Wednesday, April 14, 2004

A thought from the print world

I found Gil's copy of Killer Poker Online, by John Vorhaus. Amazon's reviews are almost all negative, but I hit upon one interesting tidbit in the first few pages. (That's as far as I've got.)

I used to see, and in some places I still see, notes to the effect of "nobody makes money online, if you say you're making money online you must be a shill."

Vorhaus points out that there is a large class of players who are losers, but delude themselves that they are winners. Either they don't keep track, so they honestly believe they are "breaking even, maybe a little ahead," or they tell themselves that "If you don't count that trip to Uncle Joe Stalin's Labor Camp and Casino, I'd be even"—or some other balderdash that deludes them into thinking that they are breakeven players.

But online, they don't have the ability to delude themselves to that extent. If you click "Cashier," it says in big flashing numbers how much money you have. If you've only bought in once or twice, you know how much you're down.

But you can't be down, you're a winning player, right? So clearly, it must be due to something else. Maybe the site is rigged. Yeah, that's it—it's all the "action flops" that keep costing you money, so it's the site's fault for dealing so many "action flops." Or maybe the site is rigged so that nobody can be a long-term winner—the site must track you to make sure you don't win much.

The whole "action flop" thing is even sillier: Are you saying you've never seen a live dealer flop A♠K♠Q♠? Oh, it happens more often online, you say? Of course it does, nimrod! You play more hands online!

For the record: I am a long-term winner on PartyPoker. I publish my numbers every week but I was also a winner before this. I did buy in for $1000 over about eight months while I was figuring out the game, but more than half of that was probably spent in buyins to multi-table tournaments in which I was effectively dead money. But even counting that, I am approximately $5000 ahead on PartyPoker. So there.