The United States has filled the legal poker headlines during the first half of 2019; the DOJ reversed its Wire Act opinion (which affected mainly the shared liquidity within the country), although a federal judge ruled against that and in fact, nothing had happened so far. West Virginia legalized online gambling, while Pennsylvania is waiting for the industry to go live in the next few days.
Outside the US, Switzerland and Sweden made legal progress but in different directions: while Switzerland almost killed online poker (and as usual, we saw this crisis as an opportunity), in Sweden a friendly gambling regulation issued licenses to several operators and the future is promising.
6+ Hold'em Fever
Probably inspired by the high-stakes action in Macau, the major online poker networks decided to add 6+ Hold'em (Short Deck) to its offer. In 2018 WPN added short tables to its portfolio, and in 2019 PokerStars, partypoker, and Chico (TigerGaming, BetOnline, SportsBetting) decided to follow the same path. The action today isn't great, but almost all players at the tables are amateurs that are even unaware of the primary game rules; therefore, it can be an EV+ decision to study the format and join the tables. The Head of GGNetwork Jean-Christophe Antoine confirmed us that Short Deck would be added soon to all the network sites
iGB Affiliate Awards
In February, our team traveled to the iGB London Affiliate Conference (LAC); we were nominated as best poker website and best non-English speaking affiliate website. The idea of winning the award never crossed our minds; nevertheless, we put on our tuxes and went to the awards evening to celebrate with friends and improve networking. Twice we went to the stage as we won in the two categories where we were nominated. This is just the perfect incentive to keep working hard and improve every day, offering the best rakeback deals on the market.
partypoker and HUDs
In March all poker media spread a rumor about partypoker banning HUDs, and only one month later Rob Yong confirmed the decision in a podcast: partypoker was going all-in against HUDs and support software. June 17th marked the new era, and even half a million dollars were given to players to celebrate the occasion. Of course, this hasn't been a controversy-free decision as partypoker also restricted access to hand histories and a movement for the players' rights was born to fight the banning. From our side, we throw a lifesaver to players that cannot survive without a HUD and confirmed with the WPN's CEO Phil Nagy that the largest US-facing network was not thinking about doing the same thing.
Triton Poker Million
Guy Laliberte shocked the poker industry when proposed Big One for One Drop, a $1M buy-in tournament at the WSOP. Forty-eight players gathered for the first edition of the event (won by Antonio Esfandiari), and until today it's the biggest buy-in poker tournament in history. But Triton Poker decided to challenge that, and after two amazing stops in Montenegro and Jeju, a £1M ($1,25M) tournament was announced in London for August 1st. So far 31 players have confirmed their participation in the millionaire event.
PokerMaster rise and fall
The PokerMaster rise and fall are the most important developments of the Asian poker industry in 2019. After almost two years of operation on the market, several problems as bots, collusion, and cheating in general, forced us to cut any relationship with the most-popular Chinese poker room. Only one week later, it was known that the Chinese authorities took action against illegal gambling, leaving PokerMaster mortally wounded. Although the timing was just a coincidence, it confirmed that it was time to move on to other poker rooms.
IDN challenges PokerStars as the market leader
But not everything was bad for online poker in Asia. For at least a week, the Malaysian network IDNPlay climbed to the first position in the PokerScout ranking. Today occupies the 2nd position, but of course, challenging PokerStars (the absolute market leader) is very remarkable for a room that is sometimes unknown for western players. After doing some validations, Worldpokerdeals is granting access again to IDN via ShenPoker.
Nosebleeds action back to online poker
We can all agree that the development of the GGNetwork has been amazing. The global network has evolved a lot, and this year even we witness the return of nosebleeds PLO action on its tables. We consider this as an amazing milestone and with the millionaire tournament series held on the network, is fair to mention that GG is ready to compete head-to-head with the market giants.
World Series of Poker 2019
Over 8,000 players reunited again to play the WSOP Main Event. The Iranian-German player Hossein Ensan won the massive event cashing a $10M prize. This result (and others from the WSOP 2019 like beating the world's largest poker tournament record) confirms that the gambling industry is well-alive and we're facing only an era of adaptation.
Pluribus or how the non-specialized media killed online poker
Just a few weeks ago, several media confirmed that online poker was death-wound due to a never-seen bot that defeated the best players in the world in 6-max cash games. Although we recognize that Pluribus is an incredible development for the artificial intelligence industry, the headlines were exaggerated, and even some graphs now are confirming that Pluribus didn't have such good results.
The prospects for the rest of 2019 are quite exciting: new rakeback deals, tournament series, will appear from sure, and we invite all grinders to visit regularly our website to stay updated with the latest online poker news.
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