Helpful Live Poker Adjustments from an Online Player

Jblocher1

Jblocher1

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Nov 20, 2012
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Hello all, for years I have been an online poker player and have played as high as 5/10 (though my median stakes were probably around 2/4) but once I graduated from college in December, I decided to explore the life of a live poker professional until I start law school in September. In other words, I have been playing very high live volume and transitioning from being an online player to (hopefully) a live 2/5 crusher. I initially had a lot of difficulty making this transition because I was trying to bring my understanding of theory to the live felts without actually making necessary player pool adjustments that would ultimately improve my win rate dramatically. I quickly realized that live poker is very very different than online poker and so I wanted to share the adjustments I have been making in the hopes of helping some others who may find themselves in a similar spot as me trying to transition from online to live, or maybe even if you are just a live player trying to improve Enjoy!

1. The golden rule that it is bad to limp preflop requires a serious adjustment for live play. You should almost never open limp, but that is definitely not true once someone else has already limped. You will make the most money by limping behind a variety of middling/speculative hands like small pocket pairs and suited connectors and gappers. I originally was iso raising with these holdings, but our opponents on the live felts don't fold often enough for it to make sense, so we should generally reserve our iso raises for our legitimately strong holdings that want to pile money in preflop. The beauty of speculative hands, is that when we hit them we will often have an easy time getting money into the middle post flop because our hands are well disguised. We don't need to be super concerned about building a pot preflop with speculative holdings, feel comfortable limping behind!

2. 3 bet less often preflop. In online games I run about 28/20/8. That 8% 3 bet tends to be one of the higher 3 bet percentages among strong 2-4 regs (though in my experience, the best regs are usually around 7-8) and so I thought going into live poker that I should 3 bet a similar proportion of hands. This could not be further from the truth in your basic low stakes live game. Let's take a second to think about why it makes sense to have a wider 3 bet range in an online game when compared to a live game. At mid stakes online, there is much less open limping pre flop. (among regs the open limp is non existent) Because there is much less limping preflop, all of those mediocre/ speculative hands that a live player may have limped with, are being open raised by the strong online regular. Because the online player is opening a wider range of holdings, we want to 3 bet more often to put pressure on the lower and middling portion of that opening range. In live poker, however, the vast majority of our opponents actually have open limping ranges and those open limping ranges are not balanced. This means that we generally expect our opponents will open limp with their weaker and medium holdings and open raise with their premium holdings. What does this mean for us? It means that when one of these players DOES open raise, we need to dramatically tighten our 3 betting range to account for the fact that the opener is much more likely to be close to or at the top of their range. The existence of an open limping range for villain, allows us to tighten our 3 bet range when that villain opens. So a lot of hands I would normally 3 bet with in an online game like 1010/JJ/AQ often play better as flats, especially in position. I'm not suggesting these hands should never be 3 bet preflop in a live game, of course they should be... but the decision to 3 bet or not should be very dependent on who open raised.

3. Cbet less often and when u do Cbet, use bigger sizings in multi way pots. My online CBet percentage is around 50% which is pretty standard for mid stakes online, good regs tend to run in the 40-60% ballpark. When I transitioned to live I attempted to cbet at similar frequencies and I did a lot of 1/3 pot downbetting for my cbets. I quickly discovered that 1/3 pot bets were almost never getting through even a single opponent let alone multiple and so I was donating money cbet bluffing 40 into 120 against opponents with super low F-Cbets, especially given my standard dry texture + range advantage 1/3 pot sizing. Since coming to this realization, I have dramatically decreased my cbet frequencies on most textures and increased my sizings when I do cbet. My new Cbet frequency is probably about 25% and my standard cbet size varies by texture but in most cases and vs most opponents, runs between 1/2 pot and 2/3 pot. DO NOT, and I repeat DO NOT cbet bluff with no equity into more than one player. These bets get through not often at all, and the population hates folding so just fight that urge and check. If you are going to Cbet bluff, pick combinations with fruitful backdoors that will allow you to profitably double barrel select turns and when those turns do not come, give up. If you are going to cbet bluff with limited equity, make sure you have a plan ahead of time for which turns you intend to double barrel and stick to that plan.

4. Don't shy away from overbets for value. In a lot of cases, our opponents are calling us static... meaning their decision to call or not is completely uninfluenced by how much we bet because they have already made up their mind that they are calling a river bet. There are situations where this can make us a lot more money and really improve our hourly. There is a big difference between getting 110 into 175 and getting 110 dollar of value vs betting 225 into 175 and getting 225 of value. The decision to overbet or not is situational and largely depends on your judgement of where your opponent's exact holding falls within their relative range and how much you think can get them to call with those holdings. Against really good regs you will want to either not overbet for value OR develop an overbet bluff range to balance in those spots. The best 2/5 regs will find exploitative folds at high rates so against them, balance is important.

5. There is value to be had in being friendly at the table. If you are at a game where transfers are allowed, recreational players will move if they are not having fun. No recreational player wants to sit silently with 5 dudes wearing hoodies and headphones for hours on end. If someone seems recreational, be kind to them. Offer to buy them a drink. Make sure they are having a good time. If they like you, they will not only stay in the game but they will show you their hand in important folded situations and they may even transfer to your table if they can the next time they see you. Be kind to everyone at the table, but especially the players who make the game good.

This is just a start. Im sure as I log more hours and develop more experience, I will have more bits to add but this seems sufficient for now. Maybe I will even post some hands in this thread that highlight some of these points. Until then, happy hunting on the live felts if you are in a location that allows live for now! Cheers everyone
 
hugh blair

hugh blair

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Yes it is a very different game live instead of sitting at home with your slippers on a lot more effort needs to go into mixing it up confusing opponent reads while getting a good read on your opponents for example,
Work hard at Law school and also with your poker effort major success will hopefully follow too good luck.
 
SPANKYSN

SPANKYSN

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I agree that live poker is very different from online...when I am playing live, it means that I am on vacation, so I am more relaxed to start, more patient and less likely to make a really stupid move that not only loses chips, but causes embarrassment and loss of respect.
 
Highsolation

Highsolation

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Thanks for the tips, very accurate and thoughtful, backed up with data as well.
 
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