Yes folks, it's that time again: We present the 2008 Power Poker 20, a compilation of the movers and shakers in our industry. We always have a lot of fun, going through the list and hashing out thoughts. The list could not be completed, however, without the help of all of our friends and peers in the business, who have been kind enough to include their two cents. Without further ado, here it is:
20. Chris Moneymaker
Yes we know, Moneymaker hasn't done much in or around the poker circuit this past year, but we still think he is a deserving choice. His name is synonymous with poker, and will be for years to come, because without him, who knows if we would all be enjoying the spoils of poker as we do today?
19. Howard Lederer
When people think of Howard, it's mostly based on his poker playing abilities. However, "The Professor" has been wearing a very different hat the past couple of years. Lederer is very much the man behind Full Tilt, and its constant surge toward the forefront of the online poker community. We as a community owe Howard a debt of gratitude for all he has done for poker.
18. Party Poker
Once the largest poker room online, and one of the pioneers in the industry, there has been a bit of a drop-off for Party Poker since the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act went into effect last year. Although they are out of the public eye in the U.S., they still garner a lot of clout in the industry. They have made some big steps in expanding their operations to the rest of the world, and it shows with the continual growth of poker overseas. Still, I'm sure a lot of us would still love to see Party Poker, and the sea of fish they created, come back to the States.
17. Phil Hellmuth
What can we say about Phil that he hasn't already said himself? He has more WSOP bracelets than anyone and he may be the most recognizable face to the mainstream in all of poker. In the 2007 WSOP, he came to the main event wearing an auto racing uniform, outfitted with patches from all of the various projects he is either affiliated with, or has invested in. Too bad he crashed the car!
16. Brian Balsbaugh
Speaking of all of Hellmuth's endorsement deals, he probably would not have any of them if it weren't for this guy. Balsbaugh and his team at Poker Royalty represent the who's who in poker. Every time you see one of your favorites in a commercial, or playing on one of your favorite poker sites, you better believe Poker Royalty hammered out the deal.
First of all, it wins the award for having one of the best domain names in all of poker. On top of that, it has grown to be a force in the industry, breaking some of the top stories of the year, as well as providing brilliant tournament reporting. Did we mention you can read in 30 different languages?
GSN had a big year and its "High Stakes Poker" show continues to wow audiences. This past season was capped off with a huge $500,000 buy-in game, which left us all hanging on to the edge of our seats. GSN continues to grow its poker coverage, and will be the home of the WPT for this upcoming season, and for years to come.
Other major networks have tried, but none of them were able to have the success in poker that NBC has had. The heads-up championship is one of the most prestigious titles in poker year in and year out. Throw "Poker After Dark" into the mix, and you have a poker powerhouse.
12. Bluff Media
Not to toot our horns, but Bluff Media has made major strides in becoming a powerhouse in poker for years to come. With an exclusive deal with the World Series of Poker, Bluff Media aired the WSOP final tables live for the first time ever. As always, the first year is just a taste, and Bluff will be bringing you cutting-edge poker entertainment for years to come.
11. Barry Greenstein
Greenstein wields a lot of power in poker. Not only is he a regular winner in the Big Game, but he's viewed by his peers as someone who speaks for poker and its players. Whether it's helping the WSOP make a decision, or helping PokerStars remain ahead of the curve, Barry does it all. On top of all that, he had time to start PokerRoad.com with Joe Sebok, a site that was launched only a few months ago, and already is one of the leaders of the pack.
Whenever there is news in the poker world, twoplustwo is there to bring it to us. Of course, it's not always the same author, because the news comes from the poker community itself. The popular forum is always in the middle of things, and its members are some of the most vocal in the business. They have helped uncover numerous big stories in 2007, and we're sure they will continue to voice their opinions in 2008.
9. Daniel Negreanu
Daniel is one of those guys who has been a pioneer in bringing poker to the masses. His nationally syndicated column, his Web site Full Contact Poker, and his blog are some of the most widely read material in all of poker. Now that he has teamed up with PokerStars, it's safe to say he'll become even more of a force in the industry.
8. Doyle Brunson
Doyle is bar none the most recognizable name in all of poker. Doyle has been there from day one of the World Series of Poker, and from the looks of it, he is not going anywhere anytime soon.
7. Steve Lipscomb, WPT
The WPT, headed by Lipscomb, continues to take huge steps in the poker world. The WPT continues to improve upon a winning product, and with the addition of its live tournament reporting and videos, we look forward to seeing what it has to bring us next year.
I don't think a day goes by in which you can't flip to an ESPN channel and catch up on some of your favorite World Series of Poker moments. They continue to raise the bar for poker production, and this past year we got a chance to see more of the main event and the $50,000 HORSE event than ever before. ESPN found a winner in 2003 with the World Series of Poker, and remains loyal to bringing us top-notch poker programming each year.
5. Poker Players Alliance
The group that came together to help poker players fight the UIGEA, has made some huge strides in 2007. It has made trips to Washington, and according to some in the poker community, their work has been making some headway. The group is in constant need of our help, so be sure to check out www.pokerplayersalliance.org and lend a helping hand.
4. Jeffrey Pollack, Harrah's
Since its purchase of the World Series of Poker, Harrah's has continued to aid in the growth of the WSOP. With the addition of the World Series of Poker Europe, and the expansion of its coverage on worldseriesofpoker.com, we think Benny Binion would be proud. Pollack and Harrah's continue to listen to the players, and each year try to make the World Series a better experience.
3. Full Tilt Poker
Full Tilt continues to grow faster than anyone really expected. With its core group of pros and solid management, the site stuck it out through all the legislation, and has been rewarded greatly. We're hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn't consider Full Tilt to be one of the pre-eminent forces in all of poker.
The clear leader in the industry, PokerStars has branched out even further in 2007. Of course we all know it is the world's largest poker site, but now it is a major player in the live scene as well. With the growth of the European Poker Tour and the inception of the Asia Pacific Poker Tour, fans and players worldwide will be hearing a lot about PokerStars in the next year, and years to come.
1. The American People
A lot of people were worried when lawmakers attacked online poker with all their might. Instead of lying down, and letting poker die, the American people have really stepped it up. By joining the PPA, petitioning local and national government, and more than anything playing and supporting poker in general, we have proved that the people are a force to be reckoned with. With continued support, and action from you, it's only a matter before poker is legal again in the U.S.
If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the No. 1 poker magazine in the country, Bluff.