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The 20 Best Moments in Poker in 2015: #10-6
As is now tradition PokerListings is wrapping up the year with a look back at some of the best and worst moments.
Depending on your spot in the poker hierarchy, of course, some of these moments will clearly mean more or less to you.
But it's a big poker world out there and no matter which angle you have on it there are always plenty of amazing things to look back on after a full 12 months of high-impact poker.
These are a few of them. Satisfy your dark side with the 20 Worst Moments in Poker in 2016 here.
10. PokerStars Sign Neymar & Cristiano Ronaldo
PokerStars signed two of the biggest sport stars on the planet in iconic footballers Neymar. Jr. and Cristiano Ronaldo to endorsement contracts this year.
Say what you will about the value of high-profile, "non-poker" ambassadors vs. on-the-grind, in-the-know forum types but try these numbers on for size:
Cristiano Ronaldo: 39.3m Twitter followers; 40.8m Instagram followers; 108m FB likes
Neymar Jr.: 20.5m Twitter followers; 37.4m Instagram followers; 54m FB likes
You just can't put a price on what something like this can do for the game:
Or you can, of course. But it seems like it's worth every penny.
Making things even better in 2015 was the original Ronaldo (aka Brazilian Ronaldo), one of PokerStars' first big signings, went deep in the PCA Main Event despite being clearly overmatched at the table.
We lost Nadal from the ambassadors list, sure. But tennis is so 1992 anyway, right?
9. Kelly Minkin, Aditya Agarwal Go Deep at WSOP
Seems like we're always talking about expanding the game into new markets and, as the above blurb shows, major players like PokerStars think it's a big deal, too.
The World Series of Poker provided that service for free this year when Arizona attorney Kelly Minkin and Calcutta-based poker pro Aditya Agarwal made deep runs in the 2015 Main Event.
Agarwal was already a Team PokerStars pro and has been inspiring players in India for years but getting major screen time on ESPN doesn't hurt, either.
Minkin added another new face to the growing list of amateur poker crushers and if you weren't inspired by her Main Event performance/personality we're not sure what it would take to get you interested in the game.
8. Norway Comes Home/Thor Hansen Plays On
Thousands of Norwegians love to play poker. They come in droves to the Battle of Malta every year; they follow their national poker heroes like Johnny Lodden and Thor Hansen religiously.
But up until this year they had to hold their National Poker Championships outside of the country (usually in Dublin) as live poker was still considered illegal in Norway.
Thankfully that finally changed in 2015 and the Norwegian Championships were held on home soil for the first time. And it went off.
Almost 2,000 players hit the main event (won by Felix Stephensen) to make it the biggest standalone event in Europe this year. And it was covered in full on national television.
On an even better note Hansen, still battling terminal cancer, was there to play it.
7. Poker Central Launches with $500k Super High Roller
We've said for years poker needed its own 24-hour channel and this year we finally got it. It hasn't reached full, national cable exposure yet but Poker Central is a huge step in putting poker back in the mainstream spotlight in the US.
Bottom line it was poker on TV that did the most for bringing waves of new players into the game in the 2000s and to see it have a resurgence in front of a new audience is critical for its long-term health.
With a mix of original and previously aired programming it's been a good run so far and 2016 should hold big things for Poker Central. If Hip-Hop Hold'em and Late Night Poker get into the rotation it'll be a dream come true.
The kickoff event - the $500k Aria Super High Roller Bowl and the follow-up cash game - were both a treat and a spectacular way to break poker back into the TV market.
6. US Online Poker Slowly Moves Forward
We expected at least a couple more States to start playing the real-money online poker game this year but our big hopes, California and Pennsylvania, fell slightly short.
Still, the right signs are there. A new federal online poker bill was proposed. RAWA supporters got crushed in a new hearing. PokerStars hit the campaign trail to Let California Play.
More bills are in motion in several states. New Jersey even saw record online gambling revenue in November. And PokerStars was approved and expects to be back in NJ by Summer of next year.
If the whole DFS boondoggle helps move legislation forward that covers all online gambling, even better.
Baby steps, sure. But widespread online poker is coming back to the US and all signs in 2015 point to sooner rather than later. Let's keep pushing for sooner.
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