The year 2022 is already here and we are excited to see what it brings to the world of poker. With that in mind, it is important to summarize the most important poker events of 2021. This year was full of poker action and hot topics. In the following article, we will take a look at what made 2021 as memorable as it was (in no particular order).
10. Online Poker is Now Legal in the Netherlands
After several years, the Netherlands government has begun to implement a law regarding online gambling in the country. The Remote Gambling Act came into effect on the 1st of October and banned all unregulated actions on the online gambling market. Since that day, all operators wishing to stay had to get a Dutch gambling license. Moreover, if the online gambling company decides to disobey this law, then it will receive a fine of anywhere between $150,000 and $600,000. If a given company generates over €15 million in annual revenue, it will be fined 4% of its total revenue. GGPoker and iPoker networks are expected to be the first poker providers to make their official return to the country.
9. Dwan Beats Hellmuth to End His Winning Streak
In 2021, Tom Dwan was able to finally end Phil Hellmuth’s winning streak on “High Stakes Duel” on PokerGO Studio in Las Vegas. After seven straight wins, Phil Hellmuth suffered a defeat from Dwan who was able to bust him by cracking pocket aces. The exact same way he did at the 2008 NBC Heads-Up Poker Championship. All the way back in 2008, Dwan took the poker world by storm on Full Tilt Poker. He was able to beat Phil Hellmuth, the 2007 Poker Hall of Fame inductee, with pocket tens in the first round of the heads-up poker. This sent Hellmuth into the most memorable rant of his career. “We’ll see if you’re even around in five years,” said Hellmuth in 2008. After 13 years, Tom Dwan is not only “around”, but continues to dominate in poker tournaments. Moreover, he was able to win a long-awaited heads-up rematch against Phil, ending the six-hour duel in the most spectacular way possible.
8. Rakeback Returns to PokerStars
PokerStars have finally revamped its rewards program during 2021 after several months of testing. One of the key improvements to the program, according to the poker room, is that it is much more transparent than before and much easier for players to understand their progress. There will no longer be any confusion as to what a player’s targets are and what rewards can be earned. Levels and their progress bars are clear as day, and the site shows players exactly how many chests they still need to earn to hit the next level. The PokerStars Rewards is available on most of its sites around the world. The new rewards program lets players earn up to 65% rakeback.
7. Josef Gulas Jr Wins the WSOP Europe
In 2021, Josef Gulas Jr was proclaimed the winner of Event #14: €10,350 WSOPE Main Event and a proud owner of the WSOP gold bracelet. This title remained on home soil, as Josef Gulas Jr represented the Czech Republic during this festival. In order to win this tournament, Josef Gulas Jr had to overcome a field of 688 entries, which has become a new attendance record for the WSOP Europe Main Event and created a huge prize pool of €6,536,000. However, only the top 104 players were able to get into the money. Unsurprisingly, this victory has become Gulas’ biggest payday of his career so far as he took home an impressive top prize of €1,276,712. With this victory, Gulas has become the eighth player from the Czech Republic to win a WSOP gold bracelet
6. WSOP in Las Vegas
The World of Series of Poker has finally made its return after a 2-year hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The main live event of the year was greatly anticipated by poker fans all around the world. From September 30th to November 23rd, 2021, the Rio Casino in Las Vegas hosted the 2021 WSOP with 88 bracelet events. During this festival, Phil Hellmuth has managed to win his 16th career bracelet and reach seven final tables. The WSOP Main Event was won by the German player Koray Aldemir for $8,000,000.
5. PokerStars vs GGNetwork
It is only a matter of time until PokerStars loses its monopoly in online poker. Together with that, it is likely to lose its position in online poker traffic rankings. This has been predicted by many in recent years. We have seen GGPoker challenge PokerStars dominance in the past years and on June 19th, 2021, GGNetwork took the first position in the PokerScout ranking when it came to the weekly average number of cash players. Currently, PokerStars once again overtook GGPoker and has a 6.7% advantage. However, you can find more high-stakes tables in the GGPoker client, rather than in PokerStars. This is a sign that the battle between these two huge operators will only escalate in 2022.
4. The Winning Poker Network Introduces Staking
The Winning Poker Network (WPN) has rolled out an update in October to its MTTs. This update was postponed from the end of September and its main features are staking, the ability to customize the looby, and pre-configured bet-sizing for raised pots. What’s notable is that WPN became the second network in the world to introduce staking, with GGPoker Network introducing it all the way back in 2018. The new staking feature is definitely a good decision for the Winning Poker Network development into one of the most popular poker networks in the world. At the end of the day, PokerKing is determined to join the top 5 online poker rooms and even compete with giants such as PokerStars and GGPoker.
3. Dan Bilzerian to Play $100,000,000 Heads-Up Against Alec Gores
Dan Bilzerian is a world-famous social media influencer. On top of that, he is also a good poker player which allowed him to become a GGPoker ambassador. Bilzerian claims that most of his current finances came from playing poker. Furthermore, he claims to have won tens of millions of dollars playing this game. He recently shared this information in his autobiography book, The Setup. Bilzerian also announced some of this information on the recent episode of Logan Paul’s podcast “Impaulsive”. However, what has sparked a lot of controversies is the fact that Dan Bilzerian said that most of it came from billionaire Alec Gores.
Unsurprisingly, Alec Gores was upset about Dan Bilzerian’s actions. He claims that it violated his privacy, as Bilzerian publicly named him on in a popular autobiography. As a response, Alec Gores has decided to settle this issue at the poker table. On his Instagram, he challenged the Armenian-American businessman for a heads-up poker match, which has the potential to become the highest stakes heads-up poker match in history for $100,000,000. Whether this duel will indeed take place or not is still unclear, however, both players have clear motivations to compete.
2. Eli Elezra Voted Into the Poker Hall of Fame
Eli Elezra is a high-stakes poker legend from Israel. He is also the most recent member of the Poker Hall of Fame. Elezra has joined such players as Stu Ungar, Daniel Negreanu, and Doyle Brunson. This news was announced by the World Series of Poker just before the start of Day 2 of the final table of the Main Event,
The World Series of Poker has invited poker fans all around the globe to nominate eligible candidates for the 2021 Hall of Fame. In the end, the following poker players were nominated: Mike Matusow, Michael Mizrachi, Layne Flack, Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, Antonia Esfandiari, Chris Ferguson, Ted Forrest, and Eli Elezra. After the fan-nominations were over, the current members of the Poker Hall of Fame were asked to make their votes based on the fan selection. Once all of the votes were collected and counted, Eli Elezra turned out to be on top of the list. Other players will have to wait until next year to try and join the Poker Hall of Fame again.
1. Jason Koon Wins His First WSOP Bracelet
Before the start of the 2021 World Series of Poker, Jason Koon was probably one of the best poker players in the world without a WSOP bracelet. He entered the 2021 World Series of Poker as one of the top ten players on the all-time money list. Ever since his first tournament series in 2009, Jason Kool was able to accumulate over $33 million in tournament earnings and finish in the money 49 times throughout his career. But luckily for him, this drought was finally brought to an end during this year’s 2021 World Series of Poker. During this festival, Jason Koon was able to top a field of 57 players and win the 2021 WSOP Event #7: $25,000 Heads-Up Championship, taking home $243,981.