The next 12 months in poker are going to be huge for the industry. With all the major brands attaching a lot of importance to their live tours, whether partypoker, PokerStars or 888poker can attract the most poker players to their events over the next year will be a major talking point.
Elsewhere, the WSOP will venture into its 50th Anniversary series with high hopes of a record attendance in Las Vegas and Europe and online poker sites such as Run It Once and GGPoker will be looking to take huge strides forward and grow their own market share.
Who’ll win 2020? As ever, just like a poker tournament, players start with a fair chance of coming out on top.
The Big Three
There’s no doubt that in many ways, 2020 is a pivotal year for all of the ‘big three’ poker brands. PokerStars have announced their live stops in the next 12 months and they are opening the door for competition to drag themselves nearer to the market leader. While ‘Stars have an edge in the online world of poker, with consistent numbers turning up for their Sunday majors for many years, the slowing down of their live operation after the Amaya purchase certainly hints at a poker future that isn’t dominated by the Red Spade.
PokerStars will hope to hold onto their current share of the market in 2020, but that seems unlikely unless major investment is pumped back into the poker side of the operation. That shows no signs of appearing, so we see their piece of the pie getting slimmer.
While PokerStars have slowed down on the live front, partypoker have stepped up their efforts considerably, perhaps noticing that the live players are out there to be taken by the most aggressive marketer of the live tours. The current partypoker live output offers the most money, with events like MILLIONS in Canada, U.K. and Vegas in 2019 boosting the profile of the world’s second-largest poker site.
With visits to Russia, Rozvadov, Germany, France, the U.K. and Brazil all booked for 2020, partypoker will be the biggest live poker tour operator in 2020. Whether they can grab some of that lucrative online share will depend on them supplying tournaments and high-profile events without any crashes. Even as recently as a couple of months ago, there was an online event that did not run, and despite the success of MILLIONS Online, partypoker need to prove they can have a year where they don’t let any online players down to truly grow their digital presence.
888poker may have a smaller share of the market, but the recent 888LIVE poker tour has given fans plenty to shout about. The atmosphere on the 888tour is fantastic and they have a good professional team that are tight knit and on-brand.
While 888poker also don’t have the online share they’d like, still some way behind the behemoth that is ‘Stars in that respect, their tournaments – especially the ocean-themed Sunday majors have gained traction with their consistency. They may not offer anything like the Sunday Million or MILLIONS Online, but they very rarely let you down and can qualify players to some of the biggest events in the world. Such as…
The World Series of 2020
There’s no doubt that 2020 will see the biggest World Series of Poker in Las Vegas and – probably – Rozvadov, with plans to celebrate the 50th Anniversary Series already under way. The first few events have already been announced for Las Vegas and they’ve got us excited.
The WSOP will always be the biggest poker brand in terms of a single festival while it is in operation, but with the recent sale of the Rio, the location of the Las Vegas spectacular is in question after 2021 and possibly after this summer if something changes.
Poker players love the reliability of a tournament series turning up every year and getting bigger and better. Whether the WSOP can sustain that growth is one thing – the ongoing location is the most important crease to iron out in the next 12 months.
While neither Run It Once, Unibet Poker or GGPoker will not take over the poker world as the biggest poker brand in 2020, each has a role to play in the industry growing as a whole, and each brand can make a huge mark in the next year.
Run It Once will see a huge spike in interest around the Galfond Challenge, and the hype has been helped by their eponymous owner confirming his first four opponents.
GGPoker will benefit hugely from the acquisition of Daniel Negreanu as their player and the combination of having the world’s most famous poker player alongside the tournament world’s most successful player of all time in Bryn Kenney is a mouthwatering one.
Unibet Poker will again look to represent the casual poker player with a series of live stops that enthrall players and with quirky, enjoyable live and online tournament series, we hope to see them grow again and remain popular with players across the world.
It’s going to be a big year in the poker world. Where are you putting your chips over the line?