Skill Gap Biggest Challenge Facing Poker IndustryJanuary 9, 2015 12:35 pm
While the UIGEA and Black Friday played a significant role in online poker’s decline since reaching its peak of popularity in 2006, perhaps playing equally as an important a part in its waning attraction amongst casual players is the extremely skillful nature of the game, which over the years has seen the ever improving poker sharks quickly relieve the fish from their bankrolls. Many of their “victims” are subsequently destined never to return to the site again, and in this way the action quickly dries up at the virtual tables, and online traffic across the whole industry soon plummets as we can now see today.
Expanding on this premise, Steve Ruddock posted an interesting opinion piece on pokerupdate in which he asserts that the biggest challenge facing the poker industry is the continually increasing skill gap between new casual players and the best online grinders which lie in wait for them. The high rate of attrition of such casual players has proven to be a costly endeavor for online poker operators, and presents a worrying picture of the long-term sustainability of the game.
Ruddock’s post uses a recent report by GamblingCompliance to back up his claim that while poker’s top players have improved exponentially from even a few years ago, the same rate cannot be applied to casual players, and as he explains:
“Continuing on with my earthquake metaphor, a decade later the pros are an incredible force of nature that leaves a trail of utter destruction in its wake. The skill gap is now at a point where casual players feel hopeless, as the GamblingCompliance report suggests.”
Ruddock ends his rather gloomy piece by asking what can be done to improve the experience of casual players, with some of his suggestions including reducing short-handed and low-limit heads-up games which magnify the difference between skilful and unskillful opponents, as well as introducing a number of structural changes to poker which would help “decrease the skilfulness of the game”.
Other suggestions include segregated tables, limiting the use of HUDs, and reducing the number of tables a grinder can play at any one time, thus forcing them to move up stakes in order to maintain the same win rate.