Can You Keep Control While Playing Online Poker?
Keeping control of yourself is a key aspect of poker and this is where psychology and poker are closely linked and where the study of poker becomes very deep indeed. As the online poker games have become tougher over the past couple of years then areas like game selection and keeping control are more important. In fact once you understand how variance and your earn rate are linked together then you will see how keeping control is elevated in importance.
Because the average online game is tougher then the edge that a good player has is less. I know for a fact that my edge in many of the games that I played in diminished hugely during 2007. The knock on effect of this is that your swings become larger and this has a greater impact on your own mental stability. This is why keeping control is so important now in online poker and you really need to elevate this in importance.
In fact keeping control throughout a session could well be your biggest weapon in online poker. Most players play well for a while, this is the typical online player who when indifferent or positive things are happening then plays well. Playing well during these times is easy; it is like being calm and collected when nothing negative is happening. The real test is when something really negative happens and it will happen in the blink of an eye when you will have had no preparation for it.
This is when you are under pressure to keep control and because the speed of play online is far faster usually because most players are multi-tabling then the effects of a lack of control are punished more severely. Let us say that you are playing limit hold’em and your edge is so great that your biggest downswing in six months of play has been 100 big bets. You own personal threshold when it comes to potentially losing control is 150 big bets but you never get to experience that because your edge is so great.
However when the games get tougher then your earn rate will fall or your bb/100 will fall to put that a better way. So the knock on effect of this is that you will encounter bigger swings. On the whole, if two players at the same level had earn rates of 6ptbb/100 and 1ptbb/100 then the player with the smaller earn rate would often have the greater swings to their bankroll. This isn’t always the case as bigger earn rates are often created by highly aggressive play which will by sheer definition cause massive swings.
So you need to be prepared for increased variance. One of the ways that I found to combat this was to remove the making money part of the game in my own mind. I was simply sitting down to play poker and not to make money. It is the sitting down with the desire that you are here to make money that can cause many problems when negative things happen.