Friday, 25 November 2011

Too Much Choice - How Times Change

I can remember when I first played poker I struggled to play anywhere near as often as I wanted to at first. In fairness it was 1976 so there was no such thing as Online poker.

My first games were in a private home game which used to run only on a Sunday night. I'd have played every night if I could have and yet I had to wait patiently all week for that game.

When I turned 18 I was pretty lucky as I only lived 30 mins drive from the Rainbow casino in Birmingham. I didn't realise how lucky I was at the time as it was probably the only casino for 100 miles that played "Hold em".

99.9% of casinos did not play poker at all in those days and if they did it was Stud. The Rainbow as far as I know ran some of the first ever tournaments ever held in this country.

So back then live poker was scarce and tournaments even rarer.

Now look at it, I'm totally spoilt for choice. Bankroll permitting I could play 7 nights a week (and most afternoons) and also enter a "big" (£100+ buy-in) tourney every week if I wanted to.

I joined the Midlands Poker Forum a while ago, though it's less of a forum and more of a Poker Listings website. It's a fantastic resource with full details of all the poker rooms within the Midlands.

Today just a normal Thursday in the Midlands (well it was Thurs when I started writing this) there are 17 different poker tournaments available to me. 17!

That's an amazing number though to be fair that number includes some over an hours drive away. Now I wouldn't even consider driving all the way the DTD (1hr 15min) unless it's a weekend or special occasion.

Of the seventeen I could drive to 12 of them within 45 mins, traffic permitting.

Just look at the big stuff that's available to me now that a few years ago would have been a "Must Play" event that I'd have travelled miles to get to.

DTD run a £300 and various £150, £100 comps every month. There is the GUKPT, UKIPT, The Genting Poker Series, 888's Super-stack Series (that has 19 legs in 2012) Then there are the APAT events, Gala are getting back into poker in a big way now. Sky poker tour, Oneway Deepstacks and something called the Mega poker tour (F knows what that is). Even the Broadway has a monthly £75 & £100 Deepstack comp.

It really is so difficult to keep track of these and it would be impossible to play them all.

This Saturday I'm going to be playing the "Grand Final" (sounds grand but it's not really) of the Poker Player Tour at the Gala in Birmingham.

It's £150+£15 with starting stacks of 10k with a 30 min clock throughout. It should have a prize pool of £24,000 and T.V cameras will be present for the poker channel and the staff from Poker Player magazine will be blogging etc.

Sounds great doesn't it but to be honest if it involved an overnight stay or over an hours drive each way I wouldn't be going.

30 years ago I'd have hitch hiked to Scotland and slept in a tent if I had to, to play an event like this.

But will the bubble burst for all these tours/poker rooms? 

Is this sort of thing sustainable? Personally I hope it is as it's great for me. I can get more and more picky about when and where I play.

If this keeps up, in a few years time I won't bother getting motivated to play a tourney unless there is overlay and I've free-rolled in and it's being held in the village hall at the end of my road.

Can poker really keep expanding like this? It's very expensive to put poker tours on the road these days.

I was reading about the Superstacks at Birmingham's Stab City, the costs to run them there are horrific.

Even though they take something like £1,400 in reg fees the government have 40% gaming tax and then there is £2,000 in dealers costs. It's not something I'd see as a long term money making idea! Even worse as it is not their casino and they are just hiring it they have to finish each day by 7.00pm so as not to interrupt the normal evening comp.

While big live events are usually guaranteed to make a loss or at best break even, the spin-off benefits from online play is usually where operators are looking to recoup their outlay, either from satellites, or if winnings are credited to players accounts there is an expectation that they will play with that money online rather than withdraw it.

Unless you own the casinos and have the Online poker room to run the satellites on, it is difficult to see the long term benefits to the companies concerned.

I think Genting are obviously determined to be a very big player on the UK poker scene in 2012 and beyond.   They have recently signed up the Hendon Mob and loads of other pro's who lost there red pro deals. They really do seem to have some great ideas at the minute.

I follow @MaylisBoardman on twitter and read her blog and Genting are sponsoring her into some small to medium sized events as well currently. If you visit her blog she has posted about the GUKPT Blackpool which is a good read.

Anyway the Genting expansion grows rapidly as they have just announced that they have bought the Fox Poker Club in London. Their tour for 2012 looks cleverly pitched at a £400 main event buy-in.

The GUKPT has a Main Event costing £1,000+£70 with the UKIPT having just increased the buy-ins for its Main Events from £500+£50 to £700+£70.

So what will I be playing in 2012. Well I will play any APAT event that is near to me for sure as I do love them. Sadly though the APAT World Championships will clash with the GUKPT Coventry leg which has the £100, £200 6 max £300 and £1,000 main event all running in the same week as the Goliath so I expect to be at the G Coventry every day that week.

The Goliath was the best tourney I've ever played in the UK so I will not want to miss that.

Apart from that I can just pick and choose any of the bigger tour events that visit the Midlands that I can bink a seat into.

Long may this poker boom continue and if Pokerstars does want to hire my village hall for a UKIPT event in 2012 that would be great.

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