The Poker Industry

Many professional poker players assume they play an role in the poker industry, and that poker operators want them to succeed. This assumption might be more accurate if both operators and professional players benefited solely from volume. However, professional poker players need a weaker player/players at the table to overcome the rake taken by the house. Also, many poker operators have no real interest in poker. They would rather have all of their gamblers spend their money in the sportsbook (PS is obviously an exception). Generally, poker players are seen as taking money away from them. Unlike gamblers professional poker players actually cash out and don’t lose it all back to the house. So while poker operators focus on driving their players back to the sportsbook while barely tolerating poker, professional poker players need a mix of volume and fishiness to create success. Unfortunately, what little attention poker operators place toward poker is focused solely on increasing volume and boosting their revenues. Not enough money has been spent trying to attract new and recreational poker players to the game. Unfortunately, this is reducing the earning potential of professional poker players.

How Rakeback Calculations Are Hurting Poker Players

Lets talk about a couple of ways the poker industry has changed the rules in the past 5-10 years. One big change I have seen in the poker industry that many are unaware of is changes in the way that rake-back is calculated. Almost universally the contributed method is now used to calculate rake-back. Under the contributed method only those that put money in the pot receive rake back for that hand. In contrast under the dealt hands method you get rake-back for every dealt at a table you are playing at. Naturally, this change has hurt the tighter players at the table, (usually the winners) who receive much less rake-back as a result. Reducing player rewards (for good players) and effectively increasing the rake on them is just one of the changes poker operators have employed, which have harmed professional poker players.

Some networks have gone entirely to anonymous tables. This reduces your ability to have an edge at the table by preventing you from accumulating information about your opponents. This is obviously beneficial to the weaker players at the table. Consider if you played against some opponent that likes to over-bet shove the river as a bluff. After playing with them once or twice you would notice this tendency and be able to pick them off.  However, if you run into this same player at an anonymous table you will have no idea what to do because you don’t know who it is. Every time you sit at an anonymous table it takes a bit of time where you need to play standard tight poker before you can get a feel for it and really exploit your opponents. Who is this good for? The poker operator, of course, who is collecting more rake while it is taking you and the other good players longer to win against weaker players at the table.

Why Ring Fencing Is Hurting Poker

A new and very dangerous development in the poker industry is the ring fencing of “good players” away from the “bad players”. Some networks (namely I-poker) is dividing up players/skins based on what appears to be their win/loss record. Depending on how successful players on a particular skin are they may get bumped into a different pool of players. Presumably, weak players are ring fenced into playing other weak poker players and strong players will battle against other strong poker players. These worrisome trends in the industry will likely continue and are creating a very real cap on the earning potential of professional poker players. Hope you guys enjoyed this article. Follow me on Twitter (@pokercapitalist)

Also don’t forget to check out my newly released book Exploitive No Limit Holdem.

-ThePokerCapitalist

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2 Comments

  1. TedHawkins says:

    Great site. I enjoyed reading your articles. Regarding ring fencing players I was aware of Party and Revolution adopting it. Has IPoker joined the club? As far as I know they only split the network in two different tiers.

    • thepokercapitalist says:

      Thanks for the comment. The ring fencing at IPoker is definitely a little bit different. Some skins like Bet365 have “Premium” tables where only players on that skin can see those tables. This seems to be a trend as well since I have seen this on other networks as well. Ladbrokes for example has their own tables on the MG network. IPoker also seems to be trying to push skins to bring in new players etc and have a rating system for determining on which side of the fence a skin falls (as you mentioned they split). All interesting developments.

      -ThePokerCapitalist

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