2022 is the year of the new poker boom

Geoff Fisk
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Posted on April 28, 2021 7:26 pm EDT

2022 will be a big year for poker, though the changing status of COVID-19 will have an unpredictable effect on the 2022 poker boom. As it stands now, it looks like we’re ready for a big increase in poker play and participation in the game.

The boom in poker for 2022 may not match the Moneymaker effect of the early 2000s when a ton of new players suddenly joined the game. But we can expect that casual players will be heading to poker rooms more often after spending much of the last two years cooped up in their homes playing poker online. 

Is poker growing in popularity?

The short answer is yes — the number of poker players is growing. Cash games are stagnant in cities that have had legalized poker for years. Some rooms are even closing in competitive markets like Las Vegas. With that said, new markets are opening up and tournament fields continue to swell to record numbers everywhere.

The online poker market is booming too, with more states legalizing online poker. As that happens, more competing big game poker sites are moving into the huge American market that helped fuel the original poker boom nearly 20 years ago. 

Expect to see bigger fields in upcoming poker tournaments as the world opens back up to in-person play. Right now, we’re on the brink of entering a post-COVID world. Every poker tour is scrambling to book more events as online poker brings new players to the game. 

Poker tournament attendance set to hit record highs in the U.S.

The announcements of major live tournaments and tours in the poker world are coming in almost too fast to process, and the U.S. appears poised to run through another “poker boom” in 2022.

U.S. players are hungry for live tournament action. The trend of unprecedented attendance should carry over for U.S. live poker events in 2022. The recently finished WPT Seminole Hard Rock Lucky Hearts Poker Open drew more than 800 players for a $3,500 buy-in, generating a massive prize pool and blowing past it’s two million dollar guarantee early on day 1. 

The 2022 World Series of Poker kicks off at the end of May and is likely to set new attendance records. Even with COVID travel bans in place, the WSOP had excellent numbers in 2021 and should be huge this year with the relocation to Paris/Bally’s from the Rio.  

Upcoming poker tournaments and tours

Between now and the start of the 52nd World Series of Poker, here’s a look at some other tournaments and tours that will likely play a part in the 2022 poker boom.

Wynn Millions

The Wynn Millions runs (March 3-11) at one of the Las Vegas Strip’s most popular spots for live big game poker. The series offers more than $12 million in guaranteed prize money. The biggest of those massive prize pools comes in the most ambitious live tournament ever hosted by Wynn Las Vegas. The $10,000 buy-in Wynn Millions guarantees $10 million. That’s a huge number even by Las Vegas standards.

The Wynn Signature Series in January posted impressive numbers. The series offered over a million dollars in prize pools and drew good attendance. Those numbers stayed high even during the height of the Omicron surge as poker players couldn’t stand to stay home any longer. 

RunGood Poker Series

The RunGood Poker Series, in a partnership with PokerGo, will be presenting the Contender Series, with four events already on the book for 2022 and more big game poker tournament announcements coming soon. 

Mid States Poker Tour

The Mid States Poker Tour saw record-setting attendance for events in Iowa and Las Vegas during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their current schedule already includes at least sixteen events for 2022 with more likely to come. 

Other stops on tap for the MSPT include multiple stops in the Midwest, a $500,000 guaranteed event at The Venetian, and a trip to San Diego in April. 

World Poker Tour

It would be a major understatement to say the return of the WPT Main Tour has been a rousing success in 2022. Following up on the record-breaking Seminole Hard Rock series, the WPT plans to run major events at the Seminole Hard Rock and Choctaw in the coming months. The tour will also host a number of events in conjunction with Party Poker. 

The poker community can expect more tournament announcements to come throughout the spring, as the return to normalcy for the U.S. live poker scene should take tournament attendance to new levels in 2022.

What is contributing to the new poker boom?

Poker is primarily a social game. Sure there are those who make a living playing poker, but the vast majority of players are recreational and enjoy the social nature of the game. After a few years of being cooped up at home, those rec players are ready to get out and spend some time face-to-face with other people.

Many recreational poker players who didn’t play much during the pandemic are not only chomping at the bit to play poker, but have saved up enough cash to play more events. Those cash–fat players will soon be treating poker as a much needed vacation. Expect big fields and lots of action as everyone celebrates a return to normalcy and a new poker boom begins.

Featured image source: Twitter