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Poker News | PokerWorks Op-Ed

Grinding Online - Hit And Run

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One of the most important differences between live and online play is your time commitment once you sit down at the table.  In a live game, whether it is your monthly home game or at a casino, when you decide to play, there is an expectation that you are there for the long haul.  This is especially true if you are profitable in the game.  It is considered bad form for you to be way ahead in the game, and then suddenly get up and leave without giving the other players a chance to get some of their money back.  In fact, you should probably give at least an hour’s warning (and at the very least one time around the table) before getting up, unless you are faced with a dire emergency.

Online, the situation is totally different.  Players come and go, and there’s a good chance that if you play for an hour or more that you will have few or none of the players you sat down with still at the table.  And this brings us to today’s topic:  Hit and Run online poker, where you consciously play much SHORTER sessions at any given table.

One of the advantages of sitting at a table for a long period of time is the chance to get to know how your opponents play, which gives you the opportunity to formulate strategies to combat them.  On the other hand, they have the same amount of time to analyze YOUR game, and if they have a higher level of skill than you, this will work to your disadvantage in the long run.  One of the times that you want to consider playing a shorter stretch of time is when you are playing at a higher stakes level than that to which you are accustomed.  Remember that, as you move up in stakes, you will start to encounter better and better players.  Just because you dominate at $2-$4, it doesn’t mean you won’t struggle for a while at $5-$10.  When you are making this move to a higher level (and ONLY do this if your bankroll justifies it!), it is a good idea to consider having a profit goal in mind, a stop-loss and a time limit, especially if you begin to feel that you might be out of your depth.  Keep in mind the old poker adage that if you can’t recognize who the fish is at the table, that it is you.  When you reach your goal or maximum loss, simply sit out, and move on.

Doyle Brunson
often speaks about “playing the rush,” i.e. allowing yourself to get on a streak of good cards and/or good luck and taking advantage of that.  However, an important skill to have is to realize when the rush is over and the cards have turned.  Have you had the experience of a great run of cards that got you way ahead of the game, only to see it turn around to the point where you gave all of it back, and more?  The beauty of online poker is that there is never a reason to allow that to happen.  If you pay attention, you can sense when your luck has turned for the worse.  When that happens, don’t be stubborn.  Just hit and run, and walk away with the vast majority of your profit.

When SHOULDN’T you hit and run?  Probably the best time to stay at the table is when it is clear that your opponents are doing their best to throw their money away.  When you are in a game where it is clear that you are the best player, and your card luck is at least decent, you should stay and milk the game for every possible dollar.  With the economic downturn of the past few years, online games have tightened up as people have less money to just toss around, leading to only the better players continuing to invest in online poker.  However, you will still come across opportunities where one or two players at the table are simply horrendous, and it is essential that you stay around long enough to collect your fair share of their bankrolls.  

Playing a hit and run style enables you to stay alert to changes in the table dynamic as they are happening, so that you become proactive rather than reactive.  When the fish swim away, leaving a table full of solid players, why bother staying when you can go seek out another game that is more lucrative?  This is where your note taking becomes essential.  Make certain that you are keeping tabs on as many players as possible, and look for opportunities to play against the worst of them whenever you can.  Don’t worry about moving from table to table chasing them down, and don’t even think twice about leaving when you have hit your goal for a session or when the action is not to your liking.

Hit and run poker is not for everyone.  If you like to engage in a lot of online chat, it is hard to do so if you are sitting down for 10 hands and then leaving.  Of course, doing a lot of chatting is not particularly a good way to be overly profitable, but that is a topic for another day.  If you are someone who relishes taking the time to break down the style of an opponent, only to finally crush them mercilessly as they walk right into a trap that you’ve been setting up for hours, then this way of playing is probably not optimal for you.  However, if you don’t really care what other players think of your jumping around from table to table, if you are only looking for the optimum situations as far as pot size and players seeing flops are concerned, and if you are only wanting to sit down at tables where you have the best opportunities to come away with consistent profits, then you might want to consider incorporating the hit and run into your online poker arsenal.

See you at the tables!

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