Are Americans Still the Best Poker Players?


For decades, poker was an American game. Occasionally, someone from across the pond would venture in to a smoke filled poker room, only to leave with their pockets empty. Poker is as American as apple pie. Images of cowboy hats and shady old men usually come to mind when you talk about the old days of poker.

Once the internet came around, that all started to change. With more and more people around the world having easy access to poker they started to learn, play and quickly show just how good they could be.

For some time though, European players especially, had a stigma attached to them as being donks. A term was even coined after them for their terrible play - 'Eurodonks.' Russians got an even worse rap for being some of the most aggressive, and worse players for the longest time.

On a personal note, if I saw a player with a Russian location, my mouth would begin to salivate.

That all changed a few years back however. Europeans began dominating the world of poker. Once the US poker market was shut down from the rest of the world, sites started looking elsewhere for revenue and players. With a heavy shift to the European, and even South American markets, a new poker boom was born.

We also saw more and more major tournaments being played throughout Europe. We always had the WPT, but this was the lone major tournament series held outside the US. Now we have the EPT, and other major tours that have even taken most of the big players in America. Now people fly to Europe to play poker. The WSOP even noticed the trend and started the WSOP Europe.

Prior to 2007, only 4 of the WSOP Main event champions could be considered not Americans. These include Carlos Mortenson, Scotty Ngyuen, Joe Hachem and Jonny Chan. And its worth noting that all 4 of these players call the United States their home. Although not born in the US, all have made it their home for some time, so technically, not a single player from another country had won a main event until 2008.

In 2008, Peter Eastgate started the trend of non-American players winning events and making the main stage. We started to see an insurgence of German, and Russian players. The Germans have now become feared players, as well as the Ruskies. Both smart, aggressive and light years from where they were at just a few short years ago.

The Canadians also showed they can play poker, when Joe Cada, and Jonathan Duhamel won back to back main events in 2009, and 2010.

In fact, since 2008, only 2 Americans have the main event. Greg Merson and Joe Mckeehan last year.

It's clear that Americans no longer dominate the game as they once did. With the global reach poker has now, it was just a matter of time before the rest of the world caught up them. I would still argue overall, that Americans are the best players. They have decades of experience and exposure to the game, it will be tough to catch up. But, they also have a much larger percentage of the poker population.

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Members Comments

  • Hungary GREGJO

    21/12/16

    Football is an English sport. England were the best on the world. But some years later football become popular all over the world and England lost the Wolrd No. 1 title. I think poker is the same one. You can find a lot of good players from the U.S., Europe, Asia, etc... I don't like the Russian players, because they are really agressive but a few of them are really successful. U.K., Germany, Denmark and Poland can represent some really good players as well, but in my opinion the U.S. players are one of the best.

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