Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Popularity of Playing Online Poker

The popularity of playing poker online is constantly growing each and every day. Forget that each and every hour of each passing day. It's amazing to me to see the numbers of players that constantly hit up the tables at places like party poker, poker stars, ultimate bet and many others. Think about the popularity of online poker for one second; party poker just went over their three billionth hand played and they gave away some great cash prizes for those players sitting at the table for this tremendous occasion. To me that is absolutely incredible.

Online poker is definitely a good way to start your poker career off. There are obvious reasons why as you can play a lot of hands for relatively cheap amounts of cash and you can get a lot of hands under your belt (by playing at more than one table at once) before you hit up the real felt at a casino or in a live tourney. I for one am a big fan of playing online poker as on some nights we will throw a
Poker Party in my buddies basement where everyone brings out their laptops and we play in tourneys or sit and go's. Don't get me wrong, we love to play home games but some people are just hooked on playing online poker. I am one of those as i will often find myself either in my office or my bud's basement rifling through sit'n'go after sit'n'go.

If you are new to poker are you are curious about how much money you might need to start off your poker bankroll I found this great article from Cardplayer magazine on bankroll requirements for online poker. Read the article below:

Cardplayer Magazine
written by: Roy Cooke

To state the obvious, it is important when playing poker not to go broke. You need to have sufficient bankroll depth to survive the cruel beats the deck will put on you, sometimes for days and weeks, and even months. This is even more true for Internet play than live play.

I have written before about the conventional wisdom for bankroll requirements for limit poker: somewhere between 200 and 300 big betting units of the game you play. If you are playing for a living and it is your only source of income, I would add six months of living expenses to the equation. How fast a style you play, the difference of ability between yourself and your opponents, and which game you are playing (Omaha eight-or-better will have smaller swings than limit hold’em) all impact the equation, but I believe the guideline is a good one and a conservative one. If you go broke under those circumstances your game is in need of an overhaul.

But it’s a new millennium, the new information age is upon us, and it’s a new world. The Internet has taken the poker world by storm; versus live play, an ever-growing percentage of poker action is found on the Net. While many concepts of live and Internet poker are congruent, bankroll requirements are not. The conventional limit guidelines were set for live limit games.

In my oft-repeated dictum that net edge times volume equals expectation, which added over time into a recurring field will equal earn, the Internet has provided a powerful opportunity to manipulate the volume variable. But, it sometimes comes at the expense of some edge, and, accordingly, this affects how big a bankroll you need.

So, what are the bankroll requirements for online play? Yeah, you guessed it. It depends. Like live play, how fast a style you play, how great the difference of ability between yourself and your opponents, and which game you play all impact your bankroll requirements. That said, the equation for Internet versus live play is somewhat different, with many varying components to be weighed.

First, the edge factor in Internet play is not as high as if you were playing the same opponents in a live game. The reason for that is that your “game feel” is greatly reduced by lack of visual contact. For instance, you can’t see how a player handles his chips and therefore gauge his experience level. Also, tells are fewer and less reliable. Because the edge factor is not as high, you need a larger bankroll to handle the increase in statistical fluctuation that a lower edge factor produces.

Second, you can play more hands per hour, either because Internet poker deals more hands per hour or because you can play more than one game at once. While playing more hands per hour increases the amount of money you bet per hour, it does not increase your fluctuation per hand. Each hand is an independent event. If you play 100 hands at a given edge and it takes you two hours to play those hands, your statistical fluctuation is the same as if you played that same number of hands over one hour. So, the mere fact that you play more hands per hour does not require an increase in your bankroll requirements.

That concept also holds true when playing more than one game. When you play two games at the same time, they are independent events, and assuming that the edge factor is the same, no increase in bankroll requirements is required. It makes no difference if you play two games at once or one game for twice as long. Or does it?

If you had a robot playing identical strategy in both games, it would not. But no two lineups are identical, and each table you play creates additional demands on your decision-making processes, which must cause a deterioration in the quality of your decisions. No human can play two games as effectively as one. This factor is magnified for those playing three, four, or more games. A player earning $25 per hour playing one $10-$20 game will not earn $50 per hour playing in two games or $100 per hour in four. You just lose something from your game when you have twice as many issues to deal with. Personally, I find the point of significant diminishing returns at the third game, but I recognize that this may not be true for those with more agile minds than mine, particularly younger players raised on the Net.

How much edge you lose depends upon the human element. I’ve seen some young guns raised on video games play very close to perfect, and good players in a single poker game fall apart when attempting to play two games at once.

So, once again, we have a situation in which the volume bet per hand should be about equal (I understand that playing two games will adjust your volume, also, although it should be slight), but the edge factor is reduced, producing greater fluctuation and creating higher bankroll requirements.

A third major factor is the prevalence of shorthanded games on the Internet. The Internet is rife with fivehanded and sixhanded games, as well as heads-up opportunities. On many sites, the standard table has nine players rather than 10, and even this requires some adjustment. Playing shorthanded strategy involves playing more hands in a more aggressive manner, which greatly increases your fluctuation. So, if you are playing shorthanded games, be prepared to swing wildly and possess the bankroll to sustain those swings. If you play heads up exclusively on the Internet, a completely different analysis is necessary, especially if you play freezeouts.

This again brings us to bankroll requirements. If I am a tight, solid player with a significant edge over my opponents, one for whom a 200 big-bet bankroll in live play would be very adequate, I would increase my bankroll requirements 50 percent and make it 300 big-bet units for Internet play. A fast-paced player or one playing in an environment in which the edge between himself and his opponents is not great, one who requires a bankroll of 300 big-bet units if playing live, should increase his bankroll requirement 50 percent to 450 units when playing on the Internet.

In both cases — the tight, solid player, and the fast-paced or lower-edge player — if I were playing more than one game, I would double my requirements from live play to make up for the lower edge from playing multiple games. If I were playing shorthanded constantly, I would give myself 500 units if playing one game and 1,000 units for multiple games.

One of the many results of the greater number of hands played per hour with positive edge by winning players is that losing players are getting their money in with negative edge faster — which means the sharks are swallowing the guppies at a more rapid pace. This has profound implications for the future of the Internet poker economy, including the fact that as the guppies bust out, the sharks’ edge against the field must shrink.

Internet poker is still evolving. The industry is only six years old, and really took on its present form with the advent of PartyPoker in 2001. The game as you know it today will be very different a year, two, or five from now — and you’ll need to readjust your bankroll requirements accordingly as the future game takes shape.

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