The Outlook of Online Poker

Poker legend Ed Miller recently penned an opinion piece for Cardplayer detailing what he thinks the outlook for online poker in general. In particular, he discussed how online poker in the U.S. will be over the coming decade. This may come as a shock for players who love the game, but the future of poker is looking quite bleak. In his piece, Miller offers some optimism and little realism as to where the future of poker will be headed:

The future of online poker in the United States is “hot but not white-hot”

While the self-deprecating Miller claims that he has frequently been wrong about the direction of online poker, in most aspects, the main points of his past predictions have played out more or less as he called it. Miller is one of the few figures who has maintained a high level of fame in the poker world who was around well before the major online poker boom that began in 2003. Since the beginning he has predicted almost perfectly how the boom would progress into a bust and what would likely emerge from the rubble.

Unfortunately, those who have come to love the online game are at what is likely to prove to be a trough in the fortunes of internet poker. The question now is what will arise from the ashes. Miller thinks that, for the United States in particular, there is cause for cautious optimism. One of the reasons is the large number of populous states, like Pennsylvania and Michigan, that are seemingly on the cusp of erecting a legalized online poker regulatory framework. Another factor is that many of the companies that will come to dominate the U.S. poker scene in a regulated and legal environment are likely to have learned from the serious missteps of the poker boom, making an organic bust out for the entire industry much less likely this time around.

Miller advises strongly to encourage recreational-style play

The best and most important takeaway from Miller’s piece is his solid advice to future poker operators. Miller advices to discourage game specialization, multi-tabling, heads-up displays and other means by which professional players can maximally and viciously exploit the recreational players.

Miller correctly points out that the optimal strategies between even variants of a game like Hold’em vary so dramatically between limit and no-limit varieties that it makes it very difficult for a single player to become an expert at both. This is even truer if players are encouraged or forced to play five or 10 different poker variants at a sitting. This would lower the expert players’ edge and make the experience far more enjoyable for the recreational or net-losing players.