The success of so many young players in a game where experience is supposed to count for everything has a number of different causes. One of the main reasons though is that experience really is paramount in poker, it's just that these young players aren't getting the credit for the vast experience that they really do have.
With the proliferation of online poker rooms and youth's access to them, young players who would otherwise be forced to wait at least until their 21st birthday are getting a huge head-start in terms of experience. Add to this the fact that unlike many of the older players who for the most part honed their skills in brick and mortar casinos, internet players have had the benefit of multi-table play as well as a much higher number of hands per hour for each table.
There is another factor that is closely related to this that gives the young player an advantage, and that is the underestimation on the part of many so-called veterans.
A perfect case study for this point is the newcomer and virtually unknown Jeff Madsen. At 21 years of age, Jeff is the youngest player to ever win a WSOP bracelet and one of two players who have already taken down a pair this year, not to mention another final table where he finished third.
In an interview I conducted with Jeff last night shortly after his second win, he articulated the point to me that many players don't give him the credit he deserves and tend to pay him off with hands they would almost certainly throw away if up against a more "experienced" player. One thing is for sure, that's going to change. In fact I'm sure it already has. In his heads-up match last night with Erick Lindgren he played a ruthless game and was getting a ton of respect throughout.
I can tell you this much, the fresh faces that seem to be holding the bracelets here almost every night couldn't be better for the poker world. In terms of the growth of the game, the most appealing thing other young players could possibly see is a face that closely resembles their own holding a gold bracelet and sitting above a mountain of cash.
Another great thing is that hand in hand with this growth comes an ever-increasing caliber of play. Many would argue that the skill level of your average player is actually lower now than in the past but I think an inescapable consequence of the increasing interest in the game is an eventual heightening of skill in general. In fact, it is in this area that we'll see the most visible changes in times to come. Once poker reaches a plateau in terms of numbers, the only direction left is a refinement in terms of skill.