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Poker News | PokerWorks Op-Ed

Grinding Online - Mixing It Up

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When I was young, television had just begun to become a staple in American homes.  Shows back in the 1950’s were shot with one or two cameras, which meant that a single angle might be held for ten minutes at a time without the picture changing.  Fast-forward to 2010, when a shot might be held for less than a second before the viewer is presented with another image, and then another, and another.  What does this have to do with poker?

The nervous systems of young online poker players have developed and been bombarded from the outside world in a completely different manner than those of players in their 50’s, or for that matter, even those in their 30’s.  The amount of ever-changing information entering the brain from television, the Internet, and other media is exponentially greater for this generation than any coming before it.  As a result, the young player’s mind is so used to new images at such a rapid pace that it is easy for him to become bored by a slower pace where the information seems to be somewhat constant.  This can certainly be the case for a young player continuing to play the same poker game at one online table, and unless the player is careful, his game can break down rapidly, due to nothing more than the repetition of the same rhythms, over and over.

How does one combat this problem?  The simplest way is choosing to mix it up by playing different games.  For those who love playing No Limit Holdem, one way to do this is by playing mixed no limit and pot limit games, which give just enough variety that you should be able to maintain your edge.  Venturing a little further a field, you can also choose to play 8-game, which includes No Limit Holdem and pot limit Omaha, along with six limit games, the HORSE rotation and Deuce-to-7 Triple Draw.  With the game changing every six hands, you are never playing any one of them long enough to get bored, and this rotation can improve your overall game quite quickly.  In addition, you’ll find that many of the other players in 8-game are better at the limit games, and that you can take advantage of them when you can take more of their stacks in one fell swoop.

Probably the most common way that players avoid boredom is by playing multiple tables.  Younger players, due to the nervous system factors mentioned above, have a huge advantage over their elders playing this format.  The more tables you have in play, the more you will be able to keep up a pace that is most like rapidly surfing the Internet or participating in extreme sports.  Just make certain that you can handle it without getting overwhelmed by the constantly changing screens and situations.  With the advent of Rush Poker on Full Tilt, you can play as fast as you would like without having to multi-table at all, by simply controlling how quickly you fold from one table to the next.

If you choose either of these options, you need to make certain that you are doing so within the bounds of smart bankroll management.  If you play 8-game, use the normal buy-in that you would make for a no limit game, no more than 5% of your bankroll.  If you multi-table, you can have a bit more than that percentage of your stack out and at risk, but be very careful that you don’t suddenly find yourself playing 20 tables each with 5% of your stack in play, or a sudden burst of tilt could decimate your roll.

The most important thing to do, regardless of which option you choose, is to find a set of games or number of tables where you can be at your sharpest throughout the session.  Boredom leads to making foolish decisions “just to see a few cards,” whereas trying to do too much at once creates a situation where your game suffers, particularly when it comes to reading your opponents’ hands and being able to play the players rather than just your cards.

Ultimately, being able to mix it up at different games gives you a much wider variety of options when you want to sit down and play.  As you get better at different games, you will be able to more easily attack juicy games where the players are getting involved in far too many hands.  You will also have an easier time identifying players against whom it will be profitable to play.  By “mixing it up,” you will keep poker interesting, alive and vital for you, and avoid getting tired for longer stretches of time.  By keeping boredom at bay, you will extend your poker playing lifespan by years and even decades, and always have it be a source of entertainment, enjoyment, and profit.

See you at the tables!

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