Looking toward 2012 in poker

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It’s another year, and another opportunity, for us to be hopeful this year will be the best of any before. For poker players, it’s not hard to find reasons to be excited for 2012. Here’s why:

MORE PLACES TO PLAY LIVE: Think the poker boom has plateaued? Look at this partial list of rooms expected to open in 2012 and let us know if you still think so: Casino M8trix in California; Jacksonville Poker’s third room, Hialeah Park and possibly more in Florida; Hollywood Casino Kansas City in Kansas; L’Auberge Baton Rouge in Louisiana; Hollywood Columbus, Hollywood Toledo, Horseshoe Cleveland and Horseshoe Cincinnati in Ohio; and SugarHouse and Valley Forge in Pennsylvania.

… AND HOPEFULLY ONLINE: It’s impossible to handicap the politics in Washington, but this much we do know: Virtually every major U.S. casino company has begun their foray into an online poker world, whether with free-play sites or behind-the-scenes work for a real-money platform that can go live as soon as it’s allowed. If one company does this, we’re right to be skeptical of it. When every company is doing it, it’s hard to be skeptical.

NEW BLOOD AT THE TOP …: The running joke in the poker world is if you don’t like your favorite room’s poker manager, come back tomorrow. Poker is a cutthroat, competitive world, and while we’re saddened every time we hear a manager is no longer a manager, we also know a fresh perspective can be exciting. Nowhere will this be tested more than in Oklahoma, which saw a manager exodus in 2011 that was along the lines of Florida earlier in the year. Change can be good.

… AND HOPEFULLY AT THE BOTTOM: If all of the new rooms simply cannibalize from existing ones, no one benefits much. But if the new rooms — brick-and-mortar and virtual — can re-energize the poker-playing community and, more important, turn interested players into real players, then all of us will benefit. We lost a feeder system when Black Friday hit. Together, we can replace it in spades this year.
We’ll see you at the tables.

— Christopher Cosenza and Scott Long