Not too long ago, you have to go to the casino if you want to play poker. You hold some money and leave your house looking for the first casino/poker room closest to you. The introduction of online poker has made it possible for poker enthusiasts to play from the comfort of their homes. But live and online poker are different and you need some time to acclimatize to the digital nature of online poker. In this article, I will be giving you expert tips about how to make a smooth transition from live to online poker.
There are a number of things to do when switching from live to online poker. However, the most important thing is for you to first familiarize yourself with the unique features of online poker. Navigate the poker site and get the hang of the interface.
The comfort and convenience of online poker is obviously its main attraction. There are several long time players who have extensive experience playing live poker but have never played online poker. They even see online poker as a different game altogether.
But poker is poker whether live or online. The fundamentals of the two are the same. But there are differences in certain aspects of the two versions of poker – like gameplay and player experience – that make them somewhat different.
If you’ve been hesitant about playing online poker, the tips I’ll be giving will help you make a smooth transition from live to online poker.
10 expert tips on how to switch from live to online poker
1. Start from the bottom
As someone new to the world of online poker, it’s important you take things slowly. You need to start with small stakes. Yes, you might have learned this lesson at some point during your gambling experience. And there is no better time to apply than when you are new to online poker.
Begin your online poker journey by using smaller stakes and avoid $0.10/$0.25, or $0.25/$0.50. You may be already used to playing $1/2 NL Hold’em when you play in your local casino. And your first instinct is to deposit $100 or more in your online poker account and play using the same stakes or just a limit or two lower.
It’s going to end up in a disaster. Why? The action and gameplay of online poker are faster due to the automation of some processes. And you’ll burn your bankroll in no time. There’s a reason why online poker sites offer games at far lower stakes than live poker.
Learn to manage your bankroll by playing $.01/.02 tables and take things slowly.
2. Familiarize yourself with the online features
The current generation isn’t going to find this difficult as they are very tech-savvy. It’s the very digital nature of online poker that makes it different from live poker. So as sometimes new to online poker, you’ll do well to browse through the poker site you are using and familiarize yourself with the features and interface.
Features such as having a certain amount of time to take action can be very strange to players making a switch from live poker. Players usually have a few minutes to make decisions and act at live tables. There are also different promotions and variants of poker online sites that will offer, far more than what you typically get from a live casino.
Online poker sites also offer players bets to two decimal places. Take the size of the pot of $3.42 for example. This means you are dealing with exact mathematics in online poker in contrast to the live version where bets are rounded up to the smallest denomination of chip in play.
3. Don’t play at multiple tables, begin with a single table
One of the ways online poker is different from live poker is that it allows you to play at multiple tables simultaneously. Many players love this feature and switch from one table to another, enjoying poker to their heart’s content. But don’t do that yet. Even though it can be very tempting?
If you aren’t able to play properly at a single table, then what business do you have playing at multiple tables. Once you’ve mastered single-table play, you can explore the possibility of playing at two tables, then three, and so on. It’s important you make sure you are already comfortable playing at a single table and making decent profits before playing at more tables.
4. Prepare yourself for a long tournament grind
Online poker tournaments have the tendency of being long, perhaps too long. Why? This is because the number of players playing online tournaments is far more than what you’d see in a live casino tournament. No matter how big a casino is, there’s a limit to the number of players it can accommodate. Online poker on the other hand has no such limitation.
It’s very common to see hundreds and even thousands of players competing in online poker tournaments. And this makes online poker tourneys are usually lengthy. This is something you should prepare yourself mentally for when participating in online tourneys. You need tons of focus and dedication to sit in front of your PC/devices for hours.
If you want to know some expert tips on how to play long poker sessions, read more here.
5. A good set up will go a long way
Online poker requires you to have a stable internet connection and devices to access the internet. Having a good set up brings about a positive playing experience. There is no need for you to buy expensive devices/equipment. You could buy wifi to get a stable internet connection. There are few things more frustrating than playing online poker with a bad connection.
Having two monitors or a laptop and an external monitor will make playing at multiple tables a lot more convenient. Dedicate a space in your home for playing. Complete your setup with a comfortable table and chair. You tend to be more focused if you play sitting than lying on say, that comfy couch.
6. Create a positive environment
I’ve already established that online poker tourneys are long and that you need to prepare yourself mentally. There is another preparation you have to make in terms of snacks, cold drinks, and a good playlist. There’s a reason why casinos sell and even gift players food and drinks. Refreshments keep you going and sustain you during the long tourney sessions.
You’ll be able to better focus on your game if you have this stuff with you. There is no need for you to get up and start finding something to eat or drink when you are feeling drained of energy.
