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Card Player Magazine Celebrates 30 Years

by Card Player News Team |  Published: May 23, 2018


Card Player, “The Poker Authority” published its first issue in October 1988. The 40-page, black-and-white pamphlet began with a message from its then editor, June Field, that the goal for “THE CARD PLAYER is to publish an outstanding communications publication that will tell the readers WHAT’S HAPPENINGWHERE IT’S HAPPENING AND WHO’S MAKING IT HAPPEN.”

Thirty years, 750 issues, and more than 60,000 pages later, Card Player continues to be the leading information source for all things poker with insights into the poker world via a new magazine every other week.

We are proud to be an integral part of the land based poker community that now offers 6,100 poker tables across the United States at more than 320 card rooms. And on our website,, we continue to cover each and every news break from the $1.3 billion poker industry, tally every major tournament result (we hope your name is included among our database that now comprises 346,000 players, 65,000 events, and $12,400,000,000 in winnings), offer schedules of all poker’s global happenings, and offer strategy tips from poker’s top pros so you can improve your own game.

To celebrate our 30th year, Card Player presents 30 exciting storylines from the past three decades. Enjoy!

1988 – California Approves Texas Hold’em

Texas hold’em didn’t always dominate the cash game scene in Nevada and beyond, but Texas hold’em started to take hold in the 1980s as the game of choice for card players, especially casual players. Over time, the state of California built its card room industry and in the process approved hold’em for its poker tables. While Las Vegas was the birthplace of the World Series of Poker, its neighbor to the west eventually became the main source of players for the annual summer poker festival. Los Angeles welcomed the Commerce Casino in the early 1980s. The card room is now known as world’s largest poker room in terms of tables. The poker boom and the game’s continued success to this day could never have happened without California’s support of the game in the mid-to-late 1980s in the form of passing regulations favorable to the advancement of one of America’s oldest pastimes.

1989 – Phil Hellmuth Denies Johnny Chan Third Consecutive WSOP Main Event Title

In the late 80s, there was no bigger poker star than Johnny Chan, a University of Houston dropout turned gambler. The man known as ‘The Orient Express,’ had already secured a World Series of Poker bracelet by 1985, and then followed it up by winning the main event in 1987. Incredibly, Chan would go on to win it again in 1988, this time defeating Erik Seidel heads-up for the title. In 1989, Chan managed to navigate his way through the field yet again, this time finding himself heads-up with a 24-year-old kid from Madison, Wisconsin named Phil Hellmuth. Not only was Chan gunning for back-to-back-to-back titles and the $755,000 first-place prize, but he was also promised an NBA championship ring from Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss if he could accomplish the three-peat. Ultimately, Chan fell just short of the victory, and the legend of the poker brat was born. While Chan would go on to win a total of 10 bracelets, which is tied for second-most all-time with Doyle Brunson and Phil Ivey, Hellmuth has turned the WSOP into his personal playground with 14. Chan’s last bracelet came in 2005, while Hellmuth last won gold in 2015.

1991 – Brad Daugherty Becomes First Poker Millionaire

With a WSOP main event first-place prize that has reached as high as $12 million, it might be hard to believe that it wasn’t until 1991 that a player was awarded seven figures in a tournament. In truth, it probably shouldn’t have even happened that year, with the $1 million prize representing nearly half of the $2.1 million prizepool. In the end, Missouri’s Brad Daugherty came out on top of the 215-player field to win the lion’s share of the top-heavy payouts. Don Holt, who finished runner-up, pocketed $402,500. Daugherty would go on to make the main event final table again in 1993, finishing ninth. He and fellow WSOP main event champion Tom McEvoy co-authored two books, Championship Satellite Strategy and No-Limit Texas Hold’em For New Players.

1995 – Barbara Enright Becomes First And Only Woman To Final Table Main Event

When Barbara Enright became the first woman to make the WSOP main event final table, finishing fifth, many believed it wouldn’t be long before another woman would do it again, and perhaps even win. But in the 23 years since, Enright stands alone as the only female with main event final table on their resume. There were, of course, close calls. In 1998, Susie Isaacs finished tenth, and Annie Duke matched that feat in 2000. In 2012, Norwegian Elisabeth Hille took 11th, while France’s Gaelle Baumann went out next in tenth. Enright is more than worthy of holding the honor. By the time she made the final table in 1995, she has already won two bracelets of her own, taking down the women’s seven-card stud event in 1986 and 1994. In 1996, she became the first woman to win an open tournament at the WSOP, winning $180,000 in the pot-limit hold’em event. In 2007, she became the first woman to be inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame, followed only by Linda Johnson in 2011 and Jennifer Harman in 2015.

