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Old 01-13-2019, 11:20 AM   #1
GuitarDean
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Is poker a dying field?

I had an interesting chat last night with a local pro, and he says he's working on transitioning out of poker because he thinks it's a dying field.

He's been a live pro since 2010 and says he sees the player pool shrinking steadily. For example there used to be 2/5 running every day at the local cardroom and often multiple tables, now it runs maybe Thursday to Saturday, and the 5/10 only Fridays (occasionally Saturdays too) and you'll see 5 or 6 tough regs at the table and 1 to zero really bad players.

He says too many players who got interested in the game during the height of its TV popularity have gone broke and never returned because people just aren't capable of losing steadily for years. The really bad regs who haven't taken any advantage of new poker knowledge and training tools are generally old and retired and rich and don't care, but that generation is rapidly shrinking. The new generation are either very strong and well studied, or just not playing this game because it's TV presence is continually shrinking.

I'm certainly no pro but I've been thinking about studying more seriously and making this a more serious side gig, and perhaps eventual full-time retirement gig (in like 2035 or something, lol). But if a current pro is saying this game is slowly dying and he's transitioning out because it's getting harder and harder to make the same living, maybe I shouldn't be daydreaming about playing poker for anything other than fun.

What are your thoughts on this?
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Old 01-13-2019, 11:41 AM   #2
Garick
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Re: Is poker a dying field?

Yup, he's pretty much spot-on. Poker won't die out completely, but it will get harder and harder to make a living off of it. I think it will be a very long time before it gets to where it can't be a decent side gig. I'd never get into it full-time at this point.

Another boom could come, but it's like expecting another swing-dance revival.
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Old 01-13-2019, 11:47 AM   #3
MikeStarr
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Re: Is poker a dying field?

I have mixed emotions on this. On one hand I agree with Garick and that pro. Games are tougher (although still really good money to be made if youre good). Fewer and fewer 5/10 games running. You would be lucky to find 3-4 5/10 games running in the entire state of Florida on any given weeknight and Florida has a **** ton of poker rooms.

On the other hand, there are casinos and poker rooms opening all over the place. Its amazing how many there are. Every new room that opens is packed. So clearly people are craving places to play.
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Old 01-13-2019, 11:57 AM   #4
Havick
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Re: Is poker a dying field?

This is going to directly be related to where you live.

Where I used to live in Oklahoma, v the terrible players aren't going anywhere. But they are, by and large, a weekend crowd. Mostly because they get their paychecks on Fridays. So the bulk of your winrate is going to come from there.

Out here in Las Vegas, there's no shortage of games up to 5/10 and no shortage of games either. In the 1/2 and 2/5 there is an abundance of fish. Terrible, terrible, terrible players. Everywhere. Seven days a week. 24 hours a day. On the weekends, there's somehow more. I know as soon as I say that, someone's going to scream "IT'S NOT LIKE IT WAS!!!". And maybe that's true. But that shouldn't be taken to mean there isn't any, or there isn't enough.

As for the greater knowledge base, maybe there is a greater understanding of the game, but there isn't a great application, be because it takes discipline to do that.

All in all it depends on what you're looking for. If you're looking for a $50/$100 nlhe game where no one has a clue, your probably not going to find that. You'll always be able to find a 1/2 or 2/5 that has a soft player pool though.

*Personal experience, your mileage may vary.
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Old 01-13-2019, 12:03 PM   #5
snowman
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Re: Is poker a dying field?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GuitarDean View Post
I had an interesting chat last night with a local pro, and he says he's working on transitioning out of poker because he thinks it's a dying field.

He's been a live pro since 2010 and says he sees the player pool shrinking steadily. For example there used to be 2/5 running every day at the local cardroom and often multiple tables, now it runs maybe Thursday to Saturday, and the 5/10 only Fridays (occasionally Saturdays too) and you'll see 5 or 6 tough regs at the table and 1 to zero really bad players.

He says too many players who got interested in the game during the height of its TV popularity have gone broke and never returned because people just aren't capable of losing steadily for years. The really bad regs who haven't taken any advantage of new poker knowledge and training tools are generally old and retired and rich and don't care, but that generation is rapidly shrinking. The new generation are either very strong and well studied, or just not playing this game because it's TV presence is continually shrinking.

