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As 2015 fast approaches, I will be counting down what are in my mind the biggest stories in poker over the course of 2014.

I’ve settled on a total of 12 stories, but before I detail those Top 12 stories in the coming weeks, here is a look at a few stories that just missed the cut. The Honorable Mention of 2014.

$1.3 million online jackpot in New Jersey

New Jersey’s online gaming industry found itself behind the proverbial woodshed for most of the year, but in-between all of the necessary massaging of red cheeks there were plenty of highlights as well.

One of the biggest highlights came towards the tail end of 2014 when Cathy Ruela, an infrequent gambler who plunks down $20 here and there to play online slot machines, got the surprise of a lifetime when she hit a $1.3 million progressive jackpot at

When the treasure chest opened on her computer, Ruela was at first perplexed and unsure of what was happening: “I was trying to read the decimal point, but the number was too big to fit. I called my husband and said, ‘What does 1, 3, 3, 4, 6, 4, 1 mean?’ He said, ‘You won more than a million dollars!’ ”

Ruela’s massive payday should help legitimize online gambling in the eyes of many in the Garden State, as it demonstrates for the first time that the games are not “rigged” and you have the same opportunity to get lucky online as you have in a land-based casino.

Daniel Negreanu inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame

The moment he was eligible, Daniel Negreanu was a surefire first-ballot Hall of Famer in just about everyone’s mind – haters not included. So it came as no surprise when he was listed among the ten finalists for the 2014 Poker Hall of Fame just months after turning 40, and even less of a surprise when he was inducted alongside Jack McClelland in November.

What was a bit surprising was the amount of attention Negreanu brought to the Hall of Fame.

Negreanu’s induction shined a focused light on the Poker Hall of Fame, and led to what I consider constructive and heartfelt debate over the current procedures that are in place and what it means to be a Hall of Famer.

The Poker Hall of Fame has a chance to develop into something bigger and grander than its current incarnation, and I feel like there are a lot of people willing to work toward that end.

A trio of must own poker books

2014 could very well go down as the Year of the Poker Book. Two incredible narratives were released in 2014, as was a tournament poker strategy book written by one of the game’s all-time greats.

The first “must-have” book is Eric Raskin’s The Moneymaker Effect. Raskin’s tale went behind the scenes of the 2003 World Series of Poker, drawing on first-hand accounts from the people involved. Raskin talked to everyone from players to ESPN’s production team to Binion’s employees to get a feel for what took place in 2003, and why that moment ignited the Poker Boom.

In my opinion, Raskin’s book is an all-timer; a top-ten poker book that every serious poker enthusiast has to have on their bookshelf.

Normally I would be enthused to add a single book to my “Top 10 Poker Books of All Time” list, but 2014 gave me two, the second being, Poker Tilt, by Dutch Boyd.

At first I was very apprehensive about Boyd’s book, not wanting to line his pockets considering his reputation and past sins against the poker world. Fortunately, Boyd sent me an eCopy, and it was so good I later purchased the paperback.

I expected a spin campaign but what I got was an honest and forthright tale from a man who was asking for no quarter. The book details the REAL life of a “poker celebrity,” as well as the informal formation and eventual demise of “The Crew.”

Beyond Dutch’s personal story, the book also pulled back the curtain on the early days of the online poker industry, a topic few have spoken on, and one Dutch knows very well as the creator of

No matter your feelings on the man himself, Poker Tilt is a great read.

The 2014 publishing calendar came to a close with one of the most highly anticipated poker primer’s in recent memory, Moorman’s Book of Poker, by Chris Moorman.

There was a reason the book was so anticipated. Moorman never made training videos, and he never contributed to forums in any meaningful way.

Moorman, hands-down the greatest online tournament player ever and arguably the overall best tournament poker player ever, dissected over 100 hands played by co-author Byron Jacobs. For the first time, he allowed poker players a glimpse into the inner workings of his mind, and what a mind it is.

Quite frankly, the book doesn’t disappoint. Moorman’s train of thought and ability to see the entire picture is utterly amazing. Even seasoned players will quickly realize they are reading the thought processes of one of the top poker minds in the world and will get a lot of value from it.



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Steve Ruddock

Steve is veteran of the the poker industry, first as a player and now as a writer focusing mainly on the regulated U.S. markets and the politics of poker. Follow Steve on Twitter @SteveRuddock and at Google+.