The more poker I play online, the more I speculate about my opponents. Not where they are from or what their lives are like, but how they can continue to be able to play. By being able to play - I mean financially.
Unless you have been living on the moon, you know that just about the entire world is in a financial crisis. Whether you call it a recession, a downturn or a depression, it is all the same thing, money is tight all over. I am no expert on the economy but I know, like all things, “this too shall pass.” The big question is, how quickly will it come to pass? No one knows and the real experts spout estimates of anywhere from two up to ten years.
In the meantime, millions of people are losing their homes, jobs and lifestyles every day. The price of gas has dropped but the cost of everything else has risen. A loaf of premium, name brand bread will set you back the price of the minimum bet in a $4/$8 limit poker game. So with these rising costs, people being out of work and pinching pennies, where does that leave poker?
For the recreational/unskilled player, they will find themselves in trouble. The money they set aside every month to play with may now have to be spent to feed their family. Unless they are totally irresponsible, recreational players will have to re-think their poker playing and what it is really costing them. When I sit in a game and watch these players call with horrible starting hands time after time, I do wonder how in the world they can afford to keep playing that way and how long can they keep at it? I consider myself a conscientious player who is aware at all times where my bankroll stands. If I played five times a week and lost $20 in four of those sessions; that is a loss of $80 a week. This is a huge amount for the average recreational player in an economic crisis. Sure there will be wins, but most recreational players don’t quit when they are ahead because they think they are lucky and will win more. That train of thought usually doesn’t turn out well as most players will tell you.
The gambling industry is suffering, just like all other businesses are. People are scared to spend money on things they don’t need and when you trim the budget, recreational activities are usually cut. Few people are fortunate enough to have a recession proof job and even those that do are being more financially prudent. None of this means that poker players have to quit playing poker; however they do need to be smarter about playing.
There are a few things that poker players can do to still play the game they love and have the chance to win money. The first is to play in Freerolls. Poker sites such as PokerStars, Lock Poker, UB Poker, Full Tilt Poker, Bodog Poker
and many more, all offer Freeroll tournaments. And the best part is they are all just what they sound like, free-to-enter tournaments. When you play in them you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. When looking for a Freeroll to play in however, you should know what your objective is and how much time you will have to devote to playing.
Many Freeroll tournaments are step qualifiers to bigger events. You probably won’t win anything except a seat to another tournament. That seat you win will be for an event that does pay real cash if you place in it, or maybe even a seat to a big live event like the WSOP. Read all the terms associated with the Freeroll event you are going to play in. If the first place prize is a trip to another country to play in a live event, make sure you will be able to go. Many poker sites will not award you cash instead of the live event prize package if you cannot attend the event you won a seat in. Don’t be disappointed by playing in several tournaments and investing hours of your time - only to find out you won’t be able to collect the prize you won. And don’t think you will just sell that seat you won either, as some poker sites state in their terms that your prize is non-transferrable.
If all you want to do is have fun and play for free, there are so many Freerolls you can enter online that you won’t have enough hours in the day to play them all. But, if your goal is to win money, then look for Freerolls that are either a one step tournament to another tournament that pays cash prizes, or one that has a prize pool of its own. Freerolls are the very best way to play for free but still have a chance to make money, just remember that if you are lucky enough to win one, you will probably have invested over four hours of your time. But what about players who don’t have that kind of time to play? They have options too.
For players who want to deposit and play cash games, they need to take advantage of sign-up bonuses. All poker sites have a deposit bonus special, which is offered to players here via PokerWorks. The bonuses are available to players depending on where they live in the world, due to the UIGEA and many sites shutting out players from the USA. There are still several choices, no matter if you live in the USA or not and you can sign-up to play at more than one site. If you have money you can afford to deposit, look for the best deposit bonuses being offered and the terms. Deposit bonuses are normally released in increments after you have played and earn player points. Some poker sites are very liberal with their player points and how many you need earn to clear your bonus, other sites have stricter rules. Be sure to read all the terms of the bonus you want to sign-up for, so you will know how hard or easy it will be for you to actually get that cash . After you have signed up, look for the promotions that the site offers because several poker sites offer Freerolls for new players only, which pay cash prizes. Then look for games that are small, so you can play for a long time on the money you have deposited. The goal is to make your bankroll last as long as possible and build it up, not to jump in a game so big you may go broke in a few hands.
No matter how tough times get, everyone can still afford to play poker. Sure you would rather be playing in that $10/$20 No-Limit Texas Hold’em game, but if you play good and build your bankroll, you may win enough to get in it. If you are a poker player, the goal is to be able to still play no matter what – the stakes shouldn’t matter. Who cares if all you can afford is a 10¢/20¢ game? You are playing poker!
*PokerWorks has a continually updating, fantastic strategy section
that will help you improve your game and give you something to think about.*