I'm certainly no pro but I've been thinking about studying more seriously and making this a more serious side gig, and perhaps eventual full-time retirement gig (in like 2035 or something, lol). But if a current pro is saying this game is slowly dying and he's transitioning out because it's getting harder and harder to make the same living, maybe I shouldn't be daydreaming about playing poker for anything other than fun.

What are your thoughts on this?
you don't provide where this room is
AND IT MAKES A HUGE DIFFERENCE
for example in New England ... Mass, Maine, NH players drove to Foxwoods
now with NLH legal in NH and Ma we no longer have to make the 3 hour drive
SO THE PLAYER POOL DIDN'T DIE
it just got dispersed over many more rooms
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Old 01-13-2019, 01:27 PM   #6
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Re: Is poker a dying field?

We just need someone with a crazy last name like moneymaker to win the main event again and then BOOM
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Old 01-13-2019, 07:41 PM   #7
thenewoldpro
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Re: Is poker a dying field?

I think a good player can make a comfortable income playing 1-2 or 1-3. I have a friend who made 30,000 playing poker part time last year playing just 1-3. He played Friday's Saturdays and Sundays. The only thing is that he incurred some extra expenses related to extra gas and eating out.
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Old 01-13-2019, 07:46 PM   #8
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Re: Is poker a dying field?

Yeah poker is dead, especially where I play in MD. Get a real job.
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Old 01-13-2019, 08:15 PM   #9
timmay28
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Re: Is poker a dying field?

Recent main event turnouts suggest otherwise

Perhaps some forms/venues of poker might be on a decline as opposed to overall
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Old 01-13-2019, 08:38 PM   #10
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Re: Is poker a dying field?

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Originally Posted by thenewoldpro View Post
I think a good player can make a comfortable income playing 1-2 or 1-3. I have a friend who made 30,000 playing poker part time last year playing just 1-3. He played Friday's Saturdays and Sundays. The only thing is that he incurred some extra expenses related to extra gas and eating out.
This is really not true. Even if you assume an extremely optimistic $30/hr winrate, that is something like 75k a year at 50hr/week. Earnings are in theory supposed to be reported and taxed. The income should be discounted further to reflect the absence of typical job-related benefits - this can be worth 10k or more for even modest earners.

I tend to think of 100k poker income a year as the base level for someone to consider going pro in most areas.
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Old 01-13-2019, 09:40 PM   #11
Havick
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Re: Is poker a dying field?

Respectfully,

Even with taxes, you'd still be looking at somewhere close to the median income (or north of you one what you were doing). Additionally, the work related benefits of a "real" job vary significantly. I assure you, that the more"modest" of an earner you are, the more likely that these benefits are non existent.

100k is completely possible (albeit not at the 1/2), but you seem to be downplaying how much money that is, in reality.

Even adding in your number for benefits, at 100k you'd still be making close to $30k more than the median income in the US.
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Old 01-13-2019, 09:49 PM   #12
Mat the Gambler
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Re: Is poker a dying field?

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Originally Posted by Havick View Post
Respectfully,

Even with taxes, you'd still be looking at somewhere close to the median income (or north of you one what you were doing). Additionally, the work related benefits of a "real" job vary significantly. I assure you, that the more"modest" of an earner you are, the more likely that these benefits are non existent.

100k is completely possible (albeit not at the 1/2), but you seem to be downplaying how much money that is, in reality.

Even adding in your number for benefits, at 100k you'd still be making close to $30k more than the median income in the US.
How much are you discounting for variance? A guarantee of an $X dollar paycheck every single week is worth a lot more than an EV of $X playing poker for a week.
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Old 01-13-2019, 10:26 PM   #13
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Re: Is poker a dying field?

Rooms have been getting less busy and the high stakes games have been shrinking since peak boom of 2005. So for those of us that cut our teeth in those games, yeah, it's a lot different. I can't predict where it bottoms out, and I'd be skeptical of anyone who claims they can. There are some competing factors going on in the poker ecosystem. Gambling has become more socially acceptable and widespread, and online poker is slowly trickling along the US (although it just got vetoed by our lame duck governor here in MI, **** you Snyder). The boom has died off, fewer people are taking up the game, and the skill level is increasing.

Poker has been a part of casino gaming pretty much since there has been casinos in the US. Super System was written in the 70's. It's worth the read just for the poker history alone. It will always be around on some level. The WSOP fields seem to keep growing, and are almost back to boom size. There will always be poker games for you to play.

If your local game seems to have a stable low stakes population, go for it.
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Old 01-13-2019, 10:27 PM   #14
Havick
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Re: Is poker a dying field?

