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    The Year that Was: 2013

    Posted by Mark Gahagan January 7, 2014

    As we celebrate the anniversary of the earth’s (relative) position to the sun from the previous year, its safe to say that lots of people are doing some reflecting on the past 365 days. The poker community is certainly no different, with some wishing that this year would just end and others wishing  it never would. Some set goals and were able to reach them and others felt short…some really short.

    If you needed to pick a player that had the best 2013, it seems like the answer is pretty obvious. No, it wasn’t Ryan Reiss, though you could definitely make the case that his rapid rise to poker stardom by winning the WSOP Main Event justifies the accolade. In reality, its none other than Daniel Negreanu that deserves the honor. Every year Daniel sets out some goals for himself and he seemed to really outdo himself, winning $3.2 million on the year, coming in at the top of the Global Poker Index (at time of writing), and winning both Cardplayer and Bluff’s Player of the Year. Though in the continued force of personality that he possesses, and it seems like he is setting the stage to continue this run the next year.

    Thinking more broadly, it’s also been a good year for the American poker player, doubly so if you live in one of the three states that has pushed through legal online poker in the last year. If you had said even a couple years ago that there would be American-based rooms offering online gambling in any form, you would think it was coming from federal efforts. With those efforts stalled seemingly indefinitely, it was nice to see a couple states find their way into the limelight.

    Nevada’s effort to be first in the nation was successful, and though the testing process has proven painstaking for both current and proposed rooms, the demand certainly seems there in the Silver State. New Jersey’s comparatively lightning-quick launch saw quite a few rooms come out at once, with a smooth launch given the circumstances. As for Delaware, its unique approach to operate through its state lottery has given states without a gambling arm in their state an option that it may have only dreamed up. 2013 could very well provide hope for 2014, with states like California, Illinois, Pennsylvania and others looking to add themselves to the list in the next year.

    Of course, it wasn’t all roses for everyone in the poker community. Ray Bitar found himself forced to take a guilty plea in his Black Friday charges, but avoided prison time as a result of his underlying medical condition. Multiple former UB officials that tried to get back into the gambling scene failed to hold on for long (not to say that was necessarily a bad thing). If there was a person that poker advocates are glad hasn’t succeeded, its Sheldon Adelson, whose new anti-online gambling lobby is just getting off the ground. A botched poll, poor op-ed, and one terrible Congressional hearing later, things aren’t looking too good, but of course its too soon to tell. We can only hope that the misery continues going into 2014, as Adelson is as close to a bogeyman as we are liable to get in terms of opponents to the way we want to see poker played in the States.

    But probably the biggest “loser” if there is one is Pokerstars. Yes, in the international market they have run away with the market share and its highly unlikely they will relinquish that lead any time soon. As for how things worked in the United States though…things were far less harmonious. First there was the entire Atlantic Club debacle, which saw Stars’ first attempt to break into the US market thwarted over a contract dispute. Then, once they found a partner to launch their online poker offerings, they were thwarted again, this time by themselves and New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement over the Scheinberg’s continued involvement in the company’s business. 2014 will be telling as to whether Stars will simply abandon the US or take serious steps to get in once more.

    Of course there were many other entities that may have had good or bad years, but this small sample size should help put your own year into perspective. Whether it was good or bad, good luck at the tables, be they live or online, throughout 2014!

    About Mark Gahagan

    Mark is a co-host and producer of the Cardrunners news podcast Rabbit Hunt as well as a poker columnist. You can find his podcasts over at Cardrunners, and you can follow him on twitter @Mark_Gahagan.

    View all post by Mark Gahagan

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