In the last 2 and a half years I have had a love hate relationship with online poker. The first time I played poker was with my friends though it wouldn’t be right to say that’s where I learned the game. After playing a few times with my friends I was hooked and made the progression to online poker. Which for someone who has worked on websites for several years was a natural progression.
In my first 6-9 months of playing poker I thought I was a really solid good player. Reading low limit poker and super system had installed the basics of the game of poker in me. Also during this time I turned about $50 into about $700-$800. The majority of this was playing limit poker and clearing bonuses via numerous sites and whilst it isn’t a lot of money but I’m still pleased of what I made in under 3 months.
Looking back though I wasn’t that good a poker player. I played pretty tight but I was not aggressive enough to make as much as I should have. My understanding of the game was pretty limited too….although I understood the importance of position I didn’t know about the gap concept or implied odds etc. I rarely play online now. I probably play about 2-3 sit and gos a week online. I do play live a lot more though. I usually play Sundays, Mondays and Fridays at a local pub and occasionally the odd home game as well. It’s a great setup – its run well, they have great poker tables and the majority of people are good people.
At these live games of 50+ or 100+ people I am nearly always at the final table or close to it (particularly when there are 50+ players). I am a much better player than I was 2 years ago. So why is it that I can’t transfer this to online play? Why is it that the best I can seem to do just now is break even online whilst two years ago I was consistently making a profit week in week out. I don’t believe I am alone in this. There are many players down at the poker club who, like myself, are always close to the money. They are solid players and they know the game well. However, I have heard many of them stating how badly they have done online and how they wouldn’t play online again.
The most common and I guess the easiest explanation that most people give is that players online are all fish and that they make terrible players. Though why is it some of these supposed fish are making money online whilst other solid players arent?
Brick & Mortar VS The Internet
The fact that 2 years ago when I was a poorer player I was making more money really got me thinking. Below are some of what I know to be my major problems with playing online
Too many Distractions. I just cant seem to sit and just play the game. I am posting at poker forums, I am listening to music, I am reading the BBC or CNN. So why can’t I just sit at peace and pay attention to the game I am playing online. Why? Truth be told I get very bored by doing just that. I don’t think I could sit for hours on end paying such attention and not browsing the web or whatever. I’d rather just go to the poker club.
I know this is a major problem and if I have this state of mind I probably shouldn’t be playing but I love poker and I love playing it. I just struggle to commit 100% of my brain to it when im sitting at my pc and have music, the web and what not at my disposal. When I play live I am always paying attention to what everyone does – who raises, by how much, with what hands etc. I lose a lot of vital information and a lot of my game by not watching every hand.
It’s too easy to click call. I think it’s safe to assume most people play looser when they play online. Why should this be? Surely by playing tighter you could make more money? If it was only this easy. Perhaps it’s easier to click call or raise on the internet than it is to pick up your chips and physically move them over the line.
Tiredness & Alcohol. One of the games I usually play is the 10pm ET $10+$1 game at pokerstars. 10pm in New York but to us in the UK it starts at 3 AM. Tiredness always makes me play much much poorer. Regular players in that game will admit to that. On occasions I play pretty good in these games but the killer for me is patience. The games sometimes last til 5 AM for me. If I get a good chip lead I don’t think I should be able to finish in the money I actually think I need to start taking players out!. Why…because I want my bed!
It goes without saying that alcohol has the same or worst effect on players though for me it’s always been starting a game at a time I really should be catching some zees.
Human Interaction. I have read a lot of articles suggesting that the lack of human interaction, and therefore not being able to read players tells etc, can take a lot away from a players arsenal. Whilst this is certainly true and whilst it would clearly hurt good players more than bad players, on the whole I don’t think this is valid since everyone has the same problem and therefore the playing field should be leveled. Well on average anyways. At the very least I don’t think it’s something that anyone can do something about as playing online will always be like this. (I know this isn’t relevant to my game but I thought I would mention it anyway)
It is clear that there are other factors as to why my game, and other players games, suffer when they make the jump from playing live to playing online. However the above points are definitely things I need to address if I ever want to make any decent money playing poker online.