Poker dating. Chances are you’ve never heard of it. If you have — chances are you’re rolling your eyes at its persistent but seemingly futile attempts to break into the online poker scene. What exactly is it, and why does it exist … or, sort of exist? The concept of poker dating is based on the notion that, if online casinos are booming with business, there must surely be a market in milking the social potential of its growing community. In theory, it’s a solid idea.
Though most poker sites offer some kind of social forum or chat room through which to engage with players in a non-competitive manner, the focus on romance has never quite been there. In the past, attempts have been made to create a sort of social network or dating site for the poker community, with the goal of matching together single poker players. Sure, dating someone with a similar hobby makes perfect sense — and full-time poker players face many struggles in the search for Mr. or Ms. Right. So why do sites like All-In Love and Poker Mates gain popularity for a while, before eventually dying out and going offline? Now, only one contender remains in the scene of poker dating; PokerRomance.com.
There are many factors that can be attributed to the struggles and failures of the poker dating scene. Only one third of online poker players are women, and being outnumbered by male players means there’s an unavoidable imbalance on poker dating sites. This presents a problem for hetero males. Nobody wants to join a dating site where nearly seventy percent of members are of no romantic interest to them.
Then there’s the question of whether there is in fact a big enough market for poker dating in the first place. Sure, you love poker and you’re looking for someone with whom to share this love; someone with whom you’ll stay up late hours, drinking beer, playing cards and planning trips to Vegas. But why not just sign up to a regular, more popular dating site and simply list poker as one of your interests? Most successful dating sites have search features that enable you to filter through members with keywords — such as those relating to your hobbies.
There are people to whom poker is so important, that they couldn’t fathom dating anyone who didn’t appreciate their deep love for the game. It is perhaps for this minority that poker dating is most appropriate. Unfortunately, these poker fanatics are also most often the type of people who play in front of their computers all day as part of their sedentary lifestyle, and are somewhat socially inept when it comes to interacting with people unless it’s through a computer screen. The problem is that these people will be as unsuccessful at online dating as they are at real-life dating. The target market clearly needs to be wider. Poker dating needs to be so fun that it appeals even to those people for whom poker is only a minor interest. Unless a poker dating site has something truly unique and groundbreaking to offer singles, it will inevitably die out like so many similar sites before it.
Does PokerRomance make the cut? Unfortunately not. Considering this is a site aimed at such a specific niche, PokerRomance has really made no attempt at captivating its members through the theme of poker. In fact, poker isn’t a main focus for the site at all — you don’t even need to fill in poker-related questions during the sign-up process. As for filling in your profile page; there’s not much mention of poker there either. Want to play a private game against someone of interest? Not possible — there’s no virtual game play on the site. Want tips for a cute poker date or advice on how to dress for a romantic night at the casino? You’re not going to find that here either. You might think that there’s at least some poker talk going on in the chat rooms, right? Perhaps some discussion of favourite games, techniques and recent poker news. Well, it’s fully possible such conversations take place. We were unable to find out however, as accessing the chat room requires paying for a membership of $23.85 monthly. In short, there is nothing about this site which would appeal specifically to poker players. Special features are non-existent, and the site doesn’t even have any poker-themed graphics to set the mood.
PokerRomance does, however, seem to boast a surprisingly large membership — although whether or not these members are active is another question. Nevertheless, the site’s reasonably impressive number of users hardly makes up for its mediocre layout, annoying pop-ups and over-priced membership packages. But will the site thrive? Will it still be online in a couple of years? The question depends largely upon the answer to a different question — is poker dating actually worthwhile? Will the continued boom of poker players across the world bring to life the concept of poker romance?
Though dating sites geared specifically to poker players may seem pointless for reasons already discussed, there is something to be said for the possible upsides of dating a poker player. If you think about it, a lot of skills demonstrated by successful poker players are desirable in dating, too. After all, a good poker player is prepared to take risks and is a talented reader of people’s emotions. What’s more, they know how to play it cool. They’re focused and, although thrill-seeking, think before they act. But do the advantages outweigh the cons? Dating serious grinders means dealing with erratic work hours, financial swings, emotional tilts and, in some cases, frequent travel. Not exactly a fairytale romance…
Nevertheless, there are plenty of successful poker couples to prove that it’s possible to beat the odds and enjoy long-term relationships with fellow grinders. Poker pro and TV personality Kara Scott married Giovanni Rizzo, a poker lover, in 2013. The two of them live in Italy and regularly play poker together. With two WSOP bracelets and $2.6m in poker earnings, Jennifer Harman is a legend and currently dating Marco Traniello, another high stake player with $700k in live tournament earnings. They met when their cars were parked together in the parking lot of Vegas’ Bellagio Casino. Poker’s Liv Boeree is dating Kevin Macphee, and their combined poker winnings exceed $8.5m. The highly successful Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier met his girlfriend in Seoul and, after two years of a long-distance relationship, asked her to move to Europe and take up professional poker alongside him. ElkY’s girlfriend, Cathy Hong, now regularly plays at women’s events with $146,000 in live earnings.
But the fact is that the above success stories have come about from poker players meeting in person — most often at tournaments. Though it may seem like an unlikely place for people to meet their second half, there is an endless list of poker-loving couples who started dating after they crossed paths at a poker tournament. Self-described “pick-up artist” Sasha Daygame even wrote an article on the best way to pick up girls at a poker tournament. As cringey as the advice may be, people are starting to realise that tournaments present a great opportunity to make romantic acquaintances. It’s a pretty safe bet to assume everyone there is passionate about the same thing — poker. It’s also a place filled with strangers, which makes the breaks in between rounds a perfect time for mingling. Any wins you make? Use it as date money!
All in all, it would seem the best way to meet a romantic interest who shares your love for poker is to get out into the real world and actually approach these people — as scary as that might seem. Online poker dating may enjoy a moderate increase in popularity over the coming years, considering the rising number of female poker players, but for now — you’ll be equally if not more successful on sites such as eHarmony or, better yet, at a real life poker event! Play your cards right and you’ll be winning the hearts of your opponents…along with their chips, more importantly.