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    No Sucker in Sight

    Posted by Coffee May 29, 2014

    Listen…here’s the thing: if you can’t spot the sucker in your first half hour at the table, then you are the sucker.” – Mike McDermott, Rounders

    There was a time when I was a dominating poker player. I could beat all my friends, I could beat almost everyone in the local cardroom, and a win was just a matter of time in a casino. As recently as 2009, I figured to be a favorite in almost any poker game I played.

    I mention this as juxtaposition to my utter inability to win anything online. By my own admission, I have never been a very good online player. However, in the past couple of years, I have noticed that the most consistent way for me to angrily lose money somehow was to deposit into a site.

    My most recent explosion was yesterday. I won’t bore with the details – the beats I suffered are the expected beats. Yet, there’s something just wrong about losing online. It’s not even the money. It’s the principle of it, somehow.

    I’ve had at least two days where I’ve lost over $1000 playing live poker. In both of those cases, and in other smaller setbacks, I have dealt with the losses with a reasonable amount of dignity and aplomb, aside from a few curse words. At the very least, I have tried to make it clear that I blamed neither the player nor the dealer for the misfortune – as they say, that’s poker.

    I’m not going to sit here and make some kind of argument for online poker being rigged; I’ve seen plenty of evidence to suggest otherwise, although the cheating scandals that always seem to pop up every few months don’t help. What is clear is to me is that I get so angry because there’s something that always seems so very not poker about playing on the computer.

    I am an avid video game player. By my own count, I’ve owned nine different consoles over the years, and hundreds of games to go with them. Yet, I’ve never been one of those people who seemed to be on a different plane – I could always find someone who could shred through whatever achievements I could boast on any particular game.

    Online poker feels very much like this. The stereotypical online player (pasty, anti-social, hoodie, earbuds) is exactly the kind of person who would’ve annihilated my Madden defenses or blown me to pieces on multi-player. I avoid multi-player video games for this reason – because the last thing I need when I’m trying to relieve stress is to be griefed by some fourteen-year-old shut-in who has hand-drawn a map of each gamezone on a legal pad next to his computer.

    Yet I kept playing online poker, kept trying to alter my game to the needs of these tables, because I told myself that this was poker, something in which I actually excelled.

    I’ve realized that it’s not. It’s a video game. Played with money. Ruined by savants.

    After ten years off and on, I’ve figured out that I’m the sucker. Like any good player, I need to finally practice table selection, and seek out a softer game for myself. Deride if you will – but my money is going with me. And, I suspect that I am not alone.

    Before I go, however, I have one question for the savants: if it has come to a point where the sheep you are shearing are former sharks, can online poker be sustainable?

    There is 1 Comment

    1. Mocha
      - June 2, 2014
        -   Reply

      In response to “Coffee’s” article, I see I’m first to respond, but I’d like to see other’s replies. To answer your question of whether online poker is sustainable over the long haul, I’d say that it clearly is not and the recent evidence in states like Nevada where online poker it legal in the US, player attendance is dropping fast. Last I checked there were only 30 people playing online at one time, when there used to be hundreds. If poker does not become legal in all 50 states, so that there is a ‘critical mass’, I don’t see how it can survive, with only a few ‘savants’ playing each other and waiting for a fish to show up.
      It’s only common sense that anyone with half a brain is quickly going to realize that they can’t win against this stiff competition and will quickly quit. Yea, maybe they will pa for some poker training and gain false hopes of dominating these savants, but how realistic is that?
      I personally understand where you are coming from, because I am a winning player at brick and mortar casinos and have had some pretty good results online, but faced against only the top online sharks, I just can’t see any big upside. I think it’s too easy for the top sharks to collude by revving up the aggression and making it literally impossible to beat playing against 3 other players sharing a bankroll. It’s just too hard to get a premium hand and hit it hard on the flop. So the alternative is to play looser and get killed by one of the colluding team being able to outdraw you–time-and-time-again. And if you play tight, its so easy for them to simply fold to any aggression on your part, so when you do win, you have to mask it so well that, you don’t win much when you do win.
      Bottom line, in order to win consistently, you need poor players that consistently overplay their hands and easily fall for tilting comments or other tactics–which is something that the savants are never going to do. I have been able to make some good plays against savant teams, but it only works once. After all they are savants, and learn any tendency or trick super quickly.
      But the article is correct, for the most part, if you go online to play, everyone will recognize quickly that you are a new player and they will descend upon you like wolves.
      Bottom line, this “climate” is not conducive to making new player stick around. For online poker to survive in its present form, site administrators must do something to slow down the hand full of winning players who kill it for the masses. If they limited the number of tables that they could play, that would help a lot. Secondly, they should not be allowed to use any software that automatically table selects and finds weak players (yes, they are using this type of software against you–look up Table Ninja & Hold’em Manager, etc.). When I first found out that the savants had all of these advantages against me, I was shocked that it was legal for a small group of insiders to have this much power over me. Why should they have the right to look at my hand history and win rates, etc, when I know nothing about them? There is something very WRONG about online poker, the way it is rolled out now. Even though I am all-for online poker, I can see why the enemies of it have some good points. After all, online poker is not the truly fair game that it is thought to be, for the simple reason that the average guy has no clue what he is up against when he logs in with his bankroll. And the sad thing is he can play for a long time before he ever figures out that he’s not just “unlucky”. I think that fact is the only reason online poker still exists, but for how long? Personally, I made poker my livelihood for the past 5 years, both online and brick and mortar, and I have listened to most every poker podcast out there and studied all the recommended books and training videos for years. Gradually, I have witnessed the decline of poker over the past few years. Even in casinos, the competition is much tougher and the friendly, loose, happy days are about gone for good. All you see are the same old hard-core types and they are gradually dropping out of the scene one-by-one. Why? Most have been hanging on to the hopes of a resurgence of the 2004 poker boom and online poker to become legal everywhere in US, but this now appears to be dead in the water.

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