Jamie Burland: Sometimes it’s good to tap the tank

Being a rich and famous poker player (which, unfortunately I am not), it can be easy to forget there’s a global recession going on outside the four walls of my grind station. For recreational players money spent on poker is, of course, a luxury and as with all luxury items during times of austerity, cutbacks often have to be made. That’s economics. To put it another way, as described by The Voice of Poker and proud new father Jesse May, back in 2010, if poker is your hobby you can spend £x on poker every month. For the sake of argument let’s call x £200. That £200 used to last the first three weeks of the month after pay day before the player goes broke and has to wait a week to reload. 

As times get harder, sacrifices have to be made and that £200 per month poker money now becomes £50, which may only last one week before getting down to zero. Now think about the standard of the games towards the end of the month compared to the beginning of the month – they’re a lot tougher right?

Mobile target  

In short, it’s massively in everyone’s interest for the recreational part of the player pool not to go skint too quickly, which is why I feel that some innovations in the world of online poker aren’t as great as they first seem. A couple of months back I wrote about the innovative ideas online companies such as Winamax were doing on a regular basis. Recently PokerStars installed a new default feature on their client which adds an icon to your avatar if you are playing on a mobile device. 

PokerStars have a promo, of which parts can only be completed by playing on a mobile device, and I’m sure it seemed like a harmless way to promote the still relatively new option of playing on the go. I had noticed this feature while grinding and I must admit my initial reaction was something along the lines of, ‘fantastic, that makes it even easier for me to identify potential targets at the table.’ My logic was quite simply that it’s way more likely for a player playing on his tablet or smartphone to be recreational than they are to be a regular. A regular would be playing on his usual desktop or laptop set-up and would likely be playing way more tables than they are able to on a mobile device. I proceeded to highlight any players with the mobile device icon in bright green so as to strain my eyes even less. 

Protect the weak 

Two days later I got involved in a conversation on Twitter when I saw my friend Chihao Tsang (a poker player and poker company employee) tweeting about how to turn off the new feature. ‘Don’t tap the tank mate,’ was my instinctive reply, thinking my life is hard enough as it is and such morsels shouldn’t be wasted. Thankfully, Twitter being what it is, soon other viewpoints were offered and indeed my fellow PokerPlayer writer, Simon Hemsworth, opined that perhaps the feature isn’t all it’s cracked up to be after all. 

I took a few steps back and after some consideration I’m inclined to agree with Simon and Chi that a feature which makes it even easier to spot weaker players (and let’s be fair, an astute player running even the most basic HUD can spot a potential target within ten hands), is unnecessary and only really serves to decrease the period of time it takes for that recreational part of the player pool to go skint. Overall I don’t think the update really fits in with a holistic and balanced approach to online poker so here’s Chi’s tweet showing you how to turn the option off if you’d prefer:

‘An update to @PokerStars displays if u are playing on a tablet/mobile, it is on by default, turn it off under Options > Table display options.’ 

Thankfully my results have taken a small upswing in 2014 and I’m pleased to be able to post some of my best vital stats since I started writing this column. It’s early days but I’m hoping that my more diligent focus on video watching, hand analysis and healthy living will continue to improve said results. 

Thank God – if things had carried on the way they were going I’d have had to double the stakes!

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