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Old 05-06-2018, 06:42 PM   #1
OWLS
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Why do you still play?

Iíll post this here since I have always been predominantly a husng player and feel the rakeback cuts have affected those in this area much harder than in others.

But Iím wondering, why do those of you who still play, and have maybe played since the old days (which I assume are not many), or those of you who are starting out small in todayís poker ďecosystemĒ in the hopes of reaching higher stakes still do it? I guess I mean mostly those who are relying on poker full time rather than those who are simply playing part time, either as breakeven or those who are still winning enough to be profitable, and younger people who are late teens/early twenties who are foregoing degrees to do so.

I always played poker part time when I was attending school, but in late 2010 when I played med stakes (mainly 50-100s hu and mainly plo cash games), I got a really nice prop deal on pacific that payed 85% rakeback (a bunch of sites had props back then, like cakepoker, but 888 was by far the best), which led me to start playing much more seriously, and by mid 2011 I had already made somewhere about 300k and decided to go full time. Highlighting this because in 2011 is when I finished my degree and had got admittance into a md program for 2012. So I took a big risk to go on this path, as I obviously could not do both, but at the time, I thought it was the way to go, and thought I would retire by mid 30s which seemed to be going well according to plan as I had my best years in 2012 and 2013. However, propping had ended on 888 in late 2012, which was a big hit but private affiliate rakeback was still available until mid 2013 when they shut those down as well, which was always against site rules officially, but they didnít care about it until the first cost cutbacks where implemented. Still from then onwards, for a relatively short time, there was still a lot of rake back elsewhere. I remember when ongame had that crazy 120% or so rb deal going on for about 4-5 months, where if you raked at about the optimal numbers of about 30-50k your total rakeback benefits would be at about 100-120% at the end. I Ďmember one month being down more than the rake (which was huge there), like 25-30k, which was my worst during the promo there but still came out with 20k or so in profit.

It was also crazy to check ptr, for the short time it was available for 888, and see some people who I played with and knew were props in the 2/4-3/6 games and thought were very mediocre (we had a guy we checked in on messenger that would let us know if we could play at that table or not) show up like -15k in profits but know that in reality they were probably up something like 600k!

I took a break towards the end of 2013, just when a lot of promotions were dying down and rakeback cutbacks were being made all over, and was playing sporadically, I had just become lazy and thought it was not worth it to play on lower rakeback for a while. I finally decided to quit by mid 2016, after having had a really bad 2015, but what pushed it over the edge was a disastrous run early in 2016, where I had a 150k downswing sportsbetting followed by having another 75k seized from this sportsbetting site because of new country legislation that no longer allowed play in the country I was playing from (in Europe), so I used a friendís account from an allowed country afterwards, but forgot to log in via vpn a few times and had the account frozen after a cashout and the funds seized. Funny how they only verify credentials only during those times, but it is what it is; the only reason I took the risk was because they took a while to limit you after winning (and they often had stale lines). I was also a profitable at sportsbetting lifetime too, but this downswing came at a very inopportune time. There was also the fact that action in poker was dying down (although I never played stars much except for a slight stint in 2015 when I tried spins for a few months), and even after dropping down I realized I was nowhere near as profitable as before both due to lower rakeback promos, less action, more competition etc. and since I did not see any recovery in the foreseeable future I decided to get out, and had gradually lowered both my betting and playing until totally stopping.

After all that, Iím back to where I started, I retook the new mcat format (some schools require less than 5 years between the last one), got a good score, and got in to start again this fall, albeit at a different school (am in Canada, which for all intents is more competitive than in the US due to the lower cost/less amounts of school). Also had retaken a semester for some courses that were missing, from some U.S. schools I wanted to apply to as well, but in reality that was just overkill.

This is not to bash people playing, and Iím sure some are just playing part time because they either find it enjoyable, or manage to grind a supplemental income every month. But I think the majority, like myself when I played, do not play with a specific end goal in mind, so I was mostly curious about those that are still on this path. I also assume, a lot have relocated to cheaper countries (or are from there) where the majority of sites work, since I myself did that, not because of the cheaper cost of living, but to have my skrill and neteller accounts registered there so that I would not have difficulty moving around money online (although I would very often just use vpns after on those accounts when I wasnít there). But even so, it seems that gradually, new legislation will either affect you directly or indirectly somewhere down the line. I guess MTTs have not been as affected, but honestly I never had the patience for them, even the few times where I played live I was always very spewy and never cashed (and it wasnít because the buy in was too low since I donít remember playing anything lower than 1k except if some low stakes friend convinced me to join a $50 or $100 with him).

