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The Longview

Really folks, how long is this long view we are talking about? Sure, playing 10 sessions and then announcing yourself as a pro because you won 8 out of 10 doesn't qualify. But what happens if you spend an entire year playing poker online, daily practically, only to come out even at the end? What does that say of your game? What does it say about your ability to play online poker?

This is the issue I am facing. I keep a spreadsheet of all of my wins and losses. Starting next year, I plan on moving my record keeping onto a online website made for that very purpose (the name of which I forgot, but its been referred to by TripJax). What I've realized is that in my goal to reach $1800 by the end of the year, I am only about $400 short, which is right where I'm supposed to be, approximately. However, all of those wins came from Live play! My online stats tell a very different story, one that starts with a zero, and ends with a zero.

How could this be? A year ago, I won $1200, most of which was online. This year, in my handful of live forays, I've made most of my profit. Online has been a $0 EV affair, ignoring the various bonuses (which realistically would put me in the positive for several hundred, if not a complete grand). [Side note: Should I be counting bonuses on my spreadsheet, since they really just consist of my rakeback?]

I've gone through various reasons why my online game is not where it should be, but for the sake of completeness, I'll give you a Cliff's Notes version: (1) I don't pay enough attention, (2) I play when I'm not sober, (3) I may be playing like an action junkie [i.e. too loose], and (4) I chase losses. But this isn't necessarily about improving these things. It is about figuring out why my Live game is so much stronger (on paper) to my online game, and whether I should near-quit online poker. Not quit. Near-quit. I just mean that I should cut out the routine of playing nightly, in favor of withdrawing most of my online dough and saving the rest for occassions like the DADI tournaments, the Blogger Big Game (set up by Miami Don, in which I shall be playing, now that I earned a $75 Full Tilt token), and the various blogger sanctioned online tournaments, as well as the occassional MTT.

On one hand, I have to consider that this has been an off year. I've shown last year that I can make a profit at online poker, so one year of breaking even might not be such a big deal. It's all an issue of defining the long term. To me, a year seems long enough. Sure, players have an off month or two, but a year?! In hindsight, maybe I should look at my stats to figure out how I did every month and determining if there was a few soul-crushing months to cause my current situation, but does it even matter? Keep in mind that this is ignores the fact that I may go on a tear for the next several months, ending the year in the black. It also ignores the fact that I have recieved a financial benefit from my online play in the form of bonuses. But it doesn't ignore the fact that online poker is not as profitable as it should be for me (at least this year), so is the time spent playing it just time wasted?

These are the issues I'm confronting right now, with eyes wide-open and no sense of impending doom or self-pity. Live play is just more interesting to me, and the online poker is like a weak replacement drug. I think I've likened it before as heroine (live poker) to methadone (online), and while that analogy just emphasizes the obvious self-destructive nature of the poker obsession, it also highlights the fact that online poker is a different (and dare I say, lesser) form of poker than its live counterpart.

This is not to say that online poker sucks. Clearly, there are those who can make bundles of cash online. That just might not be me. I've heard more than a few pros hate playing online. Maybe I can be one of those guys. My fear, though, is that my live game sample is too small. If I played 340 days a year online, I've played less than 50 times live (I believe, offhand). So, am I really just a break even player live who hasn't had his come-uppance? Or what if I'm a +$1800 year player, but it just happens to be that THIS YEAR it is all from live play, whereas next year, my luck will come online instead of live?

Oh my! Where to start?

I will say this. I played live yesterday and took $145 in profit home with me. I was at Bradley's homegame, and the mixed format just makes everything fresh again. I believe that I made most of my money from Princess Maigrey, who, from my estimation, thinks I'm a loose donkey. Maybe its because I played just about every hand for the first 20 minutes. Of course, to the table, I look like an action junkie (and I sorta am), but I'm also building my table image and perhaps even annoying some people as a side effect but not an intended consequence. In a live game, you can do these things. Sure, you can try to do it online too, but a quarter of the players are too busy multi-tabling, another half of the players are watching TV in the background, and the remaining players are either too stupid or too smart to adjust their play to my table image.

Eh, all these questions are starting to make my brain hurt. All I know is that I got a lot of poker coming up, including a trip to Roose's homegame or the Salami Club on Wednesday, followed by an afternoon sans wifey Kim on Sunday (while she goes bridesmaid dress shopping with her friend), during which I'll either build my own homegame (any takers in NY?) or try to make my way to Salami or one of the other live clubs. Whatever I end up doing, I'm hoping its a live game. Realistically, though, if that becomes too much of a hassle, I'll be online. Cause even though I'm a heroine addict, sometimes (SOMETIMES) methadone will do. My plan going forward is to finish my Stars bonus, withdraw a chunk of my online dough, and potentially start to rebuild with $300, used mostly for MTTs, SNGs, and blogger games. Let's hope that does something for me.

Until next time, make mine (live) poker!

posted by Jordan @ 6:29 PM,

15 Comments:

At 12:46 PM, Blogger SIF said...