1997 – Stu Ungar Wins Third Title, Then Dies At Age 45 From Drug Use

By the time the 1997 WSOP main event rolled around, nobody expected much from Stu Ungar. The legendary gambler who many have called the greatest gin player of all time, was already showing the signs of his drug addiction, was deeply in debt, and had trouble even showing up for events on time. It had been 16 years since the second of Ungar’s back-to-back main event title wins, and furthermore, he was having trouble getting the buy-in together. Mere minutes before registration closed, high-stakes poker player Billy Baxter put him in the tournament. Although Ungar spent most of the first day sleeping at his table, he rebounded to make it through and ultimately win his third main event title. The feat earned him the nickname, ‘The Comeback Kid,’ by local media. His share of the $1 million prize, however, was spent on drugs and sports bets in a matter of months and, the next year, Ungar showed up to the WSOP in need of another stake. Baxter offered once again but, this time, Ungar declined to play, saying he was too tired. In November, he was found in a cheap motel on the strip, having died from a heart condition brought on by years of drug use. Ungar was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2001, and a movie based on his life High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story, was released in 2003.

1998 – Rounders Hits Theatres, Becomes Cult Hit Later On Video

Many credit the poker cult classic Rounders with helping ignite the poker boom in the early 2000s. Despite hitting theaters in 1998, the film garnered an even greater following over the next few years after being released on DVD. Matt Damon delivered a tour de force as Mike McDermott, with supporting actors Edward Norton (Worm) and John Malkovich (Teddy KGB) also hitting bull eyes with portrayals of participants in underground New York City poker games. In recent years, there appeared to be momentum building for a sequel. Damon and Norton have long indicated a follow-up film interests them. “We couldn’t have had more fun making that movie,” Norton told David Letterman in 2014. “That was one of the best gangs of people ever.” The writers of Rounders have also said that a revisit is something they would like to do.

1998 – Online Poker Launches With Planet Poker 20 Years Ago

In 1997, Planet Poker, the world’s first online poker site, began preparing to launch, which included an advertisement with Card Player Magazine. The site went live the following year, and in January, 1998 Planet Poker ran its first ever cash game. The $3–$6 limit hold’em game was the first of its kind, and it would go on to revolutionize the game of poker. The following month, Planet Poker reportedly ran its first cash game that didn’t break for about 24 hours. The site struggled early on, thanks to the internet itself still being in its infancy. Slow connection speeds and other technical issues troubled the platform, but online poker was here to stay. Rivals to Planet Poker soon emerged, though none could say they were first to the scene.

1998 – Scotty Nguyen Wins WSOP Main Event

The 1998 World Series of Poker was the biggest in history at the time. Notables such as Erik Seidel, Daniel Negreanu, David Chiu, and T.J. Cloutier won events, along with Doyle Brunson, who made three final tables at the 20-event series. Even Hollywood stars Matt Damon and Ed Norton made an appearance. But everyone will remember the ‘98 summer for the infamous words uttered by Scotty Nguyen while heads-up for the main event title. “You call, it’s gonna be all over baby,” Nguyen said to his opponent, Kevin McBride. McBride did indeed call, and it was indeed all over. Nguyen, who was broke before the main event and needed a stake from Mike Matusow to get into the tournament, had won his second bracelet and the $1 million prize. Nguyen now has five total bracelets, and $12 million in career live tournament earnings.

1999 – Late Night Poker Debuts In The UK

Cardiff-based production company Presentable had the idea to broadcast poker on UK TV back in 1999, which had never been done before. Channel 4, however, was willing to air it, and suddenly Late Night Poker was born. The show, which featured a series of no-limit hold’em events, quickly became a cult hit thanks to its under-the-table cameras which allowed the audience to view the player’s hole cards. The program ran for six series between 1999 and 2003, before making a comeback with Late Night Poker Ace and Late Night Poker Masters in 2008. Commentary was provided by Jesse May and Nic Szeremeta, later replaced by Vicky Coren and James Akenhead. Among the notables to win on Late Night Poker were Phil Hellmuth, Padraig Parkinson, David “Devilfish” Ulliott, Huck Seed, Simon Trumper, Peter Costa, and John Duthie.

