Friday, 30 December 2011

Occupy PokerStars Mass Sit Out

Due to recent actions taken by PokerStars:
  • First changing to Weighted Contributed costing regs piles of money and moving the vast majority of it not into bonuses for deserving recreational players but rather right out of the poker economy and into Stars bottom line.
  • Second, at first offering to make some rake structure changes that would have recalibrated the new system to give some of that windfall back to players (True Rake + Rake reductions to 4.5%).
  • Third, abruptly reneging on all of the rake changes except for switching to WC merely one day after the original announcement.

The ensuing uproar after the initial announcement was against the site wide reduction in number of FPPs, FPP value reduction and the increase in rake cap on 5 handed pots from $2 to $3. This was somehow taken as a backlash against the rake changes as a whole. Thus, they have decided to keep the change to WC, but have now removed all of the rake structure changes leaving everyone even worse off than they would have been under the original announcement.

In response, players have galvanized and are planning a 2 hour mass sit out protest for January 1st whereby they will load 24 tables and sit out on all of them politely informing inquiring players about what is happening.

French players on the site are reportedly also staging a sit out for the changes that are going to occur on that site.

The current set of demands deemed to be an acceptable way to soften the FPP reduction blow by a high consensus of regs are as follows:

(Originally posted by TheMetetrown)
1. Rake caps of $.50/$1/$1.5/$2/$3 for 2/3/4/5/6+ handed play
2. 4.5% linear rake up to the cap
3. The same proposed reductions [as the original proposal] for Rake at the micro limits. [4% and 4.25%]


3a. Winner take all rake calculation method
4a. 6x VPP across the board


3b. WC rake calculation method
4b. 6.5x VPP across the board
Note that Stars would still end up with more $/hand using the above consolations on January 1st than they will be getting on the old Dealt method on December 31st. These consolations would quite frankly help some games survive that are going to be killed off under a new WC system due to a complete lack of winners in some games with small edges after rake is effectively increased as well as be enough to satisfy regs in other games just enough to continue to play at the site.

Occupy PokerStars Mass Sit Out Details

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Rake Change Update

After planning changes to the rake structur for a year and still being undecided as of Dec 17th, you'll know that Steve announced the changes as per my last post.

There was one simple overreach in the original announcement. An increase in max rake for 5 handed play. This is where the vast majority of outrage was directed, if you consider people feel like switching to WC is already done.

Today, Steve returned with a new announcement. They are now canceling all of the changes to rake structure due to "player request" even though they think the original deal was still in our best interests.

So instead of fixing one outrageous item in the list the scrap everything including the True rake method and lower rake percentages that would have mitigated the loss of vpp damage done by going to WC in the first place. Note that True actually hurts fixed limit and they're better off with incremental rake which can and should be maintained to keep those games viable.

There is now a full fledged growing mass of players planning a mass sit out to blockade tables (as well as French players apparently doing the same to protest the changes in their games).

Head on over to the zoo to voice your opinion in the sit out or official changes threads.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

PokerStars 2012 Rake Changes: First Impression

Well after the gongshow that was the "big" unveiling of the new ad campaign this morning, PS Steve did come along and announce the VIP (read: rake) changes for 2012. You can read full details about the changes on or in the official thread.

I haven't seen many people attempt to tackle this whole thing yet from a math perspective and I certainly don't blame anyone. It's a big mess. So please point out any flaws in my logic or math.

The basics:
  • Switching to Weighted Contributed rake.
  • Switching from Incremental to True rake.
  • Adjusting some rake caps.

There is an uproar and a growing movement among the high volume and higher stakes players to organize a sit out. It is still unclear as to exactly how much this change is going to affect micro players although they are generally still upset about any loss. A couple of points of interest here:
  • There is a change from $2 to $3 rake cap on tables with 5 players. 6max players are stating that about 25% of their hands are with 5 players. This is obviously going to cost them a lot more and will penalize players that are trying to keep tables going as well as table starters before tables become full.
  • The general consensus is that the WC switch is going to cost most regs between 10-25% of benefits depending on their style and game choice. This is gonig to affect higher volume players more than low volume regs in that 20% of 65% rakeback is obviously much more than 20% of 40% rakeback.

