Friday, August 26, 2011

My Complex Relationship With Poker

Since this blog was retired from normal service a few years ago, I have been using it for the occasional update on what I’m doing projects-wise. Today I have a different post to make – almost a personal therapy through writing idea…

My relationship with online poker is actually very complex. My regular blog these days is the SNG Planet Blog, and it is not really the right audience for this kind of a post… I like to stay positive and factual there, introducing ideas, talking business and so on.

Here is the rub.

If it was not for my network of sites / writing I would have pretty much given up on poker back in 2007.

Being involved in the business for so long I can even map out my start to finish curve and see how typical it would have been. Donking around with money I could afford to lose and had no problem with losing to start… discovering that there was strategy to learn and that I could beat the games by using it… getting a huge rush of enthusiasm and learning as much as possible, grinding myself a bankroll… kind of getting tired of the grind and trying different forms of the game… only playing now and again… losing the passion to learn / improve… playing less… and less…. and less….

Yep, the whole thing would have taken me around 2 years – I would have quit long ago, well, maybe playing once or twice a month when I was bored!

Instead I started writing for others, discovered a skill in explaining things, set up the Planet Corp network of sites and have been tied into poker ever since.

You can not write honest articles about games you do not play – so I continued playing. Not massive volume, just enough to keep involved in the game. Players are sharper these days – they know if you do not know your subject!

My relationship with the game goes deeper than that.

People, poker players – how do I put this without sounding down on the whole thing… there is just so much damn HATE in the game these days, compared to the mid 2000’s for sure…

Wherever you look there is hate, posturing, ego and snide comments – you can not play online without seeing it, you can not read forums without swimming in it…

Don’t get me wrong, the majority of the people who play are fine people who enjoy the game in a range of contexts from pro through to strictly for fun. I’m also big and ugly enough to look after myself – I’ll have a row if you want one, though do not let individual acts of hate affect me… it’s the cumulative picture that is my problem.

The percentage of haters, is probably only 15% to 20% (pure guess), yet this is enough to make poker a thoroughly unpleasant experience. It is rarely even the successful players who are the main antagonists… kids who did not excel in sports finally have something to be big about, henpecked husbands releasing their anger on the online community, fools who get belittled by their bosses all day getting back at the world by belittling novice players at the tables… and so on.

Back to me.

I only play because I enjoy writing, I enjoy running my network of sites and enjoy the independence of working for myself (oh yeah, and the money!).

This acts as a magnifying glass for me – making the troubles of the game seem big and ugly. Whereas some people can ignore I often think to myself how pleasant life will be when I get to turn away from all that hate, all that ill-will. Guess because I feel tied in to a game I would not otherwise have much (if anything) to do with anymore the downside appears bigger than it should!

Then the rip-offs come into it.

I will not go into it here, you all know the AP / UB and Full Tilt problems by now – these are not the only ones… just the biggest. They have and continue to cost me a lot of money.

Players come and go, they have a ‘half-life’ of around 6-months in my experience, here, I’ll map it out based on 100 players who start today:

- 6 months time, 50 are still playing
- 12 months, 25
- 18 months 13 (I’ll round up to be generous!)
- 24 months 7 (I would have been here… the 7% who make enough to keep going, learn the game and then can not be bothered any more!)
- 30 months 4
- 36 months 2
- 42 months 1

Works for me… only 1% will still be playing in 3.5 years time… most go broke and lose interest… a few become rakeback grinders after year 2 then quick after a soul destroying year of grinding kills their passion for the game. Sure you will probably know a good few people who have been involved for longer – they are a self selecting group though, the players keen or successful enough to become known are rarely in the first 3 levels of drop out!

Anyway, enough said for one post. I respect the game in my own way, still enjoy those (very) occasional final tables, working out how to adjust to beat the different games… and I am also proud of my sites, which are aimed mostly at the ‘first 18 month’ players of course.

It is just, well, my relationship with poker is complex… I really should have quit the game and moved on 4 years ago! Note to self… get that network of sites sold, and within a year…

Thanks for listening – I feel better!

GL at the tables, Mark



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