X Ways Poker Players Burn Their Equity In Live Games
Whether you’re leaving the virtual felt to head to your local neighbourhood casino on a lazy Saturday afternoon or you’re making your first trip to Las Vegas during the WSOP to take advantage of the juicy cash-game options during their busiest time of the year, live poker is a great way for online players to take a break from the monitor and tough competition and enjoy a little comradory and soft poker action.
However, the problem most online players face when participating in live games is a vastly reduced hourly expectation. The rake is higher, the number of hands seen per hour is (way way way) lower, and you are suddenly forced to tip every time you win the pot. Additionally, with a plethora of financial speed-bumps such as food, drinks, and per-the-minute massages, littering the road, it doesn’t take much to turn what was once a sizable edge over the softer competition into a barely break-even proposition no longer worth its time and effort.
In fact, for the majority of players, live poker would be better viewed as an entertainment activity rather than a money-making one. Because while it’s true that live games are, by and large, much much softer than their online counterparts (with many professionals comparing a live $1/$2 game to the $0.25/0.50 level online), due to the live bankroll leaks many inexperienced players have they would be much better served moving down a few limits and spending their time improving their game in the more easily accessible online forum such as Americas Cardroom.
However, for those of you who just love the smell of 11 people squished around a poker table, or are seeking the types of head-scratching plays people make for hundreds and even thousands of dollars live that have been much harder to find online over the past decade, here are four simple mistakes that inexperienced, or undisciplined, live players make that are eating at their bottom line and making long-term profitability extremely difficult. Eliminate these 4 mistakes from your game and you’ll have a chance to become a bonafide live-poker crusher while your opponents spend all their energy complaining about how ‘unbeatable’ the live scene has become.
By far the simplest live-leak to fix is to minimize your expenses. As the old saying goes ‘a dollar saved is a dollar earned.’ There are many ways players reduce their bottom-line through unaware spending such as tipping too much on individual winners, eating overpriced casino food, and drinking your profits (and focus) away when you could get an entire six-pack for the price of one drink. Instead, if your ultimate goal is profitability rather than enjoyability, bring a packed lunch and some snacks from home at a fraction of the cost, tip standard units regardless of the size of the pot, and make sure to keep your focus off the booze and on the table. Speaking of which…
We’ve all seen it at the poker table, the wannabe online-poker hero with the oversized headphones furiously tweeting chip-counts between every hand on the first level of a three-day tournament, or the nice elderly lady using her time at the table as a way to catch up on the latest happenings on Facebook, or the frat bro more focused on the cocktail waitress and Yankees game on the big screen than the fact all the pros at the table have already labelled him as ‘the mark.’
What all of these players have in common is not only that they’re failing to gain information on their opponents due to their own distractibility, but that simply by basis of not appearing to be paying attention, they send a signal to the other players at the table that they’re open to be victimized by an exploitable strategy since their opponents need not worry about remaining balanced (which is defined as having an equal number of bluffs and value-bets in each scenario). In fact, if these distracted players did nothing more than pretend to pay attention, appearing to be intently watching the action even as monkeys ride unicycles around their brain, this would force perceptive opponents to pull back the reigns a little, thereby instantly reducing their edge against you. Sometimes, seeing is just as good as believing.
If you’re heading to the casino to do nothing more than enjoy yourself, that’s great, have a blast! But if the goal is to maximize your return, then you should act accordingly using every means possible, including the immensely underrated value of table-talk. Rather than chatting with your table-mates without attempting to extract any value from the interaction, use your time at the table both to gain information and to schmooze your way to too tight of a fold from one of your new friends. If you’ve never used table-talk as a way to buddy up with your opponents in the hopes of adding a little edge to your game, you’re bound to be surprised by just how often your opponents will give your big bets credit and fold relative monsters face up while erroneously assuring you that ‘you wouldn’t bluff me.’
Sure Jan, sure.
Failure To Count
This one is probably the toughest of the bunch to correct, and that’s saying something considering that, with enough practice, it’s really not that hard at all. And yet, you constantly see players getting to big decisions at the table with absolutely no idea how many chips are already in the pot, let alone how many their opponents have in the stack in front of them.
How can you possibly make good decisions at the poker table without knowing the most critical variable? Simply, you can not! And the worst part of it all is that there’s literally nothing stopping anyone from becoming a master pot-counter but some dedicated focus and a little extra time and effort.
So the next time you find yourself out of a hand, rather than pulling out your phone to post another pictures of your chip-stack to Instagram, make sure to hone your couting skills by constantly keeping track of how much money is in the pot, regardless if you’re involved in the hand or not. Do this frequently enough and soon it will become automatic and your attention will then be freed up to focus elsewhere while still maintaining your edge.
This poker strategy article has brought to you by Top 10 Poker Sites, a site featuring in-depth reviews and news about online poker in America.