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A New Year is Upon Us

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It’s a new year: new resolutions, new beginnings, and a clean poker ledger. There’s truly nothing like January for a poker player. A well-known Irish player once told me that he’s never had a losing January, ever. “I couldn’t bear it,” he said. “Where would I have to go down from?” January is the time to put plans into action, and poker rooms become as serious as Bible class. Poker players try their hearts out in the first part of the new year, and I hope you’re no exception.

January is also a time to look ahead, to make predictions about what the new year will bring. And as far as the poker world goes, it’s more, and a lot of it: more poker, more tournaments, more television exposure, more money. All signs point toward 2005 being the biggest year for poker ever. If you think you’ve seen the peak, just wait. Things are just starting to get good. Here are six things that I think will be hot in European poker in 2005:

1. The European Poker Tour — Launched as a fledgling enterprise by poker’s first £1 million winner, television director John Duthie, the EPT is midway through a first season that already has exceeded expectations just by surviving. It’s not easy to start a poker tour, but the EPT will succeed because of attention paid to the two most important issues in professional poker: logos allowed and added prize money. Look for 2005 to be the year when the EPT becomes the standard for European poker.

2. The Poker Million — Ladbrokes’ groundbreaking decision to add $855,000 in prize money to its Poker Million tournament has set a new definition for value. The queue to buy in to this tournament if it was open seating would be out the door and down the hall. As it is, the fact that some European will win $1 million live on TV this summer will bring in acres of exposure and new players by the truckload.

3. Live Poker on TV — In a few short years, televised poker has gone from being a novelty to a mainstay. But 2005 is when the saturation point will be reached. It won’t be enough to show a tournament on the tube that took place three months earlier. Now that audiences have begun to get a taste for live poker on TV, both in the UK and America, there’s no going back. The successful poker programs in the future will be those that are aired live. After all, live poker is the one you can gamble on while watching.

4. Sponsorships — Sponsorships are hot. The Hendon Mob was the big news of 2003, signing the first $1 million sponsorship deal in European poker. And 2004 saw many more high-profile poker players sign endorsement contracts, including Marcel Luske, Dave Colclough, Simon Trumper, and Dave Ulliott. But up until now, the sponsorships have come basically from online poker rooms only, and 2005 will be the year that that mold is broken. Look for vodka companies, watch manufacturers, and all sorts of luxury gear makers trying to get in on the poker act by grabbing up players. It’s the logical progression.

5. The Poker Channel — Rumor is that 2005 will see the launch of a new television channel in the UK, 24 hours of poker. At that point, it may get tough to tune anywhere else.

6. Scandinavia and Ireland — If 2004 was the year that poker exploded in the UK, 2005 will be all Scandinavia and Ireland. The growth rate in new poker players in these areas is astounding. Places like Belfast, Copenhagen, Dublin, and Oslo are prime locales for tournaments that are not just big, but gigantic.

We hope that 2005 will be a great year here at Card Player Europe, as well. We are steadily adding new writers to the mix. This month we welcome the delightful “Mad Marty” Wilson, who is known far and wide as the nicest man in Situs Poker Online Pkv Games. He’s a person who makes “only friends, and no enemies.” Nobody can tell a story quite like Marty, and many of them are even true! Rolf Slotboom is one of the top writers in poker, and we are fortunate that he’s agreed to begin writing a special column for this magazine about Europe, and especially the Dutch poker scene, which he knows very well.