Planet Mark's Blog. Thoughts, News And Strategy For Poker Tournaments Of All Size

Back Motivated And Historically Bemused

Happy to be writing this from my home office in Budapest. After 12 excellent days  in my native England my motivation is well and truly topped up, and after a day of catching up with everything poker-related I am ready to get working on new ideas and material for my network of sites. There has always been a lot of background ‘chatter’ comparing the poker games of 2004 to those of 2012… I agree that they are different beasts, however there was always something that made me a little uncomfortable when I read / heard the stories.

While away I finally put my finger on it.Now, the games back in 2004 were much softer, nobody would argue with that. As one excellent opinion piece over at Poker News Boy put it recently ‘A Fish in 2004 did not understand pot odds, a fish in 2012 does not 3-bet the button frequently enough’… haha, very true. The underlying assumption when hearing people in forums / blogs complain about the far tougher games is this: If I had only discovered online poker in 2003 (instead of 2010) I would be rich beyond my wildest dreams by now…

Yes, someone with today’s skillset would crush those games, little doubt there. But hang on a moment.

In 2004 there were the same (or very similar) proportion of winning and losing players as there are now. A few players were making a mint, a bunch more breaking even or getting by – and 80-odd percent were donating their money. There were just as many winners and just as many losers.

Sure, someone with todays skills would crush the games… so the question should not be ‘were the games easier’, it should be ‘why were there such a small proportion of big winners when the games were so much easier?’ Poker has evolved from a point where 4-tabling was all new (the proportion of winners to fish was better!). Through the ‘rakeback years’ (which saw players turn from aspiring future pros into multi-tabling robots). Into the stats / HUD as a necessity rather than a handy extra and then into the ‘get trained or lose’ period… we are now in a new ‘faster and faster’ phase, with zoom + clones and hyper-turbos becoming the norm.

Players have evolved with the game. You are factually correct to say that if a magic poker time machine appeared, poker pros today would crush the 2004 tables.

What is incorrect is to assume that you as an individual player would have been anywhere else in the continuum of winners and losers than you are today.

One more note, you can beat the games today just as you could back then. All you need is a solid understanding of the math, discipline and the motivation to play at sites which are not the ones where the ‘cool’ pros hang out… if you have not seen the tables at networks with big sports-betting interests such as Titan Poker (iPoker) or Red Kings (OnGame) recently then it is about time you checked them out… You could step away from the NL Holdem / PLO cash games and enjoy the multiple fish in tournaments, SNGs or mixed games.... you could specialize in one game and search the sites for the softest spots... or maybe you prefer hanging at Pokerstars with today’s killer breed of 16 tabling pros, while telling yourself how unlucky you are not to have discovered the games in 2004?

GL at the 2012 tables, Mark

PS: I'll add this (and other new articles as they are published) to the SNG Planet Facebook group, feel free to join us!

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