Virtual reality might be the buzz of the tech world these days, but could it actually be relevant to our favorite game? If not, I'll do my best to force it in there anyway.
Perhaps the original Texas rounder, Johnny Moss is one of the greatest poker players to have ever graced the felt. He also has one of the most fascinating and fantastical stories that only he could have lived. Winner of the inaugural 2 WSOP Championships, Moss will always be relevant to today's game, even if he's remembered less than he deserves.
It may be about 10 years after the height of the poker explosion but Poker Central is finally bringing a 24/7 poker channel to cable, satellite, and worldwide Internet streaming this year. Here is what to expect along with my thoughts.
I'm largely playing devil's advocate here, but American players may not be universally thrilled with the idea of regulated online poker. Here are 5 reasons why US players may be cautious to hand over the keys to state governments.
When I launched Beat The Fish in 2005 I had a singular focus: create a specific guide for helping frustrated online poker players literally beat the fish.
Online poker was in its heyday worldwide and it’s sort of charming now to look back at those innocent times and realize that overcoming the bad players that were flocking to the game was our biggest concern.
Since then, online poker has seen stratospheric highs, uncertain purgatory, plummeting lows, and everything else in between. The scope of this site has certainly increased, covering what I find the most relevant to poker players today.
I have covered the US poker market extensively since it became its own market in late 2006, reviewed more than 40 poker rooms, written almost 400 pages of content, covered the WSOP for 10 years, and played hundreds of thousands of hands of online poker.
None of that probably impresses you because it isn’t a one-of-a-kind resume and the surface structure of Beat The Fish isn’t groundbreaking.
What I want to stand out to you is that I operate differently than the competition. I’m fed up with the misinformation and money contamination in this industry. I’m an old-school online poker player and I want to pass on my honest experiences to you.
I believe these 5 points are what separate Beat The Fish from other websites dedicated to poker:
1. I want to end the money bias in online poker, at least on my own site.
The amount of misinformation out there by alleged “unbiased” and “independent” poker authorities is out of control. The shameless PR-crafted hyperbole spewed out by review sites existed when I launched in 2005. It still exists today, although in greater numbers as more and more affiliates have caught on to the money involved in the industry. I’m tired of it.
While I can’t control what my competitors do I can do better myself. I do not rank my poker reviews or exposure to poker sites based on money. I never have and I never will.
The information you find on Beat The Fish is accurate according to my experiences. If things change – and they do all the time – with individual poker rooms I update my reviews to reflect that.
You know those reviews for vitamins, tools, and garden products on Amazon that come from people who have been “offered the product at a discount in exchange for an honest review?” The next time I see a negative review for a free sample will be the first.
These tactics dilute reviews from actual buyers while making it almost impossible for prospective buyers to get an honest opinion. That’s what happens with online poker, only to a much greater degree.
I want Beat The Fish to stand out as that honest buyer in the sea of money-driven hype. For better or worse, I’m going to tell players what’s really happening out there in the wild. I think that now, more than ever, poker players need unfiltered information. That’s what I’m going to give you.
2. My longevity provides unique perspective.
I didn’t invent the Internet. I wasn’t a founding father of online poker. My last name isn’t even Gore. But yet it feels like I’ve been involved in both ends of online poker, as a player and a website owner, forever. Heck, a decade-plus might as well be forever on the Internet.
I’m a lifelong poker player who followed the game online in 2003 and started Beat The Fish in 2005. You know, when people still cared about MySpace, webcams, the launch of YouTube, and did you just say blog?
More importantly, that history has allowed me to live through the most important and landscape-altering events in online poker history – from both sides of the curtain. What I feel this has given me is both the ability to avoid the sky-is-falling mentality and a little bit of foresight to the outlook of a poker room in the balance.
As sports and the stock market teach us past performance does not guarantee future results. It can, however, provide some wisdom to make better decisions in the future.
3. I still do everything myself.
I’m not certain that this is a big positive anymore since I could probably provide more content if I didn’t, but it’s simply how I’ve always done Beat The Fish. I’m old-school. I like to control everything about this site. For better or worse I’m only accountable to myself and the only voice you’ll find on this site is my own.
The majority of high-ranking websites dedicated to poker these days are either mega-sites run by a collection of slick content writers and SEO experts, full of outsourced material made by generic writers with a questionable passion for poker, or exist as massive forums dominated by elitist number-crunchers.
I don’t really fit in with any of that and I hope that’s part of what makes Beat The Fish different.
4. My online poker reviews are more honest and complete.
Out of all the sections of Beat The Fish the reviews are probably what I pride myself the most on. Along with the tutorial on beating bad players it’s what inspired me the most to make a website at all. There is simply so much misinformation and lack of detail out there that I wanted to offer fellow players something better.
Poker room reviews are a mainstay of any website like mine. Reviews of products of all kinds have become such a staple of the Internet and guide many of our decisions. “The reviews on this laptop were so great that I decided to just get it.”
The problem is that when you throw in the kind of money that’s involved in online poker “independent” reviews turn as green-tinted as virtual felt. They are always overwhelmingly positive, filled with little detailed information, and fill in the blanks with enough hyperbole to make Paul Bunyan blush.
The worst offenders feed outright lies to players, promising speedy payouts from a poker room that has been scamming players for months. It’s exactly the kind of trash that I have always strived to avoid here.
My reviews are very long and filled with a lot of specific information, probably more than most people care to read. I’m honest in my assessments, dig deeper than the flashy bonus numbers the poker rooms throw at me, and give players a real idea of what they can expect in return for their hard-earned deposit. I think that’s what every review should be.
5. My poker strategy is to provide real practical ways to improve, not impress you.
Basic knowledge of the odds of hitting certain poker hands is essential. So is knowing how to compare that to the pot odds you’re actually getting. That’s really all the math you need to know to be a winning player.
When I set out to tackle strategy my goal is to make it accessible for beginners but still provide enough substance for intermediate and advanced players to maybe pick up a tidbit to try out at their next playing session. I don’t like to intimidate anyone and I like to leave players with bottom-line techniques to add to their game.
To borrow a term from the marketing industry I like to give “ninja” advice to players. Simple, sometimes-hidden but very specific actions to incorporate into your overall strategy.
Overly simplistic and vague advice isn’t a ninja tip. “Play the right starting hands and adjust to your position.” Gee, thanks. “Always at least call a minimum bet from late position with any pocket pair and 2+ limping callers ahead of you.” That’s something you can use.
I’m glad you found Beat The Fish and I hope you find at least one page that entertains you, helps you make up your mind about a prospective poker room, or win a little bit more at the tables.
I don’t run the biggest poker site in the world and I’m not a name professional, but I know this great game of poker. I know online poker as an industry and I know what it takes to survive in the US poker market that always seems to be changing.
I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel – just the delivery service that brings it to you.