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Online Poker Strategy

Even though online poker and live poker are supposed to be about the same game, it often looks like they're two entirely different card-games. There are differences in the natures of the two versions of Texas Holdem, that players simply cannot ignore and they need to adapt their strategy to cope with the situation or call it quits.

For starters: online poker is a game which is much faster than its live cousin. The number of hands played per hour is much bigger than in live poker and that will turn the hourly rate up for good players. This is only one of its effects though. The increased hourly earning rate for good players has made it possible for good, yet not-quite-there guys to obtain reasonable hourly rates as well. What faster play really translates to, is that smaller edges are also exploitable and the difference between winners and losers has just narrowed down to some very small amounts of positive expected value (EV). No longer will people need to wait for overwhelming EV+, when taking advantage of meager EV+ situations makes a lot of sense in light of the increased hourly earning rate.

This could be one of the reasons why online poker games (especially at low-to-middle stakes/limits) are much looser than live poker games. People are seeing more cards and they are making moves on EV+ situations they'd probably fold in a live game. This is the measure that most review sites use to determine the quality of the competition. The looser the table the better the odds for making money, right? Well, it may not be so.

Many good live poker players complain of the fact that they're simply unable to beat online games. They are especially frustrated by the fact that they get constantly outdrawn by runner-runner hands which some people are ignorant-enough to even raise on sometimes. This very fact has often led many mediocre players to claim that online poker is rigged. The whole phenomenon is nothing more than the "schooling" effect which gets especially annoying because of the excessively loose nature of the play. Believe it or not, the better hourly earning possibilities have led to looser games and thus to higher variation which is only luck-dependant.

A player who read a bunch of poker books and reckons he possesses a basic understanding of the nature of poker is in for a huge surprise when he hits the online tables. This is no longer the game so exhaustingly described in the books he read. Although related, this is an entirely different ballgame. Quality has given way to quantity here, and thus small edges have gained a lot of value. The "monster" edges used in live poker to great effect, are made impossible here because of the sheer number of callers one will get on a hand, no matter what he/she does. One needs to be a thrifty player in online poker. As they say: there is no edge too small to exploit. The basic theory of poker according to which EV+ players win all the time no matter whether they actually win or lose on a particular hand, and EV- guys lose all the time, still holds true, although its general lines have shifted around quite a bit.

In online poker one needs to take full advantage of edges offered. Sign-up bonuses and rakeback are huge things here (there are no such things offered in live poker), not to mention prop deals. All these offers further diminish the EV+ a player needs to have on his hand to deem it worthy of playing. Don't expect to become a long-term winner in online poker without benefiting from one of these edges. The variance is just too much too beat and this is what defeats even the best of poker professionals. Winning in online poker has nothing to do with what you see professionals perform on TV. All the great theorems and truths about poker stated in all those poker books, need patching when it comes to online poker. In online poker, winning is a lot like losing. In live poker, winning has a more or less distinct feel.