We all know that poker is an intensely competitive sport and that little beats the learning experience of sitting among the sharks, even if you're the minnow in the pool. Because of the interpersonal nature of the highest public level of play, like that in the World Series of Poker, we often hear lines about how the only experience worth a damn is the real, in-person thing.
While it is undoubtedly the case that online and in-person poker are very different beasts, to claim that it is impossible to learn skills from the online game and transfer it into the online sphere is to be, in a word, wrong.
Here, we'll go over where exactly your game can benefit from online practice, and why it should never be ignored as a backbone of your play. From casual games with friends to the competitive circuit, don't count the internet out.
Why Turn to Online?
The fundamental advantage of online poker comes from its ability to codify everything from the basic lessons of the games right down to the advanced mathematics and probability equations. In other words, playing online is a way to boost the more objective and measurable parts of the games, which can then, in turn, inform how you play in person.
Online lets you play at your own pace, whenever you want, dressed however you want, and without any concerns over your appearance and tells. Instead, you focus solely on the cards. An enormous part of poker, after all, is performed by taking a look at which cards you and the table share. From here, you can determine the chances of your opponents having better or worse cards and the chances that the next draw will give you the combinations you need.
This also succeeds in that, by changing our angle, we can also help foster the parts of our brains which we might not activate while playing in-person poker. This is not just limited to online poker either, as involvement in other games which rely on chance and odds can similarly teach us of probability, or give our minds the breaks they need to properly internalize lessons learned.
These don’t have to be card games either, as some games like slots offer a wide range of opportunities for free play and bonuses allowing you test the waters and consider your options back in your own world of poker.
Building a Base
Playing enough of a game for its lessons to become second nature is best achieved through a controlled setup, and repetition is the best method to drive this from cognizant knowledge to unconscious second-nature.
Once you hit the physical tables, you need to have the ability to perform all the necessary calculations at a glance and without giving your processing away as a tell. The longer you spend at the virtual tables, the easier this will be but remember that cramming is not the best way to go about this and that patience is often key to lasting success.
This is an issue commonly seen with many other forms of mental challenges from mathematics to video games. There are many cases on these fronts where people have struggled for hours with little progress, only to wake after a full night’s rest to overcome the issue easily on their first attempt.
What we learn during the day can be wired in at night, so remember to space out your practice and you’ll vastly improve your chances.
The Winning Attitude
With the above in mind, you'll be well on your way to mastering the fundamentals of one side of the game but remember that the other side can be just as important. Combine this side with that of in-person poker practice and you open yourself up for improvement on all fronts. Remember to check out our other guides for poker strategies at the tables, and there’s no telling how far you could go.