Sunday, October 15, 2006

THE BILL - A BEAGLE'S PERSPECTIVE

As you should all know, the ‘Unlawful Gambling Enforcement Act’ was passed late one Friday night before finally being signed by George Bush, thereby confirming the new legislation as law.

As someone who relies heavily on online poker for an income, this is very disconcerting news indeed.

Although I simultaneously work for blonde, the majority of my personal income derives from online poker, a source which I have been utilising on a regular basis since last November.

I was profiting online prior to that date, but nowhere near to the amount I earn now, and it was this rise in financial gain that encouraged me to relinquish my job, resulting in 2 months of professional play before acquiring my editing duties with blonde.

Although I realised that the poker boom would someday come to an end, I never for one moment thought that it would disperse so abruptly. Due to an exceeding level of complacency, I assumed that even if numbers did fall, they would never drop to a level in which I would find it difficult to earn a substantial profit. However, losing 20 million Americans is a different kettle of fish, and a figure that could well spell the end for my online career.

A couple of days ago, I logged into my preferred choice of online site, only to be met with a baron lobby, painfully few in numbers. I tried to set up a few tables, but due to the lack of players, my table selection was limited and the average standard of player seemed to be well above the norm.

For almost a year, I have adopted the same strategy to online poker. Whenever possible and updating duties permitting, I boot up the laptop at around 2am, find 4x 6-handed tables in which I can sit down as the biggest stack among a selection of unfamiliar names, and play in a patient way that involves waiting for tired/angry/intoxicated American players to virtually give their money away. It’s a simple approach, but one that has worked almost flawlessly for quite some time.

With the new legislation finally put in place, the number of American opponents will inevitably drop dramatically. As a result, my strategy will be severely disrupted for the following reasons:

(i) From my experience, there appears to be a higher ratio of strong players in Europe.
(ii) Table selection will decrease, meaning that I may have to settle for tables which include one or two stronger players. It will also prove more difficult to be the biggest stack on four tables.
(iii) I will be forced to change my time of play, consequently losing my American customers who are tired/angry/intoxicated.
(iv) European players have a different style to Americans. I will therefore need to change my game in order to cater for this new type of opponent.
(v) The American sites will be obliged to target the European market, thereby resulting in a larger contingent of Scandinavians, a section of Europe that contains a high concentration of strong players.
(vi) I may have to play on a different site, one in which I am not used to. I have tried to switch before, but with little success. The sites I currently use and the set-up/presentation they adopt not only suit my own personal style, but are also user-friendly to mulit-tablers.

As a result of the aforementioned problems that will undoubtedly face me, I believe the profits I currently enjoy, and the lifestyle it allows me to lead, will be in serous jeopardy.

What angers me most about the situation is not the idea of the hypocritical discrediting of civil freedom or the underhand method of passing a bill though as an addition to a wholly unconnected legislation, but rather, and this is from a totally selfish point of view, the mere fact that I have spent four years trying to master a winning strategy.

I spent hours upon hours upon hours playing online poker with little, if no success. Whilst I lost at first, I gradually improved my game, for a while breaking even before finally stumbling across a strategy that worked, one in which I actually profited on the game I love. The road was long, and it resulted in a seemingly endless method of experimentation in which I investigated all forms of style and technique. But now, it looks as though I’ll have to start all over again.

This isn’t to say I can’t rekindle a winning strategy within these changing circumstances, it just means that I’ll have top put in some extra work:

(i) Note-taking is something that I don’t currently do. Although I tend to encourage it to strengthen your edge, I’ve never really found the need for it due to the high numbers of players that participate on my chosen site and my eagerness to avoid the sharks.
(ii) Compile a different strategy for tackling the differing styles of the European players. European players seem to be rather less predictable, semi-bluffing, reading hands better, not always bluffing missed draws and so on. All these changes in play will need to be re-assessed and my game to adapt accordingly.
(iii) Find out who the strong players are and avoid them like the plague
(iv) Become accustomed to a new site
(v) Improve at live multis

Over the past year, I have certainly developed a rather arrogant sense of complacency. I’ve trundled along without ever taking the prospect of an American ban realistically, simply believing that it would never pass congress due to the opposition it would surely face. But, of course, I have been proved wrong. Although ¾ of people back online gambling and various figures from within the poker industry have vehemently fought in its defence, the ultimate and saddening conclusion is that the government can do whatever they want, regardless of what the rest of the country think.

