Poker saw a number of amazing storylines develop in 2014.
From amazing feats at the table to battles over offering the game on the Internet, poker showed that while it may not be as strong as it was at the height of the poker boom, there’s still plenty of interest in perhaps the most skillful of all casino games.
Here’s a look back at the 2014 year in poker.
Daniel Colman Lights Up the Tournament Circuit
Be honest: before 2014, did you have the slightest idea who Daniel Colman was?
Even hardcore poker fans would be hard pressed to claim that they knew of the Massachusetts poker pro prior to his incredible tournament run this year.
Then, suddenly, he became one of the most successful and divisive players on tour.
Colman’s rise may have started in April, when he won over $2.1 million by taking down the Super High Roller event at the EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo.
But his real claim to fame was his June win at The Big One for One Drop, which earned him $15.3 million.
Since then, he has also won the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open and a WPT Alpha8 tournament, and finished second at a Super High Roller at EPT Barcelona. The totals are astounding: over $22.3 million won this year alone, placing him 3rd on the all-time money list.
But Colman’s personality has been almost as big a story as his unbelievable results. Colman refused most media attention after One Drop, calling poker a “dark game” he didn’t wish to promote.
He then caused a stir by wearing a shirt with a political message at the EPT Barcelona final table, and later blasted Phil Hellmuth for his past with Ultimate Bet.
Not everyone has agreed with all of these decisions, but they’ve ensured that Colman will be closely followed by every poker fan in the years to come.
Amaya Buys PokerStars
The gambling story of the year may have been Amaya Gaming’s purchase of the Rational Group, the parent company of both PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker.
The $4.9 billion deal made Amaya the biggest online gambling company in the world, and opened up the potential for PokerStars to return to regulated jurisdictions that weren’t so comfortable with their previous owners.
So far, Amaya hasn’t had any luck in getting PokerStars into New Jersey, which was one of their primary goals.
And players haven’t reacted so well to the purchase, either.
The introduction of Spin and Go “lottery” tournaments, the addition of casino games to the PokerStars client and an increase in rake rates have been laid at the feet of Amaya by many players, who worry about the direction the corporation is taking for the world’s largest poker room.
California Passes Again on Online Poker
California would be the crown jewel of state-by-state online poker regulation because of its size and affluent population.
The only problem is that the state is also home to varied gaming interests, making it difficult (if not impossible) to get everyone on the same page.
That proved to be the case again in 2014. A coalition of tribal gaming interests did produce a draft bill, but a bad actor clause angered allies of PokerStars, while cutting out the horse racing industry guaranteed opposition from racetracks as well.
However, the fight will be picked up again in 2015: the first bill to regulate online poker in California has already been submitted for the new legislative session.
Other Major Stories in Poker
Plenty of other big events took place this year in poker as well:
On the felt, Martin Jacobson won the World Series of Poker Main Event, while Victoria Coren became the first player ever to win a second European Poker Tour title.
Away from the tables, Daniel Negreanu was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame, while Phil Ivey made headlines while fighting two casinos over his use of edge-sorting techniques to win at baccarat.
Online poker in the United States continued to disappoint, as revenues had declined late in the year in Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware, while Ultimate Poker (the first regulated site to launch in the United States) closed its doors entirely.