While the rest of the world may feel a pinch in the post-Black Friday poker world, no one is feeling it like American poker pros who made a living playing online poker.
With many questions still unanswered, and the future of legal online poker in the US largely unknown, US pros are regaining their balance and starting to formulate a plan for the future.
Matt Stout has been playing poker professionally for years and despite signficant live success, he was still spending most of his poker time online.
We caught him for a few Black Friday related questions.
How devastating is this development for working online poker pros in the US?
That really depends a lot on a how much a player played live, how comfortable they are with live play, and their ability to now travel and have the roll/backing for live events.
Obviously it's a lot less devastating to players who play a lot of live poker or are at least comfortable and able to play a lot more live poker, but it's definitely going to be devastating to a lot of players who rely on online poker only as an income and can't transition to live for any of several reasons.
I know a lot of my friends are in a tougher spot than I am, but despite my other revenue streams and my ability to play a lot of live poker this will definitely have a negative impact on my income in the near future.
Do you see live games blowing up in places like Vegas and AC?
I see traffic increasing a bit, but not nearly as much as many seem to expect.
It's also going to make the games a bit tougher overall because while more recreational players will in fact come play live more frequently when they can't get their fix online, many decent-to-good pros will be making the move to Vegas/LA/AC and put in far more hours than the recreational players.
Has the government acted in the interest of its citizens or itself in the way it's handled PokerStars, FT and AB/UP?
I obviously disagree wholeheartedly with the government's interference with online poker, but to some extent they're doing it because they're trying to protect their citizens from what they see as a social issue I suppose.
That being said, it's ridiculous for them to interfere with online poker when casinos are allowed to be legally operating in the US if preventing social issues is their true goal. Their recent actions definitely represent more of a "big government" move than I'd normally expect from the USA.
Will players get their money back from these three sites? (Answered before Stars began cashouts)
I think players are at least 95% to get their $ back. I feel that even if the big 2 don't get the seized $ back they would pay players back out of pocket, especially if the site plans to continue international operations and doesn't go under because of all of this (which I don't think will happen).
I would be a lot more nervous if I had a lot of $ on UB/AP tho.
What do you think will happen to the three sites in question, and online poker in the US? Do you think there will be a government run or licensed online poker option soon?
I think the big 2 will continue to operate internationally and that none of the three will be allowed to let Americans play again.
I'm less sure about UB/AP's future but that's mainly because I haven't played on the site in years and don't know as much about how much they were taking in and what % of their customers were US players.
What does this mean for the WSOP this year? What's the line on field size for Main Event?
The prelims will likely benefit and grow as a result of this, but the Main Event will be 15-20% smaller than last year.
How much harder is it to make a living playing live poker compared to online?
It's quite a different game from online poker, but even after one overcomes those shifts there are still things that make it harder to make a living live. Travel expenses and significantly higher average buy in levels mean higher variance and a much higher cost of living.
This can be especially difficult for struggling players who are backed, because backers rarely provide for travel expenses associated with playing live events.
What bigger-picture changes will we see in the poker world over the next year?
A lot of negative ones will definitely come about as many players don't have the ability or means to transition to live play (kids, tied to geographic area, $$$, etc.). A lot of people in the poker media will lose their jobs and even media outlets may go under since a ton of their revenue usually comes from affiliate deals with the online poker sites that have been seized.
Ultimately, however, this could produce positive effects for the poker world. Hopefully this will lead to the government allowing and regulating online poker in the future in an effort to prevent situations like this from arising in the future.
Matt Stout is a Lock Poker pro. Check out our Lock Poker review and bonus codes and join Stout at the tables!