It seems like seldom a week goes by now that yet another crypto-related news item rears its head as pertains to the poker world.
To the best of my recollection, former pro Bryan Micon was the first “notable name” in the poker community to dip his toes into cryptocurrency, mainly via his now-closed bitcoin poker site Seals with Clubs. My understanding is that as one of the early adopters, he’s now sitting pretty.
Too kind. Love watching the butterfly effect of my early Bitcoin evangelism.
Seems like the poker players are over-represented in the space 10 years later.
It’s not all me of course, but I pumped those numbers. Also, poker skills transfer brilliantly to crypto.
— Bryan Micon (@BryanMicon) September 9, 2021
I remember “the crossover” starting a bit more in earnest a few years back with Global Poker Index head honcho Alex Dreyfus. Formerly all-in on sportifying poker, Alex has moved on in his personal pursuits to focus on his company’s Chiliz/Socios crypto token sports exchange venture. That said, Alex still fully supports the continued activity and success of the GPI/Hendon Mob part of his business, and he still has a soft spot in his heart for the poker world.
— Alexandre Dreyfus (@alex_dreyfus) November 2, 2019
Who are the poker players that are involved in crypto, that could be interested to share a stage on a BIG blockchain event in Asia, powered by a leading exchange? Discussing about similarities between online poker & online trading. @GPI @TheHendonMob
— Alexandre Dreyfus (@alex_dreyfus) January 5, 2020
In the same way that Alex’s Twitter feed abruptly changed from poker to crypto, a noticeable shift has taken place on my social media feeds over the past while, as more and more prominent folks in the poker world have gotten interested and active in the crypto space, not to mention NFTs. I mean, who hasn’t heard of Tony G’s CoinPoker by now?
Really enjoying playing poker online again. So nice to play crypto poker with crypto people. Come watch me destroy then @ coinpoker pic.twitter.com/cFh235M0is
— Tony G (@TonyGuoga) January 8, 2022
While some folks have changed gears and entirely moved on from poker, others seem to be exhibiting more of a casual or passing interest in crypto-related topics with others still demonstrating sort of a dual focus. Quite frankly there are just way too many names to mention here as examples of the phenomenon, but one prominent person who merits some column space is Doug Polk.
At first, he seemed to fully pivot out of poker and towards crypto as far as his content output and focus. He even recently became an ambassador for the CoinFLEX cryptocurrency exchange. Yet, his interest and devotion to poker still remains, as evidenced by his just-announced partial ownership purchase of The Lodge poker club in Austin, Texas.
The disparity between poker and crypto communities is pretty hilarious when it comes to returns on investing money.
Crypto: 300-500% APY? Seems interesting, let me learn more about this.
Poker: 10-20% APY? Must be another ponzi scheme.
— Nice Doug Polk (@DougPolkVids) December 8, 2021
Beyond individuals, whole properties are getting in on the act as well, with Resorts World – home to the newest poker room in Las Vegas – notably being the first to fully integrate cryptocurrency into their cash flow. How this will directly affect poker remains to be seen, but the crossover is genuine and comprehensive. It’s not outlandish to predict that additional properties with poker rooms will eventually jump on board the crypto train in a similar manner.
The fact of the matter is that there’s an undeniable connection between poker and crypto. Heck, just today CNN reported that one of the world’s wealthiest billionaires Changpeng “CZ” Zhao (CEO of the Binance crypto exchange) first heard about bitcoin during a game of poker a little over eight years ago!
Further evidence of crypto’s growing importance in the poker world is reflected by the generally realized consensus that so long as a variety of different cryptocurrencies are performing well, the poker industry can expect a high(er) number of entrants at marquee tournament series and events (and lower attendance when “the coins” are slumping).
The latest bit of “overlapping news” in this realm has come from content juggernaut PokerGO, which has announced StormX as their exclusive cryptocurrency partner. It seems like this partnership makes a lot of sense on paper: a platform allowing you to earn crypto rewards through online shopping and staking just seems like a natural fit for poker.
Excited to announce our newest partner @PokerGO!
StormX will be showcased across Pokergo’s games with other partnership integrations.
We will also launch our crypto version of the World Series of Poker tournament with the top executives in crypto, poker pros, and celebrities. https://t.co/hKfWQQ11xq
— Simon Yu (@SimonYuSEA) January 11, 2022
This is no fly-by-night sponsorship deal either. The multi-year deal ensures that we’ll be hearing a lot about StormX via one of the industry’s largest platforms, with joint sweepstakes, giveaways, and plenty of other opportunities in the pipeline.
What’s the Upshot?
So, after that crypto-poker timeline, history lesson, and news brief, what do I have to actually say about all of it? This is an op-ed after all.
Honestly, just two things:
- I’m still personally indifferent to all things crypto
- My personal opinions notwithstanding, it seems safe to say that “crypto is good for poker”
I’ll always remain a poker purist. When I get approached to give coverage to crypto-related matters here on Cardplayer Lifestyle, my gut reaction is always hesitation. I have zero interest in pivoting or exploring outside the poker realm. If I’d provide coverage of these matters just for the sake of providing coverage, my lack of enthusiasm and interest would be plain for all to see. The only fungible items I truly give a damn about are poker chips; please keep all that non-fungible stuff at a safe distance.
Yet, I understand that there’s money in crypto. A LOT of money. And I also understand that money is the lifeblood of the poker ecosystem. We need money pouring into poker to sustain our game. And – caveat emptor re: all things crypto notwithstanding – if it’s good for poker, I can get on board with and accept it.