2002 – World Poker Tour Debuts On Travel Channel

Considered half of the reason for the poker boom in the early 2000s, the World Poker Tour captivated poker fans from around the world not just because of the events, but because of the show as well. Founder Steve Lipscomb pitched his vision for the WPT to Lyle Berman, who was crazy enough to invest in the concept. After shopping the program to multiple networks, the WPT was ultimately picked up by the Travel Channel. Unlike Late Night Poker in the UK, the WPT had a weekly, prime time, two-hour spot to air. With Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten serving as commentators, along with Shana Hiatt, the WPT thrived and in its first season became the second highest rated program in the networks history. The show continued to air on Travel Channel for five seasons, before switching to Game Show Network, and ultimately FOX Sports. Now in their 16th season, the first WPT tournament, which was the $10,000 Five Diamond World Poker Classic at Bellagio back in 2002, drew just 146 entries.

2003 – Chris Moneymaker Sparks Poker Boom

If the success of the WPT accounted for the first half of the poker boom, then an accountant from Tennessee is the reason it got kicked into high gear. Chris Moneymaker was just looking to make some extra cash moonlighting as a poker player on PokerStars, but after parlaying an $86 online satellite into the WSOP main event title and $2.5 million prize, he was on top of the poker world. Moneymaker had the everyman look, the can’t-believe-it’s-real name, and the rags-to-riches story that had the country signing up for an online poker account. It was a perfect storm for both poker and Moneymaker, who busted the one-and-only Phil Ivey in tenth place to make the final table. He then later bluffed Sam Farha heads-up in a crucial pot that led to his victory. Moneymaker has stayed active in the poker community since his win, and even scored a runner-up finish in the 2004 WPT Shooting Star, and second in the 2011 National Heads Up Poker Championship.

2004 – Andy Beal vs. The Corporation

In 2001, billionaire Texas banker Andy Beal won $100,000 playing high-stakes poker at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. The win got him hooked, and he subsequently became obsessed with beating the very best players in the world. The top professional players, which included Ted Forrest, Phil Ivey, Barry Greenstein, Chip Reese, Doyle Brunson, Howard Lederer, David Grey, Jennifer Harman, Minh Ly, Todd Brunson, Lyle Berman, and Gus Hansen, decided to pool their money together and take turns playing Beal heads-up in some of the biggest games of all time. They called their group ‘The Corporation’, and over the course of three years, they took on Beal, enduring huge seven- and eight-figure swings. Beal even won an $11.7 million pot. He ultimately quit the matches in 2004 after losing $16 million in two days, but returned in 2006 for more action. After winning $13.6 million from the group, Ivey took over, playing as big as $100,000-$200,000 before winning $16.6 million from Beal to end the games for good. The initial three-year run of matches was chronicled in the book, The Professor, The Banker, and The Suicide King by Michael Craig.

2004 – Daniel Negreanu Becomes A Household Name With Dominant Year On The Tournament Circuit

In 2004 Daniel Negreanu cemented his status as one of poker’s biggest and brightest stars. The outgoing, talkative Canadian was already one of the top players in the game, but during the peak of the poker boom he was able to put together a historic year on the live tournament circuit that earned him a slew of awards and made clear to the swelling ranks of poker fans that he was more than just a friendly face.
“KidPoker” made 11 final tables and won four titles in 2004, cashing for $4.4 million along the way. He made five final tables at the World Series of Poker alone, including winning his third career gold bracelet by taking down the $2,000 limit hold’em event. As a result he was crowned the 2004 WSOP Player of the Year. He closed out the year by winning two World Poker Tour main event titles, defeating a field of 302 players to win the WPT Borgata Poker Open for $1,117,400 and then outlasting 376 in the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic for another $1,770,218. As a result of those wins he secured both the WPT Player of the Year and the Card Player Player of the Year awards as well. Negreanu has remained one of the best players in the game in the decades that have followed. He won the Card Player Player of the Year award for a second time in 2013, and was induced into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2014. With more than $35.3 million in lifetime live earnings he is currently poker’s all-time money leader.