Still aside from sharing my story, what Iím wondering is, how do you justify playing really? I mean back when I was playing, itís crazy to look back and realize what kind of a gold rush it was, for a while, in terms of promotions, for both cash game and sng players, which I, like many others, took for granted. Maybe not partypoker 2006 levels, since it was never that soft, but with promos it was close to it imo. Nowadays though, when you see so few people are even clearing 100k a year, and you are essentially playing without rakeback on stars, or with much lower rakeback and action on other sites, whatís the point? Does anyone see it ever getting better, or being able to consistently do this for the next, say even 5 years?

Then thereís also the biggest killer of all; suddenly losing your edge. There is a reason why you donít see many of the same people crush year in and year out (obv thereís exceptions), and itís very easy to convince yourself that itís simply bad variance and it will turn around. Even if you do not become a losing player, suddenly seeing yourself go from clearing x a year, to maybe 15-20% that, has got to feel pretty demoralizing.

TL: DR what motivates you to still play poker fulltime in todayís economy instead of doing something else?
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Old 05-07-2018, 10:01 AM   #2
Duncelanas
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Re: Why do you still play?

I would rather travel around the world working 25 hrs a week playing a card game than do the 9-5 grind for a mid 5 figure salary back home. Seems pretty straightforward, really. Also very straightforward for a bunch of guys in Eastern Europe, for example (shoutout to all the Hungarians, Russians, Ukranians, etc in the streets). Also, I personally still think poker is pretty fun.

I doubt that it will really get better in the future, but I'm hopeful that things will stay static enough over the next 3 or 5 years (after which I'll hopefully either have shipped a huge mtt or will likely be looking for other opportunities anyway).

Not sure why you felt like sharing your life story in this post, but...cool, I guess?
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Old 05-07-2018, 10:23 AM   #3
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Re: Why do you still play?

I started playing poker 2 years ago, dreamed of playing the highest stakes, 2 years later im playing 100s spins and i have a big love for the game, i was a bastard at school and joined the army shortly after for 5ish years so i dont have any real fallbacks, i have my lorry licences and the most your going to make working like 50 hour weeks is probably like £2.1k per month, i can make much more than that from poker while also working whenever i want and having freedom

EDIT: "Losing your edge" is just pure bull**** unless you get lazy, aslong as you keep working you will never lose edge and its only the same as not working hard in standard jobs, dont work hard then you just stay average like everybody else
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Old 05-07-2018, 12:08 PM   #4
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Re: Why do you still play?

Few jobs require you to be constantly relearning and improving though. Even doctors, you see plenty of older doctors that are stuck in old ways but still make really good money. You can't do that in poker and still make money for long, you end up losing money, which makes it so much different from other jobs. It's almost like running your own business. But the poker site vig is so brutal for professional poker players.
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Old 05-07-2018, 01:09 PM   #5
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Re: Why do you still play?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Duncelanas View Post
I would rather travel around the world working 25 hrs a week playing a card game than do the 9-5 grind for a mid 5 figure salary back home. Seems pretty straightforward, really. Also very straightforward for a bunch of guys in Eastern Europe, for example (shoutout to all the Hungarians, Russians, Ukranians, etc in the streets). Also, I personally still think poker is pretty fun.

I doubt that it will really get better in the future, but I'm hopeful that things will stay static enough over the next 3 or 5 years (after which I'll hopefully either have shipped a huge mtt or will likely be looking for other opportunities anyway).

Not sure why you felt like sharing your life story in this post, but...cool, I guess?
I was just curious to see how people felt nowadays in the format that I used to play since I haven’t been active in a while. I gave my example because I wanted to say that before in my time, for many, it was a no brainer decision, and even in my case, I felt that way for several years (I still think it was a good decision, but regret my complacency from 2014-2016). I spent a fair good of time in Europe and eastern European countries (have dual citizenship), and had friends/randoms ask me if poker was worth pursuing a lot. Back then I would say with any bit of hard work it was relatively easy to make significant money, or significant to one's respective country there.