Judging by the adjusted rake caps it appears that microstakes may not be severely affected. The True rake is essentially a set percentage on every penny that's in the pot compared to the former Incremental where a certain dollar value was taken out for every increment in pot size -- $0.05 for every $1.00 for example. This results in a rake increase on smaller pots but overall it seems true that rake will effectively be decreased for most regs who don't play a lot of 2-2.5 bb pots and open for at least 3bb.

5NL - old rake in red, new rake in blue

So if we use the numbers from FTP experience (note to PT3 users there is apparently a custom stat you can use to find your WC equivalent), and we take a 20% cut in rakeback while overall receiving a 10% reduction in rake in the micros on average, a Supernova is generally going to end up with the following if my numbers are correct:

Before: 40/100 for 40% rakeback (insert your number instead of 40)
After (40*0.8)/(100*0.9) for 32/90 or 36% rakeback compared to 2011

I'm hoping that the 20% number is on the high side. Games weren't nearly as nitty on FTP as they are on Stars so hopefully the $-contributed/hand average -- the single factor for determining rakeback (vpip is a spurious correlation) -- for the player pool as a whole gets dragged down a ton by the shear number of tighter players and it endsup having less of an impact on losses.

Keep in mind that everything I've written and calculated here should be taken with a grain of salt. WC by it's
nature is a very convoluted process that depends on a number of varriables and is impossible to calculate in the straightforward way Dealt is for every player if you don't have all the data. So regs have a solid argument that in general they are all going to lose money, but the fact that very few of them have concrete numbers to put on display that can be applied to other players that the debate about what to do and how much compensation should be required breaks down since everyone is forced into talking about generalities.

As for game softness it is true that no sites that have made the switch have gotten softer so there's really not much reason to believe it will help. Most people arguing it will are plainly just nit-haters. The one argument I can see is that we haven't seen a site make the switch while having a really high rakeback % under dealt which would allow a small subsection of players to survive on Stars but nowhere else regardless of method. We might end up seeing a small forced exodus based on those players now thinking it's not worth it or becoming outright unprofitable.

I'm sure this will be big news through January so I'm definitely going to try to keep on top of the numbers.
Happy New Year everyone and good luck in 2012.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Potential Stars Rake Changes Update

Note: This is the draft post I eluded to and wrote a few days ago when the news came out. As of the time of this post, Stars has yet to comment to players. I am reserving my thoughts on the VIP program as a whole until they do comment as any additional changes could potentially radically alter the ramifications. I was going to withhold my thoughts on this until there was an official announcement but this is basically all anyone is talking about right now anyways.

I have not paid any attention to what is going on with SNGs and MTTs. These comments are strictly regarding cash games. And of course there is always the outside chance that they are changing payment calculations for affiliates but not for players. This scenario seems rather unlikely.

December 19th:

The proverbial cat is out of the bag. From the PokerStars Partners T&C:

1.1 Ring Game Gross Revenue

shall mean the sum total of a Qualified Poker Player's contributions to Rakes in a Ring Game Hand while playing on software downloadable from the Site(s). Any Qualified Poker Player's contribution to a Rake shall be determined by dividing the total amount that a Qualified Poker Player has contributed to the Pot in any Ring Game Hand by the size of the Pot in that Ring Game Hand and multiplying it by the total Rake taken from that Pot in that Ring Game Hand regardless of the number of players dealt in such Ring Game Hand.
The same was confirmed in an affiliate email sent out today.

They are going to need to make some serious consolations to make up for the reduction in bonus money being paid out because as it stands, a change to Weighted Contributed in isolation is going to have the appearance of a rather large cash grab evidenced by math you can pretty much do without a calculator:

Recreational players contribute more to the pot more often and therefore they will receive a higher vpp/hand rate. Regs contribute less and therefore will receive a lower vpp/hand rate.

Quite simply, VPPs would be redistributed and devalued through a two-prong approach:
  • More VPPs will be going to players with a lower FPP multiplier resulting in less FPPs in the system.
  • More FPPs will be traded in at a lower dollar value.
  • A Bronzestar VPP is worth 1 VPP x 1 FPP x $0.010/FPP = $0.010
  • A Supernova VPP is worth 1 VPP x 3.5 FPP x $0.016/FPP = $0.056

The more VPPs you siphon towards the lower end of the VIP program, the more you pocket. So that leaves us hoping for some sort of consolation in terms of increased milestones or multipliers or completely revamping the entire system.