7. Be disciplined and professional
Playing from the comfort of your home is convenient and comfortable. You can play anytime you want without having to go through the stress of going to a casino. However, most players get ‘too’ relaxed when playing online poker.
There are many distractions when playing online. This is in contrast to a line poker game where there are very little distractions. You can’t even use your phone at the tables so you have to focus on your game.
In your house, the TV could be on in the background and you might be tempted to see an episode of Dr. Who or How To Get Away With Murder, and so on. You could start chatting away with your friends over the phone or on social media. All these distractions will make it difficult for you to make profits.
Poker is tricky enough without any distraction. So if you are serious about playing poker, make sure you don’t get distracted. The best online poker players are the most disciplined.
8. Know that online poker is more aggressive
It won’t take you long after you start playing online poker to know that the players are more aggressive than live players. And it’s important for a live player transitioning to online poker to adjust to this aggression. Take 6-max No-Limit Hold’em for example. You see online players adopting the loose aggressive strategy where first loosen up their starting hand requirements and later play them aggressively. This is not very common in live poker.
Everyone at the table is forced to take more actions in a six-max game as blinds are paid in one of three hands. You can’t be paying blinds and just sit there doing nothing.
Your approach to online poker has to be a bit different from how you play a full-ring live poker game. If you will be using a tight aggressive strategy, it has to be a very good one.
A basic tight aggressive strategy can be easily countered and won’t bode well for you when you are forced to play more hands.
9. Online Games are Tougher
Some players have a hard time accepting this or believing this. But this is the truth. And there are a number of reasons why this is so.
The main reason why online games are tough is that the players are serious, deadly serious. They mean business. Most people playing live in the casino are there for the fun and interaction at the tables. After all, live poker is very sociable. Players come, chat, have a few drinks, and generally enjoy their night out.
The lack of a social aspect of online poker is why it’s hard. There are even more distractions in online poker and this means many online poker players are disciplined and focussed. If you are playing online, you need to have a lot of love for the game to be motivated enough to play. Also, online players seem to be knowledgeable about poker than live players.
The differences between online and live poker also make online poker more difficult. But you’ll get the hang of the features and gameplay of online poker in no name.
To read more about why is online poker harder, read this detailed article.
10. Be patient
You are playing a different variant of poker so it’ll take some time for you to completely get used to it. Don’t rush the learning process. Take your time to learn and you’ll become an expert in no time.
Can you make a living with online poker?
It’s an open secret that there are several people around the world that make living playing poker. Some have been professional poker players for decades. The fact that our society now sees poker in a more positive light is encouraging people to see poker as a means of living.
To answer the above question, yes, you can make a living playing online poker. But I must mention that it’s not easy. You need to be ready to put in a lot of commitment and hard work to become a player that makes a profit consistently. You will also need a lot of discipline.
The prospect of playing a game to pay your bills, have fun, and even have some extra cash to save is very appealing. But it’s not as easy as just reading a number of poker books, funding your account, and then start pocketing the cash. If it were that easy, then everybody would be playing online poker for a living.
Today’s poker game, particularly the online variant, has become extremely competitive and you need to put in a lot of time and effort to be a winning player. I’ve been playing poker professionally for years now and I enjoyed the freedom it gave me.
There are a number of factors you have to consider before venturing into online poker as your potential means of living.
Things to consider:
- your current skill level
- work ethic
- life situation
Some people may find playing poker for a living feasible after considering these factors and not. Others may not.
You Can Play Poker Professionally Because it is a Game of Skill
Poker isn’t just a game of chance or luck as some people think. It’s a game of skill that requires you to play better than most of your opponents. Only when you’ve truly mastered the game can you start winning money consistently.
Perhaps it’s a good thing that some people think poker is all about gambling and pure luck. It means the number of professional players could be a lot more than it currently is if those people knew that poker is a game of skill.
If you are of the opinion that poker is a game of luck and are reading this article, congratulations. Why? This is because many pros won’t want you to have this knowledge. I know professional players that never argue when someone tells them poker is pure chance and luck. They just politely change the topic and know who to target next time when playing at the same table.
To read more on what percentage of poker is luck, click here.
Who Can Make a Living Playing Online Poker?
Since poker is a game of skill, anybody can learn it. So theoretically, anybody can make a living playing poker, online or live. But things can be very different in real life.
Let’s consider Thailand for example. There are several poker players playing the game for a living in the Asian country. Most of them are single young guys in their 20s and 30s. And the reason this so is because they don’t have other activities that demand their time or any dependents.
It’s also important to consider the stunning low cost of living in South East Asia. You can now see that while anybody can theoretically play poker for a living, there are several real-life factors to put into consideration.
