Original von Korn
Cliffs / Short-Form auf Deutsch:
1) Damit Poker long-term funktioniert, sprich gute Spieler auch damit Geld machen können ist es wichtig dass es genug Fische gibt die regelmäßig Geld einzahlen. Nur damit "Poker so bleibt wie es ist" müssen jeden Monat ca. $300 Millionen von Freizeitspieler eingezahlt und verloren werden
2) Als guter Pokerspieler sollte man dies wissen.
3) Aus ökonomischen Gründen sollte man daher von einer Pokerseite nicht fordern, dass sie einem die Fische warm zubereitert serviert, in dem sie diese dazu zwingt, mit größeren Stacks zu spielen als sie es eigentlich wollen. Denn: dadurch steigt die Chance, dass ein neuer Pokerspieler schnell frustriert aufgibt, anstatt zu einem regelmäßigem Hobbyspieler zu werden.
4) Aus moralischer Sicht kann ich als Pokerspieler von einer Seite gar nicht fordern, dass sie die Fische zu "meiner" Spielvariante schickt. Dies würde relativ schnell ad absurdum führen. Ich z.B. finde NL mit 500 BB und mehr erst richtig spannend. Ich denke kein 100bb Spieler hätte Lust, dort spielen zu müssen.
5) Man kann aber als Pokerspieler sehr wohl für sich fordern, dass man die Spielvariante spielen kann, die man gerne mag. D.h. wenn ich 100 BB Poker spielen möchte, dann geht es nur, wenn nicht viele short-stacks an meinem Tisch sitzen. Umgekehrt sollten Leute die gerne short spielen dies auch dürfen. Daher ist die Lösung, zwei oder mehr verschiedene Tischtypen anzubieten, genau richtig.
6) Wenn sich nun die Fische dafür entscheiden, lieber short zu spielen, dann ist das eben so. Der Fisch ist im Zweifel König, weil ohne ihn geht es einfach nicht, und wenn eine Pokerseite - auch im Interesse der Winning Player - etwas tun sollte, dann ist es dafür zu sorgen, dass Fische happy und zufrieden sind und regelmäßig und gerne Poker spielen.
During the past weeks, a lot of poker sites have introduced changes to their NL-Hold’em cash games with the intention of regulating the short stacking strategies used by quite a few ambitious poker players, but also by a lot of recreational ones.
In this article I would like to look at the short stacking phenomenon from a player’s and from a poker room’s point of view.
Background Information (The Pros and Cons)
1. Playing with a short stack makes the game easier and reduces variance.
No-Limit Hold’em can be a gruesomely complicated game for somebody who is just starting out. Playing with a short stack means that I’ll be all-in quite soon and quite often, which removes the burden from having to make tough decisions at later streets. This of course also means that I won’t have the chance to generate extra value from my opponent’s mistakes on later streets either.
2. Short Stacking is "Poker Ecology Neutral"
Based on our experience and publicly available data (Sharkcope, etc) the ratio of winning to losing short stack players is very balanced. Thus, it’s not that case that all short stackers are “big winners” and are thus draining huge amounts of cash from the poker sites. In fact, I think most of you will agree that there are a lot of very bad short stack players.
3. Short Stacking makes No-Limit Hold’em more approachable to new players, with positive effects
A large amount of beginning players start out playing with a short stack as it makes the game more accessible. Surely, they’ll lose their money more slowly, however, they will be more likely to be properly getting into poker and keep playing. If beginner’s where forced by poker sites to always play deep, this would mean that they would be hopelessly outclassed by the strong players which in turn would mean that they are very likely to use their entire deposit within minutes. If that happens, frustration sets in and it becomes less likely that those players will continue to play poker.
4. There is a significant group of recreational players that like to buy-in short
Those of you that visit brick and mortar casinos regularly will certainly now players that will always buy in for the minimum and rebuy in case they bust. They are not “grinders” with a professional mindset but rather an arch type of a “for fun” player.
Experienced poker players will tell you that it’s always a mistake to humiliate recreational players or force them into situations where this is likely to happen – you can shear a sheep many times, but you can only kill it once.
5. The side-pot dynamic is flawed and gives an unfair advantage to short stacks
There is a flaw in the way that side-pots are dealt with in poker that gives short stacks an unfair advantage in multiway pots.
It’s this: If the short stack is all in and called by two players, and those one of those two players forces the other one to fold at a later street, then the player who folded is not only out of the main pot, but also out of the side pot – even though he called the first all-in of the short stack.
This gives the short stack an unfair advantage: he essentially got “protection for free”. He want all-in and got two callers, yet he only has to face one of them at the showdown.
In online poker, it should be very easy to remedy this flaw: if there is a side pot after an all-in, everybody that called the all-in should still be included in the showdown for the side-pot, even if he folded later on in the hand.
6. A single short stack can change the table dynamics and change the nature of the game itself
If I want to go online to play solid clean 100 BB poker, this will be impossible if there is a large array of people with 20 BB sitting at the same table. Because of table stakes, I must adapt to their stack-sizes and pretty much play “as if” I also was on a 20 BB stack. The most extreme example of course is heads-up, where only the smallest of the two stacks really counts.
This of course runs contrary to the principle that as a poker player I should be allowed some choice about what type of game I want to play.
