As a follow on to the article that I wrote a few weeks ago regarding the likelihood of cheating in online poker increasing through necessity, here I want to talk about the effects of coaching sites, training tools and other types of software that all enable people to become far more sophisticated and serious poker players. I think that the sheer process of using software elevates players into a much higher level of seriousness…..it is psychological in nature and makes people feel more like players.
When you add rakeback, the facility to multi-table, staking sites and sponsorship sites springing up all over the place, I think that we have arrived at a situation where only the very dedicated stand any chance of making serious money out of online poker. The fish will always come in at the bottom but these days they have the facility to learn very quickly and the players that move up are doing so with large amounts of experience and knowledge.
Once you hit the middle limits then the value drops off alarmingly for the majority of players unless you eat, sleep and breathe the game. This is simply not an option for the vast majority of players (myself included). The online arena is changing so rapidly that keeping up with everything is almost a full time job. The task of becoming a pro was starting to get tougher several years ago although there are “pro’s” and there are “pro’s” if you know what I mean.
Over the past few years, I have site hopped frequently in order to try and do something differently to the masses. Although I don’t play much these days, I am still closely involved with the online game. I didn’t like the way that it was going several years ago when the sites were starting to jump into bed with software manufacturers. They want their players to be equal in skill in an ideal world so loads of rake is generated and the average lifetime earn per player is increased.
So they create rakeback which is a fantastically clever business concept from the point of view of the online poker sites. If you think that rakeback benefits you then you can rest assured that it benefits the sites even more so and the fact that it benefits players is incidental to their main objective and merely a bonus. There is no doubt that poker is massively main stream now and that will certainly continue. Poker is now here to stay but the easy pickings of online poker at the higher levels are gone.
Why should someone go and play higher stakes when they can multi-table lower stakes and get as much money and more rakeback? So this has led to a huge compression of skill at the lower stakes and that will likely get worse (for the players who are currently winning that is).
But what is going to happen to the marginal winners of today in say a years time or two years? The sites are handing out software to people free of charge, I have used them personally like Poker Office, Poker Crusher and Sit and Go Shark. I didn’t actually want to use them but I had to out of necessity.
The younger kids coming through will have these tools thrown at them so will reach a higher level of sophistication at a faster rate than what we did or I did personally. To get an edge in higher limit games, more players are going to resort to tactics that a few years ago were not thought of or needed. Is the scandal at Ultimate Bet a rarity or the tip of the iceberg, unfortunately I suspect the latter.
We deride people for cheating but yet the online poker sites themselves have contributed to making these people resort to these kinds of tactics. One can argue that whatever the situation, cheating is low and only scumbags will stoop to that level. But if you create an environment where skilled players can no longer make money in the same way purely out of your own financial interests then what can you expect.
At the end of the day, poker sites are no different than casinos. They have clever but greedy people at the helm who basically spend every waking hour trying to figure out how to squeeze more and more money out of the people at the bottom. Mass education is one such tactic but that comes at a price for the winning player but we all know by now that poker sites like the concept of winning players because it is good advertising but they don’t like players winning because it wipes out the fish and the revenue that those fish can provide them.
This is no different to the casinos with blackjack, the knowledge that blackjack can be beaten makes them money simply through players trying their hand who cannot beat it because they don’t have the proper knowledge or skill. But the players who do have that skill get the door slammed in their face. Don’t expect the situation to get better either. If you are currently earning 50k, then how do you make it 60k, 70k if you are playing a lot of hours and multi-tabling already? Inflation will leave you in a situation where you will need to make more money if you are playing the game for a living.
Inflation will erode the effectiveness of your earnings so what you are making will be worth less as the years go by. You could always try moving up…….good luck with that.
This article was written by Carl “The Dean” Sampson who can be seen at www.pokersharkpool.com.