Internet Speed: Boon or Bane?
Originally Published in Woman Poker Player Magazine
by: Kathleen K. Watterson
We all know online poker provides much faster games than poker played in tradition “brick and mortar” casinos and other physical settings. Human dealers are simply no match for the lightning-fast programming and accounting procedures typical of online poker sites.
But most players making the move to cyberspace or going back and forth between in-person and Internet play have no idea just how much the increased speed of automated software affects their play. For some players, it’s clearly a big boon; for many there’s a pronounced positive or negative effect on bottom line week in and week out; for still others, the added pressures of the lightning pace and other aspects of the Internet ambience spell unmitigated economic disaster.
The trick is to know what camp you’re in and act accordingly.
If you’re an experienced, disciplined player with proven long-term records who rarely or never goes on tilt — an overall winner — the revved-up pace of online games simply translates into more income per time unit for you. Moreover, if you’re a winning player and also can manage playing in two or more games simultaneously on split or adjacent screens with little loss in playing ability, your earnings will be even greater. But it’s important to realize that these are big “ifs.” This playing camp represents only a tiny percentage of the thousands of players participating in Internet poker.
The sad truth is that most players — online or off — are not consistent winners. Most experts agree that the percentage of poker players who beat the games year in and year out is no more than 10 percent. The converse of that sobering statistic is that 90 percent of all players consistently write their results in red — and that’s if they bother to write them down at all.
Online, losers’ difficulties are compounded: They not only continue to lose, but lose much faster. A player who over several years loses an average of five dollars per hour in a game where 30 hands are dealt per hour is destined to lose two or more times that amount in an online game, where 60 or even 80 or more hands per hour isn’t unusual.
But even that isn’t the end of online loss magnification for losers. There are additional compounding factors to consider, and they all lead deeper into the minus column:
· Pressured by the increased speed of play, beginners and chronic losers make errors online they might not make in a traditional poker game.
In person at a physical table, you can easily buy almost any reasonable amount of time before you act. You can summon a cocktail waitress, ask the dealer a question, talk to the player next to you, pretend to contemplate your own chip stacks or someone else’s, study a raiser’s facial expression, or simply pretend you have a real decision to make.
But online, a buzzer goes off after just a few seconds if you fail to act. Ignore it, and your hand is history, whisked away into the virtual muck. Most Internet players learn to just go with the fl ow and play fast— often very fast — and that means less time to make good decisions. The likely result is more errors.
· Additional errors can stem from the mechanics of playing in two or more games simultaneously, or from accidentally clicking the wrong button while playing in only one game.
Even experts have had the online experience of folding a hand they intended to raise with or raising unintentionally with rags. While technology is getting better all the time, human reaction time is not. It’s all too easy to click the wrong button when Internet action is so fast, especially when playing in multiple games on different screens.
· Those who go on tilt tend to do so faster online, and with no traditional cardroom constraints to hold them in check. It’s humiliating in a public cardroom to keep reaching for your wallet. People see you paying for chips, then see them brought to you by a runner or passed across the table by the dealer. Online it’s simply a matter of clicking the dealer tray for more chips — and often nobody notices. But even if anyone does, in an Internet game you’re simply an anonymous blip in cyberspace, not a flesh and blood player with a red face. There’s so little embarrassment associated with losing money anonymously on the Internet that a player who’d most likely call it a day after three rebuys in a physical cardroom may rebuy a dozen times or more online before departing.
· Playing Internet poker is so much fun that beginners— not to mention long-term players who are simply inept — simply rationalize or ignore the cost.
This syndrome is so common that I call it the “Newbie Bliss Syndrome,” or NBS for short. Those prone to it frequently bust out in far less time than they would in a physical game, especially when they attempt to combine online play with multitasking at home or office. There’s no way to know for sure what percentage of Internet players are working on other screens, watching television, supervising children or are otherwise distracted while playing online, but it’s almost surely a far larger percentage than you might suspect. Multitasking and getting caught up in the fun of online games is a potent combination, and it’s in the opposite direction from the winner’s circle. If you’re having poor results online and suspect any of the factors mentioned above may apply to you, follow these suggestions:
· If you’re new to online play, give yourself time to adjust to the faster pace.
· If it’s hard to make a decision within the allotted time, err on the side of caution.
· Have a long-term track record as a consistent winner before you even think of playing in more than one game at a time. (If you’re a loser, you’ll only compound your losses in multiple games.)
· Don’t know for certain if you’re a long-term winner or not? Then play in only the very smallest games online and stick to them until you’re very sure you’re beating them.
· On the other hand, if you’re beating online games consistently, my hat’s off to you. Just keep clicking that mouse and reeling in the poker fish — they’ve never been easier to find!