Recreational Players: A Look Back/Forward

I’ve been planning to write a blog about the anniversary of Black Friday, but I wanted to let everyone else get their two cents out first as I had a different take on the subject.

Of course there were the articles and blogs about how online, baller pros are still stinging from having their livelihoods ripped out from under them and how they’re now ex-expatriates in exotic locations like Canada, Malta, or Mexico so they wouldn’t lose their SNE stars. But what about the true back bone of the poker economy? The recreational players?

What about the guy who threw $100 of their paycheck online every other week to play a few tournaments on the weekends to have some fun? He knew that he was terrible– would never cash out a dime– but online poker was a great source of entertainment and he even got enough points for a cool FTP or Stars hoodie that he could wear to local ½ game and really strike the fear at the tables. Will this guy be back? We NEED this guy!

Sadly a lot of Tom, Dick, and Harrys like this won’t be back once/if/when US online poker is fully regulated (at least not at first). People who are casually involved in any interest and generally casually informed (think about your Great-Aunt watching the Super Bowl), and may see online poker as a “fool me once..” situation. “They stole my money, I’m never putting another red cent on and just play my home game until I die.” Which is a fine stance to take, I personally don’t blame them, but I do feel that many will look back on a few rotten apples and assume the whole bushel is rotten.

Full Tilt Poker failed due to rank incompetence in management. Cereus (UB/AP) was exposed as corrupt and also rank incompetence in management. Pokerstars, B.WIN/Party Poker, and 888 are competently and professionally managed corporations (the latter two publicly traded).

What does the casual poker player who’s casually informed see? The guys who stole his money.

The future US facing sites like MGM/Caesars, Harrahs, Wynn, and whoever (Zynga? Party? Stars?) are going to have an uphill climb at the beginning to bring back the casual player. They’re really going to have to hammer home the point that player funds are safe, segregated, and insured (think FDIC). Also that the games are fair and on the level: no bots, no super users, no shill screen names.

As a proponent of small government, I’m still leery about the DOJ’s actions on Black Friday– thinly masking a money grab behind a facade of morality and protecting citizens from themselves (spare me). But I accept regulation as a necessary evil to keep business dealing and transactions above board (think the stock market without the SEC). But to paraphrase a line from George Washington: Government is like fire. When controlled, it can greatly improve your life: cook your food, heating your home, give you light in the darkness. But when uncontrolled, it can burn your house down with you in it.

Perhaps having the government watching online poker will help bring the much needed recreational players back to the tables in the future. Perhaps deposit methods will be much easier when brick and mortar rooms hop into online. Perhaps withdrawing will be instant without the need of shady, third party processors. Perhaps another poker boom is on the horizon and the games will be as good as they were in 2006.


Perhaps. But for now we can only hope. 

About Raizin Azian

Poker Coaching and Staking for Team Moshman. Video Producer for Blue Fire Poker. Sports Pop Culture Whore. Foodie. Dog Lover. Amateur Humorist.


  1. Vikingsfan93 says:

    Very nice post Andy, agree 100%

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