25 Things That Happened in Poker During 2015: Part 2
This is Part 2 of our five-part series recapping (in no particular order) the biggest stories of the year from the world of poker.
In this installment we’ll take a look at:
- The sale of the World Poker Tour and the subsequent sale bwin.party
- Andy Beal’s return to the high stakes poker room at Bellagio
- No Limit supercomputer no match for top pros
- Alex Dreyfus sets sights on poker world domination
- The launch of a 24/7 poker network, Poker Central
#20 – bwin.party chopped up and sold to highest bidder
The 2011 union of bwin and Party Gaming was the first super-merger in online gaming, but unfortunately for the two companies involved, it never panned out, and will likely go down as one of the more disappointing developments in the history of online gambling. Essentially, the sum of the two companies proved to be worth far less than their individual parts, and after several years of rumored sales, bwin.party was finally sold in 2015.
However, before the company was sold (following a bidding war between GVC and 888) they divested themselves of the World Poker Tour, selling the popular poker tour to the Chinese social gaming company, Ourgame.
What is still unknown at this time is how Ourgame and GVC will deploy their new assets, and what the future holds for these companies.
#19 – Andy Beal quietly returns to the Bellagio poker room
One of the biggest poker stories during the poker game was the nosebleed games between “The Corporation” and Texas banking magnate Andy Beal that turned into the book by Michael Craig, The Professor the Banker and the Suicide King. Despite a valiant effort, Beal left the game down well into seven-figures, and has more or less avoided poker ever since.
However, in January of 2015, Beal was spotted playing Todd Brunson in a high stakes game at Bellagio, and with the advent of Social Media, Beal’s presence quickly took over the poker Twittersphere thanks to the live tweeting of Kyle Loman. Unfortunately for Beal his most recent trip ended much the same as his previous ones, with Brunson purportedly taking $5 million off the billionaire.
#18 – Poker pros take on supercomputer… and win
One of the big stories in early 2015 was the “solving” of heads-up Limit Texas Holdem by the University of Alberta’s supercomputer Cepheus, and during the summer the story of poker-playing supercomputers continued to evolve when Claudius, a heads-up No Limit Texas Holdem computer challenged several of the games top HUNL wizards, including Doug “WCGrider” Polk.
Just before the 2015 World Series of Poker, several of the game’s best pros beat Claudius handily, but the computer did prove to be a high-level opponent. For the programmers it’s back to the drawing board, so expect to see improved versions of Claudius rolled out in the future.
#17 – The year of the poker entrepreneur
Alex Dreyfus always seems to have a lot of irons in the fire, and 2015 saw him strategically position and connect many of his pieces and unveil his larger vision for poker where the industry moves in the same direction in unison.
In 2015 Dreyfus unveiled the Global Poker Masters, an event pitting teams of poker players representing different countries against one another. With the success of the GPM, Dreyfus pushed forward with his plans for the Global Poker League. While the GPM was an Olympic style team event, the GPL will be made up of franchises, and run like a professional sports league.
The GPL draft will take place at the second annual American Poker Awards/American Poker Conference meet-up in February of 2016, and the first event will take place sometime in 2016.
Watch this space.
#16 – Poker Central launches
First believed to be a poker-dedicated TV network, Poker Central later morphed into an online based network, more likely to be found on Hulu than in Comcast channel lineup. Still, the network is a bold initiative, and just launching a 24/7 poker network is a pretty impressive feat. Following its launch, Poker Central is still trying to find its sea legs, and 2016 should bring a lot of exclusive programming for the fledgling network. The only question remaining is this: Will people be interested in poker-focused programming?
If it does gain a following, Poker Central could be one of the biggest stories of 2016.