Poker Pros

I really liked Jay Caspian Kang's NY Times Magazine article about the high-stakes online poker players who throw thousands or millions of dollars around in a single poker session. It's been a while since I've played poker, online or off. I still enjoy a good live game, but I've never been particularly into online poker.

(from maorix on Flickr)

Online poker is almost an entirely different game from live poker. Yes, the fundamental structure and the rules are the same, but the style of play is so incredibly different.

In live poker, you sit around a table, playing one hand and one game at a time. You have plenty of time to think, to look into your oponents' eyes, and to react to what's happening around you. In live poker, bluffs are called out because of a person's facial expressions, their body language, as well as their play history. You get to feel real chips in your fingers, and see a real stack sitting there in front of you, growing and shrinking.

Online poker is an entirely different beast. Online poker players often sit at 4, 8 or 16 tables at one time. They don't take time to watch every one one of their opponents. They can't see anyone else that's playing in their games, and "bluffs" are called based on how a player should theoretically be playing their hand. Online, there are no chips, just digits on a computer screen, winning and losing is just a debit and credit to a digital account.

I don't find online poker very fun. It's not a social game that you can play when you want to spend time with your friends. It's a high-paced video game that you play when you're bored or want to make money fast. I guess your preference is really just a matter of what you want out of poker itself.