A well written and informative article. Seeing online and live poker as competing is a limited view.
Here is the point of view of a strategy-management consultant, advisor to Financial Services CEOs, and part-time poker pro.
1) Online poker has been instrumental in the growth of the game (without dispute). That will continue to be the case. The growth will largely come from non-US countries where the game is just taking root: Korea, Japan, Eastern Europe (you could argue that this is already peaking), and (perhaps one day God help us) China.
2) Nevada needs to continue to build itself as the world’s poker Mecca. It is now, but largely for historical reasons (the game is afterall American). This franchise is worth not just the hundreds of millions in Poker revenue, but associated hotel income, and maintains Nevada as the destination of choice for Poker players, but with ‘cross-selling’ of other casino games. If another destination followed some of the vision below, Nevada’s dominance could be compromised and jobs lost.
3) For all the size of the huge events (4000 for the WSOP seniors), there are tens of millions of recreational players who don’t know that the WSOP has 57 events, or that some of them cost only 1000 dollars, or that there are daily 200 dollar tournaments with 50k first prizes. (When I play live around the country, or talk Poker with amateurs they are amazed that I play in the series assuming that I must be a Poker billionaire. When I say they could and should also – they are astonished.) In my estimation, the WSOP could be as big as five times its current size if it were broadly known as an ‘everyman’ event and not just for pros on TV.
4) No Casino does what some London Poker clubs once did: offer online terminals for online Poker. While waiting for a table, or wanting to play 2-7 instead of NLHE, casinos could profit immensely (by having a financial arrangement with an existing site for a portion of rake, or by hourly charges) from offering both in Mega sized poker rooms. The Venetian has about 25 tables, but imagine a beautiful, comfortable, well-run venue 5x that size wth private rooms for high-limit games, named players associated, online available, microstakes available (on computer tables), and a much greater selection of games and stakes.
5) As with the recording industry – the online genie cannot be put back in the bottle. The truly profitable and huge job creation will come from embracing the online and brick and mortar worlds – and seeking financial synergy between them, and disposing of the ‘us or them’ worldview.