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Recession? What Recession?

by Brendan Murray |  Published: Nov 30, 2008


Last month I noted that the economic storm clouds were gathering with force. This month the downpour from the storm is in full flow and we're getting drenched. Not that you would know from the numbers attending poker tournaments in Europe. The World Series of Poker Europe, at the Empire Casino in London attracted the same number of players as last year, surely a minor triumph given the hefty £10,000 buy-in and volatile climate, while the European Poker Tour in London gained an impressive 204 players more than last year.

The Barcelona EPT also saw numbers increase from 543 in 2007 to 619 this year while the €500 buy-in Irish Poker Festival main event had to increase its capacity from 625 to 750 such was the demand, finally accommodating 832 players much to the organisers' credit. Elsewhere the €150 buy-in International Poker Open sold out its 1,200 capacity, attracting bankroll conscious players from all across Europe, two weeks in advance.

The rain may be falling but the players just seem to keep on singin'.

Oh … That Recession

But there is another side to the story. That venerable organ, the International Herald Tribune reported in early October that online poker could make British bookmakers vulnerable to recession because it attracts fewer habitual gamblers than traditional revenue generators such as horse racing.

The paper quoted industry analyst Derren Nathan as saying, "In terrestrial gambling, customers are likely to choose the store in which they gamble on location and on who is offering the best odds. In online gaming, customer churn is faster."

It pointed to the recent flat poker revenues at 888, lower numbers playing at PartyGaming, and a full-year profit warning from Irish bookie Paddy Power as evidence that firms are feeling the pinch in the current negative economic environment.

Indeed, the site fronted by two-time World Series of Poker main event winner Johnny Chan closed its doors in August, while six weeks later halted operations.

It was the first site to directly attribute its failure to the financial crisis saying, "Duplicate is sadly bidding farewell to its players. Caught in the middle of the global financial situation the company is not able to continue to provide service. We are a small victim of the global financial crisis.

Regretfully as of the [sic] today, October 5th, 2008 we are closing our service."

While the greed of a few has ruined things for many, the optimism, resilience, and guile of poker players' seems to be triumphing. Look after those bank rolls and hopefully it will stay that way.