(My) State of Internet Poker
Not claiming original thought here, but I'm joining the chorus of people beginning to think the online game is dying, or at least in middle stages of a debilitating degenerative disease. It's a slow asphyxiation kind of thing.
I had already taken several grand out of my online at the end of last year, leaving me with perhaps 3.5k online (spread around on Stars, Full Tilt, UTB and Neteller). Enough to be comfortable playing whatever tourney or cash game tickled my fancy (as long as I considered it part of the overall bankroll, including my live roll), but limited to an amount I felt I could afford to lose without breaking something valuable if anything dramatic happened.
When the Neteller news broke, I only had about a grand on there that I kept free for bonus opportunities. I figured it would be pretty tricky in the near future to get money onto the sites, so I rapidly transferred that onto Stars and Tilt, pretty much the only two sites I play at (I have since cashed the few hundred out of UTB). As most know, that seemed to be a at least for the short term a luckier move than trying transferring it back into cash--had I done so I suspect I'd be among the others waiting for it still. Thus I for one seem to have avoided direct damage from the fiasco--furthermore, I have never had near 10k in Neteller or online and have kept my own records and declared and paid taxes since I've started playing at all seriously because I've never felt it worth taking any risks in this department given my career choice.
On the other hand, this whole thing has put a severe crimp in my medium term poker plans. I have in the last six months played a LOT of non-hold 'em games, particularly triple draw, razz and stud 8. I have been running moderately well in these, with razz my best game (though with only 4,500 hands or so, it's far to soon to really know what I can sustain). That being said, I had seriously considered siphoning a respectable chunk of change into my online bankroll after my annual bonus hit my account to try and see if I could play regularly the 8-16 and 15-30 games of Razz that usually stay up on Tilt, and maybe even take a shot at the 30-60 TD on Stars.
At the same time, because of developments on the home front and the work front, I have been spending a lot less time in live games--last visit to a live club before last night (post later, preview: KA-CHING!) was November and last visit to a casino card room was Christmas Eve. I had played the Crackhouse game in odd circumstances ('nuff said) twice, and of course had my birthday game, and a home game this Saturday with WeakPlayer and WeakWife up for the WeakEnd (also to be posted about, hopefully first by Weak and Jordan). Thus, poker for me as of late has become mostly an online pursuit.
And yet current trends are such that I think I'll be as shortly as this year faced with a choice between recommitting to serious live play (which may be trickier and trickier given my other commitments) or no longer being a serious player.
The first signs of online asphyxiation I've seen personally has bee in in Stars TD. When they started spreading significant stakes tables, the games were insanely juicy. All sorts of yo yos were giving it a shot, many of them starting out at 5-10 and 10-20. After two months of a virtual feeding frenzy, the biggest TD fish are pretty much gone, not reloaded, finie. There is rarely a game spread between the stakes of 5-10 and 30-60. I don't think this is just because TD is a new game, I think it is because it is a game that separates big fishies from their money faster than most, where medium term results can actually convince someone they really do suck in a way that that doesn't happen quite so quickly in hold 'em. I do think it a canary in this coal mine.
So between signs that the very games I have been attacking are getting worse and a lingering concern that notwithstanding everyone's exhortations that money on the big sites is always safe because it's in segregated accounts (it was at Neteller too), any money there is subject to, let's just say, risk, I've decided not to go through the trouble of trying to put back in the money I had taken out last year plus some. I'm just going to stick with what I've got and enjoy the playing for it's own sake.
I will reevaluate as circumstances change.