Online Plays That Don't Work Live
These days, most people who are new to live poker have already gained some level of experience through online play. As a result of this, it's incredibly common for players to think that their skills online are going to translate to brick and mortar poker. While this is largely true as a whole, there are plenty of situations where this type of thinking just isn't applicable. You are going to be playing against such a wildly different set of people in a live environment that you aren't going to be able to make the same moves with the same rate of success. Any given play in poker is most dependent upon the players who you are using it against, and when those players change, so too does the effectiveness of a play.
One thing that's important to note is that while these plays might not usually be in your best interest, it doesn't necessarily mean that they can't still have a use. For example, you might float online a lot more than you do in live play, but this doesn't mean that your live floats are bad by default. It all comes down to being able to pick your spots very carefully. Your mistakes tend to be magnified in live play because they are going to take longer to correct.
If you are playing 10+ tables online and lose a buy in, there's a decent chance that your loss will be erased in the next minute or two. If, however, you lose a buy in or two in live play, it could take several sessions before you make up for it. Don't change your game entirely when you play poker in a brick and mortar casino, but look for modifications that can improve your bottom line.
Note that these tips are most applicable from $1/$2 up to (most) $5/$10 games. Beyond this limit, strategies become more complex and advanced to the point where these moves could very well be a required element of your repertoire.
Super Aggressive Play
Super aggressive play could arguably be considered the most significant creation of the online poker sites era. Before online poker really started to get big, and even in its prime years, a lot of players adapted a much tighter and straight forward approach to the game. This was mainly due to the fact that this type of strategy had worked quite well for many years. As the game evolved, however, aggression started to take over. While it's absolutely needed if you hope to win online, it can tear you apart in live games. One thing that you need for aggression to work is a set of opponents that are capable of folding. In live games, this often times just won't be the case.
Open raising and never limping is a very standard skill set online. In live play, though, you should be looking to limp into a lot more pots. The goal of constant pre-flop raises is to force folds both pre and post-flop. Since you are unlikely to get a high percentage of folds, raising becomes a less valuable move.
Floating isn't the worst move to make in live play. In fact, there are plenty of situations where it could work quite well. The problem with floating in live poker, as is the case with most of these plays, is that it requires players who are willing to fold. A successful float in live play is most often the product of solid timing. If you are attempting this play against someone who clearly has a clue as to what they are doing, you can safely give it a shot. If you are up against someone who is hardly thinking, however, you might as well throw your money down the drain. Not only should you be picking the right spot considering the action and the board, but you should also ensure that you are floating against the exact right type of player.
Double and Triple Barrels
The problem with double and triple barrels in live poker, again, is related to players' general unwillingness to fold any hand at any cost. Yes, you may very well be in the most ideal spot where you can fire another barrel on the turn when a scare card shows, but this isn't to say that your opponent necessarily cares. A double or triple barrel can appear so primed for success from the outset all the while failing miserably once in action.
This particular move is exceptionally risky because of the compounded amount of money that's involved. First you have made a continuation bet on the flop that failed, which then led you to a double barrel on the turn. At this point you are now going to bet a fair amount more than you bet on the flop. Add these two bets together and you need to bet even more on the river. As you can imagine, it doesn't take a whole lot for a triple barrel attempt to conclude with the words "all in." Before you try this move in a live setting, think about how it will feel when you get called down. Of course, you need to take shots from time to time, but with each call from your opponent, the less likely it is that they are going to fold on the next street.
Light 3-Bets and Light 4-Bets
Everyone knows that live poker players love action. Everyone also knows that the action starts pre-flop, so it's no coincidence that this is the time where your opponents are least prone to laying down a hand. You should be using this to your advantage when you have opportunities to capitalize on big starting hands. Likewise, you should be shying away from spots where there's a good chance that you are lighting money on fire. Light 3-bets and light 4-bets have a low enough rate of success online, so you can only imagine how frequently they fail in live play.
If you absolutely must place a light 3-bet, be sure that you are at least doing it with the right hands. Don't bet light with a totally useless hand like 73 off suit or J2 suited, etc. Instead, use hands like A4 suited or K5 suited, etc. These are the type of hands that will allow you to potentially flop hard while also remaining deceptive. You can hit a big pair, have a small pair with top kicker, a tricky two pair or trips, and so on and so forth. And plus, when you miss (which will be most times), you won't have much trouble letting go. It certainly isn't advisable to be making light 3-bets or light 4-bets in most live games, but try to execute them to the best of your ability should you feel the urge to make a move.
Author: Jonathan Wanchalk
Updated: March 2015
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