First post here so a little about me. I am digital marketer who has worked in online gaming (UK term for gambling!) for several years. I am not a “poker guy” but I wanted to share a couple of my observations about poker players in my short time marketing in that side of the industry and how they differ from sports bettors and casino games players. Some definitions first up: By casino games players I am talking about real games of chance like slots, pai gow, and baccarat. Even craps or roulette where inputs based on last game outcome may be applied to impact next outcome in the short term but can’t negate negative expectation over statistically significant sample. I include blackjack as well where house edge can be reduced by using even a simple system but does not allow 100% player win rate. Much has been written about this and the owner of the popular Wizard of Odds website had a standing offer to pay $20,000 to anyone with a betting system that could show a profit over a one billion hand computer simulation. Ok lets set that lengthy “online casino” games definition aside for a moment. Here are my takes on those three groups.
Online Casino bettors. (Slots bettors, big wheel of fortune, pure games of chance and the like) Generally speaking these players rely on two things while playing and these are the belief that they can win because it is their turn to win and the random number generator controlling game outcome turning up a result which gives a payout. They talk a lot in forums about “luck” and new slots games and about jackpots they want to win and what they will spend this on. Based on this, online casino operators market to these specific interests and desires. There are several “systems” for winning various casino games out there like the Martingale for example however these have not been proven to return a profit to the bettor over a statistically relevant amount of games. There is a very small number of sharp bettors within online casinos. My definition of sharp here is winning by not relying on luck for the most part. In my experience these are players that have been able to exploit a bonus offering or exploit a back-door or an unnoticed weakness in a game. They are not applying an in-game method over hundreds of games to increase win rate. Slots players that happen to turn up a huge progressive jackpot payout sending their win rate thru’ the roof don’t really count as sharp players. They are in the group of lucky players. These statements are generalizations from my experience and no doubt there are some more sophisticated bettors that play skill games who sometimes play casino games.
The range of betting sophistication applied by sports bettors is far greater than casino bettors. Approaches here can range at the unsophisticated end from always betting on the team that someone supports as a fan, to always betting the favorite or the home team when straight betting to a more advanced approach of applying some form of betting system based on gathered data. There is a huge amount of statistical and legacy information for sports events freely available and using an informed system of betting units and attention to detail and discipline a sports bettor can improve his chances of winning. A little like poker in respects of attention to detail and discipline. Like Poker training sites and HUDs suppliers, there are individuals and companies that will offer services to improve your sports betting win rates. Some of these tools are no doubt valuable. Majority of sports betting “services” like picks sites or handicappers are downright scams and rely on very shady marketing tactics to extract money for subscription picks and just-before-game-time betting advice. The difference in the approach that sports betting operators’ take is greater than casino operators. Sports betting sites range from marketing the dream of winning all the way to appealing to the more informed betting . Think pinnacle.com that provides better odds than others and publishes regular articles on improving sports betting habits and statistical odds and how these speak to certain leagues and specific upcoming events.
There are many sports betting forums and the information posted there ranges greatly. There are some people posting how much they win at sports betting and what their balling lifestyle consists of accompanied by the occasional Instagram of a new luxury car or beach vacation. Short of posting your bets in advance of the event results, it is very difficult to prove win/loss rates and hardly any will go to the lengths to prove that they are a winning bettor over a season, not just one or two games. Not to say that there is not a lot of valuable and useable information posted in sports betting forums because there is. It is just that it is very hard to find consistently successful sports bettors. Well known sports bettor’s losses are not categorically recorded in the same way that well known (and even not well known) Poker player’s win rates are at live games and online tournaments. Sports betting is a little more overt than casino betting from the online perspective. Which leads us to Poker Players, which I see as the most transparent of all bettors. Ok before you start commenting on that one statement in isolation let me say again this is based on broad comparison to the aforementioned Sports and Casino bettors.
I have found Poker players to be the group of bettors that is best able to take innate positive traits (intelligence, memory, physical ability, intuition) and then train themselves using gameplay experience, self-paced research and coaches to bring about improvement in their game. They also generally use commercially available tools such as trackers and HUDs to their advantage.
Poker players are generally very open about their wins and losses, their abilities and the ways they gather and use information. Given that everything (wins/losses) is tracked in any live event that matters and in the vast majority of online play it is easy to substantiate a win rate over a period of time. It’s also very easy to call a player out over a false claim if it does not correlate with publicly available data.
In the forums there is a wide range of poker related topics discussed from the barely related “best poker movies” to the most meaningful strategy articles. And this is what I like about the poker community as a whole: they are ready to honestly talk about their own game play (both good and bad) and ready to ask for and give help. This ranges from newbs all the way to Pros, tho’ you see less written in forums by Pros as they are so busy I guess actually improving their game and playing high-stakes. But, they are still in the forums and I would be hard pressed to think of any other profession or pastime where recognized professionals give so much of their time and guidance. For free. It pretty impressive! The community is not perfect and no doubt there have been some bad actors at times but on the whole it’s a positive and smart group of likeminded people that love a game and want to make it as good as they can.
The way that poker operators market their products is pretty same-same. Broadly speaking the messages are based on bonuses for joining, large prize pools for tourneys and marketing the feeling of winning. There are one or two examples of differentiation but this is based on aligning the messaging with the branding of the other products as whole. Like Unibet or Paddy Power.
So there is my take on the 3 groups based just on my experience as a marketer and casual observer. Thanks for reading!