The new year is here and everyone loves a few interesting predictions. The poker world, including the online game, has surged since the pandemic and created a mini-poker boom.
Online sites are offering massive monthly series around the world. The World Series of Poker, World Poker Tour, and other live tours are seeing record fields and payouts. It seems there is something new in the game all the time.
With the new year here and plenty of action on the poker horizon, USPoker editor Sean Chaffin and contributing writer Anthony Cicali offer up their own prognostications for 2023.
Poker players to watch
What are some names to watch for in 2023?
Sean Chaffin: I am definitely not a prognosticating expert, but here goes. I think Phil Hellmuth wins yet another WSOP bracelet but also some other big names like may Daniel Negreanu and Phil Ivey also find the winner’s circle.
These large WSOP buy-in events seem to make it more amenable for some of these big-name pros to succeed, rather than having to weave through those giant fields at lower buy-in levels. Guys like Jason Koon and Dan Cates also thrive in these events and will be players to watch again.
I feel a Main Event champion like Joe Cada and Ryan Riess may also find some hardware in 2023. It seems like one of those guys is due. Big things may also continue for Espen Jorstad and Koray Aldemir. Obviously, based on their huge years in 2022, keep an eye on Stephen Song and Chad Eveslage as well.
A few other names to watch? How about Corey Paggeot and Frank Funaro. These online grinders have been crushing it lately, including some recent big finishes in the WPT World Championship.
Anthony Cicali: The northeast crew is on a tear lately and expect for them to continue that in 2023. Names like Ryan Dodd and Frank Funaro are young guns with good heads on their shoulders. Expect some more victories from this New Jersey crew. They have been able to adapt to live poker and online with positive results.
What’s ahead for US online poker?
SC: On the online front, look for more shared liquidity. Pennsylvania may join up and a couple other operators may see combined player pools. It seems like Nevada might be a natural for other operators as well since they can now combine player pools with Michigan and New Jersey. So maybe something gets done there.
I also really feel like another state or two will legalize online poker, such as New York or Illinois. But making those kinds of predictions in the past have led to some major disappointment. Will that happen again? Who knows, but online poker is at least seeing small steps. In the meantime, look for BetMGM and WSOP.com to jump on the shared liquidity bandwagon by adding Michigan.
AC: I expect the PokerStars Michigan merger to have a ripple effect on the industry. If WSOP.com or BetMGM add Michigan and hopefully Pennsylvania as well, it could be the spark we need to get more legalization in this country.
The PokerStars live Platinum Passes were a huge success in the northeast region this past year. I anticipate more expansion, especially with Michigan in the mix now.
Any aspects to watch for in live poker in 2023?
SC: Online sites are going above and beyond when it comes to allowing players to qualify for live events. PokerStars ramped that up big time in 2022 for the upcoming PSPC (PokerStars Players Championship) in the Bahamas. 888poker and PartyPoker are also making big efforts in the live arena internationally as well, and the new year should bring even more in the post-COVID era.
Will that carry over to the US? Well, BetMGM is already moving in this direction with events like the BetMGM Aria Poker Championship over the summer at Aria in Las Vegas The company is doing something similar this month with “The Return” at the Borgata in Atlantic City.
More events may follow this year. WSOP.com also continues offering online qualifiers for events in the summer series in Las Vegas – and even the occasional freeroll opportunity to win a WSOP seat.
It will be interesting to see if PokerStars adds its own live events in the US as well, offering players a chance to qualify online. With a new shared platform with New Jersey and Michigan, it may be time to bring some PokerStars Live action to those states.
AC: I expect the World Series to match or beat last year’s numbers. Expect huge fields again. Kudos to the WSOP for putting out an early schedule. This allows more rec players to prepare and get their vacations in order.
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