Though it is most likely that having a legal and regulated online poker market in the U.S. is good for the long-term health of our game, I am beginning to get extremely frazzled by this glowing report of how great things will be after a potential 15 month blackout period. Here is a partial list of my concerns that seems to be growing by the hour since I first learned of this a few days ago:
A NEW POKER BOOM WILL OCCUR THAT WILL DWARF THE FIRST ONE.
Though I believe this to be most likely, it is still theoretical at this point and likely to be short lived. That one was powered by forces that happened to coincide perfectly that no longer exist today.
A) The world economy was thriving on the real estate bubble.
B) Poker first entered the public consciousness through the entirely new usage of lipstick cameras to show hole cards for the first time and a Cinderella story titled "Moneymaker" won over the imagination of the masses.
C) Online poker was new and enthusiasm was at the highest point that will ever exist.
THE FISH POOL WILL BE GIGANTIC AND NEVER ENDING DUE TO THE EASE OF LIQUIDITY
Wow....where to start?!
With the possibility of states being able to opt out, it is very unclear just how many states will be contributing to this fishpool. Living in Kentucky, I am incredibly fearful that my state will not opt in due to the prior efforts of our governor whose sole interest at this point seems to be in protecting our statewide passion for primitive auto racing, aka "Horse Racing". Sure, I live right by Indiana and would be willing to make a moderate commute there to play, but with its state coffers juiced with the proceeds of riverboat gambling, can I truly rely on this?
Even after this is accounted for, the fishpool will be nothing like what we witnessed the first time around. Back then, poker knowledge at large consisted of little more than knowing that a flush beats a straight. Concepts like pot odds, blind stealing, and position were foreign and arcane to the general population and the outcome was such that if you stuck with top pair or better and drew only to the nuts, you were crushing the game. Nowadays, the quality of competition at your neighborhood bar freeroll is stronger than what you would have encountered online 6 years ago.
There was a serious information black hole that existed back then that no longer does. Training sites, forums, and high quality texts are the standard means of improvement and never again will sub-standard trash like Phil Hellmuth's Play Poker Like the Pros be so eagerly gobbled up by aspiring players. Now the pros not only play significantly better than their opponents, they play GOOD. Since the fish tend to copy the moves and tendencies of everyone else around them, they will play better by default...no question.
Where does this leave us? I believe that it is a certainty that we will eventually end up right back where we are right now. Eventually all shitty players go bust and the ones that don't will improve, and perhaps greatly so. The games will once again be tough, but hey, we can always cash out our rakeback without all the fuss!
In conclusion, it is extremely difficult to imagine a scenario that can possibly make up for over a year of productivity loss. I am not saying that it isn't necessary in the long run, but the ever-glowing reports of how great things will be seem incredibly naive at this point, especially in light of the fact that we are giving up something of great value that is currently guaranteed for something that we are only envisioning at this time. If history can help us predict anything, it shows us that people are really lousy at making predictions.
As the saying goes "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush". Are there really two in the bush? I'm just so not sure...