Alec Torelli: Why Poker is BOOMING in 2024

Vladimir  «ABIVPlus» 
18 Apr 2024
MTT Interview
18 Apr 2024

Let's move away from strategy and psychology and in this article we'll talk about poker globally - namely how poker is starting to flourish again in 2024. There are 7 objective reasons for this, and we will look at them today. You've probably already heard about them or thought about them yourself, but it's good to be reminded that cool times are coming again for poker players.

A famous US poker player Alec Torelli will tell us interesting things. He is a professional high stakes poker player who won over $1,500,000 in tournament winnings and millions more in both live and online cash games, Alec Torelli is one of the most respected poker players in the industry today. The article will also be devoted to live poker.

Next - in his words.

Hey guys, I'm Alec Torelli. Today we're going to talk about the poker boom. Poker is booming now - at least in the US, but also worldwide. And I think there are several reasons for that. We're going to talk about that today and some very interesting ones - probably something you haven't heard or potentially thought about before, but I think it's really an interesting way to look at things.

Record-breaking numbers in 2024

We've had record-breaking numbers nowadays. I was grateful to participate in the World Series of Poker this year, the biggest one in history. And it was amazing over 10,000 people put up $10,000 - just think about that 10,000 people! When you were there the energy you could feel was incredible. So many people - all with the same interests, all with the same hopes and dreams in one place, and that was very exciting to be a part of that.

And then here at the win in December the World Poker Tour, the biggest one in history: almost 40 million dollars in the prize pool for that event. So again, 4,000 people putting up $10,000 in the middle of December like during the holidays just casually at the win - it's incredible what we're seeing here in poker.

And I think there are several reasons for that. I'm definitely an optimist so I'm going to talk about first the exciting and positive and amazing things that have happened in poker over the last 20 years since I've been a part of the game and also a different way of looking at things that people aren't talking about. But the things I'm talking about I think are very important to consider, so be mindful of as well.

Event management

First, I want to give a huge shout out to everyone at the World Series of poker, the World Poker Tour. The events organizers do an excellent job in terms of organizing events and providing top-notch service to every participant. It is an stellar event and an experience and I think starting here at the top just acknowledging that how amazing it is to participate in these events how well-run they are.

10,000 people or 4,000 people in a single venue - all trying to get there at the same time all you know trying to win and whatever. It is a lot to manage, and the team and the staff and the venues the events they do an incredible job so poker has become a lot more mature, it's become a lot more fun environment to play in because the tournaments are so much better run.

Poker is becoming a much more mature and serious industry. Playing has become much more fun, and more prestigious than even 10 years ago.

Tournaments are held much more conveniently and comfortably, down to the smallest details. Previously, there was a lot of chaos and it even happened that some people forgot to put in the ante, which led to disputes and confusion. This took time, was nerve-wracking, and slowed down the game greatly. But now there is no trace of such a thing.

Poker is gaining popularity via Internet

We've had a lot more people talk about and share their poker journey.

Today I see how content creators have multiplied like mushrooms after rain, and every day, wherever you look, a new streamer or influencer appears everywhere who promotes poker on YouTube, Twitch and other similar platforms. These people not only talk about poker, but also show their path in it, thus motivating those viewers who view such content.

Most of them will continue to watch it solely as entertainment, but there will be many who will start playing seriously. And some of them will even succeed a lot, so they will pick up the streaming baton themselves. Or they will promote poker in some other way.

When I first started posting content on my channel in 2013, YouTube itself was not yet such a serious thing as it is today. There weren’t many content creators (and even more so for poker), and there were almost no video blogs either. Vlogs began to develop only years later, mainly due to the poor price-to-picture quality ratio of portable cameras at that time.

And the Internet was not available in every corner back then. And its speed then did not allow for normal streaming of games where the action on the screen happens quickly. Today, the Internet is available almost everywhere, and traffic has become much cheaper, and the speed has increased incomparably with previous years.

Broadcasting content live has become extremely simple: as surprising as it may sound, today it is easier to meet a person with a smartphone than without one, and almost everyone who wants to can be a streamer.

10 years ago this was completely unthinkable, and therefore there were no prerequisites for a poker boom. Poker was not in your pocket, so you could simultaneously play in a mobile application and simultaneously broadcast from your phone screen directly to the Internet. The game was not available 24/7 and people could not share their poker adventures with the whole world.

This is how all this caused such a rise in interest in poker among the average person, who is gradually moving to this side. People all over the world watch poker on TV every day, watch streams on the Internet, follow content creators on social networks, etc., which increases their exposure, including to new users. Gradually, the audience coverage is increasing.

Where there is a large audience reach, there will be advertisers with sponsors of anything. Previously, there was a lot of tension with this - especially after the ban on online poker in the USA. But these days, when everything possible in terms of technology is simultaneously and rapidly developing, every day more and more people are learning about the world of poker.

