Tuesday, 12th August 2014

Poker in the twenty tens

Posted in the Poker category.

Yes, it’s the twenty tens. That does not trip off the tongue like you might want, but what can ya do?

So, it’s twelve years since I stated playing the online version of the game that I have been playing my whole life. So what’s changed oldtimer? Tell us about the good ol days, grandpa.

Ok, ok.

The game has evolved and matured massively since the book days of the early two thousands. An awful lot has happen both inside the game and from outside that forced changes on it.

This is not a history of online poker. The events that changed the shape of the onlien game are already known to those that played through those years. And if you are an American, your story is going to be far better and more entertaining than mine.

I started playing online, after many years of games in the real world, in 2002. At Party Poker I think. And it was like a totally different world compared to the online game now.

There was collusion – or at least attempted collusion – at nearly every site most nights. I suppose that still goes on, but I’m talking about collusion that was so obvious as to be painful. One old trick was for two players that were at the same table and sharing information, or at least playing together, would try to get a third player caught in the middle of their betting and squeze that player out without getting to a showdown.

It’s funny now, but it was damn serious back when I first encountered it. Luckily I wasn’t the target player, and I just watched in amazement as these two players kept betting and betting, and eventually the third player, the ‘mark’ would show a winning hand, while these two aggressive bettors would muck quietly.

It was only after both players had gone bust and left the table that the player who had defeated them told me through chat what had been going on. Thankfully that guy knew what he was doing, and managed to get the cards to do it. Had it been me, I could see that I would have folded whatever I had been holding as my bankroll got more and more depleted.

Nowadays the poker room software is way too sophisticated to allow that kind of obvious attempt at manipulation. It dimply had to get better, as with the rise of mobile poker, there is no shared ip address to indicate plaeyrs that are geographically colocated. So now they use playing patterns and other more high tech stuff to spot this type of behavious. Mind you, it has to happen first before it can be detected, so there is certainly still some players at the tables that are trying to dishonestly take your money from you.

If you can get two or three players at the table working together, just knowing those extra cards can be used to calculate the odds of winning. Knowing that certain cards are out of play because they are in your buddys down cards can allow you to ignore potentially dangerous flop cards. Using a spare computer and some software, it can be easy to calculate advantages where a single plaeyr cannot see them.

There have been many other changes, improvements mostly, in online poker over the years since I played my first hand (badly) but I think this rambling trip down memory lane has already gone over an acceptable length so I’ll save those other observations for another time.