What Were the Most Memorable Poker Stories of 2020?
The coronavirus pandemic caught the entire world by surprise in 2020, easily marking it as one of the craziest years in history. Despite the turmoil, the poker industry was still quite eventful, with several memorable stories to tell for the past year.
In this article, we look back at some of the biggest poker stories to come out of 2020 in no particular order:
Mike Postle Takes The Poker World to Court
Mike Postle was put under the spotlight in 2019 for allegedly cheating in games, causing controversy across the entire poker community. Although the lawsuit filed against Postle, Stones Gambling, and Stones Gambling Hall manager Justin Kuraitis would eventually be dismissed under California law, Postle would proceed to surprise the poker world further by suing several professional poker players who accused him of cheating. This list included Daniel Negreanu, Doug Polk, Bart Hanson, Veronica Brill, Joe Ingram, Phil Galfond, Todd Witteles, PokerNews, and ESPN.
Galfond’s PLO Challenge Comeback
Phil Galfond staged an impressive comeback playing in his first high-stakes PLO tourney,
One of the year’s feel-good stories (if you are not VeniVidi1993) was the Rocky-Esque comeback staged by Phil Galfond in his first high stakes Pot-Limit Omaha (PLO) tourney. He was behind the entire time in the challenge, and he very nearly bought out. Luckily, he endured until the last 73 hands of the 25k hand challenge, where he would end up winning €1,671 despite being down by more than €900,000 at one point in the tournament.
GGPoker Appoints Dan Bilzerian as Ambassador
GGPoker has been known to make good decisions, so hiring Dan Bilzerian as their ambassador left several people scratching their heads. While Bilzerian’s influence and reach can’t be denied (he has millions of followers on Instagram alone), his poor behavioral record with women is also no secret to the public, and it’s likely to cause more harm than good for GGPoker’s reputation.
Issues with Real-Time Assistance Machines
Due to physical limitations being set in place to protect people from the coronavirus, most poker games were played online instead. However, the online poker landscape was troubled when Fedor Kruse was accused of using a “dream machine” in 2020.
These ‘dream machines’ allegedly provided players with resolved hands and a close approximation of what the Game Theory Optimal (GTO) line could be. To mitigate this issue, online poker platforms such as GGPoker have started detecting and banning user accounts that they believed were using cheating RTAs.
The Death of Mike Sexton
Mike Sexton was easily one of the most likable and popular poker players, so the industry lost an influential figure when he passed away in 2020. Widely regarded as one of, if not the most outstanding ambassador that poker has ever had, Sexton was crucial in the rise of both televised and online poker.
The $10,000 WSOP Main Event
The WSOP received mixed feedback after they announced that they would hold an online and live $10,000 World Series of Poker Main Event. Many people were concerned about the players’ safety, considering the pandemic was still ongoing, and heavy lockdowns were in place to keep people safe. Despite the risks, over 1,300 players still attended the event, making it a moderate success.
GGPoker’s Rise to Fame
Aside from getting the flak for hiring Bilzerian, GGPoker also rose to fame for hosting several major online poker tournaments in 2020. From being an unknown player in the industry, GGPoker quickly rose to the ranks after the surprise announcement for the WSOP Online event and the previously mentioned WSOP Main Event.
Online Poker is Stronger than Ever
While GGPoker certainly had a record year growthwise, the same can be said for most online poker operators in 2020. Due to the lockdowns, people were stuck at home with very little to use for entertainment purposes. Enter online poker sites, and we would see the greatest turnouts in online poker festivals and tournaments, as thousands of bored citizens wanted to find an avenue for games, poker or not.
A Final Word
The poker industry managed to survive the coronavirus outbreak primarily due to online websites picking up the slack. The question lies, however, if online poker will remain as strong as it is in 2021 once restrictions are lifted, and people’s lifestyles begin to normalize