By viewing this content on YouTube or on this site, you personally promote not only me, but poker as a whole. And so on - in a chain reaction. Of course, the influence of one individual should not be overestimated, but there are many millions of us, aren’t there?

Therefore, there is every reason to believe that the popularity of poker will only grow.

There is a growing shift in the perception of poker

The next reason poker is booming is because there has been an evolution and shift in people's perceptions and consciousness.

When I first started playing poker a long time ago and told others that I would be working in it full-time, it evoked exactly the emotions you imagine. They had no understanding of what it was like to play professional poker or how it was even real. People have never seen anything like this themselves, but on TV, you know, they can tell you a lot of things.

Playing poker in those distant years was a kind of taboo, that is, a moral prohibition and something that a normal person would not do. There was no public interest in poker back then, and you wouldn't get approval from family or friends. If you were engaged in it, but did not win consistently and a lot, then it would be better not to talk about it again, especially if they work in a good position.

My opinion is that we are now about halfway to the peak point where poker can be popularized and well received.

Over the past 20 years, we have made very significant progress in this regard. Now everything is OK with poker and it is accepted normally - at least here in the West. The public's awareness of what poker is has increased. Playing poker as a profitable hobby now is not exactly honorable in the eyes of the common man, but it is already quite tolerable, especially against the backdrop of everything that happens on various streams.

Today people understand that this game also requires brains, discipline and that you can compete in it, gradually increasing your positive balance over time - and they have concrete examples of professional players who make money here year after year.

And if so, it turns out that the role of luck in poker is quite overestimated and those professional players really have some qualities that make them afloat all the time and with a good profit? “It seems like that” - this is an example of a person’s thinking that is far from the topic.

In the next 20 years, poker will advance incomparably with the path it has already traveled. However, we can also contribute to this personally. For example, specifically my goal as a content creator: to spread such a perception of the game so that others understand how difficult it really is, so that it is respected and honored for the principles that we learn in it and what qualities it cultivates in those people who takes her seriously.

I want poker to be perceived as a full-fledged sport - there is a lot to learn and a lot of unusual things for the average person to learn in order to systematically succeed in long run in this tough and super-competitive environment. For example,

  • Strengthening character, willpower and discipline,
  • The ability to turn off the ego in time for greater benefit,
  • Training in risk analysis and competent decision making,
  • The ability to be present here and now, looking at the situation as objectively as possible,
  • Well, we can talk endlessly about strategy and tactics

The unique set of qualities that poker develops will be useful in almost any activity in life and their benefits will be obvious to everyone.

What was poker like 20 years ago?

  • Something bad
  • Unprofessional
  • Under cover of mystery and danger. . .

Where do I see poker in 20 years?

  • Fully legalized
  • Respected as a game
  • Promising.

If no one has any questions about chess, it is supported at the state level and there are world championships that are broadcast from everywhere, then why shouldn’t poker do the same one day? In general, I think it’s just a matter of time - after all, stereotypes are not destroyed as quickly as they are created. But I am firmly convinced that we are already halfway to that cherished moment when playing poker will become

  • Honorable
  • Profitable and
  • Exciting.

Poker has become much more affordable in terms of money

And the last reason for the poker boom, in my opinion. People don't talk about it much, but I think it's one of the main reasons why poker has exploded.

The first World Series of Poker took place more than half a century ago - back in 1970. Then Johnny Moss won by putting together a mini-tournament for 7 people, each of whom chipped in $10,000. Today, 54 years later, it costs the same to play the WSOP.

But if you look at the purchasing power of this amount in 1970 and compare it with 2024, then, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, you will see that $10k then is equal to today's $81,149. It's still official. And taking into account the shadow economy, some shortcomings and movements, I think that the previous $10k should be compared with today’s $100k. It turns out that in previous years participation in the WSOP cost 8, or even as much as 10 times more expensive.

In practice, this means that the buy-in to the World's Main Poker event has become 8-10 times cheaper in terms of how it feels. Which means it’s 8-10 times more accessible.

The value of the dollar has decreased by 80-90% over these 5 decades, and in those years you would have paid almost 100,000 today's dollars to participate in the WSOP. I hope you get the idea well.

You can rightly point out that today there are high roller tournaments and cash games with $1,000,000 buy-ins (and that's not the limit). A very limited number of top players and some businessmen who are regulars of such games participate in them. - They don’t have 10 thousand random players rushing into them. - Therefore, I think that today they well reflect the complexity of just participating in such a game. And you still need to improve in it. And preferably, win everything.

So today playing poker is incomparably easier than in years past, both from a technical point of view and the monetary one. Well, the fact that actually winning in it has become much more difficult, we’ll leave for later.

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