Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Decisions give me headaches

2011 has started off as a literal migraine. I'm not really sure what to do. I have so many options, but they all seem to suck:

  • Stars 20-50 small stakes FPP pro with very marginal winrates
  • Stars 40-100 small stakes FPP pro with reg infested tables
  • Stars 40-100 micro stakes UGL at 25NL
  • Euro sites with good winrates but beyond horrible software
  • FTP with a scummy changed rakeback deal

Stars 20-50 small stakes
Games are decent but winrates are low with reduced skill edge to add to the CAP shove/fold game that the 20bb stacks insist on mixing into an NL game.

Stars 40-100 small stakes
I have never seen more reg infested tables in my life. This is unsustainable and regs are going to eat each other alive until there's nothing left. Additionally I have never seen this many regs moving down which I think is clear evidence of what's going on.

Stars 40-100 micro stakes
Maybe I need to just move down and make some money as well. I seem to have a small edge at 50NL. I have a large edge at 25NL. I can probably beat this game for a decent clip.

Euro Sites
Tried out a short stint on RPM on the Merge network. The software makes me think that pulling out my teeth with pliers for donations on Youtube would be a more viable option. Granted Merge isn't really a Euro site since it accepts Americans, but it has Euro site software and I was quickly reminded of why no one plays there even with great rakeback. I found it difficult to follow action on 6 tables and the betting section of the GUI is pretty much the opposite of how it should be designed -- it has way too many buttons that are spread out over a large area requiring a ton of mouse movement and avoiding misclicks shouldn't be a chore. I also found it extremely annoying just trying to get tables going even against the same 5 bad regs on every one.

Games are decent from what I can tell but the rakeback hit is enormous if you consider me coming from my 42% 2x Supernova down to an estimated 22-25% + Iron Man. I also don't like the idea of being chained to my computer 25 days a month. Yes I play that many days a month, but eff them if they think they get to make that decision. I'm starting to realize why even the good LAGs haven't seen a benefit from the weighted contributed shenanigans since they end pots early and play a ton of small ball. It's only the calling stations that are seeing any "benefit" from this but unfortunately they don't have rakeback and I have to assume Howard's stacking bills in his basement laughing hysterically at everyone.

What to do?
It looks like my best options are to either beat 25NL 40-100 or to FPP pro 100NL 20-50. In terms of my mental state, 25NL might be the better option. In terms of winnings + bonus, the 20-50 games are going to provide more but with a much bigger headache than the relative ease of micros. I'm so undecided. I just know that I'm addicted to Stars software to the large detriment of the other options. Plus they suck you right into that annual program so that once you have made it, you can't give it up because it was a damn lot of work getting there.

If I started a new site...
I think the following system, while not optimal in short term profits, would still be profitable and keep the majority of people happy. It's my opinion that all of the overhead with servers and security and support staff pales in comparison -- by far -- to the net profits of any large site out there. My wish list for JH1 Poker in case anyone wants to donate 6 figures to help me start it up (btw on a serious note, here's to hoping the community run open source project actually takes off if for no other reason than to force this price fixing stalement back into competition):

Rake: 4bb cap at 50NL and lower. $3 cap at 100NL and higher. Keep it stake relevant. Money needs to flow up the ladder. The current state of things really dilutes the poker economy and people are forced into playing the same stakes way too long to build their BR because the rake is tough to overcome when the games get tougher. You can't call 10bb rake in a 200bb pot at 25NL and lower anything but highway robbery. No one noticed when you had droolers calling down with J high. Lower rake would be a shot in the arm to boost the economy and would at least be a bandaid until sites were able to effectively recruit brand new players again. Static rake with declining skill edge is a recipe for disaster. At some point the game will become unbeatable and I think people are starting to realize it will be long before the game is  solved and everyone plays game theory optimal solely because the rake is too damn high.

Structure: I do think that the argument that 100bb poker has too much of an edge over fish has some validity. They want to see flops and all the regs out there complaining about shortstackers are doing exactly the same thing and making shortstacked postflop scenarios with their rampant 3-betting in 100bb games. Everyone knows that preflop sizing dictates how big the game plays. Lowering the max buyin lowers effective SPR. Lower SPR makes it less correct to fold thus regs will have to scale back wide 3-betting as they have less room to maneuver. That said, I also strongly believe that the argument that fish bleed slowly at 100bb poker is true in that they can win a large pot to keep themselves going for hours compared to winning a small pot at 20-50 that gives them a few more orbits. 20bb needs to be stuffed into its CAP game place. From a skill/luck ratio, I don't know if the remaining NL game should be 30-100 or 40-100 or 30-70. I would be fine with any of these and I would hire someone smart to figure out the correct ratio. All I know is 20bb min is too low and 50bb max is too low while 100bb max may be too high.

Max Tables: I would actually consider lowering this quite a bit. I would want to see actual reg:fish ratios in the site's database to make a decision but it should generally result in at least 6.5:2.5 FR and 4.5:1.5 6max. I'm going to take a wild guess that 12 tables would be way better than 24.

Rakeback: I'm kind of torn on whether the VIP system to make people work for their bonus is better than straight up rakeback. The former is better to keep fish playing longer. I will forever remember the guy on my right at a 50NL table that burned through $250 to clear the last $40 of his bonus and had a VPP countdown going in chat. The latter is perceived to be better from a grinder's point of view although I think in reality they benefit equally either way and just have to wait a bit -- I mean, they're playing anyways. Stars VIP program is fairly linear although I might flip it around and offer more rewards to the bottom to keep them feeding the pool like reload bonuses and faster/better bonuses.

State of the community
I've never seen the informed poker community in this much disarray. Everyone seems pissed off at someone. Shortstackers and fullstackers sniping at each other like never before. Fullstackers vs Stars. Everyone vs FTP. It kind of feels like the sites have gone all out for bottomline and to hell with their loyal customers who complain but are met with a wall of silence or stonewalling. You all need to get back to keeping people happy.


Poltical Sidenote: I had to restart my PC after posting the above (SplitSuit's comment below is on the state of the community) so I sat down and watched some Parker/Spitzer on CNN. I happened to jump into the middle of Spitzer's interview with Alec Baldwin and I was kind of blown away by how well-informed and in tune he seemed to be with regular people and the state of the middle class, especially considering the fact that he accurately described how 22 years of the US being run by out of touch Yale and Harvard grads has had a significant effect on the middle class. When asked, "How do we know you're not just acting?" he responded with a fairly profound statement implying that the American public is not given enough credit for being able to read people. I have no idea what his ideology is but he sure sounded like he knew what he was talking about so I just subscribed to his blog and am eager to read through it.


  1. +1 for the last paragraph


  2. Absolutely agree with Splitsuit.

    Hope you dont mind but i used the except in a post of mine (credit given of course)

  3. Utterly FANTASTIC post, that:

    1) outlines all the observations I've made, but couldn't put into words,


    2) raises all the uncomfortable questions (that I've avoided) about the future viability of online poker [for me, anyway]

    I also linked here from my blog,

    keep speaking the truth as you understand it, good sir!

  4. lots of truth in this post and I'm facing the same kinda dilemma... having just moved over from FTP cause of the awful RB changes, I'm finding the games on Stars a lot tougher and the edges are getting smaller by the day