The State of Online Poker and the Game in General Part V


Sure, there is an element of luck to poker (thank god if you are a professional for that or else you wouldn’t have a profession) and that keeps them coming back. But luck only lasts for so long.

When poker turns a corner, that being when the casual player has an easier time gambling against the house in blackjack and Roulette and Pit games, (and I’d argue that time has already come), there will only be a finite amount of new money in the sport. Why keep sitting down to be the sucker at a table? Where’s the fun in that?

So, that leaves the pros grinding against the pros and the gamblers heading to the casinos. Eventually, the money gets grinded away to the lowest possible sieve, so now it’s only the best playing the best. Look at the nosebleed games. Do the players have an edge against one another? Hansen loses millions in a couple of months then wins it back. Dwan does the same. As does Antonius. Meanwhile (sponsorships and backing arrangements being ignored for the sake of simplicity) the only person or place making any money is the House.

What a breath of fresh air it was, and a feeding frenzy ensued when a new player at the highest stakes brought new money to the game. Isildur1 killed the European sites and brought all that money to the Americans. He promptly went broke a couple of times, when he ran into the new breed of datamining geeks that used his play against him.

Currently, the game is getting closer and closer to this moment where the bottom falls out of the poker economy. There level of skill has increased so much that new money is being chased away. Old money is changing hands with a piece of it falling to the house in every transaction. If everybody had a business on Ebay the same concept would be at work. Eventually only Ebay would be making any money and eventually even their business would dry up.

So, like any Ponzi scheme on its last legs there is a relentless chase of new markets and new money. Live and online Poker is cannibalizing itself with overlapping tournaments and instead of squeezing the juicy fruit of bad players, they are now squeezing the coconuts that are good players. One day those coconuts will bust.

I hate to be so melodramatic and dour, but I’m not completely suggesting our game will die. Because in truth, the LONGTERM future of poker will be a boom and bust cycle, just as it always has been. The game will never die, as good players leave the game to chase more lucrative careers, new bad players will have better opportunities to not discover too quickly how bad they are and for a time chance once again will rule… but only as long as it takes for the good players to come back.

Don’t think so? Think I’ve oversimplified things? If you look closely at the history of poker, the booms and busts of the game are there for anybody to see just over the last 100 years or so. Sure not on a scale the size of the Moneymaker Boom and our current path to a bust but it’s there. The evidence is as bright as day in your local microcosm too. Used to play in a home game and then it disappeared? Why did it go away? You were probably beating it too often. The bad players got tired of losing. Same is true on the macrocosm.

Fear not, the fishies of Europe, South America and Asia will be available to America soon enough. Though don’t think they aren’t improving rapidly. The Ponzi Scheme that is poker isn’t dead yet and likely there are a few more good years to conquer the game if you have the chops for it, but don’t count on it always being milk and honey—even if the legal obstacles go away.

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