The standard argument for Weighted Contributed rakeback is that everyone gets their fair share. That was certainly FTP's line. I agree, however I think that the liquidity and health of the poker economy vastly outweighs the fair share argument. Making a statement along the lines of giving players what they deserve -- and being forced to oblige by removing money from the poker economy by pocketing the difference -- just isn't going to fly. Thus, Weighted Contributed is the most fair and could possibly be used if everyone were getting the same deal. If they're not, it's by far the worst option since it gives everyone their share but also hurts everyone at the same time.

Regs want a good deal to act as props. Recreationals want to play the game they want to play when they want to play it. In my opinion, this is how the Dealt method made Stars the run-away monopoly that it is. Unfair Weighted Contributed turns this entire notion on it's head. Regs are here for the money and WC takes that away from them. Recreationals are here for the recreation and if games aren't running because regs decided it wasn't worth it, you take the recreation away from recreationals.

It's a lose/lose/lose because if games aren't running, the site isn't raking tables. Is it really worth risking the flat out massive rake that regs generate in order to take back some of their rewards? In general, the rake paid dwarfs the rewards clawed back.

Take a full ring 100k Supernova for example:
  • 100k VPP =  $16,666 paid in dealt rake.
  • He receives $6400 in rakeback.
  • If you manage to take back 25% of that through WC redistributed FPPs, you profit an extra $1600 minus the slight increase you have to give to lower level players.
  • That means you're laying yourself 10.5:1 odds hoping that he doesn't pick up his chips and leave.

If these numbers were accurate, it would mean that if more than 10% of the 100k Supernova regs leave due to this change -- which in my estimation is completely plausible given that there's an army of slightly above breakeven regs who might deem Stars not worth it anymore -- you've just shot yourself in the foot. And to top it off, your new program certainly isn't going to attract any new rake generators.

Like I said, I'll hold off on my thoughts for the program as a whole until we hear the rest of the story, but I wanted to post an in depth analysis of why I think an unfair version of Weighted Contributed is a terrible idea for everyone involved. Increases to multipliers or milestones or FPP value would be needed to make up for the loss in VPPs so we'll be waiting to see if that happens.

December 21st Update:  I've run a bunch of calculations based on the speculation going on in the 3 threads that have been overwhelmed by this in the Zoo and Bonus forums (SNE Pursuit thread and Poll thread in the Zoo, and 2012 Changes thread in the Bonus forum) and I suggest you check those threads out for more discussion.

As a preliminary conclusion to those calculations based on past experience with sites switching to WC, it seems about right that if Stars were in fact to increase the rake --> Table VPP multipliers to 6 and 6.5 to make up for the losses that regs would be receiving, the whole thing would be a push and probably decently fair enough, slightly hurting nits while rewarding fish more and giving everyone else an amount relatively close to what they have now. Of course we'll have to wait and see what the actual decisions are and how they affect game quality to really get a handle on where this is going.

I've been glued to the Zoo and will likely post again very shortly after an official announcement has been made. Stay tuned.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Stars Rake Method Speculation

I had written up a post regarding what I feel is a near certainty regarding changes to the rakeback structure on Stars based on all of the circumstantial evidence piled up so far. But I do think that at this point it might still be considered speculation on a technicality in that the reported switch to weighted contributed is so far only confirmed to be affecting affiliates starting January 1.

I will re-post my thoughts on weighted contributed along with any other changes Stars does or does not make after they officially comment on what the changes for players will be.

Sunday, 18 December 2011


I mentioned this in an earlier post but thought I'd explain in a little more detail. I've been using the "moneyball" Oakland A's approach to building my Fantasy Hockey team. I'm in a 10 team roto league where the owners agreed that they wanted to make this year more interesting by adding some role-player stats like blocks and hits as well as switch all of the percetage and average stats to their cumulative counterparts in order to better reward consistency -- average time on ice to cumulative time on ice, goals against average to cumulative goals against. Note that before this year and the return of the Jets, I had not even followed the game until playoffs most years and probably couldn't even name 3 players on each team.

