Poker Words - A Poker Blog

Mostly a recount of my poker exploits along with a bunch of random other stuff just for fun.

Monday, January 31, 2005

On Second Thought...

Upon further review, I do like PokerStars. As I wrote on Friday, I got knocked out first in my first SNG, but since then I have moneyed in four straight. I have heard that the players at PokerStars tend to be better than those found at other sites. The fact that I have been doing so well lately can only mean one of three things

  1. I’m a better player than I thought.

  2. Players at PokerStars are actually worse than at PokerRoom.

  3. Nothing, it’s just a fluke, talk to me after you have a decent sample size.

Let’s look at the likelihood of each of these items.

1. I’m a better player than I though. More accurately this should probably be, “I’m a better player than my previous results at PokerRoom suggests”. I’d like to think that this is somewhat true. I think I’m better than the break even results that I’ve had at PokerRoom. I think the differences are due to the blind structures at the two sites. At both sites players start with 1500 chips. At PokerRoom I think the blinds go up every 10 hands, while at PokerStars they go up every 10 minutes. In the initial stages of the tournament this doesn’t make a big difference. I think you play about 10 hands a minute, so for the first few rounds the blinds move up equally. They start to differ when we start losing players. At PokerRoom, the blinds start going up at a continually increasing rate as more players are knocked out. Less players means fewer moves/decisions per hand thus quicker hands, and faster blind increases. At PokerStars you play for 10 minutes per level, no matter how many hands are played, so in comparison, the blinds move up at a much slower rate.

So how does that affect me? Well on PokerRoom, the blinds can get painfully high when there are as many as five players remaining. This causes players to press with average hands, because they can’t afford not to. Often someone else will be doing the same thing, and this causes one of them to get knocked out. At PokerStars on the other hand, there was never a point when I felt like any hand I played meant I would be all in, as long as my chip count was around average. This allows players to play rather than gamble. When there are five players left you can still enter a pot with the option to get out if things don’t go your way. On PokerRoom, late in the tourney, if you enter a pot, you better be willing to play for all your chips.

What was my point? Oh yeah, I think that often on PokerRoom, I am forced to press more than I would like, and there is often some jerk who calls me. If that happens often enough, sooner or later I end up on the short end of the stick, and get bumped, especially since I’m not always able to choose the optimal hands to press with. On PokerStars, I’m able to wait until I have the best hand, and thus am able to put myself in less risk. I’m also able to bluff without having to risk my whole stack, so when I’m caught, I still have chips left to play with.

2. Players at PokerStars are actually worse than at PokerRoom. I can’t imagine that players at any of the major poker sites are any better or worse than anywhere else, especially at the $10+1 games that I frequent. I think it goes back to the style of play at PokerStars that just seems to suit me more. Late in the game I think players are more apt to fold to your early aggression because they know that they’ll have plenty of other chances to get you back. In PokerRoom on the other hand, they know that the blinds are going to destroy them if they don’t move so they are forced into making calls for all their chips, or all your chips, with marginal hands. As I mentioned above, even you have better odds going into these hands, do it often enough and sooner or later you’ll get beat. So the players on PokerStars may actually seem to be better because they are more selective in their play, however this can be exploited with aggressive betting.

3. Nothing, It’s just a fluke. Honestly, this is probably the most likely of scenarios. If you’ll recall, I moneyed in six of my first ten tracked tournaments at PokerRoom, and then proceeded to suck for about the next 14 attempts. Even the best players go through streaks of bad luck and even the worst players can win a few tourneys in a row if the cards fall their way. You probably need a sample size of a few hundred before you can make any real sort of comparison. At any rate five games is not a very good sampling.

If I’ve learned anything so far from playing at PokerStars, its that my heads up game needs some serious work. I’ve lost the last three heads up battles that I participated in, and that is not going to be acceptable if I plan on maintaining any long term success.

I came up with a few new complaints for PokerStars. First, their time warning buzzer mechanism is way too loud. It scares the crap out me. If anyone knows how to tone that thing down, please let me know. I’d be sitting there two tabling, trying to figure out what to do on the bottom table, after my top pair decent kicker got raised, when from out of nowhere comes this loud painful buzzer from the other table. It almost gave me a heart attack. Is that really necessary? Secondly, I got disconnected two or three times, all when it was my turn to act. It is possible that there was a connection problem on my end, but I haven’t experienced that at any other site, so I would tend to think not.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll get to play any time between now and the Blogger Tournament on Wednesday, so I hope I have gotten enough practice in. Hopefully I’ll last long enough to have a decent tournament report. We’ll see.


At 9:49 AM, Blogger Ignatious said...

i played on stars for a LONG time before party and i can truly state that the players, for the most part, are better at stars.


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