Opinion – With All The Poker Canada Now Has To Offer, Are We Losing By Heading South?
For many Canadians, all the excitement of spending the summer in Vegas has now come to an end. Sure, there are still those that will chase the dream over the remainder of the big offerings still up for grabs, but on the Canadian poker horizon, the party has just begun.
We had some great events on our own circuit to start 2012, locally our own casinos have some great regular quarter or semi annual series and the rest of the year has ramped up even more; the World Poker Tour is headed Montreal in November, PokerStars has also co-branded for an event at Stardust Poker Mansion and PlayNow.com has joined forces with the WSOP to bring a series to Vancouver. The Party Poker Classic and 888poker Canadian Super Stack Series 888 have also already been Montreal at the beginning of the year, with players gaining entry to live events through free-rolls and minimal stakes qualifiers.
We’ve already had two provincially regulated online sites running satellites for major events in their regions and most of the other provinces have gotten in line to also get on board. This year, while at the WSOP, the conversation of being able to play online in Canada came up dozens of times, with many serious players expressing their envy of our freedoms and telling their tales of trying to immigrate here to continue their craft; if anyone dare mention not being an avid online poker fan, the words were taken quite offensively and what we are taking for granted well explained.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the vibe of the grand scale of poker series held in the USA. Everything is bigger, prize-pools are huge, everybody is there and the good times just keep rolling; not just in Las Vegas or California either, the big casinos on the eastern side of the United States are pretty cool as well…but does that mean they offer the best value to Canadian poker players?
Unless you make a final table down south, which is never an easy feat for most players, win a package through a qualifier or are ranked in the top 99.5 percentile of players world wide, my argument would be no. In some cases, I would go so far as to say that since real money online poker is not currently permitted in the USA and sites deposit the face value of the package in the players account, the money would be better served playing online or cashed out to play in our own live events.
You can take almost any random above average player, (there are a FEW exceptions of course) and compare their winnings to buy-ins spent at the “big show” and nine times out of ten, you are going to find a negative ROI. Not convinced? Plug a few decent but not “super pro” names of players you know in here
This isn’t even including the 30% tax withholding, on anything won even remotely significant, plus state taxes in some regions and after speaking to many of those who have won big, isn’t nearly as easy to get back as some believe. You have to lose money somewhere to get anything and if you win while trying, your back to square one. Then you have to throw in travel expenses, USD to CAD money exchange (which always seems to be worth more when buying and less when depositing back) and accommodations.
It’s true, travel and a roof over your head are still going to cost you while playing here, but there is a much better chance you’ll have friends or family to car-pool or room with and when you do win, it’s considered a windfall gain and tax free.
While roughly less than 50 Canadians out of tens of thousands who play in the USA every year (correct me if you can think of enough names to prove this wrong),will make a six figure score this down south, less than 10 will win 7 figures every few years, many will win five figures here on home turf and keep it all. Look at most of the names who do rock Vegas and more often than not you will find they cut their final table and victory teeth here in Canadian major events.
Those good players who can sell action or shares at a mark-up will have a much easier time doing so for Canadian events or online events, with the investor actually having a realistic shot at making a profit.
Throw out even a lower rate of 1.2 per 1% and then add the 30% and anything less than a guaranteed top 1% finish is almost automatically a losing venture. Big fields might ensure a min cash is more easily obtained and the money on top is certainly going to surpass anything we see here, but the ratio of great players in this mix also increases in parallel, if not exponentially.
Put another way, it’s a lot easier to beat a field of 150-600 than 1500-6000.
Really the only other consideration of debate is the bragging rights, but chasing rings and bracelets is good mostly for the ego, not necessarily the bankroll. Again, for the top 1% of players on the planet, there are flaws in this statement, but for the rest, making money should be the name of the game. Money, is after all how the score is usually kept in poker and it’s certainly what affords the freedom in lifestyle that those that succeed enjoy.
Dissecting the topic with Canadian industry expert and one of Canada’s better players on home turf, Ron Campbell put it words quite fittingly “it’s like going to the fair and paying $250 to win the huge teddy bear that’s worth $50 tops. Once you have it, you’ll show it off for the night, but soon after it’s going to sit somewhere at home.” A great conversation piece perhaps, but somebody else is going to win the same “bear”, then another, then another…like any other “tourist” attraction, even when your up it’s hard not to indulge in consumables and fun times normally not afforded, eating up any profits that may have been made. It’s also a lot easier to stay focused and in good mental or physical shape for a 5 day series than it is for 45.
It’s always exciting to see a player who truly loves the game get validated with one of poker’s most coveted titles and like cheering for any contender in games of competition, it’s great for the fans. More fen than not we see the more “grounded” players take the money and run, content that a game of cards helped them win their dreams.
More than 60 players in the world have 3 or more WSOP bracelets, (try to name just half with-out cheating) just under 100 more have one for each wrist. Roughly around a thousand players now own at least one, and circuit rings for buy-ins under $1,000 are at least on the fingers of triple digits worth of players.
Less than 20 players in the world have won multiple WPT events and the EPT is still looking for it’s first multiple title holder.
By the end of this year, Canada will be nearing 40 WSOP event winners and once again, I challenge you to name half off the top of your head (some are even missing from the most up to date databases). If you can, your either a super fan, savant, or in that top 1%.
Should you win here on home turf however, regardless if it isn’t on quite as grand a scale, guaranteed most of the players in your hometown will know and remember.
The moral of the story, or opinion is simply this, when it comes to poker, we as Canadians can finally lay claim to having it all. Don’t give it away and make sure to get your share!