Posted by Eric
Played some PLO yesterday for the first time this month. So far a good start to the month. Been giving 2/4 a try for the fourth time, but this time got off to a good start with a 3 buy in upswing and felt like I was playing pretty well. I'm still keeping the 5 buy in stop loss on for 2/4, but hopefully this will be the month 2/4 'takes' although if my win rate isn't at least half of what it is at 1/2 then it really doesn't matter. Provided I keep at it the entire month I'll have to compare win rates at the end of the month and see which is more profitable.
I also played the first WCOOP event yesterday on Stars. Played really well, staying at around even for quite some time, then flopping a set of 8s and getting up to 7k. I then flopped a straight vs a guy with bottom two pair who didn' t know how to fold and went up to about 12k. I was stuck there for quite a while until a very poor, aggressive player raised the button with TT. I had JJ and 3 bet, he 4 bet all in and it was quite an over bet. After some thought I called but the river was a ten and that took me back down to ~3k. Ran AK into AA shortly after that and didn't manage to get there. Luckily there are A LOT more events so looking forward to playing well and making some deep runs! Now for the questions.
Q: I do a lot of reading and prefer MT tourneys. I'm 74 years young and in good health. Poker is my passion, though I don't aspire to turn pro. What suggestions can you give me to improve my game? I would like to compete in MTs up to 1,000 buy-ins at AC or elsewhere.
A: Honestly it sounds like you're already taking what my biggest suggestion would be to heart, and that's always be looking for avenues to improve. A lot of it depends on what kind of learner you are. If you are a book learner there are lots of good books out there. If you've already read Harrington on Hold Em Vols. I and II and my book, then next ones I usually recommend are 'The Poker Tournament Formula' (both 1 and 2) and 'Kill Everyone'. 'Tournament Poker for Advanced Players' is good as well, but some of it is a rehash of what's in Harrington on Hold Em. If you're a visual learner the video training sites are all GREAT tools, and obviously I recommend the one I teach at, PokerXFactor.com, but there are a lot of really good ones out there. Poker forums can be very helpful as well if you can sift through a lot of the riff raff.
Q: My question is how do you cash out your online poker winnings if it is still illegal to play online in the US? I play quite a bit and have been pretty successful but since the laws changed i am leary to play for higher stakes. I don't want to get to deep into it and win a lot and find out that I can't cash out. It is obviously possible, I would just appreciate some information on subject.
A: First, let me preface this by saying I'm not a lawyer and law is not my specialty. That being said, PLAYING poker in the US is not illegal. The law change in effect makes it illegal for the banks to process money to and from gambling institutions, is the way I understand it. At the very least, if my profession were illegal there is no way I would publicize myself so much, and neither would any of the other US players. As far as cashing out goes, I've never had any significant issues. It can take a while, and I've occasionally had a check bounce when a payment processor goes down, but by and large I've always gotten my checks and been able to cash them within 2-3 weeks, often faster. I often request a check every week, so I've had plenty of experience with it.
Q: I am posing a question which no doubt will be met with blanket denial by those who have the ability to address such matters. The majority of the responses will tell me that I must have terrible "leaks" in my game. Others will tell me that I am imagining things. I have played online (at several different sites for years now), and I have played live for far longer than that. I have been aware for some time now, through my own experiences, and through word of mouth (from countless players more experienced than I) that online software is designed to create larger pots for larger “rakes”, and to favor larger stacks as a means of keeping the tournaments moving at a good pace. This bias toward the large stacks becomes more apparent as the level of play decreases as one is more often faced with challenging the larger stacks where they have already put you all in (if one chooses to call) or almost certainly will call you if you push in simply because they have more chips than you. This becomes a very frustrating situation when I have to not only play the opponent but the SOFTWARE as well. This severely limits my options. In many cases I wind up folding hands where the odds are heavily in my favor regardless of what the opponent might be holding because experience tells me that the hand has virtually no chance of holding up. I am not only speaking of situations where I have the smaller stack. I will use my experience to my advantage when I have the edge in chips as well, but I then feel bad for the other player(s). Point is, I'm totally tired of the disproportionate number of times I see people getting knocked out, or lose a cash pots, by runner runner straight, runner runner flush, the miracle “one outer”… or one of my favorites – when four cards of the same suit hit the board; which, quite frankly, happens with a frequency I have never EVER seen in all my years of live play. One guy online once joked that the four suited cards on the board happen about every four hands. And he wasn’t far from the truth. I joked backed “The only thing that hits more than four suited cards are QUADS”. And I wasn’t kidding. I see multiple quads every day. Even today I saw quads 3 times, and yesterday I saw quads an amazing 8 times.” I wish I was exaggerating, but I’m not. And any online player will know exactly what I’m talking about. The thing is, I can go a half a year or more playing live and not see quads.
