Poker Life: Faster, Faster, Faster
Each week on www.australiangambling.lv, our PokerGuru reflects on life as a Poker player. This is his second blog for us. His first is here.
When I started playing online back in 2000, in the really early days of online poker, I loved that I was able to play one of my favourite games online. I had played online bridge, chess and backgammon in the mid-90s but playing poker for real money was something else.
It feels like ancient history now. Only limit poker was available and I was playing on a 56k dial-up connection which was not very stable. I enjoyed it anyway and I will never forget the feeling when I received my first check from Paradise Poker in the mail. It said “we hope you enjoyed your stay in Paradise” on the check which I thought was a little funny.
A few years later I started to multi-table. Playing four short-handed tables was about right for me. That gave me about 400-500 hands per hour. I know today’s online grinders play a lot more but poker was never a job for me, and 400-500 hands per hour gave me the right level of entertainment. Sometimes I played only two tables so I could do other things in parallel.
The problem was that I started to find live poker boring. How many hands do you get at a live poker table? Maybe 30 or 40 with a fast dealer and fast players. If you get a player or two who have seen “durrrr” (Tom Dwan) play on TV and want to act like him it can get a lot slower. Playing three hours of poker in a casino would give me only 100 hands, something I could get playing online for 10-15 minutes.
In the end I got a little bored with poker in general. Live poker was too slow and online poker was… well, definitely not slow but that much fun either. It started to feel like a job, and not in a good way.
Now I have kids and I don’t have much time to play anyway but I must say that the Pokerstars Spin & Go tournament format is a great invention. When I play online poker nowadays that is what I play. The concept was invented by French poker operator Winamax and was originally called Expresso, and then most poker sites have copied it and given it new names. Basically it is a three-way Sit & Go where the standard prize is double your buy-in. But 30% of the time the prize is higher, sometimes a lot higher! A $15 buy-in Spin & Go on Pokerstars sometimes has a first prize of $150,000. And you only need to beat two other players to win it. It is like a casino game disguised as poker.
The structure is fast and you can (should?) play quite aggressively. Each tournament only takes 5-10 minutes which is perfect for me nowadays – I have seen tournaments end after one hand but that is not the norm, of course.