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Poker's Future

I just read a blog, BoboStonePony, while checking out All In magazine's Blog Monitor. Bobo wrote an article about the demise of the poker boom. It's an interesting read, mostly because it lacks any factual support. Granted, as bloggers, we have free license to post our opinions, whether they are based in fact or feeling. But this is one topic that I love to discuss, so I am going to take a moment to discuss why the poker boom will not die.

Sorry, Bobo, but I'm going to refer to your post. I mean no insult. I was originally going to post this in your comments, but it was getting too long. And besides, I find this topic interesting enough for my own post.

Bobo points to several factors as the precursor to the end of the poker boom: (1) Online poker is rigged, (2) the WPT replaced Shana Hiatt, and (3) Phil Helmuth replaced Phil Gordon on Celebrity Poker Showdown. Let's go down the list, combining 2 and 3.

First off, online poker is rigged? How so? Where is the proof? Bobo suggests that it must be rigged because why wouldn't they rig it? I don't know why they wouldn't, but I don't see that they have. Besides, if news came out that site A was crooked with proof, then everyone would just move to site B. Sure, some would be discouraged. But poker is an addictive game. It's like saying that a drunk will quit drinking when he gets fooled into buying an O'Douls (non-alcoholic beer). People like video games, and they love poker, so it will continue, even in the face of unsubstantiated rumors of cheating. Sure, we'll lose some players, same as we do now. But remember that the next generation will be so used to computers (hell, they already are) that they are not going to have the same suspicions as the older generations. I, fortunately, am in that middle generation, where computers grew up with us, from the old Commodore 64 to the new Macs. But these younger kids don't even know each others' voices. It's all IMs, and ten different programs, so online poker is second nature to these instant gratification beasts.

Second, Bobo makes a very good point with the change of Hiatt and Gordon. It IS very much like changing Darrens on Bewitched or Beckys on Roseanne. Viewership might fall as a result. People might find Hellmuth to be off-putting and a crappy ambassador for the game. WPT ratings may continue to drop. But that doesn't mean much. At least not to me.

Poker is likely a cyclical business, like comic books or professional wrestling. It will never fold. There will be periods of great interest, followed by lulls. But it will survive because it's core fan base is loyal. It's exploded from the start of the WPT and WSOP coverage, but it didn't just create a fad audience. It also exposed people like me, who have become loyal to the game, even after the novelty of some of the TV shows wore off. I haven't read a poker (how to) book in ages, and I usually only half-watch poker TV shows. But I'm playing the game nightly, and I'll continue to do so, no matter if they have Tiffany Williamson as the new WSOP commentator.

So, let's take a look at Bobo's predictions for poker's future:

So, Bobo, I don't mean to single you out. Consider it point-counterpoint, and I am presenting the opposing position. Poker will not die out. It will level off at some point in the future, but first we will have a steady influx of new 21-year-olds, who were 15 when the WSOP 2003 happened, and got caught up in the hype. Until then, enjoy your poker.

posted by Jordan @ 11:26 AM,


At 1:06 PM, Blogger Raveen said...

solid post as always i completely agree with you on the poker boom will peak level out then peak again but will never completely go away....loved the drinking odouls analogy perfectly put still laughing about it

At 1:53 PM, Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Great post as per usual J.

I agree with almost all of your comments to the bobo's post. Honestly, he sounds like a guy who doesn't actually play much poker but is writing these statements down for some reason. Maybe to generate some traffic, maybe to get people like us to comment about it on our blogs and stir up some controversy, I don't know. But saying that the WSOP Main Event is likely to level off around 1000 entrants a year? I think that is Just. Plain. Moronic. I just don't understand the logic of that. I think it's much more likely that it crosses over 10,000 than that it is ever below 1000 entrants again. Ever.

And btw, his first point about online poker being rigged because "why wouldn't they?" is perhaps the only thing dumber than the WSOP 1000 prediction I've heard in quite a while. There are just so many answers to why they wouldn't rig it, it's not even funny. Now, if he had asked "why would they rig it?", that is a harder question to answer, because of all the likely fallout if a given site got caught. But why Wouldn't they? That just makes no sense at all.

Hey tonight is my weekly homegame Mondays at the Hoy at 10pm ET on pokerstars if you're interested (I know you railed but just missed joining last week). Signup details are on my blog if you're interested.

Can't wait to go read your AC recap posts now! Thanks for the entertainment as always man, and maybe see you tonight.

At 4:11 PM, Blogger Bloody P said...

Awesome post, Jordan.

I think you're pretty much right on with your response to every topic.


At 8:03 PM, Blogger bobostonepony said...

First off, I would like to thank you for your response to my blog post. I also would like to thank the people who have commented on your post.

I can fully understand your counterpoints and would like to clarify. I should say that no, I have NO factual evidence to support my theory that online poker is rigged. I certainly do not think that online poker sites are out to get ME and me alone and I certainly don't think that I am so special as to be targeted by any online poker site.

My reasoning is simply based on my personal experience and the experiences of those whom I regularly play live poker with. I am in no way a pro, a semi-pro, or anything with "pro" in it. I have however won over 10 MTT's in the past 2 years and consider myself to be an average online player. I don't propose to know more than I actually do. However, there are many patterns and similarities that have surrounded each one of those wins. Those patterns and similarities are simply too obvious for me to brush off as coincidence.

I'll focus on a couple.

