Why I prefer online play!
Many arguments exist between the validity of online vs. brick and mortar play. Each of them valid, each of them bears discussion and examination. This posting will ONLY deal with my personal experience.
I am fortunate enough to live in Southern California
, with access to any one of a number of venerable, famous poker rooms: Harrahs, Commerce (LA), Pechanga, Barona, Pala, Ocean's 11 (no, it's not just a movie) as well as many others. In the short term, I've cashed WAY more money in live poker ring games than in tourneys. However, by using solid poker strategies and relying on good player notes, I routinely finish in the top 10% of online tourneys and have a pretty reliable stat list on how I do in every online site. In fact, I prefer online play for a variety of reasons, and feel that in the long term, I'll make way more online than in live play (barring any HUGE win in a live tourney). Here's why:
1. Your "tells" are fewer. While tells
are not only oversought and overused, the tells you give online are FAR fewer. Facial expressions, vocal tone, fidgeting, etc., are invisible online. Whereas I can read that someone always touches their cards twice when bluffing, online, I cannot see this. Therefore, if you get a bad beat, you can rant, rave, kick furniture, yell, curse, etc., without anyone but YOU knowing it. As long as you consistently play hands, you have a MUCH lower risk of giving off "tells."
2. Player notes. How many times have you played a live ring game or tourney and seen a player with a notepad or laptop making detailed notes of your long-term play? Almost never; me neither. Note-taking is a VERY often overlooked factor in online play. If you actually pay attention, rather that just jotting: "complete jerk" after a player, and make detailed quick references to their play like:
r w AK os (Raise with AK off-suit)
p 53s, 78s, 97os (plays 53 suited, 78 suited, and 9 7 offsuit +drawing hands)
r pf w Q J, sp QQ (raise pre-flop w Q J; slow-plays QQ)
Only THEN can you make the most of your notes. This is something that is virtually impossible to do in live play.
3. Bluffing. Bluffing online is TOTALLY different that bluffing in live play. Bluffing is actually, in my experience in numerous poker rooms/games/tourneys a MUCH bigger part of live play than in online play. If you're a great bluffer in live play, you'll likely get eaten alive by the sharks in online play who are Tight/Aggressive; if you rarely bluff in live play, online is NOT the time to start. Likewise, if you are a great bluffer in online play, you better WATCH OUT in live play, as the ring game players will call your AK os raise pf with 6 5 suited - if the board doesn't pair you, and they bet big, not only are you stunted momentarily, but you may likely be really behind. Even if you aren't behind right now, your visible reaction to missing the flop is their ticket to go all in on the turn or river, forcing you to a painful decision.
4. Blind size/Limits. You CANNOT - NOT - play the same in a $.50-$1 game as in a $3-6. Nor is $5-10 the same as $10-20. FEW players realize this. The wind up slaughtering tables at $.01-.02 games and think "well, I'll just move up to $5 - 10. " BIG - I repeat, BIG - mistake. These are NOT the same games. If someone bluffs you on a missed flop at $.50, you are much more likely to chase that flush than in a $5-10 game, where the pot might be $600-1500. NOW WHAT?! Do you call with top pair, or fold and wait? See? The higher limits change everything about the game. Those 6 3 offsuit hands you'll play in online freerolls
will NOT come in live play or in online play of $3-6 blinds. It is NOT the same. I have had live games where, after a great run of cards that instilled fear in my opponents, I have seen players fold out of turn just by my REACHING for chips. This will NEVER happen in an online game, and you can bet your last chip that it is NOT a great tactic. If you try to use tactics like that online, you're just going to lose...period. Better to bet what you actually have and only lie when you're either sure your opponent will fold/call (if it will be profitable) and fold if he/she raises. End of story - if they raise, you're likely behind. Online, you can practice at these different levels without having facial ticks, hand gestures, and betting delays coming into play. Live, well, you're just going to spend a lot of $ to learn; the sharks who play daily are going to devour you knowing that you're inexperienced at this level. A word on this: After eating up fish at one of my local haunts (Ocean's 11), at $2-$2, I figured I was ready for Harrah's (Rincon) ring play, $3-6. Even at my FIRST hand, I realized things were different. On about my 2nd hand, I picked up As Js BB, at a pot of about $30. I raised pf, a winning strategy at lower live-play blind figures. The flop comes Jd 2h 4s. Having top pair/top kicker, I bet out 3 X pot (once again, a winning strategy proven over and over in my personal play), about $140. The turn is 6s; two players check, one delays, then checks. I bet pot again, now really pushing the limit. The two first players fold; the delay player checks, and I check, as well - when the turn comes 9h. I now have top pair/top kicker, a nut-flush draw, and the benefit of first aggressor, a big pot, and the respect of other players (with me having just sat down). The river comes 2d. I push all-in, SURE I have the best hand. The last player calls, turning over Jc 2s! It seemed as if She had chased ALL THEY WAY!!!!!!!! In reality, it was not so - but the fact that she had eve CALLED a reise with this was really frustrating. You WILL Experience this in higher limits. Players with HUGE bankrolls will donk-call your pf raise just to see what happens. Online, this does happen, but not nearly as much. Usually, if you have the best hand visibly on the turn and play great starting hadns, you still will be ahead on the river. Not always, but often enough to win. This is something I would have expected in ONLINE play, not a live game! BUT - this particular player ( I learned, later ) plays almost every day; knew I played a lot online, and could chase at will, as her bankroll was WAY bigger than mine. If she lost - she didn't care. Online, I probably would've folded this hand - but in live play, she gave off NO signals as to being on possible river nuts - she played AA exactly the same as 6 3 offsuit. Online, you can analyze play like this and adjust accordingly. In live play - good luck!
Anyway, even though I know I have a lot of improvement to go in ALL aspects of my game, I think that online play will be WAY more profitable for me over the long haul. I'm anxious to see what you guys think!
'Til next time!