It is difficult to remember the days before the internet existed, and what exactly life was like back then. Back then my poker playing was also limited to the Friday night game with the rest of the engineers from my department. I was always very good when it came to the game of Hold’em, but the internet opened up a whole new avenue for me. Playing in cyberspace allowed me to go pro. Where else could I play poker for eight hours a day and make more than engineer’s wages?
Playing professionally has also expanded my circle of friends. Most of our conversation is about poker, and, of course, we talk about the products available on the market. A lot of the folks who do this as their main occupation were opposed to online poker calculators. The only reason that I could really squeak out of them fell under the heading of “Silly Man Logic”. They wanted to win, but they didn’t want any help. After trying Pokerbility my opinion was completely different.
If one is a professional plumber, there are a whole range of tools that come along with vocation. I have yet to meet the professional mechanic who has tried to replace a fuel injector with his bare hands. I am floored by poker players who shun the best tools of mechanics and instead stick with peg legs and a ¼ inch spanner. I don’t understand them, but I will happily coexist with their stinking, fetid lives. Besides, would you run the risk of winning money and failure?
You can only imagine the frustration of trying to learn Texas Hold’em with all the weak information (or what really good information) available to the general public. All the while people are giving seminars on how to play, bad beats continue to occur. How can it happen, when the best player takes down a pot with a off-the-shelf Ace on the river? It happens, and it will continue happening if you let it. The difference is experience. The computer is unused in the real world. In the online world, tens of thousands of players log in and play simultaneously. You can’t control the circumstances in the same way you can in the real world. In the real world you can prepare for bad beats and try to get out of it if it’s too costly. In online poker, there is no way to prepare for bad beats, nor can you get out of a suck in the pocket.
Another form of desperation is to play scared money. You can’t control the hands that you are dealt, but you can come close to fifty percent of your starting stake with a twenty-one going into play. Some people ask, “What’s the hardest part?” If you have ever played scared money poker, the hardest part is letting go of the hand that you were trying to protect. When you are trying to get your money in as low a probability as possible, the logical thing to do is bet low. It sounds crazy, but letting go of a hand, a big hand, can be one of the most difficult things to do, especially mentally. There is nothing worse than letting a premium hand go into the muck.
Because of the crazy number of people who play online poker, there is a lot of information on the internet. Texas Hold’em is stronger than other variants, so stronger hands seem to be more frequently revealed. Monster hands are revealed all of the time, and you can’t help but run through your mental scenarios of what could have happened. But the monster hands are based on the promise of a private little hand, and so are low risk. You can bluff and semi-bluff without taking a big risk if you have a lot of outs, later in the hand. Don’t worry about making a lot of “stumblebacks”, as they are more likely to occur with less premium hands, if you have any outs at all.
Don’t worry about playing scared, as it will happen in any poker room. Monster hands are real monster hands, and should be played aggressively. If you are having trouble doing this, change your table. Don’t worry about not being able to get raises going for you. Increase your bets when you are strong favorite to win, and decrease them, adding relatively little risk to the hands you play. After a while, this almost compensates for any losses you may incur on the first hand or so.
I am not going to berate you if you lose the first hand of the tournament. It is a learning experience and a first impression.