Pokerstars has taken my ire of late. This is a site that pulls suckers in with illusions of control and skill then fleeces them dry.
In this case the sell point is that you’re not playing a house, you are betting against other players: an individual in honest, fair combat.
While true to varying degrees when at home with friends, in the online arena, nothing could be further from the truth.
It is the rake that kills, and you need to run the numbers to believe it. rake being the % that the site takes from every single winning hand. Feel free to skip a couple of paragraphs.
Pokerstars takes 3-4% of every hand. They get away with this because when you lose, you don’t care, and when you win, it seems trivial. But after a 12 hour session, almost everyone is going to leave disappointed.
Let’s consider a hard betting pundit, by no means atypical of the scene. Were he to put in 5 x 10 hour sessions a week (for many players this is actually conservative), with six games open (why wait longer than necessary for a good hand?) our screen locked punter would clock 15,000 ‘playing hours’ in a year. Lets say every hand averages $2, and our punter plays 50 hands in an hour.
The annual turnover would be on the order of $1.5 million. So the 3% pokerstars ‘rake’ would amount to $45,000, that no-one remembers actually putting in, but is gone nonetheless.
Our keen punter, betting with $2 stakes (or whatever the lexicon is) needs to make 45k / year across his tables to break fucking even.
Sound realistic? Here’s a s**t test:
This is all by table, so it would be like 9 people putting in 5k over the course of the year and ending with nothing in their bank accounts. And there is nothing unexpected about that.
An absolute scam.
There are other fallacies that suck in the punters, like tournaments! Entry into bigger competitions! Naturally pokerstars still takes their cut from the prize pool, but it’s not something you notice when you’re focussed on the juicy top prize that tempts and alludes. Gamblers ‘just miss out’ many more times than anyone ever wins.
Top players are sponsored, and receive a salary in return for being held up as symbols saying, despite all evidence to the contrary, ‘you, too, can win!’ like a parade of lottery millionaires outside the local newsagency urging the aging Mrs Butterworth to have a go.
There are a handful of professional sports betters who apparently make their money off rebates from grateful betting conglomerates who need deep pockets to balance their books because, god forbid, their profit might actually depend on the outcome of any one particular game.
And sure, there’s the 1% of 1% who can make 45k off a year of $2 bets, but since they’ll hardly be able to do that next year, I don’t think that counts.*
If you want to tell me of someone who’s made ‘hundreds of thousands’ playing poker online, show me their ferrari** and I’ll believe it.
Some demons need to be slain.
*Dont get me started on how Mr Waterhouse has seen it fit to plaster his ugly smirk over sporting screens Australia wide
**I imagine that’s the sort of car a red-blooded punter would go for