One thing I’ve learned about playing online poker for a living is that you have to be flexible because things are always changing. Always have a backup plan in case things don’t go as they should. Never put all your eggs in one basket.
Black Friday showed that the state of online poker can change dramatically overnight. I saw many lives get turned upside down as a result, and I feel lucky that I didn’t have to experience the problems many American players faced.
I also feel lucky that I learned a valuable lesson: My “job” can disappear at any time. While online poker will always be available, it might not always be a viable way to make a living. Perhaps something like Black Friday will occur where I live. Maybe the games will become too tough.
Or maybe volume will decrease so much that I won’t be able to get enough games in. For example, the recent segregation of players from Spain has caused a slight reduction in player traffic on PokerStars.
The quality and volume of SnGs has been a growing problem this year, particularly with 6-max. I didn’t play 6-max SnGs until around February, so I have no idea what they were like last year. I do know that they were much better at the start of 2012 than they are now, though.
I remember hoping that games would improve in June because of the WSOP, but the opposite happened. The quality of games wasn’t always bad, but the volume was really terrible.
I remember looking at the 6-max lobbies one afternoon and seeing only one SnG over $60 running.
My friends and I suspect that the introduction of $200 hyper-turbo SnGs killed our action. Recreational players tend to enjoy games that go faster, so they are more likely to play a $200 hyper-turbo than a $200 regular turbo.
Adapting Strategy to Changing Poker Games
As I’ve said many times before, I am terrible at multi-tabling. Because of this, I was playing fewer games per day but at a higher average buy-in (usually between $100 and $120). So it was a really big problem for me when the mid- and-high stakes didn’t run anymore.
I wasn’t the only one to run into problems. All turbo 6-max games suffered, including lower stakes. Because the high-stakes games weren’t running, the high-stake regs were forced to play lower stakes if they wanted to play. This made the lower-stake games much tougher to beat.
I love SnGs and everything, but this is a huge problem for me. A lot of players can just accept the lower average buy-in and play more tables to compensate for the loss in hourly, but this isn’t an option for me. So what should I do? Settle for making less money? Move to hypers?
I haven’t exactly come up with a solution yet. I actually decided to temporarily run away from the problem and, in the meantime, play a completely different game instead. I briefly explained how I arrived at my decision to try PLO cash games in my Wordpress blog, so feel free to take a look if you are interested.
I apologize for the doom-and-gloom tone of this entry – it wasn’t intentional. While I am frustrated with the state of the games right now, I am optimistic that they will improve in the future. I think that the possibility of real money games on Zynga is really exciting, as is the possibility of legal online poker in the U.S.
It seems like online poker has a bright future ahead, so I think that poker players hoping or trying to make a living playing online should stay patient for now. I plan to keep playing and improving my game so that if and when the next poker boom happens, I am well and ready.