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

What Actually Makes A Poker Room “Best”?

I have favorite poker sites, you probably do too… I go to thinking what proportion of our decisions on where we play is from ‘objective analysis’ and what proportion due to familiarity, loyalty to our first site or even peer pressure. Not going to recommend any specific room in this post – just wanted to see if I can make one or two readers have a think about it.There are a number of criteria which we could objectively (well, semi-objectively!) use to choose a poker site to play on: Software, Game Availability / Choice, Opponent’s Average Ability, Promotions and Bonuses, Easy Deposits and Withdrawals, Good Customer Service, Qualifiers To Events and so on… Let us take a few and look a little deeper… my hypothesis here is that there are actually very few criteria which alone make the decision for most of us, this naturally excludes the pro-grinders in many cases:

Software: Sure, some is ugly and some smooth… however if you could make twice the return playing the ugly version then this is not so vital, right? Instead of ‘great software’ the criteria should be ‘glitch free’ software… which the majority is.

Game Availability / Choice: Sure, Rush, 180s every 4 minutes and mixed games might give you a reason to choose the top 2 sites. Just hang on though, an average player wanting a few SNGs or 3 tables of NL25 for a couple of hours in the evening can choose from just about any site... and the fact that most players simply sit in the first games with open seats - even when they do have the choice - means that ‘having a big list of tables to select from’ is a little thin as far as a good reason goes for all of us except the grinders.

Bonuses And Promotions: That big a difference? I don’t buy it, almost all of the bigger sites have a similar 100% match, loyalty scheme and extra promos. The small difference you might find from Pokerstars VIP club is probably more than balanced by the larger number of small stakes pros taking advantage. Anyway, since the bonuses are front loaded to give incentives to new players… is the rational path not to keep moving, waiting for each room to send you an offer to come back!

Opponent’s Ability: This one kills me… Stars and Tilt cash games are full of regulars, yes they are beatable for thinking players – just hang on a little bit though – compared to the tables at some of the smaller sites?!? Have you seen Carbon Poker Recently? The iPoker Network? To me this is a situation where ‘following the masses’ as far as forums etc are concerned trumps playing enjoyable and profitable poker. The lower levels, SNGs and tournaments at these sites are still easy… playing the other reg-filled games is just not rational. Enough Analysis! Most of us play for fun and a little profit… yet our choices of poker site is often not based on the right criteria for us. Peer pressure, Pros, Advertising and the (mostly unused) ‘greater choice of games’ has some how taken over from one of the primary ‘truths’ of poker – that your profits over time come from your skills relative to the skills of your opponents.

For us ‘entertainment and profits’ type players the real question is not who has the best software and most VIP points – it is where can I find the softest games! It is not my choice where you play folks – I’m happy if I just managed to make 1 or 2 of you stop and think! If you are looking for ideas on where to find the easiest games you can check out my Fish-O-Meter widget…this finds the Softest Poker Games for your particular criteria!

GL at the tables, Mark

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