2004 – Dan Harrington Makes Back-To-Back WSOP Final Tables, Writes Game-Changing Book Series

Dan Harrington has made the World Series of Poker final table a total of four times, including finishing sixth in 1987 and winning it all in 1995. But of all of “Action Dan’s” poker accomplishments, his back-to-back final table finishes in the 2013 and 2014 WSOP main events will likely go down as what he is best known for. When Harrington finished third in 2003 he had navigated a field of 839, which was the largest ever at the time. In 2004, with the poker boom in full effect, the field exploded to 2,576 entries. That meant that Harrington had more than three-times as many players to outlast in order to make the final table again. That is precisely what he did, ultimately finishing fourth for $1.5 million. At nearly 60 years of age Harrington showed incredible focus and stamina to put together one of the most impressive runs in tournament poker history. Harrington’s next move was arguably even more important to his legacy in the game, though. In 2004 he released a three volume series of poker strategy books entitle Harrington On Hold’em. In the era before online training sites changed how people learned to play the game, the series was the definitive way to build a strong strategic foundation for tournament poker, even surpassing Doyle Brunson’s legendary Super System as many players preferred text for learning the game.

2005 – Harrah’s Buys Binions, WSOP, Moves Event To Rio

It’s almost hard to imagine the days when the annual World Series of Poker in Las Vegas was not held at the Rio hotel and casino just off the Strip. However, prior to 2005, the WSOP was held each year at Binion’s Horseshoe casino on Fremont Street in Downtown Las Vegas. In 2004, Harrah’s Entertainment, which later became Caesars Entertainment, purchased the Horseshoe and WSOP brands. As part of the arrangement, Harrah’s decided to move the festival to a venue with more space. It was a wise move, as the WSOP rapidly outgrew its place at Binion’s. The final two days of the 2005 main event, which was won by Australian Joe Hachem, were held at Binion’s. That was the last time a WSOP bracelet event was played at the iconic casino. Harrah’s didn’t change the buy-in for the main event, which has been $10,000 since the WSOP began in 1970.

2005 – Johnny Chan, Doyle Brunson and Phil Hellmuth Battle For Bracelet Supremacy

With the poker boom going full throttle in 2005, a number of the biggest names in the game were locked in what amounted to an arms race. Johnny Chan, Doyle Brunson, and Phil Hellmuth were pushing each other to see who could win the most World Series of Poker titles. The three former WSOP main event champions all won their ninth gold bracelets in 2003. In 2005 Johhny Chan surged into the lead by winning his tenth bracelet, defeating Phil Laak heads-up to win the $2,500 pot-limit hold’em event. Four days later Brunson matched Chan at ten bracelets by winning the $5,000 six-max no-limit hold’em event. The two remained tied for the lead until 2006, when Hellmuth joined them in a three-way tie by emerging victorious in a $1,000 no-limit hold’em event. Hellmuth has since run away with the lead, winning his 11th bracelet in 2007 before adding two more in 2012. Phil Ivey joined the mix, tying Chan and Brunson with 10 bracelets in 2014 by winning a $1,500 eight-game mix event. The “Poker Brat” went on to further his lead when he broke his own record again in 2015, winning the $10,000 razz championship to earn his 14th bracelet.

2006 – Chip Reese Wins The Inaugural $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. Event

David “Chip” Reese is one of the seminal figures in poker history. The man earned the status of a legend in the game, with seemingly universal respect from his peers as the top mixed-game player of his time. Reese primarily focused on playing the biggest cash games in the world and, by the time the World Series of Poker rolled around in 2006, it had been 24 years since he had last won a bracelet. That being said, he was widely considered one of the favorites to come away with the hardware when a brand new prestigious event was announced: The $50,000 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. championship, which set the record for the largest buy-in WSOP event ever at the time. Reese overcame a stacked final table that included Doyle Brunson, Patrik Antonius, TJ Cloutier, and Phil Ivey to win the $1,784,640 top prize and his third bracelet. He defeated Andy Bloch heads up in a marathon seven-hour heads-up battle to become the first champion of what has now become known as the Poker Players Championship. Reese passed away in 2007, and as a tribute the championship trophy for the event was named the “David ‘Chip’ Reese Memorial Trophy” in his honor.

