I was prompted to write the latest article about Choosing an Online Card Room
over several experiences that I had with a new up-and-coming online card room.
Months ago, I was fortunate enough to be one of the beta-testers for FullTiltPoker.com. Within an hour of the software being available for download, I was at the tables with the entrepeneur card room and their support team, going over the software bugs they had going on doing beta-testing.
If you're not familiar with FullTiltPoker.com, I suggest you visit their website and give it a try.
During the first hours of beta testing sat a few of the world class players at a no limit hold em play chip table, along with developers and other site support members. There was a genuine feel of excitement for the future of the card room. And its progression over the months is definitely something to keep an eye on. By my own observation, I would call it the next, "Fisherman's Wharf", which I'll elaborate on a bit later.
I'm not writing this article as a review of the site, per se. What I am writing it for is to bring to light just a few more things on what to look for at online card rooms before opting to put money into an account for gambling. Namely, more on integrity requirements, and getting a feel for clientele.
As it stands, FullTiltPoker.com's gaming software does not meet the integrity requirements outlined in the previous article about choosing an online card room. The card room recently went live from the previous beta testing on real-money tables clearly before it was ready.
Putting money into a card room that is not up to standards of integrity including no hand history recall, extensive funds processing time, no record of real-money transactions processed, bugged email support, and no certificate of algorithm testing compliance for fair card distrubution, truly is taking a gamble.
That is not to say that this card room will not be successful and perhaps even eventually be the
place to play, or that they are not working on these things. They are. However, it is always wise to take a step back to see 'what is'. The card room is still unprepared for real-money clients who wish to play seriously. I suspect that in the next several months when the bugs are all fixed they will have a fairly large regular base of players and it will be a fantastic place to play poker. For me, I have stepped aside for a bit from the real-money tables, waiting for the rest of the bugs to get worked out.
It's been a great time to sit with the pros and take a stab at having a story where I've played against professionals and even taken a nice chunk of their chipstack--to sit with spare bankroll that I've won from other card rooms to have a chance at putting a beat on a professional can be quite thrilling. Alas, the fireworks do not last. Once the magic of sitting at a table with the pros for several nights wears off and the reality sets in that I play poker to make
money and reinvest the winnings in higher limit games, my head officially comes out of the clouds, so-to-speak. Other than having the opportunity to play with the pros, tables that don't have pros sitting at them are just about empty. For right now, to play poker there with no hand histories and no funding transaction histories among other things, is to purely be gambling for recreational fun.
One of the things I mentioned in the previous article was getting a feel for the clientele. The card room appears to be the next "Fisherman's Wharf". Very few sharks swim in these waters, with of course, the exception of the professional players and the experienced players who heard about the site because...they're experienced and know the word around town. It is definitely the place to find fish.
Too many players and observers are chatting at the tables about their lack of knowledge for particular games, not knowing who is who, not knowing what books to read and that they have not even read the very basic poker books, is the perfect formula for opening a sardine cannery. Although playing there is a potentially risky for integrity reasons, it is also the perfect opportunity to check out the site and gather information about the players who are playing there. Take notes, and prepare to exploit the weaknesses the new players have in their game, including their lack of knowledge for the game they are sitting at.
I gather that many of the current clients of the room have been watching too much World Poker Tour. They are taking up the game and wanting to play with the world class players they have recently seen on television with very little knowledge about game strategy. (Just go to the site and observe the chat and you'll see it very often. If you're lucky, you'll even profit from it! When they say they don't know what they're doing they will usually follow through with it and hand you some money.)
** Seven Card Stud Players--Pay Attention!**
Still on the observation of clientele between card rooms online but on a different tangent, one very helpful hint that players tend to overlook for strategy adjustment purposes are usernames. When someone named "Ace_King_Suited" is sitting at a seven card stud table, this is an excellent opportunity to switch up strategy. Why?
This is obviously a player who is accustomed to a form of Texas Hold 'Em. You want to be careful about sizing up a player
, but in some cases, information that is staring you in the face must be considered for possible use to give you an advantage. Online poker is not the same as playing in a casino.
Online poker players who would go so far as to make their online handle about a specific game other than seven card stud, and be sitting at a seven card stud table, is likely to have less skill at seven card stud. Many times hold 'em players and/or players with hold 'em references in their username will even announce their lack of skill at seven card stud.
The mentality of the opening hands for these players is "pocket pairs, big aces, and suited connectors", followed by, "pot odds, implied odds, and outs" (in no particular order). When you've played stud with players who have Hold 'Em usernames, look at the hand histories and you'll see that they're opening with hands like AK4 rainbowed, thinking that their opening AK with a 4 kicker is a pretty good start!
Based on the way seven card stud works at middle and micro-limits, you will have these guys calling you with their two pair --of threes and fours--to the river, vs hands that would appear to be obvious to a stud player as straights, flushes, trips, and Queens-up. They are accustomed to a community board and many times get myopic on their own hand unaware of what else they are up against. Perhaps they will play incredibly tight and become frustrated with continuing to lose their antes. Perhaps they will play very aggressively with 8-8 in the hole and not let it go because starting with a pocket pair in hold 'em can be pretty darn nice. At a stud hi-low table, they may be less inclined to call raises and three-bets. Three-bets are a scary thing at a low limit hold 'em table. And you don't necessarily want to raise these players out of a hand if you know they will pay you off with a lesser hand.
Playing stud with an obvious hold 'em player opens up an incredible opportunity to make profit, and because the hands are usually multi-way, many hold 'em players think that they always have the pot odds to call every street. Not that they don't
have pot odds. They just aren't weighed the same in stud as they are in hold'em.
Keeping an eye on clientele also includes paying attention to usernames and ongoing chat that distinguishes a player as being female. Use your experience from playing female players in particular games to adjust your strategy. If in your experience, female players to rarely bluff and play fairly tightly, you can use this to your advantage. If you know that females are mostly well versed with seven card stud and you happen to be male and sitting at a table with them, prepare to get really focused and start counting the cards like never before, because they will generally have an excellent memory for counting live and dead cards at a stud table. If your opinion about playing poker vs a female player is indifferent, of course this section I'm writing will have little relevance now, but it may be something to begin paying attention to. There is a great deal of information out there that will give you an edge. And again, online poker is not exactly the same poker that happens in a casino.
Much of the elaborations on this post come from the previous article. If you haven't read the article about Choosing an Online Card Room
just yet, hopefully you'll head over and give it a gander.
Summarizing the highlights from this post:
- Make sure that you are clear on your reasons for joining an online card room if its integrity is questionable. It is okay to play purely to gamble and for recreational purposes. Just be clear that you've decided it's what you're going to do so that your experience with online poker does not become bittered over mishandled transactions/records or poor service.
- Pay attention to the information that you read in the chats. Things will be said that will give you an advantage somewhere down the line. And don't say anything that gives too much information, yourself.
- Pay attention to the usernames at a table. I reiterate that it is wise to be careful when sizing up a player, but also keep in mind that a username on its own can be very valuable information towards switching up strategy. (When choosing a username, I recommend choosing a name that is ambiguous as to not be giving information that can be used to an opponent's benefit).