Online vs. Offline
Is there really a difference?
I began my so-called poker career by honing my game online at various online poker rooms. After paying an undisclosed amount for my education, I eventually reached the point where I consistently increased my bankroll and felt pretty good about my game. When I decided to take it to the next level by playing in more live games around town, I was shocked. Total destruction! They beat me like a circus monkey
I mean it was ugly. But why, I did so well online? Were the players in the live games that much better? Or was it that the game was subtly, yet distinctively different? After consulting several cardsharp friends, doing a little self-analysis, and losing more money than I care to reveal, I found that the problem, as I suspected, were those subtle differences between online and live poker.
No Tells: This can be good or bad depending on how well you read opponents or project your hand to other players. Playing online can level the playing field, so to speak, between beginners and professionals. The only real tells online are found in betting patterns. Youre less likely to have the whole table fold into your pocket bullets since they cant see the trembling, sweating, trouble breathing, or in some cases, unresponsive catatonic behavior that sometimes occurs when trying to control a monster hand in a big game. However, the downside is that you will never learn to hide your tells and read other players unless you play live poker.
Faster Pace: Online poker takes place at a much faster pace than live poker. Theres no waiting for cards, shuffling, or chip counting. As a result, this may cause an online player to get impatient in a live game and play hands that should be folded. If youre moving from online to live, remember to be patient. Dont freak out because you havent played a hand in what seems like an eternity. Its not bad luck that you havent seen as many playable hands, its because you havent seen as many hands period.
Players Are Anonymous: You never know who youre really playing with online. It may be Phil Ivey or it may be some bum waiting to donate his money to the cause. Cardsharps and fish come in all shapes and sizes, but when playing live, sometimes you just know (i.e. Does this guy look completely lost or is he giving a command performance of chip tricks). Furthermore, dont assume that just because a players username is Nancy, that the player is female. Some guys like to play under female aliases because they feel other players will give them less respect and they can take advantage of their sexist opponents underestimation.
Exact Chip Counts: Playing online provides you with instant access to chips counts. Theres no estimating, asking, or not knowing how your stack measures up to your fellow players. This may not seem significant at first, but believe me, the first time you go all-in without realizing that your opponent does indeed have enough to cover you, youll understand the value.
The Verdict: The bottom line is that experience online isnt a substitute for experience playing live poker. Online poker is a great way to develop your pure poker skills; however, if youre looking to be the next poker superstar on the WPT, youll need as much live poker experience as possible.
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