Online poker legislation, Libratus and high profile player engagement kick-off an unprecedented year in poker history. It has been a busy 2017 for poker players and the industry as a whole, with several high stakes battles looming not only on the statewide US Internet Poker front, but also on social media platforms along with brick and mortar casinos. With growing consistency, the day-to-day happenings in poker are making their way into mainstream media due to the enormous level of interest in real money, skill-based wagering. Here is a look at the Top 5 Poker News Stories so far in 2017, in no particular order.
Libratus Defeats Humanity in Heads-Up Challenge
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crgmYTMfrSc When Upswing Poker featured pro Doug Polk and his Empire lieutenants bested Carengie-Mellon University’s robotic creation Claudico in 2015, humanity’s future in the heads-up No Limit format looked extremely promising. So this January, poker pros Dong Kim, Jason Les, Daniel McAulay and Jimmy Chou traveled to Pennsylvania to compete against an updated version named Libratus to prove once and for all that human ability would trump a supercomputer at poker. Unfortunately that didn’t go so well. Libratus pushed some of the most widely renowned heads-up poker specialists to their respective limits and coasted to an easy victory. Apparently not content with a dominant lead as the showdown neared its end, the poker bot then had the nerve to open up a Twitter account exclusively for smack talking. https://twitter.com/BotsAintLoyal/status/824301352499216384 The news was heralded in mainstream media as an epic defeat of human talent in one of the final skill-based bastions to fall to artificial intelligence. READ: AI Poker Bot Has Whipped The Pros (Jamie Condliffe – MIT Tech Review – Jan 31, 2017) READ: AI Crushes Best Human Players At Poker (Cade Metz – WIRED Magazine – Jan 31, 2017)
United States Online Poker Legislation
For many of our Upswing Poker fans who reside overseas, it may be difficult to understand the frustration poker players located in the United States have felt since Black Friday 2011. Once a burgeoning industry geared towards US players that netted billions in revenue for operators, legal online poker in the Land of The Free has been isolated to three statewide markets (Nevada, New Jersey & Delaware) that have under-performed due mainly to minuscule player bases. However, there is plenty of movement in the US to spread Internet Poker to several other states by year’s end. Here is a look at recent stories from official TwoPlusTwo NVG Forum sponsor Online Poker Report that have the North American power base optimistic about online poker’s chances in 2017. READ: Michigan Moves Forward on Online Gambling (Dustin Gouker – OPR – Mar 9, 2017) READ: Pennsylvania Online Gambling Revenue Projections (Robert DellaFave – OPR – Mar 9, 2017)
3rd Annual American Poker Awards
Looking for something to tide you over until the next Global Poker League Finals pitting the Antarctica Heat against the Ecuador Icebergs? Well, that’s too bad! You’ve already missed the 3rd Annual GPI American Poker Awards. In a somewhat bizarre twist, our own Doug Polk failed to receive a single nomination despite having grown poker immensely in 2016 while introducing an all-new recreational audience to the game via his YouTube channel and other social media outlets.
As HighStakesDB.com author Pete brought up in his recap of February’s ceremony, the notion of recognizing poker’s top talent is an effort the community can get behind, yet the “back-slapping” politics that saw one of poker’s marquee talents snubbed by a process sponsored by PokerStars left much to be desired in the eyes of many longtime fans. Lucky for us then that Poker Life Podcast host and GTO Club founder Joey Ingram had our backs and picked up a much-deserved trophy for Podcast of The Year.
For our readers who would like a look back at all the great shows Papi and his guests brought the poker world in 2016, check out our Poker Life Podcast Year In Review article.
Poker Celebrity Dan Bilzerian Outed?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40CaSlCFMsM Did Dan Bilzerian amass all his fortune from high stakes poker games? That was the topic at hand earlier this year when Doug Polk uploaded a video alluding to a potential multi-million dollar windfall outside of poker that has kept the King of Instagram in action all these years. Mainstream lifestyle news websites picked up the story a few hours later, improvising on Doug’s message and shipping some tantalizing poker gossip to fans throughout the United Kingdom. READ: Dan Bilzerian is ‘Living a Lie’ (Sarah Barns – The Sun – Jan 19, 2017) READ: YouTuber Says Dan Bilzerian is Bad at Poker (Joel Balsam – Ask Men – Jan 20, 2017) If you’re wondering where the term Dan Polk originated, the answer lies below The Sun’s writeup (see third comment).
Poker Players Gain Unprecedented Popularity
You may not have been around the poker scene in 2014 when then-Amaya Gaming CEO David Baazov led a $4.9 billion buyout of Rational Group’s assets, which included online poker behemoths PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. What ensued was an extremely aggressive move to devalue the brand names of winning poker players by labeling them as entitled or bad for the game. Nearly three years later, the poker world has performed a 180-degree About Face with the rise of modern-day stars who utilize their name recognition to promote the game and introduce thousands of recreational fans to real money wagering. This weekend, GPI Female Player of The Year Cate Hall will face-off against Mike Dentale in a heads-up poker match for real money at the Sugarhouse Poker Room in Philadelphia. READ: Cate Hall vs. Mike Dentale Showdown (David Huber – Upswing Poker) The action will be broadcast live by Poker Night in America, with Doug Polk, Shaun Deeb, Matt Glantz and the entire PNiA crew on hand to showcase the grudge match which began months ago on Twitter. Upswing Poker wishes both contestants the best of luck as we look forward to what the rest of 2017 has in store for the poker world!