[Content Disclosure: Poker 100%; online poker 50%; live poker 25%; dead poker 25%]
Doyle's Room has reopened its doors to the US poker playing public. At the same time, the Las Vegas Hilton has closed its poker room. Are either of these really signs of anything like a tread in poker?
As for Doyles's Room, it's very interesting that an online provider who had left the US market is coming back. If you remember when Doyle closed his room there was speculation about pressure from the US Justice Department and threats of arrest and jail time. But too many online rooms continue to make money from the US market and Texas Dolly and his management team just decided that the profits far outweighed any potential legal issues with the United States of Prohibition.
On the other hand, the closing of the Hilton poker room in Las Vegas sends a couple of messages:
-there are just too many rooms in Las Vegas for the player demand;
-off-the-strip rooms have too big a hurdle to lure players in;
-even in the poker boom, marketing efforts for poker are necessary;
-it ain't the whales or the poker rooms that make casinos profitable, it's the slot machines.
Will there be more poker rooms closing in Las Vegas--yes. We hear rumors every week about which one is going dark next. Particularly as properties go through major remodels (Tropicana, Luxor, Plaza...) sometimes it's easy to just disappear a room during a major renovation. Also there is just the matter of very unprofitable space (Tropicana, Plaza, Hooter's, Fitzgerald's, Silverton, Circus Circus); casinos do not like dead space anywhere and a poker room requires a fair amount of staffing.
On the other issue, will more online poker sites reenter the US market? Well the only one actually prevented from doing so would be Party Poker. Party is a public company and that makes its liability so high that they could not even consider thumbing their corporate nose at the US law. Now whether other sites will watch Doyle's Room or not..... that is an interesting question. But one thing is for sure, if you are out of the US market in 2007, you are giving up the biggest online poker profit market in the world.