Online poker is relatively new to the poker world. The first virtual poker hand was dealt over the Internet on January 1, 1998, when the online poker site, Planet Poker, was launched. Endorsed by the famed celebrity, Mike “Mad Genius” Caro, it gained the attention of the poker world. The first virtual real-money poker game was Texas Hold‘em with $3/$6 stakes. Despite attempts to rule it illegal, online poker has enjoyed a steady growth, and several legal and well-established sites are available.
Playing online offers a number of interesting features. For one thing, you can play in the convenience of your own home – without having to drive to a brick-and-mortar casino. Imagine sitting in your den after breakfast, still clad in your pajamas, playing poker on your computer. Convenient! And you can play more than one game at the same time. The most significant feature of online poker is its speed. I have seen reports of players multi-tabling (something you really can’t do in a live poker setting) and getting in hundreds — or even thousands — of hands per hour. Contrast this with about thirty hands per hour for the same poker game played in a brick and mortar casino. But I have no personal experience playing poker online, and don’t intend to.
Why I Don’t Play Online
I am extremely cautious as to which poker game I play. After all, my hard-earned money is at risk. In deciding which game to play, the important considerations include the type of game, the stakes, and limit vs. no-limit. Low/middle limit Texas hold’em is my favorite game and the only one in which I am ready to invest my precious chips. But I will not play it online. I’d also recommend this conservative approach if you’re just starting out playing poker. Or if you’re going to play online, do so just for practice, not with real money at stake.
What is My Problem?
Whether you play hold’em live or online, the rules and skills are basically the same, but online games are just too fast for me – less than one minute to deal and play a full hand. How can you possibly study your hole cards and the board as the game progresses? What’s more, your online opponents are not visible to you. How can you observe them and try to read their hands as the playing progresses? Looking for their tells is impossible; they are invisible to you. And, even if they were sitting there at the same table, you would not have enough time to look for their eye and body motions while pondering your best actions.
Contrast this with Texas Hold’em as played in a casino. Those games run about two minutes and are almost too fast for us recreational players who play for the enjoyment, social interaction, and mental exercise. It gets worse when you age and play poker during your retirement years, as your reflexes and mental acuteness wane. Skilled players learn to cope with the speed of games in card rooms – less than half that of online casino games. In fact, that can encourage us to be alert and focus more on the game, without being diverted by people and activities unrelated to the game in play.