Poker – 2009 in Review

What are some of the headlines for 2009 and Poker?

  • "Records are Broken"

  • "Trends are Set"

  • "Important Legislation in Process"

  • "Poker Coaching Comes Out of the Closet"

Any year in review about poker must start with the signature event for the industry, the World Series of Poker® and its Main Event Championship. This year was the 40th annual event with 57 bracelet events that ran from the end of May to the middle of July.

This was the second year the WSOP® Main Event Championship played down to the final nine players then adjourned for four months. The finalist returned during the first week in November as the "November Nine."

First introduced in 2008, this delay initially stimulated much controversy. After two years, I've concluded it is not only a good thing, but it has literally changed the face of poker. Besides giving time for all the events to air on television, it gives the players enough time to prepare for the final table and monetize their fame.

In the past, players labored for nearly two weeks to get to the final table in the Main Event, then, with only one-day delay, jumped back into the heat of battle. There was no time to line up sponsorships, review their competitors' play, or engage poker coaches. Certainly, there was no time to take advantage of publicity and promotional opportunities.

Finally, in 2009, poker coaching came out of the closet when Phil Hellmuth publicly outlined how he, along with a team of professionals, coached Jeff Shulman for his Main Event final table appearance. I've known Jeff since 1998 and watched as he has grown into an accomplished, professional player. I applaud Jeff's commitment to his craft and for allowing Phil to disclose the details of the coaching.

The Main Event totaled 6,494 players and was slightly down from 2008 (6,844) but a little above 2007 (6,358).

This was the first year players in the Main Event started with 30,000 chips, up from the previous 20,000.

Two previous world champions made noteworthy runs at the title: 2005's Joe Hachem finished in 103rd place, and defending champion, 2008's Peter Eastgate made it to 78th.

This year the record for the youngest-ever poker champion was broken by Joe Cada. At 21-years-old, Cada won the Championship on November 10, 2009, and broke the previous year's record set by Peter Eastgate. Cada is 340 days younger than Eastgate. The record had stood for nearly two decades. In 1989, 24 year-old Phil Hellmuth defeated two-time defending champion Johnny Chan.

The year saw poker history made when on November 27, implementation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) regulations was delayed by six months. This is significant for the poker industry, because it gives legislators extra times to clarify this vague law and to pass legislation to license and regulate online poker early in 2010.

And, who could talk about poker and 2009 without mentioning Lady Gaga's Poker Face?

Remember, if you can't raise, do not call.

Donna Blevins
Poker Strategy Coach

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