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Poker News | PokerWorks Op-Ed

Poker Plus - Why Play Poker Online?

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The answer to that question is different for everyone, but all online players usually have a point or two in common.
There are several reasons I prefer online poker play, the main one is, my nearest “local” poker room is at least three hours away. Add in the travel time element, cost of a hotel and meals, not to mention the price of gas….and the click of my mouse wins every time. Gas here is well over $3 a gallon, making the trip to my local game costly, the way I see it, I am stuck $100 before I even take a seat. Then when I get a hotel room and eat, I have to win around $300 just to break even.

My home office is right here, where I spend 70% of my time anyway. Food is handy, and my bed is only 30 steps away. I click the online poker site icon and I am playing in mere minutes, with no nut to crack, no expenses for the trip to make up for. I don’t feel like I am behind before I even see my first hand. Also, if I drive 3 hours to play, I feel pressured to play. After all, it took so long to get there and I can only stay overnight, so I need to play as long as possible. Playing online poker takes off all that pressure.

Things not going well? Then it is easy to either switch games (not always possible in live play) or quit for a while and try again later. If I am sitting in a live game and things are going sour after an hour or two, I have to consider what will happen if I leave. What will I do to pass the time until I get back in the game? And, if there is a waiting list, how long will I have to wait for a seat? Or worst scenario yet, what if this game breaks by the time I get back? Will there be a game going at the limit I want to play in? All of it is just too much to think about, too much pressure.

Another reason many players prefer online play is comfort. I am comfortable here, in my own home, in my own chair, in my own pajamas. I am comfortable eating my own food, and have the freedom to drink, smoke or anything else I choose to do, without breaking any house rules or bothering the other players. Should I decide to have a drink or two too many, I won’t make a fool of myself. Also, my opponents won’t take advantage of my drinking too much and play hard against me. But the biggest advantage is… I don’t have to drive anywhere. I won’t put myself or anyone else in jeopardy by driving impaired.

Many people prefer live play because of the interaction with people it provides. After years in the poker business, I have seen hundreds of players who play poker for the social aspect of the game. Poker is their primary social outlet. Many are lonely, divorced, widowed or escaping an undesirable situation at home. To these players, poker only provides the venue to get together and be in a group, to talk, socialize and get out of the house. Poker is their escape hatch from the world around them.

I have to confess, I play poker to play poker, not to interact with people. After years of dealing, playing and being forced into the social side of the game, I am happier without it and don’t miss it. The grumbling, swearing, dealer abuse, card throwing, and other things going on in live games, to me, is nothing to be missed.

When the urge to interact and chat hits me (rarely), all online poker sites offer a chat option. You can always tell the players who like the social side of the game, as they are the ones doing the chatting. The great thing about it is, no one thinks you are a snob if you don’t chat while you play online, but you can’t do that in a live game. When you are sitting at a live table, you are expected to interact, ask Joe how the wife and kids are, and at least pretend like you care about it all. For us, the members of the anti-social set, playing online is, again, the perfect option.

There are so many pluses to playing online it is hard to list them all. Another great advantage is anonymity and privacy. No one knows who you really are, which in itself lends a sort of “fantasy” aspect to the game. You can be who ever you want, if that is your choice. I have a friend who thinks no one respects women players, and to a degree I think she has a valid point. Therefore, she chooses to appear as man when she plays online, she thinks “he” gets more respect. I am not sure if it works, but if it adds to her enjoyment of the game, then I am all for it.

As for privacy, in a live game, if your stack keeps dwindling, other astute players can take advantage of that. They see you have been missing all of your draws and having bad luck, so they may play hard against you, even when they don’t have the best of it. This is great strategy…for them, but a disaster for you, costing you more of your stack.

When playing online however, you can avoid other players knowing how much you are ahead or behind. If you cash out winners, then play again, no one has seen you hit the cage and word doesn’t spread you just had a big win. If you get back in a live game after a big win, players may shoot for you, thinking you can afford to lose, or rib you about having chips to burn. And some poker rooms won’t allow you to buy back in for a certain amount of time unless you put the full amount you chased out back on the table

The same online advantage is true if you are losing. Players in online games change frequently, so in an hour, the table may be full of all new players, none of whom know you are having a bad run. If your opponents don’t know your situation, they won’t be playing to take advantage of your bad luck. In live play, the whole room would know you have bought in five times and are an easy target because you can’t put a hand together.

Playing online, for this player at least, has no downside. Yes, for anyone who has only played in live games, it does take some adjustment, it IS different. Which is a subject for another time…

If you haven’t jumped in and played online yet, you are missing the boat. You can play for free on any of the poker sites, so sign up here and grab a seat. Once you get the feel for the whole experience, you can move up to a small cash game. And YES, you can build a bankroll from nothing, no monetary investment at all. If you don’t believe it, read Chris Ferguson's $0 to $10,000 quest.

Grab a chair..see you there!

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