Straights and flushes hit so often that I sometimes have to look down to make sure I’m not at a Omaha table. No joke. And you need only to play close attention to the “chat” to see how many countless people are complaining about the same thing. Today at a hold ‘em table I saw some guy say “You gotta be kidding me, three flushes in 6 hands?!” And that same guy won with ONE of the flushes.
After a while, one can see things coming. People say "I saw that coming"; at the tables all the time. How else do you explain someone going all in 6,7 8 times in a row with garbage getting called by people holding real cards and winning every hand? I also realize that the way the online software functions at present presents an attraction to those who like lots of big hands and big pots. And poker sites love loose players… the higher the pots, the higher their rake, the higher their profits.
I once had a representative from one site tell me that they get “so much player traffic” that it doesn’t make any logical sense for them to program the rng (random number generator) to generate higher rakes.” To which, I replied “You’re joking right? Online gaming is a business and the number one objective of any business is to MAKE MONEY.” I then mentioned that the LUXOR in Vegas is a very poplar casino that sees an amazing amount of foot traffic every year. But you don’t see the LUXOR tweaking their slot machines so that they all payout fairly and evenly. By the way – slot machines?? Also run off of a random number generator. The LUXOR knows (like every other casino in Vegas) that the slot machines are huge cash cows and, despite how much traffic their casino gets, design their slot machines (and everything else in the casino) to suck as much money from it’s players as possible.
So here’s my question, and I think the entire poker community is crying out for an answer. What is the collective professional opinion of online rng’s? Are they realistic? Are they fair? And do the pros also question the “true” randomness of the cards they’re being dealt?
No one would know better than a pro, and no one could contest the skeptics better than a group of pros stating their honest opinions on “online rng’s.” In fact, my friends and I wish there was a “pro” survey of all the sites online and a collective list of sites that had the most realistic and fair rng’s on the net. One can dream.
Being an online player yourself, I really hope you answer my question… not just for me, but also for the many players out there with the same concerns that I have.
A: I debated if I should post this one or not, but I hear this sort of thing a fair amount. I know when the poster asked the question he was truly hoping I was going to say 'YES, it must be rigged!'. The truth is though, I've been playing poker online and live for nearly 6 years now and I've actually seen CRAZIER things live than online (quads over quads, quads beat by straight flush, etc). Let me address a few points specifically though.
First, you say that the software is designed to create larger pots for larger 'rakes'. Pot rakes are capped, so at a certain point they don't rake any more money, which somewhat debunks the idea that that would be a good thing. It would statistically be best for the sites for more pots to be small, but still big enough to be raked. The problem (at least from the poker room side) for sites is that you really don't want large sums of money moving from one player to another, because if a player goes broke that's bad for you. In an ideal world every player would pass small amounts of money back and forth until they were all slowly bled by the rake. While it seems as if there would be incentive for the sites to create large pots to generate rake, in the long run, artificially creating large pots would actually be a money losing endeavor by sites because the huge swings would cause players to go broke too quickly creating a smaller player pool for less games and eventually less rake. There really is very little incentive for a site to do this. I can't say without 100% certainty that no site has ever done this, but it just doesn't make financial sense.
Second, you mention that larger stacks always win in tournaments. I've actually heard most people argue the shorter stacks always win to keep the bad players alive! I've heard tons of variants of this story, and the fact that they're all different probably means in reality it's pretty balanced. I will admit there would be a general incentive to end tournaments earlier, but from what I've seen I seriously doubt shorter or bigger stacks are favored in all in confrontations.
I think one thing you're noticing (and I'm sure you've heard this before) is that you simply see more hands online than live, so you're going to see more things. When I play live, a good dealer can get in 30ish hands per hour, maybe 40 if the entire table is moving quickly and tight. Online, I can get in 60/hr pretty easily, and I can play 4+ tables at once too. So 30 hands/hr versus 240 hands/hr I should be seeing crazy things happen about 8x as often.
Lastly I would also like to mention that I've honestly seen more blatant cheating live than I ever have online (mostly in the form of collusion and chip dumping), and I have personally never seen this, but I've heard lots of stories of dealers palming chips or dealing from the bottom of the deck in certain instances (although rarely in actual casinos). I personally trust the online game more than the live game in terms of actual game integrity, although honestly I believe both to be honest enough I won't hesitate to play either.
I realize that what I'm saying is not going to convince you to change your mind, but I share this based on the person experience of someone who has played professionally, with success, both live and online. I do not adjust my game any differently be I playing against a live dealer or an RNG, I only adjust based on the different players. If you don't trust the game than you shouldn't play online, but I see no reason to believe in any of these conspiracy theories I often hear because most of them make little sense from a longer term business perspective, even if some of them might make some sense in the shorter term.