For those of you old enough to remember the lockout that wiped out the 2004-2005 NHL season, you’ll also remember that’s when a whole generation of Canadians learned to play Texas Hold’em poker. Or at least we thought we did.
Yes, Millennials, there was a time when poker was not on TV everyday, in fact, it was quite rare. And when it was on, the production was nowhere near the slick presentation that we are accustomed to today.
15 years ago, without hockey to broadcast, sports networks like TSN and Sportsnet needed something that could eat up hundreds of hours of television time, and in Prime Time no less. Luckily for us they turned to poker, and, specifically, ESPN’s coverage of the “World Series of Poker” from Las Vegas and the NBC series “Poker After Dark.”
Until the last few years, the Main Event of the WSOP that was broadcast on TV in Canada was usually from the previous year, and the 2003 event (broadcasted in 2004) featured a relative unknown with a perfect name to make every single rookie poker player think that winning millions was attainable: Chris Moneymaker.
Moneymaker was the first amateur player in the history of the event to qualify through online poker … and win.
What a perfect storm for online poker sites! Sports fans in Canada who were craving competition and had nothing but time on their hands just watched a stay-at-home accountant win 2.5 million dollars. Easy, right?
This led to what was referred to as the Moneymaker Effect at online poker sites – poker sites, by the way, that were very, very new in the early 2000s. Sites like Party Poker and Poker Stars were thrilled to welcome thousands of novice players to their sites. Some of those initial operators remain in business today while other eary adopters were involved in scandals and are now nothing but a memory with a cautionary tale.
For us at Coolbet, we got into the online poker arena much later on the timeline, however, we’ve had the benefit of seeing all the successes and mistakes of other operators in this space – allowing us to tailor our offering to today’s poker player.
And now, lo and behold, in the middle of an unprecedented time during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing another online poker boom that could even go beyond the Moneymaker Effect.
In Canada alone, we have seen a 900% increase in the number of poker players on Coolbet since the cancellation of sports events and leagues.
Out of every negative situation comes something positive … the Great Poker Boom of 2020 is here!