Poker has evolved over time from riverboats, to saloons, card rooms and casinos, particularly in Las Vegas, the gaming capital of the world. And since the mid 90s, more and more poker takes place in online poker rooms. Today, players all over the world can enjoy the game poker on their computers from the comfort of their own homes.
In many ways, online poker games are superior the ones you find in brick-and-mortar casinos.
Availability: You don’t have to travel to a casino to play poker, which can be quite a long trip, especially if you’re citizen of a state or a country where gambling is illegal.
House Edge: A brick-and-mortar casino has quite a few expenses: dealers, locals, waitresses, floor managers, and so on. In an online poker room, however, these things are done digitally, so the house can afford to offer players much lower rakes and entry fees.
No waiting: In regular casinos you sometimes need to wait for a seat at the poker table for the game you are interested in. Sometimes you have to play at stakes you are not comfortable with just to get some action. In online poker rooms, this is never an issue. You can even play at more than one poker table at the same time!
Anonymity: Everyone wants to be famous and well know, but sometimes a little anonymity is what a good poker player needs. Online poker games offer just that – you sit down and play. No one cares if you are 18 or 20 or 65, white or black or brown, male or female, etc. Just play and enjoy the game.
Helping hand: You won’t admit it but everyone needs a little help every now and then. If you play heads up and you get stuck – well tough luck you lose your money! Online games are a different beast. Here is an example: you are on PokerStars and you play some guys you just met. You need to keep track of all their moves but you are smart and actually run 4 tables at the same time! It is almost an impossible task to do with pen and paper. Here comes the helping hand - use a pokerHUD. They can keep track of all the played hands and then replay them for you to study later on, or just to keep track of the odds on the current hand and so on.
Bonuses: One of the biggest advantages with online poker is that you can earn quite sizable poker bonuses when signing up. In a casino, you might get free drinks and a discount on your hotel room, but online you’ll get real money to play with - often hundreds of dollars.
Variety: Casinos are limited by the physical space allotted for the poker room, so they only host the most profitable games. Online, there is no such constraint, so if you are into the wackiest of stud variations or the lowest of stakes, you can find your table easily.
Nothing beats Vegas for gambling entertainment. But since we can’t get to Vegas, at any hour of the day or day of the week, online poker rooms provide an amazing opportunity.
Cash games and tournaments are two horses of a very different nature. Despite that fact that No-Limit Hold’em is the most popular variant in each type of game, there are a multitude of strategy adjustments that must be made when switching from one to another.
Cash game players rarely can resists the allure of tournaments. Here are a few reasons for tournaments to be that appealing. First, there is the “lottery effect” where you can turn a relatively small investment into a huge sum with some luck. Second, tournaments are where most of the TV time and celebrity exposure is at. No one particularly cares about a guy who makes $2 million in cash games, but a guy who does that in tournaments stands to receive an endorsement deal and TV exposure (at least a few years ago, anyway).
Here are some common mistakes that cash game players make in tournaments:
Splashing Around Too Much
Cash game players are accustomed to playing with deep stacks. Players in most cash games have a stack of 100 big blinds or more. Tournaments simply don’t work this way. After the first few levels, the average stack in a tournament is usually 25-60 big blinds depending on the quality of the structure and competition. Oftentimes, cash game players are too slow to adjust to the shorter stacks. One of the major adjustments that needs to be made is that fewer hands are played meaning fewer raises are called before the flop. When stacks are 200 big blinds deep, it can make sense to call a raise with Six-Five suited. In a tournament when stacks are just 50 big blinds deep, this becomes much less of a viable play.
Giving People Too Much Credit
The value of re-stealing in a tournament is sometimes lost on cash game players. For example, when a tournament player is down to just 15 big blinds and an aggressive player makes a raise, it can make good sense for the player to re-raise all-in with a hand like Ace-Nine suited. All too often, cash game players don’t realize the value in making this play. They tend to give the player more credit for having a huge hand rather than acknowledging that it makes sense for them to be re-raising all-in with a fairly sizable range. This is because, in cash games, when a player moves all-in preflop, they usually have a monster, so cash game players have been conditioned to think “all-in preflop = big hand”.
Making Hero Calls
Cash game players are used to being able to take gambles on making very thin calls. After all, if they’re wrong, they can always just reload in their typical game. In tournaments, it makes less sense for players to bluff since if their bluff fails, they’re out of the tournament. Cash game players aren’t always aware of this, and therefore have a tendency to make big “hero calls” on the river thinking their opponent is bluffing. While river bluffs occur regularly in cash games, they’re really not used much by players in tournaments.
Bluffing is the most exciting of all Poker strategies. It is an audacious move, when done rightly. Otherwise, it can turn out to be an extremely stupid tactic. You need to attain absolute perfection with this art if you are looking to use this to gain an edge over your opponents. If you never got caught bluffing, it is almost certain that you have never bluffed. It is always good to get caught bluffing once in a while. However, bluffing too often can lead to worthless bankroll swings.
A player, who plays two hands and wins one and loses the other, will most certainly be on a lower psychological level than a person who has played neither hand. Losing money is definitely as unpleasant, if not more, as winning the same amount of money is pleasant. A $20/40 player who loses $1000 in a single day will surely be more annoyed compared to his feeling of happiness when he wins $1000 in a day. It is a natural tendency among players to try to ‘get even’ if they are losing four or five bets. They might even risk all their winnings to get those five bets. On the other hand, if they are winning five bets, then winning another five bets would not make much of a difference to them. It is quite strange to see how people have different perspectives for two things of equal value.
Before you decide to bluff, you must take into consideration the psychological effect that might be caused by the bluff. Bluffing can be a dangerous move and if you don’t handle loss sensibly, it is better not to bluff at all. There is hardly any doubt about the fact that bluffing is a good tactic. However, going overboard with your bluffing is definitely not good. A person who bluffs actually tries to compensate for the lack of objective assets of his cards with his boldness.
When your bluffs earn you money, it is good. When you realize that you are not getting anywhere by doing it, there is no way people are going to appreciate you for your audacity. Reckless or foolish bluffing is a strict no-no. Do not do it because you enjoy doing it. Do it as an effort to increase your chances of winning.
Bluffing is a good tactic as long as you do it well. Bluffing can win you games. At the same time, you are risking losing the game. So bluff sensibly.