From Offline to Online Poker - Strategy and Difference


While the name of the game is the same whether you are playing online or in the real world, the strategy and nature is somewhat different. However, with millions of poker players scattered and clustered throughout thousands of online poker tables of varying limits in hundreds of online poker rooms and/or casinos, the tricks and tips of success in the game have altered slightly. Here are five characteristics which distinguish online poker from its live casino cousin, and which you must take into consideration when switching between the two.


With so many tables from which to choose, and statistics available on most, finding the ‘right’ table is both relatively simple and well worth the time. Finding a ‘good’ table, at least for the purposes of this discussion, means to locate a table with a lot of bad players. Before selecting and settling down at a table for a session, check out the players’ stack size, flop percentages, and the average pot-size.


Few things say more about a player than the size of their stack. Short stacks are generally synonymous with bad play. Ideally you want a table where 75% of the players are short-stacked, as they are most likely easy pickings. Next, take a look at the flop statistics. If they read 40% or more the table is definitely populated by mainly passive players who are in the habit of playing weak hands in hopes the cards will come through. Chances are these players do not know or care about pot odds and betting strategy. If you have a working knowledge of both, however, these folks will be easy to clean. Finally, tables with large pots are probably home to a loose-aggressive or two. These big pots, much like the loose aggressives who fill them, are fairly easy to exploit.


It should not take long to find a table with one or more of these three characteristics. Most online poker players are novice at best. As such, most online poker is loose and passive. This is great news for more experienced players, and incentive for new players to up their game. Winning becomes a matter of slightly less brainwork, and you can sometimes get away with playing slightly weaker hands, especially if your command of pot odds and positioning is rock solid. The real trick here is entrapment. Avoid betting tactics which might scare the competition away from the pot. Keep the loose players loose and lull them into the pot as much as possible. In other words, avoid aggressive re-raises early in the hand. This is much different from most real world casinos, where the level of play tends to be higher and the players mainly tight.  


The strategic advantage of marginally higher aggression in most online poker situations, even with relatively weaker hands, is further enhanced by the fact that there is much more bluffing in online games than in real life. However, and ironically, it also means that many more players, who are indeed savvy to all the bluffing, are willing to call most bluffs. This being the case, your best bet is to play in a straightforward fashion, free of fancy bluff type tactics. This advice is only reinforced by the fact that most online players split their focus either between more than one online poker game, or between their poker and their email, office work, television set, or whatever. In short, most players aren’t attentive enough to the table image of each other to make the classic table tricks all that worthwhile.


Finally, straightforward play is particularly effective over the internet since most tables will see several players come and go over the course of a single hour. Assuming that they are even paying attention, very few competitors stick around long enough to identify your or anyone else’s playing style. In most circumstances you can play the same straightforward, tight-aggressive tactics for hours on end to excellent advantage. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, and complacency can be a slow a killer. Keep a close eye on the other long-term players, or those players who seem to have a clue or two as to how online poker works. You may be decent, or even good, but there are always bigger fish in the sea.



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