Where To Start If You Want To Make A Living Playing Online Poker
I’ll be giving you tips on what to do if you want to make living playing poker. If you’ve been thinking about playing poker professionally, you might want to be extra attentive here. Like I said earlier, playing poker for a living gives you a lot of freedom. Of course, there are both good and bad sides to the lifestyle. But I can tell you for certain that the good sides far outweigh the bad sides.
It’s not going to be a smooth ride though. Don’t delude yourself into thinking playing poker professionally is as easy as the videos you see on Youtube or the poker you watch on TV. Yes, you see poker pros and experts losing large pots (we are talking about six and seven-figure pots) without making any fuss. Well, that’s where everybody intends to be. But the road to that destination is far from easy.
We are now past the poker boom and there aren’t a lot of recreational players like they were during the boom.
Most people playing poker now, especially the online variant, are serious and have sound knowledge of the game. And this is why you first have to assess your skills.
Assessing Your Skills
This is the first thing you have to do if you are considering playing poker professionally. You have to assess yourself honestly, which is a lot easier said than done. It’s important you are very frank with yourself.
Most people see themselves as good poker players that haven’t gotten lucky. I believe you must at least be a decent poker player before you even start considering playing poker for a living.
Now that I’ve established that you are likely to be biased in the assessment of your skills, what do you do? It’s very easy. Focus instead on your results. The results don’t lie. Online poker players just have to go to their poker sites or use poker software to see the cold facts. You’ll be able to see your win rate and tournament results.
Your results will help you answer the burning question, ‘are you a winning player?’ If your win rate is low or your results show an overall loss, you have some work to do before you can start playing poker for a living.
Brush Up Your Poker Knowledge
You don’t have to give up if your win rate or results show you aren’t ready to play poker professionally. It means you have some work to do. You can still make the switch to playing poker full time if you are serious enough about it.
The fact that you are considering playing poker for a living means you love the game and you should find the learning process fun, or at least not outright boring. So it’s time to get started on brushing up your poker knowledge and there are a number of ways to do this.
You should consider enrolling for a poker coaching program. There are several excellent programs available and a little research is all you need to do is choose one. A lot of poker coaching programs aren’t free as they require a subscription. I’ll advise you to see the subscription fee as an investment you’ll profit from later. Click here for the list of the best poker training sites.
Also, you’ll be more serious if you are paying for a coaching program. You know you’ve invested your money and will be looking to get maximum value from the program.
A quality training program will make your learning process fast. It’s like activating the nitro in Need For Speed. You’ll get to your destination a lot faster. Also, you get to identify your weaknesses and mistakes from a good program and eventually learn from them.
A good coaching program also means you don’t have to spend countless hours studying. You’ll have to study, of course. You can’t escape that. But most programs have instructional materials like videos that help you understand things better and faster. At the end of the day, you’d have built up solid fundamentals and adopted a good strategy.
Proper game selection
Professional poker players take game selection very seriously. There are many poker variants out there and you just have to do a quick Google search to see the never-ending debate about which variant of poker Is the most profitable. Or you can read my article about poker’s most profitable games, that gets straight to the point.
Also, try to look for games dominated by recreational players. You’ll have an edge against most of them and have higher chances of winning. Let’s assume you are the 11th best player in the world. If you play at tables featuring the best ten players in the world, then you’ll lose. Why? Because they are better than you.I must mention that multiway suggests weak competition in a game.
It’ll be also great if there are no sharks on your immediate left. A “shark” is a highly-skilled poker player. The more profitable the game you choose, the bigger your winnings will be. And as a professional player, you want to win big.
As an online poker player, you have to take advantage of the bonuses poker sites offer.
Where There is a Will, There is a Way
Yeah, the saying above applies to everything in life. People that are very determined to be professional poker players are going to make it happen regardless of the challenges or the current situation of the poker climate.
My advice to everyone planning to play poker for a living is not to put all their eggs in one basket. Have other sources of income or a backup. If you are still young and in school, graduate first. The game isn’t going anywhere. Then when you feel you are ready, do a test run for a set period – perhaps six months to a year. If things don’t work out, back out.
Why is online poker so hard?
Online poker is generally considered to be more difficult than live poker. And as someone who has played both versions of poker, I agree. You’ll find online poker a bit difficult if you are used to playing live poker. There are some significant differences between online and live poker.
There is a need to acclimate yourself with the features and layout of online poker sites. You have to get used to features like the time-bank where you have a limited amount of time to make a decision and act. A live player playing online poker for the first time will feel incredulous about this feature.
Online poker is less of a social game and you can’t see and read your opponents’ tells. Some live players have mastered the art of reading opponents and will feel like they are at a disadvantage when playing online poker.
Also, online poker players are really good. Some people at live tables are just there for the fun, banter, and gaming experience. Online poker players don’t have this sentiment since they can’t see each other. It’s more about business than recreation.