Some years ago I read two great books by the professional punter Alan Potts. These books were called “The Inside Track” and “Against the Crowd”. In those books Potts discussed how to base your strategies and ideas around what your opponents were doing and then taking the opposite approach. It was only years later when I discovered that professional stock market traders often used similar strategies in principle and they referred to them as “contrarian”. So just what does that mean with regards to online poker? Well for a start we are concerned here with long term profitability as a poker player and not just short term profits.
Short term profits can be simple variance or it could be down to your successful strategy. However a strategy in gambling can often be only temporarily successful because of game dynamics. This means that making money this week or this month or even this year may not be possible in the future. Poker is part of a moving landscape and the poker environment is in a constant state of shift. This is especially the case with online poker where in recent years there have been many more players that have looked to improve their poker games.
These days there are just too many people looking to play poker in the same way. So what exactly is that way? Well it all depends on the type of poker that you are playing. In full ring games for example then there are too many multi-tabling regular players who are all playing tight-solid poker. They are playing for rakeback and sign up bonuses and looking to exploit the odd fish. This is a strategy that worked far better a few years ago than what it does now. However it is when you try to execute this strategy at higher levels that you can now get into a trouble.
A combination of rake and players not making mistakes means that value is getting very hard to find now at NL50 and above when multi-tabling. In fact I have heard of some very good players who were previously beating NL400 and NL600 that were finding life very tough indeed. So to gain an edge means using strategies that other players simply do not use. At the end of the day then there are many roads that lead to Rome in poker and it is all about finding one that takes you to where you are trying to get to.
Some time ago I was multi-tabling up to twelve tables but I also found that my earn rate was falling. At first it is difficult to see if this is variance or something more serious. However over time it became apparent that something was wrong and this was to do with my games having less value in them with regards to the strategies that I had been using. So I switched to only playing one table but playing higher levels. This allows me to drop in an out of games whenever I feel like it without having to play on too many tables at once and build my tables up.
I much prefer to play poker in this way because of the fact that I can move in and out of levels and even switch sites if I have to. I do feel that my ability to multi-level think allows me to gain an edge over players that are playing more than one table and especially those that multi-table. I do try and make it my goal though to use strategies that are different to what anybody else is using because in my mind then that is the only way to gain an edge.
Carl Sampson is a professional poker player who plays online at www.888poker.com