The Five Things That I Learned From Playing Online Poker

Typical Day at the Office...

It might seem weird that one could learn something from online poker, other than…well, how to play poker. But other than enjoying the game itself, somehow, I managed to learn some things along the way. What I’ve learned has helped me in life, both on a professional and personal level. By the way, I primarily play Omaha Hi-Lo on Pokerstars, but I’ve ventured out, per the advice of my trusted colleague, to playing on Carbon Poker.

So with that, here goes:

1) In order to succeed, you have to be patient and scale up the right way. Patience is a virtue, granted, but it’s definitely not my strong suit, and this has been magnified in online poker. The key to winning in any type of card game, online or not, is to be patient. You also have to go into it with the mindset that you’re in it for the long haul. It’s not unusual for me to spend the equivalent of a work day on a craps table, but with the system that I play with, it’s almost a necessity.

As far as scaling up goes, I was playing on the smaller tables, where there were “Pot Limits”, as well as limits to how much you could play with. I started out with $1,000 buy-ins, and that worked for awhile, but I yearned for the bigger payouts. So, I went from the smaller tables, to the “No Limit” tables with a minimum buy-in of $8,000. Of course, since I was seeking the bigger payouts, I went in with the maximum of $20,000.

Now, while I was able to win about $250,000 in a total of about eight hours…I also lost about $350,000. Needless to say, I scaled up way too high, so I went back down to the Pot Limit tables with the minimum buy-in of $8,000. If I’m not having too much luck there, I’ll go down to the $1,000 minimum tables (but go in with the max of $5,000). The thing that I learn from this is whenever I start doing CPA, I will know to start small and scale up the right way, and not because I want the bigger payouts now.

2) Getting upset because you’re losing will only lead to more losses. I know that a lot of poker players can sympathise with this one…you’re winning a few hands, and get on a really hot streak. Then…you lose a hand or two. No big deal, you tell yourself, I’m sure it’s only temporary.

That’s what I told myself one day, whenever I lost $160,000. In about 30 minutes.

I was determined to win at least some of my money that I had initially lost back (I was up about $20,000, then of course…I lost it all). I was buying back in with $20,000 hands for about seven times before I finally gave up. Not to mention, I was getting more and more upset.

After I had calmed down (and got some more money) I realised that once I got upset, I lost focused and wasn’t really playing the right way. Rather, I was only focused on winning money, and not using strategies to win. Once I came to that conclusion, if I started to get upset, I would fold, no matter how much money I had lost.

Needless to say, I haven’t lost as much money since then (by the way, my screen name is bigp00hbear).

Not Bad for One Hand

3) Even when you lose, be polite and congratulate the winner. I make it a point to congratulate the person that beat me in the showdown with either a “nh” or a “vnh” (“nice hand”, or “very nice hand”, especially if they had an awesome hand like a four of a kind. The crazy thing about that is that I’ve come to not caring that much, in regards losing to someone that had a great hand. In fact, I actually get excited about it. How awesome is it to lose to a rare hand like that?

The First and Only Time That I've Ever Seen This Hand Online...

Losing graciously, as well as embracing failure, has made me and even better poker player, in addition to winning more pots. Can’t really argue with what works.

4) You have to learn to read people, in order to figure out the best plan of attack. In poker (and most card games), you’re working against two types of people…the dealer, and the other players at the table. Now, there’s nothing that you can do about the dealer, and in fact, nine times out of 10, they’re going to beat you.

So, there’s no point in trying to beat them.

But what you can do is try to beat the other players by watching how they play. People are creatures of habit, and it’s no different whenever it comes to playing poker. Most people will “check” until they have a good hand, usually whenever the “river” comes (it goes in order: flop, turn, and river…don’t ask why). Then they’ll start either betting a little bit, the pot limit, or if they can, go all in. If you’re a little bit more advanced and can read the cards, you can generally tell who is holding what. This usually helps me to determine whether or not I want to fold on a hand. Like The Gambler said, “you have to know when to hold them, and know when to fold them”…

5) Above all else, have fun. Whether it’s running one of my sites, or working for my company, I have to enjoy what I do in life. Not only will I be successful in it, but I appreciate what I do a lot more, and the upside is that if I can make a difference in someone’s life, that’s the real measure of success to me. You might think that it’s crazy that you could make a difference in someone’s life playing poker, but based on what I’ve seen in Pokerstars, most of those people aren’t playing to try to win a lot of money…mostly because we’re playing with play money.

What, did you think that I was playing with real money? I would be strangled by my wife if I told her that I had lost $100,000.

No, I see the real purpose of playing online games…the sense of community that comes with it. As a long-time Online Community Manager (fancy-speak for a Forum Moderator and Administrator), I get a lot of joy in cultivating a community where people get along…for the most part.

I hope that you have taken away at least one thing from this, and not that I have a gambling problem…because I don’t. I generally will only play for about 15-20 minutes, then I get back to working on my sites.

By the way, I was playing the entire time that I was writing this article. I won $350…who says you can’t have fun while on the job?

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