Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Well, I'm back in Austin to collect the last of my things before driving back out to Vegas for good. What this means is that I'm sitting around playing poker and doing nothing productive until the day I want to leave, and then I'm randomly throwing everything into a UHAUL in a panicked frenzy.

Poker's been going okay still. I am in a bit of a rut, but I can't have huge weeks every week. As much as I'd love to.

One thing I found interesting was Jackpot Jay's latest (and last) column. For those who have never read him, he's usually not very interesting at all, simply being a mediocre poker player who complains a lot (which makes him no different than about 80% of poker players I've met). But his latest column had a pretty interesting nugget of information. I quote:

Much has been written about the huge amounts of money many players are raking in, week after week, especially on the Web. But the fact is, in real life, such people are few and far between.

Since there are very few, if any, reliable studies available that demonstrate the percentage of winners -- and big winners -- from among the tens of millions who play the game, you are probably wondering how I "know" this. Well, as it turns out, there is one group that can -- and does -- track this kind of stat, though they are not about to publicize the results. That group consists of online poker site management, two members of which revealed to me at the WSOP that what intuition suggests must be true -- only 8 and 7 percent, respectively, of all players on their sites finish the year in the black. And I'm not talking about deep in the black, either. The vast majority of those winners are not about to give up their day jobs.

At first, that 7-8% figure seems quite low, but then one has to take into account the millions of people who deposit their $50 or $100, lose it, and never play again (or lose it a few times over and then never play again). I'm sure for every winner there's gotta be a handful of guys like that (or perhaps 11 or so). Then there are the slow losers, who play, and play, and play bouncing up and down and after months are maybe down $50 or $100 or so. Poker is simply entertainment to those folks. And then there are guys who are actually pretty decent who then go and play stakes well above their bankrolls and get destroyed (repeating the cycle over and over again). $3000 ground out over weeks and weeks at 2/4 can go pretty quickly at 15/30.

So all told, I'm willing to believe that number. I'm sure the percentage of winners among players who have played a high volume of hands consistently throughout the year is much higher, simply because very few losing players hang around for that long.

One other thing that's interesting: the sites apparently don't want to advertise that only 8% of their clientele wins over the course of the year (and most of those are "not about to give up their day jobs") and yet it seems representatives for at least two sites were willing to share that information with known ESPN columnist Jackpot Jay. That can't be very smart.