Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Playing poker online vs. live play

I played bridge online last night at OKbridge. After the mini-tournament was over, I chatted with my buddy NotZia (who is a bridge player and a poker player too), and it got me in the mood for poker, so I logged into a NLHE cash game at Ultimate Bet. I'm in the process of reading the Harrington books on cash games (halfway through book 2). My tournament game has always been better than my cash game; in other words, my cash game sucks. I'm aware that they two are different skill sets, and so I've been trying to figure it all out.

At UB, I bought in for $20. Now this is strange. In a live game I usually buy in for $200 and have for as high as $500. Why only $20 online?
1. When playing online, I usually play at two or three tables at the same time,
2. Online the game moves twice as fast as live games,
3. In person, you have the advantage of getting to look into the eyes of the other players (i.e. there is more information available),
4. Online players are better at the corresponding levels.
What does point #4 mean? Online players at the $.25/.50 level, for example, are as good or better than live players at the $1/2 level is what I've found. I'm just sayin'.

At one of the tables I had open, I played this hand about midway through the session. I picked up 6 6. There are two limpers for $.25, so you limp and a player behind you limps. The pot is ~$1. The flop was:
Q 6 2.

BOOOOM, as they say. Or CHOO CHOO as Jordan at High on Poker prefers to say.

Check, check, you bet $1 and the hand behind you calls, the first two players fold. the pot is $3.

The turn is Q.

This is where some players would drop the ball and bet. The second queen is a great card for you. I'm not a fan of slowplaying (notice I led right out on the flop), but if the player left in the pot has a queen, he will bet for you; if not, you aren't making any more money on the hand anyway. You check. He bet $2. What would you do now?

I checkraised to $5. The size of the raise apparently made it irresistable for him to call ($3 more into what is now a $10 pot). There is some risk for me, but still the best way to win some money. If things to to hell in a handbasket, the most you can lose is $20 since you bought in short. Sure enough, he called. The pot is now $13.

I don't remember the river card, but is was something that couldn't have helped him. I now led out for $4 and he called. Again I bet low to suck out what I could from him. I drag the pot when he calls and shows: A Q.

Any comments about how I played it? What do you think about the other guy not raising with A Q in position? If he raised (and I called), could he get away from the hand more cheaply, or is just destined to lose money? Should he be suspicious that my checkraise was so small?

Two principles:
1. Top pair, top kicker is not the nutz. We all know that, but we need to be reminded.
2. When a player checkraises on the turn, he isn't kidding.

Just sayin'.

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