If there’s one poker player that stands above the crowd, it’s Phil Ivey. A longtime pro with more wins and accolades than almost anyone else in the world, Ivey is regarded by many as the top poker player in the world today.
However, as naturally talented as he is, Ivey had to refine his skills and work on his game to get to an elite level. For a young African American playing in the nineties, this meant traveling to poker rooms around the US and testing himself against the top players in town. Naturally, this is a high variance strategy where failure is often a precursor to success.
Had Ivey been younger and started his poker career in today’s culture of technology, things would have been different. As a newbie in the game today, you can take advantage of online technology that not only gives you acute insights into the game but acute insights into your own skills. In fact, as with almost every area of life touched by technology, learning poker has become a lot easier.
Does this mean you can become Phil Ivey overnight? Certainly not, but it does mean you can move up the skills ladder in a lot more efficient way than Ivey did. Perhaps the best way to improve your poker skills through modern technology is to watch the best do their thing in real-time. When Twitch started offering provisions for poker players back in 2015, it inadvertently spawned a new generation of students and masters.
With Twitch now pulling in more than 100+ million monthly users, professional poker players around the world have been able to build up sizeable followings and spread their knowledge to millions. Jason Somerville, a player with a popular series of instructional videos, now has more than 10 million subscribers on his Twitch channel. As well as hosting regular live sessions where he commentates on his own play, Somerville also breaks down hands so that novices can see how a pro thinks.
Building on the use of live streaming in the online poker world, 888poker has taken the technology and created “Pokercam” tables. In contrast to Twitch giving players the ability to learn about the game in general, these Face2Face webcam tables offer a moment of self-reflection. One of the main skills online poker players lack when they enter the live arena is an ability to manage their emotions. Phil Ivey has become an elite player because he can read the facial expressions of his opponents and, moreover, control his own.
Webcam poker tables allow online players to build up this knowledge without having to visit a live casino. Moreover, because you can play for smaller stakes online, the price to learn is a lot lower than it used to be. For aspiring players, these two pieces of technology offer an efficient and accessible method of learning the game.
In fact, this method is now something of a standard across a variety of games and disciplines. How does a gamer learn how to become the best StarCraft player in the world? Simple: they go to YouTube Gaming network and watch the pros. Then, once they’ve got some skills, they host their own streams and take critiques from their peers. What about dance moves, foreign languages or even how to cook? All of it can now be done from home via the internet.
Although technology doesn’t necessarily mean you’re learning the “easy way”, it does give people more opportunities to learn in more ways. Poker’s changing poker face is a great example of this cultural shift and the reason people from all walks of life can start to emulate the likes of Phil Ivey.