Differences in Online Poker and Live Poker

Players must be aware that hands come far slower live than they do online. Whereas an online player often sees a hundred hands per hour per table, a live player will see no more than 35 or 50. In fact, slow dealers often only deal a single orbit in a half hour. Whether you want to use this opportunity to flirt with the cocktail waitress or find a burger for dinner is your choice, but sitting through painfully slow hands is par for the course in live play.

This slow monotony lends itself to two major changes from online play. First, players can and should play longer hours: twelve or more a day. Many of the regs at a casino play together, go out together, and play in home games together. Getting to know these people means being there when they are: all day long. Second, it becomes meaningless to count how many hands we are dealt. Maybe, over time, a manual shuffle results in 35 hands an hour, and an automatic shuffler may do 40 or 50, but it becomes easier to track ones play based on big blinds won per hour. Since we are not devoting a whole chapter to keeping records, I’ll jump right into my next section and mention tracking our play here.

Live play prevents the use of HUDs and live notes, but it does not preclude the possibility of keeping off-the-table notes about players you see often. It is encouraged that players keep a daily journal, not only of their winnings, hours, and how they played, but including entries on the players at the table and any leaks the player may have seen. I used to snap a photo of the table with my cell phone camera before sitting down so that I could keep track of who was sitting in what seat for record keeping purposes. If you get up and visit the bathroom every hour or two, you can keep a running log of the players at your table on your phone. Cropped photos make excellent additions to a OneNote notebook stored on a laptop. This kind of ongoing log encourages you to examine the regs as well as the fish, and you will often find that many regs are just tight fish.

It might go without saying that an online player’s biggest advantage is his ability to think on a deeper level than his opponents, but if your opponent can look at your and tell what two cards you have, then all of this is for nothing. One valuable skill online players must develop is a conscious, rhythmic process of counting chips and moving them into the center of the table. One that has worked well for me has been simply counting every four chips from the top of a stack and placing them into individual stacks, then sliding them into the center of the table all at one time. This requires little manual dexterity, which often makes it easy to spot shaking hands.

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