Online and live poker are obviously two different variants of the same game. Despite the fact that the game itself is exactly the same, the different environments it’s played in, give birth to particularities that clearly set the two variants apart.
While this difference is not all that accentuated in Limit Texas Holdem, it becomes obvious in No Limit. Those players who have only played online poker (the vast majority of those playing online, fall into this category) also easily recognize the difference in approach, Limit Holdem and No limit Holdem require.
Contrary to common belief, the average skill level of online poker players exceeds that of real live poker players. Commonly, it is thought that players who go to real card-rooms are all world-class, like players you see on TV in the WPT or WSOP. The fact, though, that they play in real brick-and-mortar establishments, doesn’t guarantee that they’re outstanding or any better than their online counterparts. The average online poker player spends a lot more time playing poker, because of the widespread nature and fuss-free accessibility of the game, ( plus he plays more hands/ hour than any live poker player) whilst many real poker players only play the game for fun.
This difference in the average skill levels, calls for a change of strategy, and it also brings a bunch of other changes to how the game is played.
First of all, (we’re talking about No Limit Holdem here) the preflop bustle is completely different online than offline. In live poker, you seldom see people raising preflop, while in online poker you’ll not only see players raise, but some of them even going ‘all in’ preflop. (they usually have a high pair in the pocket when they do this) Bottom line is, the preflop environment in online poker is a lot more hostile than in live poker. What this means for you, is that limping doesn’t pay online. While you may have gotten used to a slow pace and plenty of limping offline, you won’t be able to do the same online. Offline poker games are often turned into some kind of bingo-like game, when all you have to do, is see plenty of flops till something good hits you.
Online poker won’t grant you this luxury. Limp along in online poker and your bankroll will go down faster than a cast-iron bathtub with a 10 inch hole in it.
What you need to do, is tighten up. Forget about seeing the flop on offsuit one-gappers, or even offsuit connectors. You need to whip your starting-hand selection into shape, and only move on pocket cards that show some true potential.
In online poker you need to step up aggressively from the first moment. You need to show constant solid play from the blinds and attack as many blinds as possible. Blinds stealing becomes a lucrative business because it will give you a small edge over the opposition. In online poker, small edges will be worth to chase down. As a matter of fact, if you manage to turn enough such small edges to your favor, you’ll be a winning player.
Offline poker is slower, and in the same time a lot more passive. Stealing the blinds here is also something worth doing, but the edge that this will represent, will be much smaller than in online poker. A simple explanation to that would be the raw number of hands played in a hour. That number is going to be a lot smaller in offline poker than in online poker, so there’ll be fewer blinds to steal and defend. Thus, the amount of money you’ll be able to rack up by successful blinds-play will also diminish.
Open raising will also provide much more value for you in online poker than it does in live poker, but then again, that’s also part of being more aggressive.
On the other hand, limping along in live poker is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s been said, that limping is a sign of weakness, but in live poker it’s much less so.
Remember, because of the difference in speed between online and offline poker, small edges add up faster, and small mistakes have a bigger impact on your game.