Stats: Goals, Assists, +/-, PIM, TOI, Shots, Hits, Blocks, Powerplay Points, Wins, Goals Against, Saves

I immediately made several observations on the league rules:
  • Role player stats translate directly to defenceman stats. Stats like hits, blocked shots and cumulative TOI make defenceman vastly superior to forwards, especially offensive minded defenceman that can do it all, shooting, playing a ton on the powerplay etc.
  • Goalies are the least valuable and highest variance position given that they only account for 3 stats, the pace at which coaches change their mind about who the "starter" is and how much an injury can decimate your chances for doing well on a shallow roster of goalies. There is also a very obvious way to angle the goalie categories. We have a minimum 60 games out of 164 max started for goalie stats to qualify for points. If you're willing to concede the Wins category and ignore the volatile Saves category, you can easily take first in the goals against category by simply playing the minimum 60 games and then benching all your goalies.
  • The more stats being used the better for this system. Your competitors are still thinking about player value in terms of name recognition and standard offensive stats like points. A lot of equal value stats separates the true team playing stat-monster superstars (Chara, Getzlaf) from the one trick ponies (Sedin brothers).

I recently traded away Henrik Sedin for what was deemed a mediocre player. The league was ready to snap veto the trade thinking I was getting ripped off until I stepped in and said I actually initiated it at which point I was told I was an idiot. Quite simply he gets a ton of assists and above average +/- and people are in awe of a recognizable name on a 100 point pace, but that's all he does. In contrast the player I traded for still gets 2/3 the points but also had 2 to 3 times the number of shots, hits, blocks and TOI so I clearly came out the winner on the trade. My only mistake was I didn't go for an even better "mediocre" player. Players like Sedin are simply outliers in one stat but get recognition if it happens to be points while outliers like Brouwer (hits) and Downie (+/-) are deemed rather worthless. Believe it or not, Sedin was consistently the 4th worst player on my team.

Before the draft I simply created a spreadsheet that gave equal value to all stats and dumped the projected stats from espn into it giving each player a summed value based on each stat relative to the player pool. And then it got labor intensive as I had to readjust my draft order with players moving up to +/- 75 in the top 400.

My Team with Team Value Ratings

After the draft I converted my sheet into player ranking charts for each team giving me a good idea of how valuable the owner thinks they are versus reality. I can quickly see who I need to bench or who I need to play to make up for certain stats. It doesn't help to lead goals and assists by a 3 to 1 margin at the expense of everything else, but that is everyone else's strategy. I can easily dump potential acquisitions into my team to see if they'd be good contributors to the overall makeup of my team allowing me to see the sleepers coming a mile away.

League with Current Team Makeup Power Rankings

Needless to say I was obviously the most clueless dead money owner at the draft. I started Day 1 in first place with an 8 point margin and have remained there ever since. If you want to have some fun with a fantasy sports league I highly recommend joining a stat heavy roto league which provides a mistake rich environment. Take note of how the league rules dictate optimal strategy and how that compares to your opponents' obvious pyschological state as trained, ingrained fans rather than statisticians.

Current Standings - Crushing most stats
Note that I've played more games than anyone, but I'm only 1% ahead of pace.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

PC Wars

Acer Aspire M3470 - $579 (saved $70!)
  • AMD A8-3800 2.4 GHz quad-core processor and 8GB DDR3 SDRAM
  • 1.5TB storage capacity 
  • AMD Radeon HD6550D
After my KSOD episode, I went out and got myself an Acer Aspire. The first thing I do after the obligatory first setup and Firefox download is unhook everything and try to drop my old video card in to give myself dual monitor support again. Pop that thing in, hook up my monitors via DVI and power up.


Remove video card. Re-connect to onboard card. Receive BSOD on third ever startup. Forced into recovery mode which does some more damage in the dll file department ultimately preventing me from installing postgres no matter what I try nevermind doing it the easy way with the HEM installer. Great. Rinse and repeat recovery process 3 times, getting various FUBAR error messages along the way intermittently researching why on earth I should ever need to uninstall an onboard card on a brand new PC in the 2011 plug and play era to even have my other card recognized. Check the return policy on my iPod while simultaneously resetting the entire POS back to factory presets. Re-pack the box to the best of my abilities. No idea where these cardboard spacers go.