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How much are you discounting for variance? A guarantee of an $X dollar paycheck every single week is worth a lot more than an EV of $X playing poker for a week.
That's subjective.

The discount for variance is included in the average of $X/hour. That goes both ways as well, we only seem to be discussing the negative. So the discount is offset by the positive variance. Similar to getting paid a surprise bonus
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Old 01-13-2019, 11:05 PM   #15
bodybuilder32
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Re: Is poker a dying field?

1/3 and 2/5 not close to dying.

Anything higher that is soft won't stay a consistent game.

Imo, the biggest threat to professional poker is inflation. 1/2 players aren't likely to move up to 2/5 in 20 years. 2/5 won't move up to 5/10 etc...

The only way the stakes could creep higher is if the poker manager decides that 2/5 will be the lowest game. I doubt any manager will do this if it upsets the customer base
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Old 01-13-2019, 11:26 PM   #16
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Re: Is poker a dying field?

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How much are you discounting for variance? A guarantee of an $X dollar paycheck every single week is worth a lot more than an EV of $X playing poker for a week.
Just be properly rolled for the game and the negative swings don't really matter. No?

The only time the non guaranteed incone could be a factor is if you go broke
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Old 01-13-2019, 11:35 PM   #17
Havick
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Re: Is poker a dying field?

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Just be properly rolled for the game and the negative swings don't really matter. No?

The only time the non guaranteed incone could be a factor is if you go broke
This
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Old 01-14-2019, 12:41 AM   #18
jc315
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Re: Is poker a dying field?

i dont think there is much argument at all about whether or not poker is dying.

look at poker 15 years ago. 10 years ago. 5 years ago. even 3 years ago.

it's crystal clear to me.

both the # of new players, the quality of the games, the action, etc. all these are declining.
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Old 01-14-2019, 12:55 AM   #19
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Re: Is poker a dying field?

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i dont think there is much argument at all about whether or not poker is dying.

look at poker 15 years ago. 10 years ago. 5 years ago. even 3 years ago.

it's crystal clear to me.

both the # of new players, the quality of the games, the action, etc. all these are declining.
Twenty years ago an entry level live pro had to beat 10/20 stud to make what an abc nit earns in a typical 1/2 game today. That's if you could find a game. The low br requirements and ability to gain significant edge in these big bet games is something younger guys take for granted. Rake increasing to absurd levels i n more and more places is a valid concern though.

At good money compared to white collar career levels that's hit or miss and yeah that was very artificially high during the boom.
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Old 01-14-2019, 01:21 AM   #20
bodybuilder32
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Re: Is poker a dying field?

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i dont think there is much argument at all about whether or not poker is dying.

look at poker 15 years ago. 10 years ago. 5 years ago. even 3 years ago.

it's crystal clear to me.

both the # of new players, the quality of the games, the action, etc. all these are declining.
You are comparing now to the peak.

If the question was "has poker hit its peak?" I would say yes.

But dying kind of implies the game will shrink to obscurity. I don't think there's enough evidence to suggest that.

With that said, I am a little biased since I play in a big market city. Mid tier cities with a mediocre economy may not survive twenty years from now.
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Old 01-14-2019, 01:36 AM   #21
jc315
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Re: Is poker a dying field?

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You are comparing now to the peak.

If the question was "has poker hit its peak?" I would say yes.

But dying kind of implies the game will shrink to obscurity. I don't think there's enough evidence to suggest that.

With that said, I am a little biased since I play in a big market city. Mid tier cities with a mediocre economy may not survive twenty years from now.

im not. i said compare poker to 15 years ago, 10 years, 5 years, 3 years.

i didnt play 15 or 10 year sago, but friends of mine who are pros who have been around 10+ years say games have gotten much worse.

im in a big city as well and play at well known card room. even jut 1-2 years ago, my room would have a 2 hour wait for a table in a $2/5 game on a Thursday/Friday/Saturday night. now, the way is < 20 minutes on a friday night.

and i guess im not necessarily equating "dying" to obscurity - im just equating "dying" to worsening, with little optimism for a rise/boom in the future.
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Old 01-14-2019, 01:42 AM   #22
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Re: Is poker a dying field?

I think a lot of people's views are skewed because they're comparing the game now to what it was 10-15yrs ago at its peak when poker became a mainstream pop-culture phenomenon. Things are always going to look bleaker when you compare something to what it was at its apex.

