The World Poker Tour took the US, if not the world, and sky rocketed the game of Texas Holdem to unheard of
popularity. Professional poker players hit the limelight and became household names over night. The World Series of Poker became so popular that the number of entrants for the 'main event' soared to over 6,000.
People everywhere were fascinated with pot sizes of six
million dollars, 'all in' calls, and chip stacks that exceeded a million dollars. When the World Poker Tour first started, the tournament winner won a purse of around $150,000. Within a few months the purse exceeded one million, because the number of entrants soared.
Sales on poker books soared. Doyle Brunson's (Texas Dolly) 'Super System', and Phil Hellmuth's (the Poker Brat) 'Read 'EM and Reap' had record sales.
People who had never played a hand of poker in their lives became ‘experts’, sitting in their living room yelling at the top of their lungs for Gus Hansen or Phil Locke to call or fold their hand. (Of course being able to see the opponent’s hand gave them a slight advantage!)
The Internet, never to be left behind, started several online poker sites, the most popular being Poker Stars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker. On these sites one could play for money or for free. Millions of people became glued to their computer screens playing online poker, watching stacks of poker chips swell or dwindle.
The poker life was wonderful. Then, on April 15, 2011, the US government stepped into the fray, and like a giant foot stomping a spider, the online poker sites were shut down to US gamblers. Charges of bank fraud and illegally operated gambling sites resulted in eleven indictments of the top people of the sites.
Poker Stars continued to operate, but US players could no longer participate in ‘real’ money tables. Full Tilt poker was completely shut down.
Literally millions of people were left wondering what to do with the hours spent online watching poker chips change hands. What were they to do? To their surprise, many found that they were ‘addicted’ to online poker. The friendly home poker games with plastic poker chips were no longer exciting for them.
Were you among the many that suffered ‘withdrawal’ from online poker? If so, what did you do to fill the gap left behind?