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Poker's Star: Shooting or Rising?
by Max Drayman

here's been a lot of ink, and bytes, spilt over the last six months or so over whether Poker has "peaked" now and will fade back into obscurity, or not. There's a very simple answer to that: Don't believe it for a second!

The argument of the Poker naysayers goes something like this: Poker has long been a back room thing, popular among the poker players and largely ignored by everyone else. So, the argument goes, what we've seen over the last few years is just a fad that will fall back into obscurity when the flash and hype dissipates a little.

Interesting theory, might even sound reasonable ... if you'd never heard of high-tech or the internet or online casinos before. What have these got to do with it? They're all examples that I have personally witnessed where people gave the same "it'll fade" prognostications:

- 1980: Universities and colleges across North America begin experiencing unprecedented hire rates and wages for their Computer Science grads. The demand for skilled programmers far exceeds the supply and high-tech companies are being limited only by their inability to hire as quickly as they'd like. The pundits said “it'll pass, it's just a fad”.

Yes, the high tech sector did go through a bit of a bust after years of explosive growth but the end result was the computer sciences became “the industry” of the 80's and 90's and there's really no end in sight. High-technology fueled not only the economies of the West, but also the Near and Far East as well, and has become part of everyday life in almost every corner of the globe.

- 1995: The Web boom is starting to hit full swing. Internet companies spring up everywhere and soon "the 'net" is something that you can't escape hearing about. The pundits say: “it'll pass, it's just a fad”.

While it's true that the Internet sector went through it's own "pop" as the industry consolidated and settled into a longer, stabler development cycle, it's also true that our world was transformed by the Internet boom and now it too reaches across the planet. It's changed the way we communicate, what we expect to see and hear about ourselves and the rest of the world, has revolutionized the entertainment industry, and is changing the basic work model as people move their offices out of the glass box office towers and into their homes or across the world. No doubt about it now: the web is here to stay.

- 1997: The first online casinos appear and within a few short years the revenues are in the billions. And yes, the pundits gave the same "it'll pass" refrain. But it hasn't passed at all. Sure, hundreds of casino sites that started on a dime and a wish are history but a dime wasn't enough to run a casino and the wishes didn't make reliability and decent customer service appear out of thin air. So yes, the online casino business deflated a bit, just like all the other (now mainstream) industries I've mentioned so far, but they didn't burn out and fade away and neither have the online casinos.

- 2006: So the moral of the story is that Poker is just like other new industries that have come before it: they seemed to come from nowhere, then they got hot, then they got super-hot and a little over-inflated, and then they settled down into long term, reliable growth and profit. So too Poker.

Shooting stars burn up and are gone. Rising stars become part of our every day lives.

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