1. In each one of those wins, every single one, I have withdrew a large amount immediately after. For example, If I won $1258 I would withdraw $1150 and leave $108 in my account. Every time I have done this, that remaining $108 seems to be almost "taken" quickly away with extremely unlikely bad beats and suckouts. Of course, you might argue, this could be a coincedence but 10 out of 10 is pretty good data. My colleagues concur that this has happened to them as well.

2. During MTT's it is very common to see big stacks completely suck out on small stacks that are all in. It would seem the reasoning behind this is to speed up the tournament. The statistical improbability of the amount of times this happens is mind boggling.

3. When choosing a new site or going back to a site I haven't played at in awhile, it seems that I have a VERY high degree of success immediately. For example, after not playing on Ultimate Bet for several months, I returned and won the VERY FIRST MTT I entered. That was almost $800. When I first signed up at Paradise Poker, I won $1000 on a 800 player MTT (THE VERY FIRST ONE I SIGNED UP FOR). When I signed up at Poker Time, I didn't win the first MTT but came in 2nd for $300 and some change. When I first joined Titan, I won on the very first night as well and won a few over the first few days. All of this can be seen by looking at the screen shots over the history of my blog. Again, anyone might argue that it is simply a huge coincidence. I just don't buy it.

My theory is that players are given a value. If you have a value or have deposited in a way that makes you very likely to re-deposit if you go broke, than you might be prone to bad beats. If you haven't been on a site for awhile and come back, you might be prone to very good luck. If that good luck warrants that you make a withdrawal, you might then be subjected to very bad luck.... immediately after that withdrawal. If you are in an MTT and have a VERY large stack, you might be prone to sucking out on small stacks that go all in.

I know you may think I am full of it, but all I can ask is that you NOTICE what happens after you win a large MTT and then just leave a small portion of it in your account. It doesn't matter what site. Also, go back to site you haven't played at in at least 3 months and play in a $5 or $10 MTT. See what happens.

If I'm wrong, I'm wrong. I'm willing to live with that. But the patterns are just too unlikely to me.

Thanks again for not bashing me in your post. I appreciate that way in which you responded. Maybe revisit my site in a couple years and see if any of my points have become a reality.

At 9:20 PM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

Let me just say that this is the way for an intelligent blogger debate to occur. Thanks Bobo.

I think you make some interesting points. I, too, have won a few big MTTs and lost afterward, but allow me a moment to explain some potential answers.

(1) Variance. It speaks for itself.

(2) After you have a big win, it's easy to get sloppy.

(3) Big stacks win against small stacks in tournaments because big stacks are willing to get in there with the worst of it.

I guess that is the most of it. Everyone has a right to believe what they will. Thanks for responding and thanks for writing an interesting post. It got me thinking, and in the end, I suppose that is what it is all about.

At 9:57 AM, Blogger FloppyJT said...


At 10:42 AM, Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Let me just weigh in with another "Wow" in response to bobo's comment. But I too appreciate the opportunity for an intelligent debate. I did used to think that about online poker way back when, but those arguments are....let's say, unpersuasive to me.

At 12:16 PM, Anonymous Lucypher said...

I enjoyed both bobo's post and yours, Jordan. Anyway, I can tell you this. While I do not believe the actual poker sites have done anything to rig the game, there are plenty of players that may be trying to rig the game. When the cable guy came to fix my roadrunner recently, he warned me that he has seen with his own eyes "boiler rooms" where there are 6-8 (or more) PCs set up in one room and the players all collude and split the money they take off unsuspecting non-cheating players. If poker on the net is suspect, it is for this sort of reason.

At 2:08 PM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

Lucypher, without a doubt that happens. Hell, I've even toyed with the idea before, until I realized that it would be like taking a huge dump on my favorite passtime.

I don't deny that things like that occur. I don't even deny that a site might have "prop" players, and that the game MAY BE rigged to assist them.

What I deny is that any of this matters. People are always going to be willing to play poker online. It's the new insulin! No matter what happens to the economy, insulin will sell, because people NEED it. While people don't "NEED" online poker, they feel the need for it. So even if Party is discovered to be a scam and gets shut down, everyone will go to FullTilt under their new, "NO CHEATERS ALLOWED" ads or policy, or a small site will pop up with a press release about their corporate transparency and catch on.

Let me offer another analogy. Jimmy is a porn addict. He pays hundreds of dollars to several sites because he likes to look at barely legal teens. One day, Jimmy finds out that one of this creditcards have been scammed. After weeks of frustration, he discovers that a porn site took his credit card info and raped his account. Jimmy is upset, so he stops paying for porn and changes all of his credit cards. But he eventually decides to start looking at the free porn sites, because Jimmy LOVES the porn.

Meanwhile, Paul is also a porn addict, and he sees on the news that porn sites have been linked to credit card fraud. But Paul thinks, "eh, it won't happen to me" while some hack journalist interviews a pixilated Jimmy.

This is why online poker won't end. Because there are always other players who think it won't happen to them, and there are always alternatives (such as free porn, or in poker, freerolls) that allow players to get their jollies.

At 8:55 PM, Blogger bobostonepony said...

Here ya go, finally some proof as reported by


Tom Meny
AKA - Bobostonepony

At 7:13 PM, Blogger bobostonepony said...

How many people were at the WSOP this year? Got that one right too.

At 2:54 PM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

Damn, Tom. True enough. I always believed that there was some cheating online, but not that it is rampant. I also don't think it will prevent online poker from continuing. But you were right about the dip in the WSOP. I just don't think it'll ever reach 1k people, certainly not by 2011.

But thanks for the update.


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