10 Cool Things About Online Poker
Online poker has taken a lot of crap lately. From the U.S. government treating it like a threat on par with crystal meth to grinders complaining that the action is drying up to some unfortunate scandals and scams, the current face of online poker looks like it just got out of a fight with Manny Pacquaio. Lest we all forget how awesome online poker is, here is a list of ten cool things about it.
1. International Aspect
Sometimes I fail to appreciate how much I've learned about the world directly thanks to online poker. From trips overseas for live tournaments to encountering people from all over the world at the WSOP, online poker's ability to open the doors to the world is phenomenal. I have friends all over the world that I met through online poker. In mere seconds, you can be competing in a game of cards with people from all corners of the earth from the comfort of your living room couch. When you think about it, that's really, really cool and makes all of the frustrating bad beats worth it.
2. Fosters Logical, Problem Solving Thought Processes
In online poker, to the rational thinker go the spoilers. There is one thing virtually all highly-successful online poker players have in common: a deft ability to think logically about problems in order to reach a solution. You simply cannot achieve at a high level in poker over a long period of time without being a good problem solver. In this way, online poker is great for training the mind to think calmly and rationally before making a decision.
Online poker would be nowhere today if it were not for the advent of the satellite tournament. The promise of being able to win a lot for very little has fueled the game's growth more than anything else. Online poker exploded in popularity in 2003 when a simple accountant from Tennessee turned a $40 online poker investment into $2.5 million at the WSOP. That such a Cinderella story could be possible is the reason why online poker is so great.
4. 888 Poker's PokerCam Tables
The poker webcam craze never has taken off like some people thought it would, but webcam tables are available at 888 Poker. I played in one of their PokerCam games for the first time a few nights ago and I have to say, it was awesome! I couldn't even keep a poker face because I was grinning like an idiot that I could actually see my opponents in an online poker game! 888's PokerCam tables gave me a nice rush of excitement that I haven't gotten from online poker in years. Check them out if you have a little time to kill.
5. Player Transfers
The ability to send money to anyone in the world with an online poker account void of fees or the watchful eye of a government is so unbelievably awesome we should all take a moment of silence to appreciate it.
Thank you. Player transfers are righteously awesome. When I was having a hard time getting my Party Poker account funded after moving to Mexico, I withdrew some pesos out of an ATM and passed them off to a friend who was able to transfer an equivalent amount in dollars. Player transfers can be used to settle friendly bets, buy pieces of others' action, make instant cashouts or deposits with friends, and even duck tax obligations. Just kidding, U.S. government. I know you're reading this. I always pay my taxes!
6. Player Rewards Programs
Most online poker rooms have by now implemented some form of a VIP rewards system. The cool thing about these player points is that most people don't really pay attention to them. They accumulate in the background and after a year or so you realize you've earned enough points to exchange them in a store for an electronic item or even cash. It's a nice little pat on the back from the online poker rooms to keep you happy as a customer.
7. Rebuy Tournaments
What makes rebuy tournaments awesome is that they allow players with small bankrolls a shot at a large prize pool. For example, a player who is only comfortable playing buy-ins up to $10 can register for a $10 rebuy tournament with no plan to rebuy or add-on. This is incredibly good value on their buy-in since they get to compete for a prize pool that more closely resembles that of a $40 or $50 tournament. While they are left at a sizable chip disadvantage relative to those willing to rebuy and add-on, a winning "single shell" player is still getting a fantastic return on investment. A tip for anyone considering this strategy: it's usually a really wise investment to add-on if you survive long enough to do so.
8. 888 Poker's Push or Fold Tables
At the risk of sounding like too much of an 888 Poker fanboy, their Push or Fold tables are insanely fun. The min and max buy-in for these games, available in no-limit hold'em and Omaha form, is just five big blinds. This means it's correct to go all-in preflop every hand at least until you've built up beyond ten big blinds. Best of all, not everyone realizes this strategy and will post 20% of their stack and fold to your shove... in Omaha! If you know your opponent is shoving basically any hand, there are very few hands you can correctly fold in that spot. These tables are great for a quick little late night degen fix.
9. Nose Bleed Cash Games
The amount of money that changes hands in online poker's biggest games is mind-numbing. According to HighStakesDB.com, the player who won the most money online in 2011 was Gus Hansen. His total net winnings? $3,941,000! The same site reports that the largest winner in online cash games of all-time is Phil Ivey with over $19 million in profits. Nineteen million dollars! What an absurd amount of money! And anyone with an Internet connection could have, theoretically, observed Ivey win every last dime of that money.
10. Entertaining Political Scene
One can derive quite a bit of entertainment from following online poker's legal and political struggles around the world. There's always a sense of excitement within the industry because you never know what dumbass lawmaker might do to make things better or worse for the game. Online poker is in its wild west days right now where minimal regulation and oversight is the status quo. One day, when it is just another part of the big, bloated bureaucracy, we might miss this era of raw struggle for legitimacy.