But nowadays I would never recommend anyone getting into it, which was not the case 3-5 years ago. Not even for those in Eastern Europe. You can get relatively good paying jobs in most countries, or if not elsewhere, esp in fields such as IT or becoming doctors/dentists/pharmacists and relocating elsewhere, which many still do I guess. Sure you can still rise to the top in some format and make much more money even nowadays (albeit much less than before), but the same can be said for other non-poker related fields. Especially since now only the very talented will do so, not as before where you had more margin for error in your ascent.

Getting to travel the world is nice of course, but you also forego opportunities elsewhere in order to do this. At this point, I’d feel more confident about the future of someone doing this being Instagram famous and living off promo content than someone playing poker.

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Originally Posted by gdaviezz View Post
I started playing poker 2 years ago, dreamed of playing the highest stakes, 2 years later im playing 100s spins and i have a big love for the game, i was a bastard at school and joined the army shortly after for 5ish years so i dont have any real fallbacks, i have my lorry licences and the most your going to make working like 50 hour weeks is probably like £2.1k per month, i can make much more than that from poker while also working whenever i want and having freedom
That’s great and congrats, but what I’m getting that is before you had many more people doing so, and hell if you knew about kickback/rakeback deals you could have done that in months while still not having a solid understanding of the game. Nowadays that would not fly.

However I get that for some it still makes the most sense at the moment, even though I would still recommend always having a backup just in case (or looking into something). But I'm sure many realize this.



Quote:
EDIT: "Losing your edge" is just pure bull**** unless you get lazy, aslong as you keep working you will never lose edge and its only the same as not working hard in standard jobs, dont work hard then you just stay average like everybody else
No, that’s a naÔve thought as edges are constantly shifting even over a single session. Losing your edge does not mean to go from a winning player to a losing player over night (although that can happen too), but any sort of changes that can affect it, like lower rakeback, legislation, either in the form of taxes/bans of certain countries that directly impact your bottom line etc.

Something like only being expected to win half as much as in the previous year would be a significant loss of edge. For example you would not be able to play the same way if you had a cushion of being a SNE before with 75% rakeback as you would nowadays. Especially in games with low edges that are headed the way of huhu back in the day imo.

You had this happen not only to poker, but in other areas such as casino bonus whoring (you could make 2-300k a year in 2011 still just having a skrill/neteller account and playing optimal losing blackjack and clearing bonuses, which by 2013 was mostly gone). Hell, going back before my time you were allowed to bet correlated parlays at many sites until some guys fleeced it industry wide.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ChicagoRy View Post
Few jobs require you to be constantly relearning and improving though. Even doctors, you see plenty of older doctors that are stuck in old ways but still make really good money. You can't do that in poker and still make money for long, you end up losing money, which makes it so much different from other jobs. It's almost like running your own business. But the poker site vig is so brutal for professional poker players.
Yes, but even as an old doctor you are still required to renew your license every time, and also attend CME’s in order to maintain your license, no matter how old you are. It’s just that in North America once you are in the system you will usually remain so (unless you continually do something grossly incompetent of course).

I would say a lot of jobs in the same vein as poker require you to constantly relearn and improve. E.g. e-games like LoL, Starcraft etc. Then you have other games like chess, backgammon, bridge, darts, etc. At all those you can make a living. But to me poker right now is akin to being let’s say hypothetically a darts player, but in a league where players are improving and sponsorships diminishing every year. At one point the effort will not be worth the reward.
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Old 05-07-2018, 07:44 PM   #6
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Re: Why do you still play?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChicagoRy View Post
Few jobs require you to be constantly relearning and improving though. You can't do that in poker and still make money for long, you end up losing money,
you must be talking about the high or mid stakes, because where I play at the micros I haven't learned anything new or improved in over 3.5 years and my win rate remains decent. I only play micros though so maybe that's why. At the micros I only play against fish and they don't improve, so I don't need to.
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Old 05-07-2018, 09:21 PM   #7
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Re: Why do you still play?

Mostly talking about making a good living from it, so usually mid to high stakes. You bring up a good point though, a lot of the guys that do get complacent never move down, you can definitely eliminate a lot of the risk in a poker job by being willing and able to move down at times.

Also, I would venture to guess that you have learned and improved over the last 3.5 years, even if it wasn't deliberate learning. There were/are plenty of people that got by for years without any real studying or focused learning. Your point is taken though.

