How has Poker changed since the Poker Boom of the 2000s?

poker boom of 2000s

For many of my readers, the poker boom happened in their infancy. You probably heard of it and think of as an “old time” that has no relevancy today. For the rest of you who are 30 +, you may well have learnt poker in that time. In this article, I’m going to reflect on the most significant changes to poker since the days when poker exploded on the back of Chris Moneymaker’s famous WSOP win. Lets get to it.

Mobile poker

During the poker boom mobile phones had limited functionality. Mobiles were primarily used for calls and text messages, not like today where they’re used for just about everything. Mobile poker is a huge deal and basically means you don’t have to buy a desktop or laptop to play internet poker. Back in the 2000s you’d have to invest hundreds of pounds to play online poker. Fast forward to today and you can play on the popular sites in a matter of moments thanks to their mobile apps.

Game Theory Optimal (GTO)

Game theory optimal poker has swept the poker industry in recent years but back in the 2000s it wasn’t a thing. There were only a handful of the top poker players that adopted anything resembling game theory optimal poker strategy. Nowadays its used by hundreds of thousands of players including the most famous poker faces of all.


When I first deposited online in the 2000s I was just using my debit card. There was only a few payment methods availably and cryptocurrency wasn’t even a word. It wasn’t until Bitcoin exploded that its application could be utilized for online gambling. Now there are bitcoin gambling sites dedicated to providing exclusively bitcoin themed content. It’s amazing what can happen in less than two decades in the online poker world. Gamblers love the perks of using cryptocurrency and will almost certainly keep using it if gambling portals will continue accept it as a deposit and withdrawal method.

bitcoin poker

Everyone is pretty good now….

When I first started playing poker in 2005, the calibre of play was bad. I mean, objectively, it was very poor. You only needed to be half-good to regularly make a profit as people just weren’t clued up to sound poker strategy. Its no surprise as poker was very much in its infancy with very little resources around to help. Most poker enthusiast would have to buy books to learn the fundamentals that are now easily grasped with a poker cheat sheet. Today isn’t a different story. With the abundance of free material online and YouTube videos, everyone can become pretty good poker players without as much time or dedication. It used to take live poker players years and years before they mastered complex concepts. Now you can learn quickly thanks to sites like mine.

More formats & variants

The poker boom made Texas Hold’em the number one game online. Whilst it is the Cadillac of poker, there are loads more games now. Poker sites have recognized the need to offer other forms. That’s why games like Pot Limit Omaha and Six Plus Hold’em are growing in popularity. Additionally, most sites offer innovative SNGs and tournaments. All this is designed to keep poker interesting and keep retention rates high.  

No Americans

The poker boom of the 2000s was largely an American boom. The WSOP is held in Las Vegas and Chris Moneymaker is an American. But with Black Friday prohibiting online gambling for residents of the United States, it killed poker for a bit. Slowly, more states are legalizing online poker again but their absence is still felt today. Whilst poker is growing in other areas, it hasn’t reached the traffic levels it once had. We’d need more states to permit Americans to gamble online again to experience another wave of interest. With a new generations of players becoming adults, it would be an exciting time.

Fewer bonuses

My first foray into online poker was simply to claim bonuses. Back then you could deposit £50 and get £50 free, no questions asked. My strategy was to withdraw my deposit and play for free with the bonus. It was a simple but effective method of learning a fun game for free and make money with no risk. Unsurprisingly, the major sites had to change their terms and conditions as the system was getting abused. Whilst there are still lucrative bonuses available e.g. reload bonuses, there are fewer bonuses than there used to be. Lets face it, the poker sites are businesses out to make money. They don’t want to be giving out money for nothing like they did during the poker boom of the 2000s.

Narciso Baldo is the Director and Head Coach of Texas Hold'em Questions. He has been playing poker for over 16 years. After spending many years as a professional, he now runs UK poker training site Texas Hold'em Questions. Narciso regularly writes poker articles sharing tips, strategy, news and experience with gambling enthusiasts. Narciso also writes for reputable gambling portal Casino City Times, (bio here). Contact: