We really like lists here at PokerNews, and before the end of 2009 we're gonna hit you with plenty of them including our end-of-year countdown that will bring you our top ten poker stories of the year.
For today, we've got the top ten positive trends (yes, there were some positive moments, too) in poker in 2009, and before you say "hey wait a minute, but what about..." yes, some of these may also land in our top ten stories of the year, but listen, double dipping is OK sometimes, just not when sharing salsa with friends.
Although this list is ranked from 1 to 10, you could interchange any of the spots because all of them played a big role in development of the game, and each brought something different to the table.
Here are the top ten positive things we think of that helped shed a good light on the game.
1. Poker Has Role Models
Players like Daniel Negreanu and Annie Duke have done a lot to help bring the game to the mainstream public. With all the negative press poker receives, it is important to have ambassadors for the game, and several players have filled that role this year. Without them, poker would still be struggling with the stereotypes that people like Joan Rivers carelessly throw around.
Fortunately a number of players have stepped up to dispel the myths, and they have done a lot to promote the sport.
2. Poker on Network Television
The game has found its way onto several national networks. Regardless of how well they fared, this is a big step and it opens the door for future possibilities.
The more people who can tune in to poker action, the better off the game will be. People don't fear what they understand, and poker television such as "Face the Ace" and the "PokerStars.net Million Dollar Challenge" are a great way to introduce the rest of the world to the game we love so much.
3. Joe Sebok's Signing with UltimateBet
Although there is still plenty of work to be done, UB made a shrewd move by signing Joe Sebok and he has already helped to change the company's image. Sebok has once again pushed UB into the spotlight with "Poker2Nite", and we have faith that he will continue to promote the company and the game with the highest level of integrity.
4. Sick Cash Games on Full Tilt
Nothing gets people jazzed about the game more than million-dollar pots, and the ridiculous action on Full Tilt this year had railbirds in a frenzy. Thanks to players like Phil Ivey, Tom Dwan, Patrik Antonius and "Isildur1," there is plenty to talk about and that keeps fans salivating, which is important because there is so much downtime between the land-based big buy-in tournaments.
5. The Plethora of Poker Charity Events
Poker players are using their love of the game and using the sport's popularity to help raise money for charities in record numbers. This is a win-win situation because poker players can use all the positive press they can get. Also, they get to help people who desperately need help. The more charity events we have, the better the world will be.
6. PartyGaming's Acquisition of the World Poker Tour
We hope that PartyGaming's buy-out of the WPT will help the once-talked-about show regain its foothold in the hearts of the poker populous. This brand was once one of the strongest companies in poker, and many people hope this move will enable the tour to regain its prestige, which has been lacking in recent years.
If the WPT can make a triumphant return, it would certainly help the poker economy grow by attracting new players (and generating bigger prize pools in the process) through a feeder system.
7. The UIGEA Delay
This is a no-brainer. Although the future is still uncertain, the fact that the government acted to give poker players and banks time to figure out the best way to proceed is a big step forward. This means that there is a lot of attention on the game and many people hope this legislation will be repealed in the new year.
8. Mike Sexton's Induction Into the Poker Hall of Fame
Sometimes good guys win, and Mike Sexton's election into the Poker Hall of Fame was definitely one of the highlights of the year (hint hint). Having helped establish the sport's popularity, he has been a wonderful representative of the sport, and we are lucky to have him promoting the game in the relentless manner that he does. Sexton is a class act and it was truly rewarding to see his peers give him the recognition he deserves.
9. Joe Cada is the WSOP Main Event Champion
Joe Cada, 21, has done everything anyone could have asked of a Main Event winner so far, and his rounds on national television has helped to promote the game in a very positive light. Cada seems committed to spreading the word about the sport. Having a U.S. champion of his age will do much to help bring younger players to the game. He is now a role model for every 21-year-old who hopes to become a champion some day.
10. There is No Shortage of Online Players (For the Moment)
Despite talk that online poker sites may be reaching their saturation points, players continue to flock to the online action. With the economy crushing land-based action, it is crucial that the online community continue to grow so that it can help give financial support to the game (and its players) that it desperately needs. Everyone hopes the economy will rebound, even if it is a little bit, and things will return to earlier times when people were more than willing to spend their extra cash playing.
Let us know below what you think about our positive trends in poker for 2009, and also what you think 2010 will bring to the poker industry. Follow us on Twitter for up-to-the-minute news, and also become our fan on Facebook.