7. It’s not really about the 20 BB short stack, but about the shortest stack at the table
Most people nowadays think 20 BB is “short stack”. Well, for the reasons above, there is going to be a strategy for 35BB stacks, that makes use of the sample principles as the 20 BB did. And on 250 BB max tables, people that buy in with 100 BB are the short stacks and again have a potential advantage. Of course, the shorter the stack, and the bigger the ratio between min and max buy-in, the larger the imbalance becomes.
8. Rat-Holing is against the spirit of the game
I agree. Rat-Holing – leaving the table and coming back later with a shorter stack than before - should not be allowed. However, changing tables should be.
Examining the pro poker players’ argument
There has been a long campaign run by ambitious poker players to get poker sites to “do something” about short stacking.
In the following chapter I’ll look at some of the arguments and give my way on their validity.
i) “Short-Stacking is not real poker”
I don’t agree with this as it’s worded, because years ago Texas Hold’em was not “real poker either” and also, when you look at the origins of No Limit Hold’em, I guess most people would tell you that a 100 BB buy-in is very short as well. I my mind, the full beauty of No-Limit Hold’em is achieved with really really deep stacks where you cannot really count on an “all-in” saving you from tricky decisions later on. However, that’s just my opinion. And maybe other still think that all NL games should be PL instead, or that Hold’em should be replaced with Stud. The only meaningful reply to this is: whatever people want to play, they should be able to play. If there is a significant demand for small stakes PLO, offer it. If people want to play deep stack: let them. If people like to play short: not a problem.
However, there is a potential problem when the desire of one group of players directly conflicts with the desire of another group of players. This bring me to fact 6. Above: If I want to play 100 BB NL-Hold’em I really can’t if I’m surrounded by 20 BB stacks.
This problem is perfectly being addressed by having different table categories, I think PokerStars solution is very good with offering short, normal and deep tables. This will allow everybody to play their favorite game.
ii) “Short-Stacking destroys the poker market”
Let’s be honest: there is two things that this argument can mean:
a) The existence of short-stacks means that I won’t make as much money as I could be making.
b) Short-Stacking will lead to the collapse of online poker sites
Argument b) is certainly not the case at all. As explained in points 1-4 above, short stacking is most likely positive for the poker market as a whole. It makes the game more accessible to a wider group of players and prevents recreational players from busting too quickly.
With regards to argument a), before looking at whether it’s true or not, I’d first like to discuss whether it is valid or not. People that are aiming in this direction are really trying to lobby the poker sites to feed them the fish – quick and dirty – such that they and only they can benefit from them.
Think about it: what happens if a group of 500 BB minimum buy-in players comes along and wants to force the 100 BB players to sit at their tables, where clearly they would be the underdogs? I don’t think that would fly to well.
In addition to that, if there is one group of players that is key for any poker player and any poker site, it’s the recreational player. If you someone that earns money playing poker, you should be doing everything you can that helps recreational players start playing poker and keep playing poker for a longer period of time. It’s the recreational players – those that deposit and lose money – that are funding your winnings and your rakeback and bonuses.
If there is 10,000 winning players reading this, and they aim to make 1 000 dollars per month playing poker (winnings + boni) it means that there must be at least 10 million (actually more, as poker sites have costs etc) that is deposited and lost by recreational players every single month. In reality, to keep the poker market at the status quo, I’d estimate that monthly deposits made by losing players have to be in excess of $300 million.
Think about it: do you really think it’s advisable to get poker sites to feed those players to you such that you can take their money quick and dirty, or should the poker sites rather look after these players in order to create a large group of people that start seeing poker as a fun hobby that they can spend a few hundred dollars per month on? Or do you want the poker site to force these guys to sit at your 500 BB tables without a clue to lose their stack in 5 hands and never come back?
I think the only valid conclusion to draw is that players – especially beginning and recreational players – should have freedom to choose what type of game they want to play, and if at all the poker sites starts micro-managing this, it should help those players to be in there for the long term such that they can discover poker as a regular hobby, instead of burning out quickly.
Incidentally, this is not just better for the poker site, it’s also far better for everybody that aims to make money playing poker. The long term approach is far better than a strategy that is feeding to fish to the shark for unsustainable short term gain.
If you are an ambitious and winning poker player, I think you are entitled to play the game type that you’d like to play. You should not be forced by numerous short stacks at your table to essentially play short as well. (see 6. above)
However, our of principle, you cannot really demand that a poker site changes the table conditions in such a way that the fish are forced to sit at your tables such that you can win their money quicker. Similarly, you would not be happy if suddenly a group of players forced you to play 500 BB min-buy in tables against them.
Also, out of sheer logic and pragmatism, combined with a view for the mid and long term, you really should think more about the needs of the recreational poker player. It’s them that are funding your income. Instead of trying to take their money quickly, you’d rather want them to become long term poker enthusiasts who see poker as a valuable past time and are willing to invest a certain amount of money very single month.
For moral and economic reasons, this is precisely what the poker sites should be doing. It’s in their economic best interest, precisely because it makes sure that the tables stay soft and liquidity stays high in the longer term. Instead of giving sharks a free lunch for a few weeks, it’s much better to build a recreational player friendly poker ecosystem that’s sustainable and lasting.
And it’s precisely this that will make sure that poker is going to be profitable a few months down the line.
Taking a real world example, I think PokerStars has got it right. The only things that could be considered are to change the side-pot dynamic (see 5. above) and maybe to actually remove the difference between min and max-buyin altogether and just having a standard buy-in size. (see 7 above)
However, I'm course also eager to see how the sites that have changed the min-buy in across the board will fare.
- Dominik Kofert