Online Poker Thoughts

published on 01/02/08 at 10:25 am

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but winning in online poker is often a tedious and extremely frustrating affair. Yes, I know you’re a poker fanatic, and I know you’ve studied poker for years now (I know I have!) but most of the time, something just doesn’t add up when it comes to online poker.

Is reading poker books a sure way to acquire online poker prowess? I’m not so sure about that anymore. You see, those books are generally excellent. They are written by true professionals, with tens of years of experience in poker, all of them not only making a mere living off the game, but amassing fortunes on account of their poker skills.

Who am I to doubt their ways? A nobody. Despite all that however, here is an interesting thought: what if those books were not even written about the same game you play day after day on your home PC?

They are about live poker, they discuss live poker situations and they address live poker issues. Turns out, online poker has few things in common with this game they’re writing about, other than its rules.

For one thing, live poker players are used to being bombarded with a plethora of tells all the time. There are so many poker tells, from facial expression to signs of anxiety, and the mirrors of the soul: the eyes, that it would be tough to even queue them all up here.

Sometimes people will look absolutely disinterested in their hand, they’ll even get up and leave the table when they have nothing but rags. You will never have such easy tells in online poker.

Things that are forbidden in real poker are not regulated in any way in online poker. People can play while on the phone or while having visitors over. They can be playing together with a rookie, trying to teach him/her to play… Calls can often be made by a simple mistake (allowing the rookie to play on his own, or by clicking on the wrong button of the interface). Online poker is a world apart from its casino brethren.

Not only will a good live poker player have to deal with a shortage of tells, he’ll also have to deal with opponents under circumstances he’d never experienced or thought possible.

Sometimes, online players do not even aim to become long term winners. Promotions like rakeback, cashback or prop deals will allow them to be slight losers at the end of the month and still end up making money. At a live poker table you’re always 100% sure of your opponent’s goals. In online poker…that is simply not the case.

There is a lot of multi-tabling going on online as well. People play at 2-6 tables at a time, possibly more, in order to maximize the rake they generate, which will get them more rakeback and their bonuses unlocked. Multi tabling is also one of the simplest ways to squeeze some significant dough out of low and micro limit tables.

How are you going to play against a guy who is paying attention to 5 more tables in the same time?

There are tells in online poker too, only they have absolutely nothing in common with the tells you may get used to in casino poker. Betting patterns are the most powerful tells here, including the speed of reaction. If you check then suddenly 3 other players check on you almost instantly, that means they already had their user interface set to check/fold before you made your decision. That means, they probably do not have a thing.

Looking for clues to whether someone is multi-tabling or not is also important. This guy will play plain strategy. Bet when he has something, fold on everything else. He cannot afford to credit more of his attention to any particular table, so he’ll have to play it in a simplistic manner.

I order to learn to play online poker properly…you’ll probably have to wait till books on this specific subject come out, or – if you cannot afford to wait – go out there and learn through trial and error.

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