You’ve entered your favorite online poker room and are preparing for a little Saturday night practice session in a free Limit Texas Hold ’em game, say $ 10 / $ 20.
Having fun? Right. Learning to play poker? Not really.
A good way to learn how NOT to play poker is to play in free online games.
What should you do? See how poker is played in a free online game and then become an observer in the online rooms where real money is at stake.
What differences should you notice?
In free games, what do you have to lose? That is the question. In a typical free Limit Texas Hold ’em online game, a player “buys” (at no cost) for, say, 1,000 chips. The cards are dealt and almost all players go to the flop. So most players get a card on Fourth Street, and it’s not uncommon to see six or seven players in a free online game go to the river.
Why? Because, against all odds, they expect “miracle hands.” qq online And because they have nothing to lose. If they run out of chips, they “buy” more free chips.
What did you learn? You have learned how NOT to play real poker, cash poker at the table.
You would go crazy for taking this strategy to a table where real money is used. In a cash game this should never happen. If this happened, the naive player who played this way would be eaten quickly.
Watch cash tables at online games, especially at higher levels, and watch TV pros at tournaments.
What do solid stakes do? It eliminates the players and the hands. It all comes down to the two, occasionally three players, facing each other with strong hands (or a bluff indicating strong hands).
What is most missing from the online game: “counts,” the contractions, ticks, scratches, winks, tremors, and sweat from the flop trickling down a player’s face – perhaps even his face – that telegraph the force of a hand.
Pro Annie Duke says she can “tell” a lot of the stakes patterns in real money online gambling. Probably yes.
But you’re missing out on a lot of the psychology of the game by playing in online poker rooms. You are NOT learning to evaluate the actions and reactions of other players as you would in the live game.
So, what you do? Have fun in free online games as long as you realize that you may be learning bad habits that should not be taken to a cash game.
To really learn how to play poker, join a low-stakes, real money, online and other gambling game. Some start as low as fifty cents and one dollar. So they go up: $ 1 / $ 2, $ 2 / $ 4 and so on. Notice how the style of play is quite different as more money enters the table.
If you master a lower stakes game, don’t think you will do the same on the next level. If you watch TV interviews with the pros, you’ll hear stories about how they went up, lost, down, built their bets, went up, and so on.
Expect to do the same. The online experience can be fun. You can also make it a meaningful learning experience with a cash game to reach your budget.
Then you will learn how to actually play poker.