HP Pavillion - $699 (cause you get what you pay for)

  • AMD A8-3850 2.9 GHz Quad-Core Accelerated Processor and 8GB DDR3 SDRAM
  • 2TB storage capacity 
  • AMD Radeon HD 6450 
  • Integrated Wi-Fi
First thing I notice on unpacking is that it has one DVI port. The box said dual monitor support. FML. But what's this? At the bottom of the case there are 2 more DVI ports oddly enough with covers on them that say "Do not remove." Serious? Yes according to multiple sources, completely serious.

Thankfully I notice an HDMI port alongside the uncovered DVI. Check the back of my newer monitor. We're in business. Now there's only 15 thousand different types of video outputs available to the techno-illiterate public and I have nearly as many cables so there's a good chance that I actually have one of these.

Wife: "Didn't you get one of those with the monitor?"

Me:  ... ... ... jackpot.

Now I've had HP desktops for the past 12 years and they've never failed me until the electric company decides it's time to help out the electronics industry again and my surge protector goes on vacation. I obviously decide to kamikaze my way into first installation and plug in every last peripheral that I own before initial startup.

Power on. Standard Next, Next, Next, No, Yes, Next, Large Appealing GO button considering what I've been through the past couple days indicating success!
[x] Dual monitors
[x] Beloved MX Revolution mouse
[x] Network / Internet 
[x] Printer (with network support)
[x] Photoshop tablet
[x] Game controller

Everything instantly works and I hit the ground running with easy first installs of Stars, HEM/postgres and TN! Which reminds me, I'm going to actually be able to run TST with a HUD now!

As I type this up I am importing 22 of 68 parts of large file # 3/45. I could be here a while.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

General Life Clutter

Isn't mid December a wonderful time for all of the clutter you've piled up to come crashing down all at the same time?

I have 3 blogposts in draft mode right now and highly doubt I will end up publishing them. They seem like interesting concepts to write about based off changes happening in the poker industry and recent posts from other blogs I read, but once I actually get down to writing them I've been hitting a wall because I either can't convince myself of the factuality of the general statements I want to believe or the concept is too big for me to encompasse everything that needs to be taken into context and make it a cohesive read.

I still need to start Christmas shopping for my nieces and my immediate family. My extended family has said for the last 3 years that we should just stop buying each other gifts and just buy some toys for the kids instead and be done. It's kind of silly when me and my brother swap $50 in Staples giftcards for $50 in Walmart giftcards effectively tying up cash that doesn't need to be spent at those stores in the first place and no one can think of anything they actually want or need. Has it always been this way with adults or is it just a function of the newer card swipe society buying everything they want when they want it? I seem to remember being able to buy awesome gifts for people until I was ~16... But we always end up reverting back to the status quo to make sure that one side doesn't end up changing their mind and getting nothing in return. This year I think we're actually going to stick to it since we decided on a good alternative. We're going to lump our Christmas gift money together and buy some cows/goats/chickens for people in Africa or South America.

My 5 year old PC went into a coma on Thursday due to successive power failures resulting in black screen of death (KSOD) where you get a black screen and your mouse cursor and that's it. Stupid me disabled sticky keys which apparently lets you hack back in to fix this problem. PSA to everyone that puts too much faith in technology: have multiple physical backups of anything important like family photos. We have taken about 2000 pictures per year since our kids have been born compared to the 200 max our parents took, yet we haven't developed anything due to photo overload whearas they had 50/200 decent pictures to add to an album. Luckily I was able to retrieve them through the file backup wizard in my recovery program and I'm going to start looking at cloud options and actually taking the best of them down to the printers.

I bought a new PC on Friday, which I was planning to do soon anyways even though I'm 95% confident my old one will work once I factory restore it, is having issues installing all sorts of stuff. Windows 7 64 bit is driving me a little bit crazy with 2 factory restores already and all sorts of installation errors. My biggest issue is getting both HEM and postgres installed properly at the same time. 4 failed attempts so far. Thankfully I have all 45 massive HH files from Stars to start the days long re-import process. Everything else is kind of meh for how I expected this to be a massive upgrade over Vista.

