Forget the casinos of Nevada and New Jersey. When it comes to poker, California is still the top destination in the US. Except that is not entirely true. Cyberspace might not exactly count as a place in the US, but that doesn’t stop 60 million Americans from playing poker there on a regular basis.
Online game rooms constitute just one aspect of technology that has dramatically affected poker over the past decade and will continue to do so. But how has it affected it? We will seek to answer that question as we look at each area of tech, but the overriding theme that we will see time and again is that it has raised the bar in terms of the general standard of play.
Online poker has opened up the game to all
There’s an old saw that poker is a game that takes minutes to learn and years to master. In cyberspace, there is always a seat at the table, whatever variation of poker you want to play, and however high or low the stakes. What’s more, you don’t have to travel anywhere – you don’t even have to get out of bed if you don’t want to. Today’s online poker environment makes it possible for players to learn faster and also smarter.
Some play multiple tables at once on different screens. It is also possible to learn much more from experience, as every game is recorded, so you can go through every hand, every bet and every call methodically afterwards. These opportunities are open to everyone, and the overall effect is that the quality of online play is far higher even among experienced amateurs today than it was between the old- school poker pros in the pre-internet days.
Poker odds calculators aid decision making
Poker is a game that mixes science and art. The science part concerns the dealing of the cards. 52 to a deck, 13 to a suit and so on, working out poker odds is a mathematician’s dream. The trouble is, most players find it more fun to disappear down the rabbit hole of bluffs, reads and tells than focusing on cold, hard mathematics.
Anyone can see that mastering both aspects of poker theory is essential if you want to be a consistent winner, and for those US poker players who don’t enjoy the natural beauty of statistical analysis, a poker odds calculator is an essential weapon. You can use it either to simulate different potential scenarios or, perhaps more usefully, to go over past hands and understand how things might have panned out if you had played your hand differently.
In short, a poker odds calculator helps you to understand the true strength or weakness of your hand. Without that knowledge, it is impossible to even think about the wisdom of attempting a bluff.
Online training and coaching can be corrosive
In any discipline, from sport to creative writing to cookery, those who have worked their way to the top often share their knowledge by running courses, teaching, writing guide books, and so on. It’s a win/win, as it is another way for them to monetize their hard-earned expertise, and for those embarking on the same path, the training or the guide book is a valuable investment.
Or is it? We have already discussed the impact that simply playing more can have on raising standards. Now add the extra dimension of thousands of amateurs armed with Phil Hellmuth’s or Doyle Brunson’s killer tips and strategies.
It might sound trite, but the sheer volume of information and strategic advice that is available to all in 2023 is a genuine concern for the pros who need to win to put food on the table. Also, it is not a concern that is purely born of the tech era. Super/System was one of the first big-selling poker strategy books and was published in 1979. Its author, Doyle Brunson, later regretted giving up quite so much information, and said it “probably cost him more money than he was paid for writing it.”
Hole-cam takes player invasion to new levels
At least Texas Dolly only had himself to blame if he “over shared” somewhat in his seminal poker guide. Hole cams represent one of the most pervasive and controversial tech innovations of recent years. As the name implies, these are tiny cameras that show a player’s hole cards for the benefit of TV audiences. Today, they have mostly been superseded by RFIDs, wireless card readers that are integrated within the poker table, but
the concept is the same.
Phil Hellmuth spoke out in a YouTube interview against hole cams, saying they are “like turning a light switch on for the world to see.” Ultimately, they provide yet more of that priceless commodity for the burgeoning poker player – information. It has just been another contributor to the mix, boosting overall quality and making poker tables a tougher place to make money.
The truth is tech innovation never stands still. The players who come out on top will be those who make the best use of all the tools at their disposal.