Last edited by ChicagoRy; 05-07-2018 at 09:39 PM.
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Old 05-09-2018, 07:47 PM   #8
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Re: Why do you still play?

Sorry this is off topic but: I lost my password but was a mid/high reg 2009-2013 and was randomly checking in here after a long time. Ryan (or anyone): what happened to the poker economy in a macro sense? I'm sure the answer is multifaceted but does it boil down to the fact that sites are making less than they used to? Like I understand games getting tougher because of various site segregations and the wealth of learning materials available now, but why are sites at the same time cutting rakeback, creating faster games, etc? What was different from the POV of the sites back then compared to now?

Again, sorry for being off topic, just super curious!
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Old 05-09-2018, 08:11 PM   #9
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Re: Why do you still play?

Faster doesn't mean less profit. A $1 per game edge for a 3 minute game is better than a $2.50 per game edge for a 10 minute game. That's why turbos were more profitable than regular speeds and why hyper speeds were more profitable than turbos.

It doesn't always mean faster = more profit, but that's mostly been the case for HUSNGs.

Spins have had a ton of profit potential too.

Long gone are the days of public profit tracking, even private tracking is gone I believe, so it's hard to say how much people are making now in some of these games vs when you played.

I did see 2016 and 2015 profit HUSNG #s, unblocked, unmodified and the profit in the top 30 or 40 players was similar each year. Before that Spin tracking site went down it also showed a lot of Spin EV each month for the top player (you can't go by profit since a ton of your EV is when you hit big multipliers).
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Old 05-10-2018, 02:31 AM   #10
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Re: Why do you still play?

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Originally Posted by ChicagoRy View Post
Before that Spin tracking site went down it also showed a lot of Spin EV each month for the top player (you can't go by profit since a ton of your EV is when you hit big multipliers).
The rest of your post is good, but this is the wrong way to look at spins -- profit is the relevant stat (or maybe spin ev without top multis), because even high volume pros will generally run under expectation due to not realizing top multi ev. At the end of the day, people are paying bills and living lives with real dollars, not ev $. This is less of an issue in a game like husngs where you can more or less expect to realize (at least the vast majority of) your ev over sample.
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Old 05-10-2018, 12:47 PM   #11
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Re: Why do you still play?

If we're talking real dollars then whoever won the biggest multiplier is making the most profit, but that doesn't tell the whole story or give realistic expectations either.

My thought was that for every xyz that hit 300k in November, there are 30 guys that made 5k in profit but 15k in EV.

If we're talking MTTs, which is probably the closest popular game comparison, we wouldn't say "Jamie Gold made 8 million this year, 8 million is your barometer for the best players." You'd say "MTTs are very profitable but variance filled, a good grinding pro generally makes 100k-500k per year, but the upside is in the millions due to top heavy prize payouts."
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Old 05-10-2018, 01:29 PM   #12
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Re: Why do you still play?

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If we're talking real dollars then whoever won the biggest multiplier is making the most profit, but that doesn't tell the whole story or give realistic expectations either.

My thought was that for every xyz that hit 300k in November, there are 30 guys that made 5k in profit but 15k in EV.

If we're talking MTTs, which is probably the closest popular game comparison, we wouldn't say "Jamie Gold made 8 million this year, 8 million is your barometer for the best players." You'd say "MTTs are very profitable but variance filled, a good grinding pro generally makes 100k-500k per year, but the upside is in the millions due to top heavy prize payouts."
That's true. I just think that we should focus more on what a solid pro is making (as opposed to the top 1% of pros), especially with super variance heavy formats like spins and mtts.
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Old 05-10-2018, 04:25 PM   #13
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Re: Why do you still play?

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Originally Posted by ChicagoRy View Post
Faster doesn't mean less profit. A $1 per game edge for a 3 minute game is better than a $2.50 per game edge for a 10 minute game. That's why turbos were more profitable than regular speeds and why hyper speeds were more profitable than turbos.

It doesn't always mean faster = more profit, but that's mostly been the case for HUSNGs.

Spins have had a ton of profit potential too.

Long gone are the days of public profit tracking, even private tracking is gone I believe, so it's hard to say how much people are making now in some of these games vs when you played.

