There’s no doubt that if you ask any poker player that’s been around since online poker began that he’ll tell you poker has gotten significant tougher to beat. There are a few main reasons that win-rates are decreasing and disappearing.
The Players have Improved
There are more excellent training resources than there ever has been in the past. When I began playing in 2006, Doyle Brunson’s book Super System was considered to be the holy grail of poker knowledge. There’s still a lot of quality information in it, but it’ll only get you part of the way to becoming a winning poker player in today’s games.
The ways people can learn have also improved. Instead of reading books, players can watch videos of top players and learn what and how they think. Poker software allows for sophisticated analysis of your play to identify where you are losing money. A dedicated beginner can now reach a decent level of play in a very short time.
Fewer New Players
While there will always be new players learning the games and recreational players just trying to have fun, there are less beginners who lose money when they play. This is due to several reasons, mainly that poker is no longer the ‘new’ thing that had a significant excitement factor when it was first announced.
You should also take into account the effect that ‘Black Friday’ had on online poker as a whole. The average American has more disposable cash than almost any average person in other countries. When Americans were banned from online poker, the games instantly got more difficult. It is possible in the future for it to be fully legalized, but for now you have to live in America to play on the sites that allow them, which aren’t necessarily any easier to win at.
The Rakes Have Increased
Years ago when poker sites were trying to attract as many players as possible the rakes were lower. You paid less to the site when entering tournaments and you paid a smaller tax on winning pots in cash games. Since the amount of new players signing up for poker has slowed down in recent years, sites have increased the rake to make more profit.
Now a few cents a pot doesn’t seem like it would have a huge effect on your win-rate, but when you consider that most players only win a small amount per session, an increase in rake can turn a winning player into a losing player.
Can You Win in 2014?
Winning is still possible, but it is also a lot more difficult. Players who don’t spend time improving their game over the years could find that they fall behind the average and become losing players.
For new players there is a much steeper learning curve, but if you approach the game with an intense desire to learn, you will be able to absorb enough to become a winning player faster than ever before.
Easier Ways to Win
When games become tougher it makes skills like table selection even more important. Learning advanced techniques that allow you to dominate at a level will allow you to sustain the winrate you’ve always desired or had in the past.
The alternative is to switch the game that you play. Texas Hold’em in particular has become fairly saturated with a lot of expert training material available. Switching to a newer form of poker where even the best players still aren’t that good is one of the best ways to increase your win-rate. If you’re a new player you start off at the same level as everyone else, but if you are an experienced poker player there are a lot of transferable skills that will help you become a winner in no time.
The bottom line is that if you want to keep winning at poker, which is becoming more difficult over time, you need to adapt your game and improve or find an game at an earlier stage of development to beat.