2006 – Jamie Gold Talks His Way To Biggest WSOP Main Event Win Ever

The 2006 World Series of Poker will likely go down in history as the apex of the game’s growth. With surging popularity and increasing amounts of satellite winners from online poker sites, that year’s WSOP main event drew the largest field ever, with 8,773 total entries building a staggering prize pool of $82,512,162. In the 11 years since, the main event has only eclipsed 7,000 players twice, averaging around 6,700 players during that decade-plus stretch. The extraordinary turnout in 2006 resulted in a massive amount of prize money for the top finishers, with 12th place and higher all cashing for more than $1.1 million. The stakes were extra high, and that leant an extra air of excitement during the final table, which was accentuated by the brash play and table talk of eventual champion Jamie Gold. The Hollywood producer dominated the final table, scoring six knockouts and chatting away as he stacked a massive sea of chips in front of himself. When he eliminated Paul Wasicka in second place he locked up the bracelet and the $12 million first-place prize, which set the record at the time for the largest payday in poker history. Gold’s table talk during his run to the title drew so much attention that it inspired a tournament rule known colloquially as the “Jamie Gold Rule,” which prevents players from discussing the contents of their hands while the hand is still ongoing.

2007 – Annette Obrestad Wins WSOP Europe 18 Years Old, Youngest Bracelet Winner Ever

On the day before her 19th birthday Annette Obrestad won the inaugural World Series of Poker Europe main event. The Norwegian poker pro defeated a field of 362 total entries to win the £1 million first-place prize, which amounted to more than $2 million USD dollars at the time. As a result she set two records, first as the youngest ever WSOP bracelet winner in history, and second as the winner of the largest tournament payout ever earned by a female player. Annie Duke, who earned $2 million as the winner of the 2004 WSOP Tournament of Champions invitational, previously held the record. Obrestad now sits in fourth place on the female all-time tournament earnings list with more than $3.9 million in cashes.

2008 – Phil Galfond Tops Arguably The Toughest Final Table In WSOP History

In 2008 one of the toughest final tables in the history of the World Series of Poker came together for what would be the final running of the $5,000 pot-limit Omaha re-buy event at the series. Among those at the final table were four players who currently sit in the top 15 on poker’s all-time money list in Daniel Negreanu (1st – $35.3 million), John Juanda (7th – $23.4 million), Phil Hellmuth (11th – $21.5 million) and Brian Rast (15th – $20.4 million). Two of the top three players on the WSOP bracelet list were represented in Hellmuth, who now has 14 wins, and Johnny Chan with ten. Negreanu and Juanda have six and five bracelets as well. The final table also featured two players were are among the best from their native countries in France’s David Benyamine and Russia’s Kiril Gerasimov. The final nine was rounded out by two online poker stars in Adam Hourani and Phil Galfond, who is one of the top online cash game winners in history. In the end Galfond emerged victorious, capturing the first of his two bracelets and the $817,781 first-place prize.

2008 – WSOP Introduces November Nine

The poker boom made the World Series of Poker on ESPN can’t-miss television. Of course, because of the tape-delayed broadcast, anybody plugged into the poker world already knew the outcome of the tournament months in advance, killing all of the suspense. To combat this problem, the WSOP decided in 2008 to delay the main event final table until November, so that the ESPN broadcasts could catch up with the tournament, and the audience at home could get to know the players. The final tablists were dubbed ‘The November Nine.’ While the ratings did increase thanks to the delay, many in the poker community felt that four months off changed the dynamics of the tournament, with players able to hire coaches to improve their game. The concept was killed off in 2016.

2009 – Brian Hastings Crushes Isildur For $4.18 Million

Swedish poker phenom Viktor “Isildur1” Blom burst onto the poker scene in 2009, splashing around historic amounts of money on the Full Tilt Poker platform. One day in December 2009, Brian Hastings and Blom sat down for arguably the wildest single online poker session of all-time. Hastings, who was a regular at the much smaller $25-$50 stakes, was also starting to make a name for himself in poker at the time. Their two bankrolls were on a collision course. At the end of a five-hour session that saw the two players battle at $500-$1,000 pot-limit Omaha, Hastings was up roughly $4.2 million. In addition to the losses against Hastings, Blom had terrible results against Phil Ivey (nearly $3 million), Patrik Antonius (about $2 million), and Brian Townsend (about $1 million). Blom built his bankroll thanks to massive wins against Tom Dwan ($5 million to $6 million) in total.

