Why Most People Lose at Online Poker (Sad Truth!)

Why Most People Lose at Online Poker

This article was written by blackrain79.com contributor Fran Ferlan.

The sad truth is that most people lose at online poker in the long run, even if they have lots of experience in live games.

And transitioning from live poker in a casino to online poker can be a difficult adjustment in and of itself.

Especially if you are used to looking for physical tells from your opponents in order to make informed decisions at the felt. 

The speed of action is also lightning fast as opposed to live poker, and it can get overwhelming quite quickly. 

However, with the right adjustments, these differences can work in your favour as well. You just have to follow the right strategy and be aware of some critical differences between live and online poker. 

The game is fundamentally the same, though, and online poker can also be profitable, with the added bonus of not having to put pants on to play. 

The following 7 tips will show you the adjustments to have in mind, and make the transition to online poker less stressful and more profitable.

Alright, let's jump into it!

1. They Aren't Prepared For the Relative Skill Difference

One of the crucial things to have in mind is there is a substantial relative skill difference between online and live players. 

As a general rule, online players are far more technically savvy than their live counterparts, and chances are they’ve studied their game quite a bit. 

There’s a ton of free material online about all the ins and outs of a winning poker strategy, and a lot of online poker players have taken advantage of that to the full extent. 

What used to be the secrets of the trade known only to the world class poker professionals is now a widespread knowledge, and is readily available to anyone interested. 

As a result, the games have become increasingly more competitive over the last decade, even at the lower limits. It’s no longer a money printing machine by any means.

However, online poker is still beatable. 

The games have become more competitive, but with an increasing popularity came a ton of recreational players as well, so there’s still money to be made with the right strategy.

2. They Don't Start at Lower Limits

Because of the relative skill difference, online stakes don’t correspond to their live counterparts at all. 

If you’re playing 1$/2$ live, you shouldn’t play 1$/2$ online unless you’re itching to lose your money. 

In fact, at 1$/2$ online most players are more than likely to be actual professionals. The skill level counterpart to 1$/2$ live would actually be 1¢/2¢, or NL2. 

You might scoff at the notion of playing for pennies, but you’ll soon find out that players are not nearly as clueless as the drunken whales at your local casino. 

Due to the sheer speed of action and bigger volume of online poker, it plays significantly tighter than live games, and the players are a lot more selective with their starting hands selection. 

This means you’ll rarely see multiway pots with five limpers, or someone calling down your triple barrel with an Ace-high.

Now, while online players are tighter overall, you still want to be careful to avoid making bad bluffs against these players as Nathan discusses in his latest video.

3. They Do Not Learn to Multi-table

Arguably the biggest advantage of online poker is the ability to play multiple tables at once. 

The logic is, if you are a consistent winning player at your limit, you can multiply your profitability by playing more tables at the same time. 

This has the added benefit of more rakeback, which further increases your bottom line. Most online poker clients offer some sort of rakeback program as an incentive for playing at their site. 

By multitabling, you’ll be able to put in a much bigger volume in a shorter time, thus getting to the long run faster. 

While it may seem daunting to play multiple tables at a time at first, it’s actually quite feasible with a little bit of practice. 

The key is starting slow and gradually adding more and more tables. When you feel the action is getting overwhelming, scale down to the number you’re comfortable with. 

When you get the hang of it, add another table. Rinse and repeat. 

If you’re comfortable with only two tables, that’s ok. Start there and work your way up. There’s no rush, and slow and steady wins the race.

Bottom Line: If you ever want to play online poker semi-pro or pro one day, you must learn to multi-table.

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4. They Do Not Practice Table and Seat Selection

A great thing about online poker is you can pick and choose the tables and seats, and move around them without raising any eyebrows. 

You should take advantage of this in order to place yourself in the most profitable money making situations. 

You’ll want to play at the tables which have a big percentage of players per hand. 

This info is readily available in the software’s lobby (provided the site doesn’t have anonymous tables where you are seated randomly). 

The tables with the high percentage of players per hand signifies the players are too loose and are likely to be recreational players.