I do believe that the game is contracting at certain stakes and in certain areas, but I think the game is still healthy and there will continue to be a sizable market for a long time, at least at the low stakes. 1/2-1/3 should remain fruitful almost anywhere, as it's the lowest stakes game that attracts the casual players who make up the majority of the overall player field. The viability of higher stakes games will be determined by location and they won't be as universal as the lowest stakes games, so from that aspect I can see where people would worry that the game is dying.

Personally I think it's just a reversion to the mean as we get further away from the peak. 20yrs ago it was known and accepted that there were only a handful of locations in the country that were viable options for being a poker player. Just because the game may be contracting some, I don't think it means the game is dying, and I believe there still remains vastly more locality options now then what there was before the boom of the early 2000s.
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Old 01-14-2019, 01:57 AM   #23
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Re: Is poker a dying field?

I mean it depends on your goals.

Is your goal to get skilled enough to win $25k a year playing when you've nothing better to do at good times? That'll probably never die. I've been in weekend 5/10 games where it seems like every other player is playing bingo.

Is your goal to grind out a $50k-$60k a year full time existence? Also doable.

The problem is, what's the growth? For most people, 2/5 is the largest game that they can find that regularly runs. Even if it isn't, they may not have the skill to beat 5/10 for a satisfactory amount. Even if they could, it's REALLY hard to build a bankroll via live poker for 5/10 as a full time 2/5 player. I honestly think you need like 75k back to play 100 bb buy in 5/10 poker as a full time grinder, and more if you buy in deeper. So it's hard to envision, as a player, that you'd be making more money than you currently are without some sort of luckbox windfall like Art from LATB that suddenly gets you enough $ to play high stakes, AND you're good enough to stick.

The smartest pros I know usually have income generating methods in other ways, like liquid investments, or real estate holdings, or other things. But if you aren't generating the cash flows now that will help you generate those cash flows later that passively help you earn money, you're just kind of stuck.

Also let's be honest, if you're smart enough and emotionally self controlling enough to pull $100k+ out of poker in a calendar year playing nothing but live mid stakes poker (like you aren't some variance box high stakes player), then you're already one of the more mentally capable people around. You could likely earn more money doing something else, and even by staying as your own boss (like opening a business or building up some skill that you can sell via consulting).

So yeah, poker can be a fine option if you're semi-retired and don't need to generate a ton of income. It can be a good option if you're fresh out of college and would rather figure out what you want out of life while playing a game in between going home and playing video games and other lazy stuff (because while $40-$55k a year isn't anyone's idea of luxurious living, let's face it, it's way better to make that money at poker than at some soul crushing, high turnover crap job). But it's definitely not something I'd recommend long term. Sure there's some dudes who have made it work for a lot of $ and I tip my cap to them. But it's hard.
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Old 01-14-2019, 02:40 AM   #24
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Re: Is poker a dying field?

The crazy thing is that it takes such small skill increases to drastically change the viability of a game. It's not that bad players are necessarily getting significantly better its that they generally get tighter and don't punt as hard and that makes all the difference. Of course that, plus rake increases and inflation as mentioned before isn't helping either. Poker as a reasonable sole source of income is only viable for a very small number of people in very select poker markets.

Things are/will continue to get worse. Especially when in a lot of rake structures casinos benefit from spreading smaller games>large games in order to make them last.
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Old 01-14-2019, 02:50 AM   #25
jdr0317
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Re: Is poker a dying field?

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The crazy thing is that it takes such small skill increases to drastically change the viability of a game. It's not that bad players are necessarily getting significantly better its that they generally get tighter and don't punt as hard and that makes all the difference. Of course that, plus rake increases and inflation as mentioned before isn't helping either. Poker as a reasonable sole source of income is only viable for a very small number of people in very select poker markets.

Things are/will continue to get worse. Especially when in a lot of rake structures casinos benefit from spreading smaller games>large games in order to make them last.
You make a great point w/r/t inflation. Stakes have demonstrably shown to not increase based on inflation: dudes who were rec 2/5 players in 2003 are rec 2/5 players in 2019. Like 1/2 in 1998 would be around 1.5/3 now, but very few rooms have made the 1/2 game a 1/3 game.

So yeah, even if all other variables stay the same and you get the same cast of characters at the casino whom you win your money off year in and year out, you lose a little bit every year to the inflation bug.
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