It’s hard to imagine that the multi-billion dollar industry that is online poker hasn’t been around since the dawn of the internet, but the truth is that it wasn’t until 2003 that the scene really took off. In fact, 2003 was the year that the rather aptly named Chris Moneymaker got the ball rolling by winning a $86 online satellite hosted by PokerStars. This win ultimately led him to the 34th annual World Series of Poker no-limit Texas Hold’em event at Las Vegas where he made the final table and walked away with a cool $2.5 million. So much publicity was garnered by the event (and the route that Moneymaker took in getting to the final) that the online poker provider became the go-to website for poker players looking to qualify for live poker events.
Prior to Moneymaker’s big win, the target market for digital marketers in the industry was severely limited. There was no real trust placed in online poker rooms because many serious card players assumed that they simply couldn’t compete with live events in terms of both money and the skill-level of online players. To them, online poker rooms were out of reach.
As you can imagine, the industry was a tough one for marketers to navigate, and although there was money to be made, the return on investment (ROI) wasn’t perceived to be attractive enough to warrant the heavy investment required to take the niche to the next level. Budgets were tight, marketers’ hands were tied, and the industry hit what many considered its peak.
To those marketers with the foresight to see how much growth potential there was, this was an incredible situation. Here was an industry that promised so much yet due to the people’s perception of online gaming as the domain for a different type of audience, the investment needed to take it to the next level wasn’t forthcoming.
That’s not to say the scene wasn’t flourishing. Online poker was gaining traction with those familiar with the world of gaming, but it still had to convince those old-school players that were still on the fence, and open itself to new and untapped markets.
What Chris Moneymaker’s monumental win did for the industry was prove to the doubters that there were real card players using the online card rooms. It didn’t matter a bit that he had no prior reputation as a card player and that he was, in fact, working from home as an accountant. If anything, these details were an advantage to the industry’s marketers who saw an opportunity to show the world that if a bookkeeper from the suburbs of Nashville could do it, then anyone could.
The effect of Moneymaker’s win shook the industry and such was the buzz created that for marketers targeting new signups was like shooting fish in the proverbial barrel. Moneymaker’s story became every digital marketer’s dream. Truly a rags-to-riches story that had an average, but rather excellently named man, as its hero.
With the privacy involved in many online poker rooms, it’s difficult to estimate a true worth of the industry. However, we do know that the online gaming industry (which of course includes poker) was worth $550 billion in 2016 and could reach $1 trillion by 2021. With figures like that, it’s easy to see why many digital marketers are changing focus and concentrating solely on the online gaming industry, an industry that could have been so different if it wasn’t for the man called Moneymaker.