Random: I fell asleep watching TV last night. The next thing I know my 3 year old daughter is talking to me at 2am "... [with her hand over her head] and there was a spider this tall!" In a daze, I look at the TV. omg Starship Troopers... desperately mash buttons on the remote wondering how long has she been here and how much did she see. She didn't seem scared so hopefully not much. I've been feeling terrible about it all day.

Poker: There will be the inevitable end of year where am I going to play based on new information post. It could be huge in a good/bad way depending who you are and depending on whether the current almost factual rumors based on the source turn out to be true and implemented. Will post a couple days after the announcement which is supposed to be ~Dec 17th iirc once I've run calcs and listened to all of the sky is falling vs this is an awesome change static forum. Anything until then is just wild speculation.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Strategy Distribution

I was recently reading a post in SSFR by vini about "strategy strategy" and it really got me thinking. His general thesis as I understand it is that you should look out for the well being of your own bottom line since this game is all about winning money -- and in the process the collective bottom line of current winning regs -- and because of this ultimate goal, we should all stop posting strategy.

For the past few years I've posted a significant amount of HH thread strat and have generally thought of it as an overall positive activity for all those involved:
  • I like helping people and have a tough time staying away from an unanswered question (emotional, personality).
  • I have literally no one to discuss the intricacies of my passion with in real life and find online strat discussion to be an outlet for that (emotional).
  • I subscribed to the notion of "owing" something back to the community (sense of gratitude).
  • I like to receive confirmation that my own thought process is correct (+$).
  • I saw it as a win/win in that players playing lower would improve and win more for themselves, while at the same time moving money up the ladder and being able to become regs that I could take money from in my games. (+$).
So there's definitely real monetary positives to posting strategy and I can acknowledge that the non-montary positives aren't really necessary if we're thinking rationally and logically about our ultimate goal. But the question is: Is there a better way to accomplish the +$ parts of strat discussion?

Out of 6k+ posts, I've posted at most 10 of my own hands as I'm pretty paranoid that the questions I want to ask give way too much insight into my thought process. I've also found that a lot of the creative lines I like to take get flamed because it's difficult to explain exactly what's going on with the dynamic in a thread vacuum and would give very specific reads to some regs reading it. I'm pretty careful about posting 95% of my strat in threads for stakes lower than where I'm playing to accomplish the win/win but I'm starting to think that maybe those players are going to end up in the same place anyways and I'm unecessarily posting.

And then there's the whole issue with posting in a public forum. Regs do the vast majority of the work coming up with new strategy based off of the work that other regs have done in the past. I think this is where the "giving back" feeling comes in. But the fact is it's still out there for the whole lurking world to take for free and use against you. I sometimes find myself posting some detailed explanation of a certain concept, clicking submit, and then thinking to myself, "Why are you just giving away this concept that took you 2 months to figure out?" I am easily the the user with the highest edited post ratio on the forum. I honestly believe that the generally well written and detailed concept of the week series has had a massive impact on the ridiculous change in game dynamic in micro stakes games.

I'm still on the fence with this. It's really hard to break a habit. On the one hand I still just plain enjoy being able to discuss strategy with a large group of people and a wide range of ideas. On the other hand maybe it's better to just post on subscription based sites that have private forums where the players are generally already going to be good anyways and the nominal costs keep some of the lurking world out.

I imagine I'll just go with the flow. It's kind of a reverse bandwagon effect where no one jumps off because no one else has yet. We'll have to see if enough people are influenced by posts like vini's to make not posting standard. I imagine that's what will eventually happen. Every other trend else has trickled down from mid to small to micro stakes. Remember all of those great thinkers posting tons of strat in the middle of the last decade? I was quick to attribute their mass disappearance to the forum split, but now I think they just came to all of these conclusions a long time ago.

My last few blog posts have probably seemed trending towards this somewhat pessimistic discussion. To put it in context from my perspective: I'm still relatively optimistic about my place in this game for the next while after emerging from running worse than I ever thought possible over 14 months with my thought process virtually intact. But the thought of games getting tougher, and contributing to that, when your long term confidence hasn't fully recovered for the mediocre to above average reg who has less and less time to keep up with the perpetually increasing learning curve is a real cause for concern.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Tougher Games: Why?

I was starting to respond to a comment from my last post and it kind of turned into a blog post of it's own. I thought I might as well create a new post instead of having this buried in an obscure comment section.

