The 20 Best Moments in Poker in 2015: #5-1

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Blumenfield project a success.

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.

5. BOM Crushes, Low Buy-In Tours Surge

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We'd be remiss, of course, not to mention the smashing success of the 2015 Battle of Malta. But rather than just serve to toot our own horn the wider point of a mention is the sign of a continuing and increasingly strong trend within the poker industry.

That trend: Low buy-in tournaments, big buy-in experience.

When we started the Battle of Malta in 2012 we set out to provide a big-tour experience for the recreational poker player in Europe but we weren't exactly sure the idea would take hold.

After 1,804 players turned up for this year's BOM - now a full fledged five-day poker festival - we're pretty sure the low buy-in, big fun experience is here to stay.

And we're not alone. The WPT500, UKIPT, GUKPT, Norwegian National Championships, 888Live, 888Live Local and more are all plying the same formula and seeing record turnouts.

As we like to say, "It's a Big Poker World Out There" and the voice of the recreational player, from all demographics, is strong.

4. Neuville, Blumenfield Make It; Negreanu Vies for Nov. 9

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Speaking of amateur players from across demographics, the story of the 2015 WSOP was the success of "Super Seniors" Pierre Neuville and Neil Blumenfield.

Neuville, a former Hasbro Executive, has ostensibly become a poker pro in his retirement but Blumenfiled, a retire software exec, was still decidedly a poker hobbyist.

At 72 and 61 years old, respectively, they easily became the oldest players to make the WSOP Main Event final table and proved yet again poker isn't just a game for young math geniuses.

Blumenfield made it all the way to the final day and third place in poker's signature event is a tremendous flag in the poker mountain for amateurs and seniors alike.

It almost became a secondary story, however, as poker's all-time money leader and most visible pro, Daniel Negreanu, made his own valiant attempt at the November Nine.

To the groans of his substantial rail and thousands of fans around the world, he fell just short in 11th place when he couldn't connect against Joe McKeehen.

The actual final table itself was a bit anti-climactic but still, as it does every year, the Main Event showed why it's the locus of poker's highest drama.

3. Dreyfus Invests In, Launches Global Poker League

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Twelve teams of poker pros representing 12 major cities across the globe. Its very own signature game arena called The Cube.

Part eSports, part poker, part stand-up sideshow, the owner of the Global Poker Index, Alex Dreyfus, is literally and figuratively re-shaping the way the poker industry thinks about the game with the Global Poker League.

With a two-year financial commitment at least, skeptics and critics alike are being slowly won over by Dreyfus' dogged commitment and unconventional poker entrepreneurship.

Sure, some hate the idea. But it’s refreshing to see someone taking risks - with his own money, no less - to help the game make an existential leap into entirely new markets and playing fields.

Say what you will about “sportifying” poker or “pokertainment,” people investing in big poker enterprises are always welcome. And as one poker writer put it earlier in the year, there's a very good chance the players who buy-in to it will be stars.

2. Online Poker Sites Continue Shift to Rec Players

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It hasn't always been done in the smoothest or fairest ways but the continuing shift of online poker sites back toward the recreational player is still a very good thing for the health of the poker economy.

Unibet Poker completely re-tooled its software, bonus system and ecosystem to cater to the casual poker player. Full Tilt Poker did too.

PokerStars, to much chagrin, dropped Supernova Elite. Anonymous tables, random cash-game assignments, banning of HUDs and seating scripts, alias changes, beginner tables ... whatever the solution the goal is to keep recreational in the game longer with more money to play with and more fun to be had.

That's much closer to real poker. And that's a good thing

1. Somerville, Staples and Rise of Twitch

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Speaking of reaching new players and new demographics to grow the game, no one has accomplished that better than Jason Somerville and Jaime Staples this year.

Both now Team PokerStars pros the two grabbed hold of the rising tide on eGaming network Twitch and turned it into one of the most impressive forays into new markets since the poker boom.

With his 185 days of streaming for the RunItUp army and over half a billion views - primarily among viewers who have never really played poker before - Somerville is truly the Twitch Babe Ruth.

Staples is following closely behind, scooping up any stragglers and showing a whole different side of life as a poker professional.

With a gigantic, growing market of aspiring gamers captivated by their online poker exploits there's arguably never been such an immediate and directly convertible new market exposed to poker, ever.

Just how much money will it inject into the poker ecosystem and how much staying power will it have for 2016 and beyond? We'll soon found out. But for this year, here and now, it's the new king.

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