2009 – Patrik Anonius Wins Largest Pot In Online Poker History

The biggest winner in online poker history is none other than Finnish poker pro Patrik Antonius, who has $16.9 million in winnings over the web. Antonius won a big chunk of those profits in a single hand in November 2009 against Viktor Blom. It was Blom’s worst hand during the historic string of action during late 2009. The pair played a pot-limit Omaha hand worth a mind-boggling $1.3 million. Here’s a look at the historic hand: Blom raised to $3,000 in the small blind, and Antonius reraised to $9,000. Blom reraised to $27,000 and Antonius five-bet to $81,000. Blom made the call, and the two players saw a flop of 5♣ 4♠ 2♥. Antonius continued with a bet of $93,000, and Blom raised to $435,000, committing himself to the pot. Antonius put him all in for his last $162,000. Blom called all in, and the pot surged to $1.35 million. Antonius showed A♥ K♥ K♠ 3♠ for the flopped wheel and two backdoor-flush draws, but Blom was drawing very live with his 9♠ 8♥ 7♦ 6♦. The turn and river fell 5♥ and 9♣, and the wheel held to give Antonius the pot. Antonius passed Phil Ivey on the all-time online poker money list back in 2014. Ivey once had $19.2 million in winnings, but downswings over the past several years dropped his online earnings to just more than $10 million. Antonius remains the king of online poker.

2011 – Black Friday

April 15, 2011 is a day that will live in infamy for the poker community. Poker players received shocking news on that Friday that the owners of the major offshore poker sites catering to Americans were under indictment by the federal government in New York City. PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker/Ultimate Bet were all immediately unavailable to Americans. PokerStars was the only site to cash out players, as it was later revealed that the others misappropriated player funds. There wasn’t enough money to pay people out when Full Tilt and AP/UB went defunct. Hundreds of millions of dollars in player bankrolls were stuck in limbo as the poker world went into a tailspin. Popular poker TV shows were canceled thanks to lack of advertising dollars and many people within the poker industry lost their jobs. Sponsored poker players were suddenly left without the income that they were accustomed to. Black Friday was indeed a dark day for the online poker world, worsened further by later revelations that the federal government accused poker greats Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson of operating a Ponzi scheme through Full Tilt.

2012 – Big One For One Drop: The First Ever $1 Million Buy-In Tournament

In 2011 the Aussie Millions pushed the limits of a high roller tournament by introducing the $250,000 Australian dollar buy-in. The tournament drew 20 total entries, with living legend Erik Seidel emerging victorious with the title and the top prize of more than $2.5 million dollars. Perhaps sensing that the limits of the game were ripe to be pushed, the World Series of Poker upped the ante in an unheard way the following summer. The WSOP announced that they would be holding the first ever $1 million buy-in poker tournament. The Big One For One Drop was organized by billionaire businessman Guy Laliberté, the event’s organizer and founder of both Cirque du Soleil and the One Drop Foundation, a non-profit that raises money for clean water initiatives around the globe. Each buy-in saw $111,111 allocated to the charity. The event had a 48-player cap, which was met in order to build a prize pool of more than $42.6 million. In the end it was Antonio Esfandiari who came out on top, earning his second gold bracelet and the $18,346,673 first-place prize, the largest ever in poker history. The seven figure buy-in has been held twice since, once in 2014 with Dan Colman winning, and once as an initiation-only event in Monte Carlo with Elliot Tsang capturing the title. The fourth running of the Big One is set to take place at the 2018 WSOP.

2013 – Nevada Becomes First State With Regulated Online Poker

Nevada legalized online poker in 2011 and adopted online gaming regulations in December of that year, but it took until the spring of 2013 for the first site to launch. Ultimate Poker, which is now defunct, was the first platform to run real-money games as authorized by the Silver State legislature. It took until September for Caesars to launch its WSOP-branded online poker site. “From Fremont to any street in Nevada in less than a decade,” WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart said at the time. Like Ultimate Poker, the WSOP site launched with Texas hold’em, in addition to other games like Omaha high and Omaha eight-or-better, seven-card stud high and seven-card stud eight-or-better. Nevada’s bold move into the interactive gaming space prompted New Jersey to legalize online poker in 2013. Just a handful of years later, both states began pooling their populations for online poker in order to increase liquidity.