Sammy Blackstar said...
"After coming back to online poker after 1 year from Oct.2010 I'd have to totally agree with this. The traffic on the cash games is pretty much 24 tables at each limit with regs making up the average.

I thought oh well I'll grind SNGs, the traffic is down on those. I think the #1 problem isn't the FPP Pros, it is that there are FAR TOO MANY Poker sites and so it isolates the players to many different places so getting a good game going is hard.

I blame Deuces Cracked and The Poker Blueprint for making this all happen. They show exactly how to mass table 10-50nl and make more then a minimum wage job."

I don't know if I can really blame it on there being too many poker sites. I took a look at pokerscout and added up the peak time cash players that are not ring-fenced -- I discarded all of the .it and .fr and svenska spel etc -- and there seem to be about 40k international peak time cash game players compared to Stars' 46k international peak cash players.

If we took all of those players and stuck them on Stars, sure we'd double the player pool and increase the number of tables somewhat, but I don't know how big of a dent it would make  in the shark:fish ratio due to the 24 table limit.

Lets say the current pool is 75% fish and 25% regs on Stars with real fish averaging 1 table and regs averaging 15. That's a 5:1 reg:fish ratio (pretty accurate ime for a mid cross section of the lobby at 25NL-50NL where there's more fish lower and less higher).

Now lets double the pool with the incoming players being a 80/20 split from euro sites. Essentially 155 fish for every 45 regs total for new percentages of 78% fish and 22% regs. With a 1 vs 15 table split it improves to 4.2:1.

That's obviously better, but it's not really going to happen and the same can be accomplished by simply reducing the average tables played by regs to 12 or less (note I'm not saying the average is 15, just for calculation's sake but as a general rule this shows that reducing tables slightly will vastly improve ratios compared to making huge increases in the player pool not having much relative effect).

Compare that to the 80/20 or better split on Euro sites where the software is so terrible that regs can't play more than 6 tables and are not enticed to play there even though it has 60% rakeback. You end up with a super fishy ratio of 1.5:1 through nothing more than a bad software feature.

I do however agree with you that training sites and good poker books literally giving away information for fractions of a penny on the dollar returned is largely at fault as well for turning the pool from a 90/10 split into a 75/25 split.

I distinctly remember people laughing at high priced ebook prices saying "A book is not worth $1000." Sure, a book is only worth $10 in paper and preparation, but the knowledge contained in it is worth thousands if it's groundbreaking stuff that other people don't have access to. I greatly attribute my success and progress in 2009 to the thought process structures in Baluga's Easy Game and I can track the flattening of my graph according to how fast the curve caught up to me as that info trickled out into the public domain.

Training sites and poker book authors vastly undervalue their product. This is a niche market and new information in niche markets is worth a lot of money. College textbooks and classes get you from $25k/year to $75k/year for a one time $1k-$5k purchase on books and $10k-$100k on classes depending where you live -- an amazing return. (Yes you could argue that the information is worthless and the piece of paper you get at the end is where the money is which is true a lot of the time -- but think engineering, graphic design, accounting...).

Poker information does exactly the same thing but people just see it as a book for a game. Full Stop. So it's only worth $29.99 -- giving the smart people that can actually implement it an incredible deal and return on investment in the process -- and authors and sites have decided to go with the mass production approach.

Kind of like how the poker sites are in a "RAKE ALL THE POTS!" mode right now trying to scoop as much as they can while they can by redistributing rake -- think switching to "fun and fair" weighted contributed which was actually less fun and far from fair -- and desperately trying to increase volume.

I can't say I really blame them since it's starting to look like a boom and artificially induced bust fad. Don't get me wrong, poker is not going to ever die out. Slots have always been -EV but they've always survived.

It's going to be interesting to see how the online game evolves. I expect with the status quo there will be a slow, mass culling of regs who get sick of being FPP pros or start only breaking even after rakeback, at which point the game will become more profitable again, leading to another slow decline as some regs trickle in and out of the game.

I only see two ways to avoid this eventual inevitability: reduce tables or have regulation that lets the public know they are free to be perpetual massive whales and a permanent source of disposable income. It's kind of ironic that if this happens, US players are actually going to end up way better off than the rest of us if they don't let us in, assuming their government doesn't rake them to death.