The Downfall of Online Poker in the United States

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which outlawed any kind of online wagering activites in the United States in 2006, has been in effect for 5 years now and not much has been done towards legalizing or regulating online gambling. Luckily the governments of most other developed countries have been more sane and have not yet felt the need to control what their citizens spend their money on.

This has led to a wide gap between an average American poker player and players from countries where online poker is still legal. Take World Series of Poker for example – before 2006 non-americans winning WSOP main event were few and far between, however since 2006 the tables have turned and only 2 out of 5 tournament winners were US citizens.

One of the reasons is of course the fact that WSOP is getting increasingly popular overseas and simply more foreign players flock to the main event from all over the world each year in hopes of winning a golden bracelet.

Another factor is that the average skill level of American players is declining with each passing year as they are being denied access to the online poker rooms where games are plentiful and almost instant making practicing poker skills much more rapid.

American players now have to resort to traveling long distances to landbased casinos and poker rooms where gambling is still legal or take a much more drastic step and emigrate to a country, where they are not being hated by the regulators as much. Of course not everyone is willing to do go that far.

However, if you already live in a country with more freedoms regarding online gambling, all you need to do is start the poker software and you can almost instantly play at multiple tables or even several poker rooms at the same time. This means your rate of hands played is many times over someone who can only play at landbased casinos. In addition to the time it takes to travel, the pace of land based casino games is much slower and more expensive due to almost everything being done manually by the live dealer in a gambling venue which has a high upkeep, not to mention being limited to playing at a single table at a time.

Before the arrival of online poker, it took many years to master the art, but now a lot of the grand prizes of major poker tournaments have gone to very young players who have all acquired their skills playing poker in the internet. After successfully driving away most of the online poker rooms from the USA, it is easy to see why most of the young main event winners now come from Europe and Canada, not from the United States.

The minimum age to be able to participate at WSOP is 21. This year, the main event was won by Pius Heinz, 22 year old player from Germany. The winner in the last year championship was Jonathan Duhamel, a 23 years old Canadian. The year before, in 2009 American Joe Cada at the age of 21 is the youngest champion ever to win WSOP. He started with online poker when he was 16. This was the time when people were still able to play online poker in the US. With online poker almost eliminated from the United States, I don’t think there will be “another Joe Cada” from America to grab the top prize very soon. Even if the US government decides to legalize online gambling, there will be at least a few years delay before young Americans will be able to catch up with the rest of the poker world and start making their way to the final tables of the tournament again.

  • Skyler Ace

    I really have to disagree even online poker is illegal, many people still play online poker.

  • admin

    You are right Skyler, many people still do play online poker in the United States even though it is illegal and most online poker rooms have stopped accepting US citizens. However you cannot dismiss the fact that American poker players have not done very well in recent years at WSOP main event. It could be bad luck, but my feeling is that the lack of online poker games is to blame.