I suppose it’s not all doom and gloom, I’m still alive and, as Mr Idle once gleamed, one should always try to look on the bright side of life, so I guess that’s the only feasible way forward.

Although many online sites have excluded American custom with immediate effect, there are those, such as PokerStars and Full Tilt, who continue to embrace American players. Although this is likely to come to an end once the 270 day period is over, until that time, the inevitable result will be more players and therefore more table and player selection for European players. If I can adjust to these new sites who are still welcoming American deposits, then I may be able to profit considerably until the 270 day period draws to close.

Also, whilst numbers will initially drop, the American sites will inevitably target some of those European countries that have yet to fully embrace poker, such as Germany and Italy.

Asia is an untouched market in the online poker industry too, and there is no doubt in my mind that if this area is targeted, a lot of easy money will become available online. Unfortunately, pursuing these markets could prove time consuming and may not come into fruition until later on down the line.

Finally, poker remains a highly desirable and lucrative recreation. With a 270 day period allocated for polices to be put in place, I’m sure that various sites, companies and other interest groups will find exploitable loopholes in the legislation and various ways of enabling the general public to play online poker without the threat of conviction. After all, playing online is still a legal activity.

So, although I remain deeply concerned by my immediate and inevitable decrease in financial income from online poker, there is light at the end of the tunnel. It is going to require a combination of remaining positive and working hard if things don’t work themselves out, but the fact remains that even without the American market at my disposal, there will always be bad players, there will always be people tilting, and there will always be money to be made.

For now, I must confess to being disheartened, but I shall remain optimistic. It’s demoralising when your income is decreased beyond your control, but if there are still opportunities to maintain that level of income, you do whatever you can to snap them up.

What amazes me is the effect a political act can have on an individual located across the other side of the world. In comparison to those professional online players with mortgages, families and various other responsibilities, my concerns are incredibly minor. If anything, these recent developments have opened my eyes to the worldwide power of politics and the dramatic effect a simple legislation can have on so many segments of society. Players, clubs, magazines, TV shows, etc – they will all be affected by the bill and many lives may change as a result, it’s just a shame that the powers that be have ulterior motives that surpass any such concerns.

Only time will tell what will happen to the online poker industry, and although it could cost me money, it sure will be interesting finding out…

And as always, if anyone else wishes to voice their opinions on the new legislation and what it means to the future of online poker, then please feel free to post on the forum by clicking the 'view in forum' link below.

5 Comments:

At 9:37 AM, Blogger All Chin said...

Full Tilt has a great setupfor multi-tabling. It has 6 max and also 8 and 9 handed tables. I'd recommend Poker Ace Hud (do a google search- you can have a free 21 day trial)also if you're multi-tabling and don't like taking notes.

 
At 10:06 AM, Blogger Alex Martin said...

Nice effort for the week Snoop. I tried posting on blonde yesterday but couldnt suss it out.
p.s Are you going to the Southern masters?

 
At 1:11 PM, Blogger The Shockmaster said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 5:36 PM, Blogger Ukgatsby said...

Fantastic Post. Land of the free where you cant play poker but can buy a gun. Unreal !!!

 
At 12:27 PM, Blogger snoopy1239 said...

Not sure about Southen Masters, probably will be working if I'm there rather than playing.

Thx for the advice all chin, I'll look in to that.

Currently trying to deposit on PokerStars but they're not making it easy.

 

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