I did see 2016 and 2015 profit HUSNG #s, unblocked, unmodified and the profit in the top 30 or 40 players was similar each year. Before that Spin tracking site went down it also showed a lot of Spin EV each month for the top player (you can't go by profit since a ton of your EV is when you hit big multipliers).
2016 and 2015 are completely different ballgames. Wasn’t 2015 still having SNE? This incentivized a lot more action, nowadays I barely see any traffic at any 200+ hu (not to mention people still sharing). You have to be spread out over 5+ sites and even then it’s not enough really. There was more action at 5k turbos in 2013 than there is now at say 200 hypers (and forget 200 turbos). 2015-2016 (at least the first half) were getting to be peak years for hyper players. Profits after late 2016 take a significant nosedive, not to mention before when SNE was still active, or ongame and ipoker still had crazy good deals you were at about the same (even reaching 100% with new sign up bonuses for short periods).


So breakeven players could potentially be 300k winners, and now those
same people would be making like what 70k? Or 10k if it was stars lol.

And how many of those big 2015/2016 earners, are still among the top earners even a year or two later? I guess this could be because of a lot of people quitting/going into different games, but at the same time edges are much smaller and a lot more variance is present. Saying 2015-2016 were good years for some is a drastically different landscape than what it is today.

I mean up until 2015 you could have made 200k+ easily at 50-100 turbos even, and much more at 50-100 hypers if you did not just play stars and knew some good affiliates offering additional kickbacks (although this died down), and knew what sites had decent action. Goodluck doing that nowadays. I wonder if the Russian is still among the top earners today since I see he still plays, he def made the most of all time at hus, since he was active even before I was playing seriously. I guess he must still get all the soft action at the highest stakes so probably.

I mean this is another reason that made me quit, I couldn’t stomach going from 70-100+ % rb to playing on stars and get ever decreasing rewards. And I most likely would’ve had to since a bunch of sites had closed down to me. I couldn’t fathom playing and be comfortable making so much less than before, and be optimistic about the future.

And spins are such a variance trap, it’s like playing the powerball with a 1cent return on a 5$ ticket. Sure it’s profitable and might pay off but it’s a lot of hassle, so unless you are willing to disregard insane variance and come to terms that most of your profit is coming from that one big score (which I think most are not), you’re gonna have a really bad time. And it would be just sick to be up like 100k in ev, realize you paid like 300k rake, and be breakeven at the end of it all. I definitely couldn’t come to terms with something like that.
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Old 05-15-2018, 10:03 PM   #14
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Re: Why do you still play?

im a degenerate masochistic gambler
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Old 05-16-2018, 08:42 AM   #15
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Re: Why do you still play?

Residents of poor countries, such as those in Eastern Europe, sometimes don't have a more profitable option than poker

For those in developed countries, there's less incentive to (re)start learning poker this year than in 2016, but for those who've been grinding profitably all the time since then, it's easier to continue the familiar grind than to take the risk of learning something else.
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Old 05-16-2018, 12:11 PM   #16
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Re: Why do you still play?

+1
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Old 05-16-2018, 11:25 PM   #17
BigFredy007
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Re: Why do you still play?

great things can happen when you're earning tax free in $$ and spending in baht,pesos,rupiah, etc
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Old 05-18-2018, 07:12 AM   #18
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Re: Why do you still play?

I think back at the day money was growing on trees argument does not make sense at all.
I was working as a software developer in Europe and my winnings in Pokerstars was almost equal to my salary.. Note that I didn't even have a grind heavy structure. Had it, money would easily surpass my salary..If that money can surpass a software engineer's salary, it can easily surpass %80 of the population's salary.

Moreover, right now I am back to my country and started a software company and can easily tell the best time to start a software company was 10-15 years ago.Any venture you dive into, it was probably better to dive into it 10 years ago.I think that attitude will take us nowhere.
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Old 05-19-2018, 02:31 PM   #19
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Re: Why do you still play?

Don’t really get what you’re trying to say here. New niches appear all the times that can be exploited, and old niches constantly disappear. It happens on the micro level and happens at the macro level (i.e. evolution/extinction of species). Other new ventures will appear that will attract a lot of attention in the future as well. Bowling had its heyday in the late 60’s to mid 70’s, and back then I assume many would have considered a career out of it, and been quite profitable, which would not be the case now.

Some forms of poker suffered less than others while others suffered more, but the diminishing returns for the past 2 years or so, and the consistent hits in market liquidity have hindered online poker pretty hard imo, esp in husng formats and around the 3/6-10/20 6max cashgames (and hu cash which is dead completely).
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