Top 10 poker stories of 2020
- The coronavirus pandemic and a new poker boom
- WSOP online and other live events switching to the Internet
- Nosebleed cash games at GGPoker
- HU challenges
- Microgaming Poker Network closure
- The Venom: new records
- The "was" for poker ecology
- Poker apps knockin' on classic poker room's doors
- Skrill and its card for the US market
- New games
A pandemic that changed everything
Undoubtedly, for all humankind, the main topic of 2020 was COVID-19. The pandemic had a significant impact on all industries, and online poker is no exception.
For our business, it represented a new traffic boom. In late March, it became clear that the self-isolation regime globally led to a massive traffic increase for regular rooms and apps. The growth was over 50%. The new boom could not last forever, of course, and we pointed out in our article "What will happen to online poker after quarantine?", but opened up new horizons.
Many sites broke records set many years ago. At the end of the year, the number of games is 10% more than in December 2019. These figures don't consider GGNetwork, which tripled in 2020 and still holds such impressive indicators!
WSOP Online and other events
Unfortunately, live poker suffered the opposite fate this year. Several events were canceled, and many others switched to the Internet. Casinos were closed around the world, and the images of empty poker rooms were, in a word, sad.
Hence, in 2020, many famous brands like WSOP, WPT, APT, Battle of Malta, PokerMasters, among others, decided to host online events. The partnership between GGPoker and WSOP was fruitful, resulting in a Guinness World Record for the largest prize pool for an online poker tournament.
Nosebleed cash games
The rise in traffic was accompanied by the return of nosebleed cash games to GGPoker. $500/$1,000 tables with $2,000 straddle were set for renowned high rollers like "Limitlees," Timofey Kuznetsov, Jason Koon, Leon Tsoukernik, Isaac Haxton, among others.
The Belarusian Wiktor Malinowski was the most successful grinder, and casual players like Bill Perkins were spotted at the tables. Almedin Imsirovic won the biggest NLH pot in online poker history for $974,632 in a hand against Tan "tan4321" Shuang.
Since then, PokerStars has finally lost its place as the leader in the high stakes arena.
High-stakes HU challenges
Before Black Friday, many of us know that famous high-rollers clashed in HU battles when Full Tilt Poker was on fire. Due to this, names like Phil Ivey, Viktor Bloom, or Gus Hansen are written in our game's history.
2020 will always be remembered for the revival of such matches. Besides nosebleed cash games at GGPoker, several challenges were played:
- Phil Galfond vs. VeniVidi
- Phil Galfond vs. Chance Kornuth (undergoing)
- Doug Polk vs. Daniel Negreanu (undergoing)
A few more challenges are scheduled for 2021. Phil Galfond will keep battling with more players, Bill Perkins will probably play against some "old school" grinders, and Malinowski vs. Matthew Gonzalez will be in the headlines.
Microgaming Poker Network closed
2020 was also the last year in the history of Microgaming Poker Network. Its closure set an example to the industry: it was announced six months in advance, all jackpots were returned to players, and everyone got their bankroll back.
On May 19, MPN quietly and without scandals shut down. Many of its rooms switched to iPoker Network, and thanks to this, the last one is now ranked 6th in the PokerScout list.
The Venom: New record
Although 2020 wasn't the perfect year for Winning Poker Network (the MoMoMo PKO series was canceled due to overlays), The Venom was again the main character, with almost ten million dollars awarded in one event.
In August, The Venom set a new record for the US poker market with a $9,680,000 prize pool. A new edition has already been announced for January 2021. The Venom PKO $5M GTD attracted 2,711 players and had a $6,777,500 prize, making it the largest PKO event in online poker history.
"War" for fair gambling
Many sites embraced anti-reg features to protect amateurs. The new rules for poker ecology include:
- GGNetwork divided PRO players into three categories, changed sitout rules, and declared war on RTA.
- PokerStars changed introduced active waiting lists.
- iPoker Network restricted table selection.
- Chico Network updated its list of prohibited software.
- Winning Poker Network began to check what software the players' use.
The most addressed topic was sitout rules. Four major sites changed them. We can conclude that bumhunting was considered a predatory behavior for the industry.
Poker apps are the new black
Mobile poker apps habe operating for several years, and in 2020 we registered several developments.
- PPPoker has become so big that it reached record traffic indicators and planted face to top networks.
- KKPoker, a PPPoker spin-off, became the first licensed poker app; the site cannot yet boast the same traffic, but action runs 24/7, which is impressive enough.
- Red Dragon Poker became the only PokerStars window to China and opened access to overseas players.
- PokerBros found an original way to promote poker and hosted the World College Poker Student Cup (WCP).
Skrill returned to the US market
"I’m delighted to announce that today is a great milestone for Skrill in the US We have launched our VISA Prepaid card – now available to all our US customers."
With that message, Lorenzo Pellegrino, CEO of Skrill, announced that his company was returning to the US market, a big step towards the legalization of gambling within the country.
New game formats and features
Many sites decided to launch exciting games and features for players, always with amateurs in mind. Even Microgaming, now a casino-only company, launched a poker game.
Of course, there was a lot more going on in the online poker world. PokerStars was fined over a billion dollars, and the controversial Dan Bilzerian became a GGPoker ambassador. To stay up to date, we suggest reading our blog. Happy New Year 2021!
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