fray? Certainly, but we need to manage expectations better in order to keep from giving a false sense of hope to future states looking to examine the issue.
PokerStars Purchased Player Loyalty – And We’re Ok With That
In recent months, PokerStars has been getting slammed over rake hikes and changes to their VIP structure. While we understand the complaints by ROW players, there are a lot of US players that will give PokerStars a general pass for one simple reason. They paid us when nobody else did.
After Black Friday hit, I predicted it would take six months for sites to repay our bankrolls. I expected there to be a bunch of legal red tape from the government on the side of the operators and after that, we’d get our money.
Within two weeks, the majority of U.S. players had their PokerStars bankrolls. We received nothing but press releases and false promises from Full Tilt. UB and Absolute Poker were busy filing bankruptcy.
Ultimately, we found out that Full Tilt was insolvent. It seemed that American players were SOL. (We expected as much from UB/AP.)
Then PokerStars settled with the DOJ, purchased Full Tilt and began the process of repaying players. I say began the process because some of us (myself included) have yet to get our bankrolls.
However, the point is that PokerStars repaid players and then repaid the bankrolls squandered by Full Tilt Poker.
So when PokerStars decided to try and come back to the United States, why wouldn’t players welcome them back? After all, they purchased our loyalty. Yes, I said they purchased our loyalty and there are thousands of players around this country right now that are ok with admitting that as they spend their bankrolls that they never thought they’d get back.
The US Poker Industry Doesn’t Necessarily “Need” Online Poker
How many people in the poker world started working on their resume or looking into alternative income streams in the days and weeks following Black Friday? I would say I was among them, but I was frankly too busy with work acquired during the fallout.
The concern was that Black Friday would cripple or even kill the U.S. poker industry. The World Series of Poker was going to crumble and poker rooms around the country will shut down left and right.
Then the World Series of Poker set records for total entrants and total prize pools. Live poker venues started coming up with gimmicks to attract new players and get online players to come out. This industry that was supposed to crumble found a way to keep going despite the loss of business from online poker.
Sure, there has been fallout and consolidation in the years following Black Friday. However, the U.S. poker industry lives on and will continue to do so with or without iPoker being regulated.