Here's Why You Kept Losing at Online Poker

Stats guru Nate Silver made most of his money playing in the boom years
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 21, 2011 12:29 PM CDT
Nate Silver:
File photo of a gambling site in the UK.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Nate Silver offers a lengthy primer on the online poker industry and its prospects for survival after the recent crackdown by the feds, with this interesting reveal from the stats whiz: "Between 2004 and 2006, I played a substantial amount of online poker, using it as my primary source of income despite playing essentially in my spare time," he writes at his FiveThirtyEight blog in the New York Times. He cleaned up because so many newbies had joined in the great boom that started in 2003. Alas, restrictions then went into place that weeded out many novices, and "I went from a significantly winning player to a modestly losing one, giving back about one-third of the money that I had made during the boom years, and withdrawing the other two-thirds."

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As for the recent "Black Friday" crackdown: It leaves the future of online poker in the US in doubt, and it may hinge on efforts to push through a bill (as Barney Frank is trying to do) to legalize it. The prospects of that happening are uncertain, but one thing is clear: "If the golden, innocent age of American poker wasn’t already over, it truly is now," writes Silver. "Whether there is another poker boom on the horizon, or the game instead enters a sort of Dark Ages, remains to be seen." (Read more online gaming stories.)

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