January 10, 2022
It’s time once again for PokerNews to predict a few of the major plot points in this highly anticipated 2022 poker season.
This year’s list of predictions comes with more clarity than a tumultuous 2021 that began with widespread uncertainty and ended with the World Series of Poker playing a full schedule.
In Mo Nuwwarah’s prediction column for 2021, the Fall version of the WSOP had not been announced yet, and vaccines did not roll out to the general population until Spring. Thankfully, the second half of the year gave way to a strong return for live tournaments, and the 2021 WSOP went on with a full schedule.
Now that 2021 is behind us, let’s take a look at the stored potential of 2022.
Here is my seven-pack of predictions for poker in 2022:
Poker Flies Higher Over Texas
There’s no question that the growth of poker in Texas has shifted the industry’s center of gravity. Over the past several years, several industry veterans and playing professionals have made the move to take advantage of the new poker gold rush in the Lone Star State. Throughout the upheaval of the pandemic and the consolidation of poker rooms in Las Vegas, Texas has consistently attracted talented tournament directors and dealers to an opportunity to work in poker while spending much less time on the road.
I started my YT channel after watching and being heavily inspired by @DougPolkVids and @andrewneeme. Today, the thr… https://t.co/K3Cz0hfwwV
— Brad Owen (@TheBradOwen)
Meanwhile, poker content titans Doug Polk, Brad Owen, and Andrew Neeme have taken ownership interest in The Lodge in Austin, and it would be no surprise to see other notable names follow suit in 2022.
Texans should continue to enjoy bigger tournaments and more cash tables all over the state, but no gold rush is without risk, and the poker situation in Texas faces legislative challenges. The state’s poker industry currently operates within a legal loophole, and the future remains a mystery for operators and players alike.
It’s hopeful that the continued investment and growth can bring long-term sustainability for poker-playing Texans, but they will have to find their place in the complicated world of gaming expansion.
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Bally’s and Paris Will Rise to the Occasion
The 2022 World Series of Poker will take place in a new venue in 2022 with its move to the convention spaces in Bally’s and Paris on the Las Vegas Strip.
No venue change will come without problems, but the new digs should present more advantages than disadvantages. The potential parking problems are easily outweighed by the improved dining options, and visitors will enjoy the opportunity to increase their hotel choices while still staying within walking distance of the WSOP. Additionally, the nearby Las Vegas Monorail stop extends a visitor’s accessibility to the venue and offers more places to stay and park up on the Strip.
We may never again enjoy a parking lot the size of the Rio, but it’s important not to get too attached in Las Vegas. The relocated WSOP will bring fresh energy and we will find enough reasons to look beyond our parking problems.
The RunGood Continues
Since its creation in 2012, Tana Karn and the RunGoodGear team have leveraged one of poker’s most recognizable marketing and apparel brands into one of the game’s best tournament series.
Since winning the Global Poker Award for best Mid-Major Poker Series in back-to-back years, the RunGood Poker Series has emerged from the pandemic as a big draw on the live poker circuit. The series made seven stops in an abbreviated 2021, a tour that culminated with an end-of-year ProAm that was streamed live all over the world in a partnership with PokerGo.
With four stops already planned for just the first part of 2022, RPGS is due for its biggest year yet, and it would be no surprise to see the series set a new standard for mid-major poker in the United States.
Ali Imsirovic will win a bracelet, WSOP Player of the Year, and 2022 PokerGO Tour Player of the Year
On the heels of his monster run through the high stakes scene in 2021, there’s no goal too lofty for Ali Imsirovic in 2022 after he racked up 14 victories and more than $6 million in prize money on his run to the 2021 PokerGO Tour title.
While the 2021 WSOP might have brought mixed results for Imsirovic, the dominating high stakes pro will return in 2022 with the extra motivation to finally break-through for his first gold bracelet.
Related: Ali Imsirovic Wins GPI Player of the Year
If he can find his form in 2022, it’s not far-fetched to imagine a WSOP dominated by Imsirovic. The young pro will face plenty of competition for Player of the Year, with Phil Hellmuth looking to avenge his near miss in 2021 and Josh Arieh on a quest to defend his title, but time is on Imsirovic’s side to finally find the finish line on poker’s biggest stage.
Jungleman Goes Back-to-Back at the Poker Player’s Championship
Dan “Jungleman” Cates stepped into the Amazon room on the final day of the 2021 Poker Player’s Championship dressed as Son Goku from the Dragon Ball series and powered his way to his first WSOP gold bracelet, much to the delight of those in the room and everyone watching at home on PokerGO. Armed with Senzu beans and a power boost drink, Cates harnessed the energy of the universe to beat a final table that included powerhouse players Eli Elezra, Ryan Leng, Paul Volpe, and Chris Brewer.
Cates enjoys the element of surprise, but there’s every reason to think he will show up to defend the Chip Reese Trophy in 2022. The $50,000 PPC is considered one of the most prestigious tournaments among seasoned professionals, and the bragging rights will always be a big draw for Cates, who would love to win his second bracelet against the best in the world in back-to-back years.
Roberly Felicio (left) celebrates another Brazilian bracelet at the 2018 WSOP
Brazil Wins the WSOP Main Event
Some of the best poker players in the world have been coming from Brazil, and that trend will yield a WSOP Main Event champion in 2022.
Brazilian players have combined for 15 bracelets at the WSOP, and the new wave of grinders gave a dominating performance during the 2021 GGPoker WSOP Online Bracelet series. There is no doubt that more Brazilian players will find increased success in major tournament poker.
Talented players like Yuri Dzivielevski, Felipe Ramos, and Andre Akkari and many others are usually found making deep runs in WSOP tournaments, and it’s only a matter of time before someone brings a WSOP Main Event title home to Brazil.
More Legal States and Shared Liquidity
It’s a ritual in the annual predictions to include something about the growth of online poker in the coming year, but what might have been more wishful thinking in the past could become a reality in the near future.
Sports gambling and iGaming have taken hold in states all over the country, while Michigan, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia have recently joined Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware on the steadily growing list of legal poker states. A rising tide raises all boats, and poker is starting to benefit from the growth in gaming all over the country.
In addition to widespread legalization, the 2022 wish list for poker players includes shared liquidity, a system where players from multiple states can compete online for the same prize pool. It sounds simple, but sharing prize pools between states can make for complicated legislation and it’s one of the biggest challenges to poker’s growth in the U.S.
Read More: Is US Poker on the Brink of Shared Liquidity Between States?
So far only Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware have joined the shared liquidity pool, but 2022 should see Michigan and Pennsylvania finally come on board. Meanwhie, states like Illinois, New York, and California all have a hopeful future for legal online poker as the prevailing attitude towards online gaming continues to evolve.
With any good prediction list comes an optimistic conclusion, and 2022 is no different. Poker in the United States is on the verge of big things while the game continues to find new places to grow all over the world. It’s safe to say that it’s going to be a banner year for poker players.