Monday, April 18, 2011

The Best Laid Plans....

So as most of whatever readers I still have likely know by now, the FBI effectively put an end to online poker in the US for the time being this Friday. Obviously this is really bad for everyone, not just American players, but admittedly being Canadian is even awesomer than usual right now. I don't want to downplay the significance of this event or ignore the potential long term negative effects it could have on the poker industry as a whole, but I am an optimistic albeit realistic person so that's probably the angle I'll take in most of whatever I end up writing here. At least after I vent some frustrations about deciding to grind FTOPS and SCOOP instead of going to play awesome tourneys in Europe. Oops.

I am not going to speculate about US finally regulating online gaming because I have no special knowledge about that. What I do know is that Stars and Full Tilt are still the two biggest online poker sites in the world (though the Party/Bwin merger may push them into 2nd whenever that is finalized). They are going to continue on strong and find new ways to grow in the market that is still available to them. We should be especially thankful for all the work the online sites, but especially PokerStars, have done promoting the game around the world. If not for that this situation would be an awful lot worse for everyone, not just people like me who still have good games to grind online. Poker has gotten big enough that this hit should merely slow it down a little, and not be anything close to a crushing blow to the industry as a whole. Even my American friends who want to continue playing for a living have some options.

In the short term I'll have a better idea of how this effects me in a few weeks, but I don't expect it to be too drastic. I can still make a good amount of money playing online tournaments. The huge prize pools are gone, but some tournaments may actually get softer without all the American pros. FTOPS and SCOOP are a lot less exciting and I'll probably be skipping a lot more days than I was planning to, but they should still be quality series. I don't know what this really does to the high buy-in SCOOP events, especially in the less popular games, but the M-level buy-in events should all still have good enough fields and be a lot of fun. The less popular game events in FTOPS may be a bit of a joke unfortunately but the NL events will be solid enough.

The other potential benefit of this is it will force me to grind a lot more. There won't even be big mixed games for me to lose money at, or many big buy-in tournaments where my edge is questionable. If I want to play a weekday I'll have to grind in the afternoon and play a lot of smaller field events where my variance is reduced but I should still have a decent ROI. Sundays appear to still be really strong in the afternoon, though later events did not draw much of a field today. Anyways the point I was trying to make is this may actually force my game selection to be better by default.

Overall, I still really like my situation playing poker for a living. The net effect of this week's events is of course very negative, but I'm lucky not to have been hit as hard as many. Even for my friends south of the border there are reasons to be optimistic. It's going to be a rough ride, but in the end I'm hopeful everyone will come out OK.

Mike

PS. Oops forgot to include rant about UB/AP. I had a decent amount of money on there as it's the only place I win, and I am not at all confident I'll get it off. I can't really see how the Cereus Network survives without the American market. They are crippled at best and they must know this. I do not trust them to not just run off with my money given that we already know they are run by crooks. I snap cashed out Friday afternoon, will post in the comments here if/when the transaction goes through. I am concerned.

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