Can Online Poker Affect Live Play?-Part 2

published on 05/03/07 at 10:02 am

[Editor's Note: This is a 2 part series, part 1 can be read here.]

While this is just one example of how play changes live, the examples are countless. Essentially, the two games while similar are very different and both have their own set of complexities that make the two versions of poker unique. If you are going to mix online and live poker, here are a few tips to help you learn from the mistakes that I have made while trying to play both online and live:

Cards are less important when playing live.
With the additional factors that come into play when playing live, the actual hole cards you have become just another part of the decision-making process at the table. While some very successful live players rely heavily on what cards they hold, there are a great deal of successful live players that will turn any two cards into winners based on their skills. Conversely, when playing online, cards become a major factor in your overall success especially if you are not one to take player notes or pay close attention to what players showdown.

The information available while playing online is more hidden than at a live game BUT just as valuable.
When playing online, a lot of players neglect to invest time in gaining valuable information available to them when playing. First, most sites have the ability to check and see where their opponents are currently sitting. With a few clicks and keystrokes, you can know if your opponents are playing at more than one table. Multi-table players are usually tighter and take less risks than single-table players as they rely on the large number of starting hands they get to see and focus their expertise on maximizing the value of their big starting hands. In addition, most sites have leaderboards and some even assign players icons to identify who has had previous success. It’s always good to know who the suckers are at the table and without digging into find out, more than likely the sucker will be you.

At lower limits, most online players have already lost.
A strange phenomenon occurs online that rarely occurs in live games: Many players buy-in to an online site expecting to lose their money. This is something you occasionally see with players new to playing in a live casino but frequently see online as the online arena has become a training ground for new players who don’t expect to do great immediately. The danger here is that you are playing an opponent who has nothing to lose…in their mind, they have already lost. These players are more difficult to bluff and more dangerous because they usually lack the fundamentals to be a great player. In a live game, these players are much less dangerous because they ooze information that gives away their hands and frequently go broke quickly. Also, they are more intimidated by the live setting as no one wants to be called out for being a newbie.

Leave behind the robotic approach when transitioning from online to live.
Online games are rapid-fire compared to live games. The number of hands seen per hour is much higher than at a live game and players expect the action to move. Frequently, when playing long sessions online, players have a tendency to fall into a robotic pattern of play that is dangerous for an online player BUT deadly for a live player. If you ever feel like you are playing because you have to rather than because you have the desire to, get up and leave (or turn the computer off if you are playing online).

The investment factor just isn’t there when playing online for many players.
When you make the decision to play live, it is never as easy as booting up the computer, logging on to a site and picking a table. Playing live usually requires preparation and planning. At times when I played online, I would log on, play for 20 minutes and quit. The shortest live session for me since November has been 3 hours with the average session lasting roughly 6 hours. When playing live, your opponent’s main focus is usually poker and if it isn’t, it is usually easy to figure out. When playing online, your opponent could be at work, in bed, carrying on a phone conversation, eating or not even in the room. It’s a lot easier to be patient when you are down half your buy-in online than it is live when your preset time limit is rapidly approaching.

Without a doubt, playing both online and live can be a great way to satisfy most poker players need to play poker. In some cases, it can be a dangerous combination that has a major effect on both your online and live play. Sooner or later, this effect could have a long-term effect on your bankroll if you don’t learn how to not let one style of play greatly alter the other. Trust me!

BJ316 is an amateur poker player who can often be found on Full Tilt Poker or at the $1/$2 No Limit table at one of the many casinos in Atlantic City. He has had moderate success in cash game play over the years and some tournament success in all formats of poker.

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