Does Online Poker Play help or hinder your Live Play?

For most of the new generation of poker players, their first experience of poker is increasingly likely to have come from playing online rather than in a live game. They may eventually switch to playing in live-action games (or combining live with online play), but their initiation to the game will probably have come online, where they don’t have to worry about the etiquette of a live-action game or whether they are giving off tells to the other players. As and when these players do migrate to live play, it will inevitably take them a while to adapt to the different nature of this form of poker, and most of these players will initially struggle at the hands of regular live-action players. Many live-action players therefore see the online game as a potential source of future profits, not because they choose to play online themselves, but because it may bring a wave of relatively inexperienced players into their own games.

However, it is not just inexperienced players who often struggle to adapt from online to live play – many regular online players have complained that when they return to playing in a live cardroom their results are much worse. There are a number of reasons why this could be the case. For example, in a live game:
•    They become distracted by the social aspect of the game, chatting to other players rather than focusing carefully on the game.
•    They don’t pay enough attention to the tells that are offered by their opponents.
•    They don’t pay enough attention to the tells that they themselves are offering their opponents.
•    They don’t recognise that their opponents are paying much more attention to the game than an online player generally would.
•    They don’t keep track of the pot accurately (whereas online this information is provided for you). Consequently some of their live plays are mistakes relative to the pot odds they are receiving.
•    They become impatient due to the smaller number of hands that are dealt per hour in a live relative to an online game.
•    They have become accustomed to playing more hands than they should when they are online, perhaps due to the generally loose nature of micro-limit play. If those same hand selections are retained when they switch to a live-action game, it is likely that their results will suffer.
•    They don’t vary their play sufficiently (since in online play it is comparatively less important to vary your play).
•    They may play so rarely in a live game that their results are nothing more than a reflection of the inherent variance involved in playing poker.

If you plan to play in both live and online games it is important to do both regularly, since otherwise your skills in one or other area may decline due to lack of practice. As a general rule, micro-limit online players should be looking to play tighter in a live game than they would do online.