Ever since Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker Main Event in 2003, the game has seen a massive surge in popularity around the world. The story of how an amateur player beat the biggest names in the game to earn a multi-million dollar payday caught the imagination of scores of new players, resulting in live poker tournaments seeing a huge jump in field sizes.
The so-called 'Moneymaker effect' is still in full swing today, especially in Europe and North America. Tournaments like the PokerStars European Poker Tour (EPT) have grown into major events, and continue to attract record field sizes and generate huge prize pools, making new millionaires along the way.
It's the world of online poker however that's become the real driving force behind the growth of poker. The fact that Moneymaker qualified for the Main Event back in 2003 via a $39 satellite was enough to inspire other players to start playing online at PokerStars and the many other sites that have opened since. Within the space of just a few years, online poker has developed into a huge industry, helping poker to become one of the most widely played games in the world. In 2008 alone, PokerStars broke countless records, including 150,000 simultaneous players, 25 billion hands dealt and the biggest ever poker tournament, with 35,000 runners. Meanwhile, weekly events like the PokerStars Sunday Million and Sunday Warm-up attract thousands of runners every week, generating massive prize pools.
PokerMats - 8th place, won $575,000!
It's not hard to understand the reasons why poker has become so popular. The chance to turn a few dollars into millions is clearly the main appeal. But what also separates poker from other sports is the idea that players of all levels have the chance to compete against each other. An online satellite at PokerStars gives everyone a shot at taking down that big score in a major event - it doesn't matter if you are brand new to the game or a seasoned pro.
Take Mattias 'PokerMats' Andersson, for example (right). He qualified for the WSOP main event in Las Vegas by relentlessly practicing in the PSO Skill League. Along the way he won some nice cash prizes in the leaderboard but it was the WSOP seat that he was after. His daily practice with other PSO members, his very active participation in the community and his ability to monitor his progress led to PokerMats winning his WSOP seat online. He went on to set a PSO record with his 8th place finish and $575,000 in prize money.
Be sure to take advantage of all the resources available to you at PokerStars School. This really is "The Exciting World of Poker".