You should probably use pokertracker and analyze your online play. If you multi-table, you may be giving up serious EV; I generally only play two tables except when needing to clear a bonus quickly. Most people aren't watching very closely, if you watch closely, you can easily take advantage of the table online. I agree that online poker is a video game more than it is poker, but it's a video game played for money that you can be successful at, but it requires different skills -- some of which are close to what you need in a live game and some of which aren't.

I clear about $10k a year before taxes, about half is from online and half is from live. I tend to player lower online than live, because online players tend to be tighter and reads are more difficult to get. I used to bluff less online because people tended to call more, but I've found people playing much more tight-weak lately online than they used to, so I actually bluff more online than live.

 
At 1:27 PM, Blogger Dawn Summers said...

I'd be down for a Sunday low limit tourney kinda dealie.

 
At 1:30 PM, Anonymous kipper said...

Go where the fish are. You don't spend all day in one 'fishing hole' cause you got a big fish there once...

I am sure your play is fine. PokerTracker is a good way to find those holes. I have gotten away from using it lately cause sites I have been playing on do not support it.

 
At 2:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just added a online spreadsheet for session tracking. You should check out my sidebar, its pretty slick.

 
At 2:36 PM, Anonymous MattyEbs said...

My personal experience has been that online play is much more streaky...probably b/c I play a lot of MTTs and one big score offsets many non cashes. I would be down for an NYC game Sun...thanks for showing up Saturday greatly appreciated...I'll let you know how the game is tonight

 
At 3:29 PM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

That is two players for a Sunday game, but some of my regular gambling crew (Roose and Hole) are unavailable. I'll see if I can gather up some more players. Ebs and Dawn, if you know people who might be interested in playing, let me know.

 
At 3:33 PM, Anonymous ZowieZ said...

TripJax uses the same online tracker that I do - Pokerdominator. Highly recommended. I've been using it for just about a year with good results.

I wrote some about PD here.

 
At 5:53 PM, Blogger Wolverine Fan said...

IMHO, when you go to a live game you are taking out cold, hard cash that took time to earn. The minute you purchase your chips you are more into the game than when you sit down at your computer online and fire up a session.

I would bet that you will fold more in live play, preserving said chips while on-line you think, no way he called my prebet raise with 4/6 so he can't have the straight and, voila, you call his raise and the screen shows the aforementioned 6/4 off suit.

Just a thought.

 
At 5:54 PM, Blogger Wolverine Fan said...

preflop raise

 
At 6:04 PM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

Um, Wolverine, I think I see what you are saying. Are you saying that people generally (or I, specifically, for that matter) play differently online because it seems less real?

I wouldn't argue with that general notion.

What confuses me is whether I can fix the problem, or if it is even worth fixing. Online poker seems like a time suck and I think it might be bad for me, at least in regards to how I've played in the past. I think I need to cut down and use it for a here and there game, not a routine game.

It doesn't seem like people have much to add as far as whether I should consider bonuses in my winnings, and whether one year is a long enough period of time to determine whether someone is donkeyish or not. Fair enough, since these are very intangible questions.

 
At 6:56 PM, Anonymous Tom said...

You can't put a # of days behind determining if you're a winning or losing player, but I think you can put a # of hands behind it.

I'd look at your results after about 50,000 hands for something like that.

PokerTracker can help plug up leaks. You see which hands lost you money and how. You see which position nets you the biggest loss or gain, and so on.

I wouldn't consider bonuses in my winnings much the same way I don't consider my monthly rakeback payment part of my winnings.

Just one dude's opinion.

 
At 10:04 PM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

Thanks for your opinion, Tom. I'll check out my PT stats.

 
At 11:40 PM, Blogger Mark said...

It seems to me like you know what's wrong with your online game (focus, sobriety, action craving, loss-chasing). Fix the things you know are broken.

 
At 4:44 PM, Blogger Alceste said...

Agreed on PT and plugging leaks (the part of my brain that knew that certain hands were "trouble hands" apparently failed to inform the part of my brain that plays poker of this fact). I am generally a much tighter, more aggressive player online than I am in a live game. In part, I think the level of competition is a bit higher, but I also think it has a lot to do with my personality generally playing a much smaller role in my game online.

 
At 7:17 AM, Blogger Pokerwolf said...

From your list:

1) Is a leak. Find a way to help yourself pay more attention, such as note-taking on your opponents.

2) Quit drinking, you lush.

Quick rule of thumb: If you don't do it live, don't do it online.

3) You play like an action junkie partially because you have an aggressive game, partially because you're bored, partially because you're used to multi-tabling, and partially because you're a bonus chaser.

4) Set a stop loss, a time limit, or a hand limit.

Here's the biggie:

Live play is just more interesting to me, and the online poker is like a weak replacement drug.

Now that you've come out and said this, tell us WHY you feel that way. That's the key.

Sure, you can try to do it online too, but a quarter of the players are too busy multi-tabling, another half of the players are watching TV in the background, and the remaining players are either too stupid or too smart to adjust their play to my table image.

Sounds like you want to take on players who have more skill than you, instead of take advantage of people who are paying less attention to the table and/or who are less skilled than you are. True or false? If that's true, you're passing up money making opportunities.

 

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