You can also just simply look for the players with a VPIP above 40% on your poker HUD.  

If you are seated to their direct left, you will be in the best position to take their money first by isolating them with a raise if they limp preflop, and playing in position against them postflop. 

Conversely, you should avoid sitting on the direct right of strong, aggressive players, because they will give you a hard time with their incessant 3-betting preflop, floating you wide postflop and so on. 

If you find yourself on a particularly unfavourable table, simply stand up and look for another one. There’s no penalties for this, and it doesn’t really make sense to keep fighting an uphill battle.

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5. They Do Not Use a Good Poker Tracking HUD

Another benefit of playing online is the ability to take advantage of the available technology. 

Getting a HUD tracking software allows you to automatically save your hand history, so you can review your hands after the session and find leaks in your game. 

You can also see your opponent’s tendencies and find ways to exploit them. Their stats will be available on screen right next to their username. 

This is a total game changer, and will allow you to make more informed decisions in every hand you play. 

There are a lot of tools for this purpose, but I’d personally recommend PokerTracker 4. 

It’s reliable, user friendly, and is widely used by professional poker players everywhere.

It basically pays for itself, because the reads you’ll get on your opponents, and improvement you’ll make to your game more than makes up for the price of the software, and then some. 

When you get it, you will not want to play another session without it. It also offers a 14-day free trial, so there’s no reason not to give it a try. 

6. They Do Not Pay Attention to The Betting (and Timing) Patterns

One of the (dis)advantages of online poker is the inability to actually see your opponents and pick up on physical tells. 

This can work in your favour, of course, if you can’t keep up a poker face to save your life, but can be tricky if you’re used to looking your opponent in the eye and read his soul.

But there are tells in online poker as well. They mostly boil down to the timing and betting patterns, so if you’re used to observing action when playing live, you’d do well to keep paying attention online. 

The most information comes from showdown hands. 

If you see someone showing the nuts and they bet 70% of the pot on all three streets in one, but only c-bet 50% and gave up on the turn in another, it might be an info worth remembering. 

See my Texas Hold'em "cheat sheet" for more on this.

The timing tells are a little trickier and less reliable, but could also be informative. 

As a general rule, quick actions like an insta-call usually signify a mediocre hand, like a top pair, weak kicker, second pair, or a drawing hand. 

On the flip side, a long pause followed by a strong action usually means a polarized range (either a really strong hand or a bluff). 

These are just a rule of thumb, of course, and won’t be 100% accurate, so use them at your own discretion.

7. They Are Not Prepared for Variance!

Something that stupefies a lot of live players when transitioning online is the overwhelming amount of bad beats, coolers and suckouts.

It doesn't matter how much advanced poker strategy you study, these bad beats are painful and they will happen to you again and again. 

This makes some players distrustful of online play in general, and some even claim that it’s all rigged for action in order to peddle the site’s profits. 

To be fair, there have been some shady sites with scammy practices in the past, but that’s the part and parcel of every industry. 

But the truth is that any reputable poker site has absolutely no incentive to rig the games in any way. 

They have a profitable business model and are already making bank, so risking their licence, reputation and livelihood for the prospect of pinching a few pennies more is ludicrous. 

What’s more, the allegations always seem to come in the form of unsubstantiated anecdotal evidence from players who, truth be told, aren’t exactly great players to begin with.

The fact remains, however, that online poker does have an incomprehensible amount of crazy coolers and suckouts. 

But it doesn’t have to do with the rigged RNG, as much as the sheer volume and speed of the game compared to live poker. 

While you can only play about 30 hands live, you can play as much as 100 hands an hour in online 6-max. 

So if you lose to a suckout once an hour live, you could lose three times more online. And that’s only playing a single table. Multiply the tables, and you multiply the bad beats as well. It’s simple math.

Keep making the right decisions, and the math will always be in your favour in the long run.

Lastly, if you want to know my complete strategy for making thousands every month from online poker, grab a copy of my free poker cheat sheet.

Why Some People Win at Poker (But Most Don't)