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Prepare Today For Poker In 2014 And Beyond

by Ed Miller |  Published: Feb 01, 2014

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Ed MillerFor nearly two years, I’ve been touting the potential of Online Poker 2.0 — the re-legalization of online poker in the United States. As of this writing, a few states — Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey — have online poker games up and running, available to anyone of age within the state’s borders. These states are the vanguard, but I expect a number of other states to approve online poker in the next couple of years.

I live in Nevada, and I’ve had the privilege of playing on two sites — Ultimate Poker and WSOP.com — since May 2013. My experience on these sites is that action is sometimes sparse, but the games are always good. Sometimes when I’m playing on these sites, the quality of play is so jaw-droppingly poor that I feel like I’ve time-warped back to 2004.

The sparse action is due primarily to the small number of Nevada residents. With less than one percent of all Americans living in Nevada, it would be too much to expect hundreds of games.

But this problem should be alleviated through interstate compacts in the coming years. As more states move to legalize online poker, I expect smaller states like Nevada and Delaware to cooperate with other small and mid-sized states to create a networked player pool across the country.

From my perspective as a player, these compacts would mean a player pool big enough to support plentiful games around the clock. And I don’t see why the games wouldn’t continue to be good for a while. No, I don’t think it will be 2004 all over again. But if things go well, as a poker player, I think there could be a lot of upside for a few years.

Upside. It’s a magic word for anyone who manages risk. Investors, options traders, gamblers, sports executives, business owners, poker players — upside can make the difference between a good investment and a bad one.

I believe there is quite a bit of upside for poker in the United States through the middle of this decade. And I believe that you should start preparing right now to take advantage of it if and when it arrives. You will be far ahead of those who do nothing now and wait to see it before they start investing in it.

What would the upside look like? I think in two to three years, there could be enough good online poker games running in this country, accessible from a number of states, that you could multitable them and make $100 per hour or more. It’s not a lock for that to happen, of course, but I believe the upside is there if things go right.

What To Do Today

You need two main things to take advantage of a reintroduction of online poker. You need skill, and you need a bankroll. Skill is the more important of the two, because as we saw the last decade, skillful dedicated players can run it up from nothing online.

Set aside an hour each day to work on your game. The very best way to work on your game is to take hands that you’ve played and construct ranges for them. At every point in the hand, beginning with your preflop play, write down all the hands you could still have and play this way. So if you raised preflop from two off the button, and you’d do that with one of 200 different hands, write down the 200 hands (in shorthand, of course). Then after the flop, if you bet, write down all the hands you would bet. And so forth.

Constructing ranges like this is the best way to find flaws in your strategy. You can find situations where you bet too often or fold too often just by looking at how your ranges change throughout a hand.

It’s just like going to the gym. If you started going to the gym today, and you went one hour every day, by summer you’d be in excellent shape. If you waited until May to start working out, however, or if you could only find the time once per week, by summer you would have gained very little.

If you believe that I’m on to something and that online poker could see a resurgence in the United States, then you should start working an hour a day today. Then when it comes, you will already be in the right mental shape to take advantage of it.

To help you with your range construction exercises, I recommend using expert-created content. Books, training videos, audiobooks, and more are out there for you. And if you use these materials correctly, and put in your hour a day, you’ll make back their cost tenfold in your everyday live poker game, even before you play your first hand of Online Poker 2.0.

The second thing you’ll need is bankroll. While it’s true that the great players can build one up from almost nothing online, if you go that route, you’ll be spending a number of the first months playing for a very small hourly rate. You might see juicy $5-$10 games, but be stuck playing $0.05-$0.10.

I’d start saving up now. Every month put aside some money for your poker bankroll. Whatever extra you can carve out of your budget, do it. Whether it’s $20 or $100 or $300 per month, start saving it up now. The difference between having $100 to deposit on day one and $2,000 is substantial. You’ll qualify for larger bonuses, and you’ll be able to play bigger games right off the bat.

Final Thoughts

I’m hopeful about the future of online poker in the United States. It’s been running in Nevada for a while now, and while the player numbers are modest, the games are excellent. When more states come online, I believe the small and medium-sized states will be forced to see the benefits of compacting with one another (as they do with lotteries), and we’ll see solid player pools.

If you start preparing today for the future, you will have a huge leg up on the game. Commit an hour a day to working on your game. Putting in time every single day is the best way to get good at anything, and poker is certainly no different. And commit to saving toward your bankroll starting today. Choose a monthly amount that you can handle and stick with.

Here’s how I figure it. Maybe online poker comes back with a roar. Maybe it just putters along for a while. I can’t predict the future. But if I start preparing today, only good things can happen. I mean, the worst case scenario — even if Online Poker 2.0 turns out to be a dud — is that in two years you’ll be a lot better at poker with a pile of cash saved.

And if online poker does take off, you’ll be first in line to reap the rewards. ♠

Ed’s newest book, Playing The Player: Moving Beyond ABC Poker To Dominate Your Opponents, is on sale at notedpokerauthority.com. Find Ed on Facebook at facebook.com/edmillerauthor and on Twitter @EdMillerPoker.