Recently I tweeted that Daniel Negreanu was way off base and it had to do with a post I authored in response to a post that he wrote in our “News, Views, and Gossip Forum.” For those who want to see my post, it can be found here:
For purposes of this note, I want to focus on this statement of mine (which appeared in my post):
What kills games are small standard deviations relative to the expectation that top players can achieve. In simple English, bad players need to have enough winning sessions to keep them interested in playing and to make the games more fun for them. When this is not the case, the games tend to die. An example would be deep stacked no‑limit hold 'em.
No-limit hold ’em cash games became popular starting about ten years ago, and at first they were very successful, but are now in my opinion becoming the victim of “small standard deviations relative to the expectation that top players can achieve.”
But I actually think it’s a little more complicated than this because when the no-limit cash games first showed up there were almost always caps on how much you could buy in for, and these caps were usually low. Today, at least in the cardrooms that I’m familiar with, that’s not always the case.
So what does a low buy-in cap do? Well, it stops the bad player from frequently losing a large amount of chips at one time meaning that the win rate for the expert won’t be too large relative to the natural fluctuations of the game, and thus the game survives as a viable form of poker. But today, many no-limit hold ’em games have large buy-in caps (and sometimes no cap at all), which in my opinion gives the expert too large an edge.
Before the poker boom, no-limit hold ’em as a cash game did get spread, and the game spread featured players who were deep stacked relative to the size of the blinds, and virtually all of these games died out. So for at least twenty years, until 2003, no-limit hold ’em was only rarely spread.
Of course today, considering the popularity of the game, it’s hard to believe that no-limit hold ’em will once again disappear. But it’s also my opinion that the buy-in caps in many places need to be lowered, and for the good of poker, this should be done sooner than later.