2013 – PokerStars Dominates Online, 100 Billion Hands Dealt

Thanks to continuing to serve Americans after the passage of the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, PokerStars was able to quickly rise to the top of the online poker world. Furthermore, thanks to Black Friday wiping out the businesses of several of its main rivals, PokerStars was left with unparalleled success in the online poker realm. It was able to acquire about 70 percent of the global online poker market. The traffic became so large that the site hit its 100 billionth hand dealt in June 2013. A micro-stakes player from Greece raked in a six-figure bonus for winning the site’s milestone hand. PokerStars had to leave the American cyberspace after Black Friday, but it eventually returned via the regulated market in New Jersey. The site was sold in June 2014 for $4.9 billion to what was then Amaya Gaming Group.

2014 – Vanessa Selbst Secures The Title of Greatest Female Tournament Player

In 2013 Vanessa Selbst surpassed Kathy Leibert to become the all-time money leader among female tournament poker players. She has since extended that lead, with her $10.8 million in lifetime earnings putting her more than $4.5 million ahead of her nearest competitor. In 2014 she further proved that she is the best female player poker has ever seen, and hands down one of the best period, by becoming the first woman to win three WSOP gold bracelets in open field events. Barabara Enright has also won three WSOP events, but two came in segregated women’s events. For her third title Selbst took down the $25,000 buy-in mixed-max no-limit hold’em event that year to win $871,148. “I understand why people want to talk about women and the achievements of women in history that way,” Selbst said in regard to people focusing on her gender. “Obviously, I would like to be considered in a conversation for the best poker player, not just the best female poker player. I think I’m starting to get there and people are starting to recognize that.” Selbst was arguably the most consistent player in tournament poker in the early 2010’s. She was one of only two players to make the top 200 in the Card Player Player of the year standings from 2010-2014, alongside Will “The Thrill” Failla. Selbst, who earned a law degree from Yale during that period, has recently announced that she has stepped down from playing poker full time in order to follow other career opportunities, but her accomplishments still stand as some of the most impressive in poker history.

2014 – Dan Colman Sets The Record For Money Earned In A Calendar Year

In 2014 Daniel Colman was just a 24-year-old online poker specialist with $350,000 in lifetime live tournament earnings. In the nine months that followed he went on one of the craziest tears in poker history, cashing for an unprecedented $22,319,279 in live tournament earnings, setting the record for the most money earned in a single year in poker tournament history. Colman surpassing the previous high water mark set by Antonio Esfandiari in 2012, by more than $3 million. He won four massive titles and made nine total final tables, eventually earning the Card Player Player of the Year award. The majority ($15.3 million) of Colman’s earnings may have come came from his win in the seven-figure buy-in Big One For One Drop at the WSOP, but Colman’s eight other cashes that year added another $7 million. In the years since Colman’s record-setting run, the closest any player has come to rivaling his success was when Fedor Holz cashed for $16,288,714 in 2016. The young German super star won six titles and made 15 final tables that year, absolutely dominating the growing super high roller tournament scene that year.

2017 – Poker Bots Start Crushing Humans

In early 2017, it became clear that humans are inferior to computers at the game of poker. It happened close to 20 years after artificial intelligence was able to conquer the world’s top chess players. In the poker match, a machine called Libratus, developed by computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon University, was able to crush its human competitors over a multi-day, 120,000-hand match. The human team, which consisted of Jason Les, Dong Kim, Daniel McAulay, and Jimmy Chou, finished down a whopping 1.7 million chips. That was about 17,000 big blinds, or about 14 big blinds per 100 hands. It was also nearly 90 buy-ins. An earlier version of Libratus called Claudico lost to different group of poker pros in the spring of 2015. The Carnegie Mellon University team had its revenge, and in the process crossed off a significant milestone in the history of not only poker but AI as well. Libratus was able to figure out the optimal way to play a game without all the information available. In chess, for example, the entire board is visible. Poker proved to be the perfect training ground for such an advancement. ♠