Adjusting from Online Poker to Live Poker

There are many reasons poker players decide they want to start playing more live poker games. Whatever the reason is, one thing is for sure, you will definitely need to make a few adjustments in order to be successful.

Although there is some notable differences in how online and live poker games will play, if you are a winning online player, there is no reason why you wouldn't be able to quickly adjust to live poker. At the end of the day, the fundamentals of the game are exactly the same, and you will need to figure out how to properly your opponent's mistakes, and when it comes to live players, there will be many!

One of the first things you will notice is that live cash games are full of loose passive players and a lot more short stacked players who buy in for around 50bb or less. While you get loose passive players at times when playing poker online, there are no where near as many of them, with online tables featuring a lot more aggressive play.

So with that being said, you will want to adjust your aggression levels when playing live poker cash games. The same aggressive play that may work in short handed online games like three-betting and pulling off big bluffs when you sense weakness will not work in live games because live players don't know what you are trying to represent and don't know how to fold.

It's not to suggest that it's not profitable playing on a table full of calling stations, but the same aggressive pre-flop and post-flop strategies just won't work as well as you might think. Instead, you want to be more patient and wait for big hands that you can bet strongly for value. These players are making the mistake of playing far too many hands; so make them pay for this leak in their game.

The loose passive nature of our opponents gives us less fold equity and creates lots of family pots with 4-5 players seeing a flop not at all uncommon. So raising before the flop with a less than desirable hand is not very attractive. You want to focus on raising a narrow range of starting hands pre-flop. Hands like AK/AQ/AJ/KQ so when you flop top pair you can extract lots of value from your opponents.

Likewise, if you are dealt a big pocket pair you should make a nice sized raise before the flop to narrow down the field. In this instance, you should raise big enough so that you don't get too many callers, since the value of your big pairs goes down significantly when there is a family pot. If you can make it big enough so there is only 1-2 other callers that would be ideal.

Speculative hands like suited connectors (T9s, 98s, etc) and small pairs (33, 44 etc) are also great to play because they have the potential to make big hands and because of the likelihood of someone else catching a piece of the board when there is a family pot, and there unwillingness of live poker players to fold, you will usually get paid off with them. Just make sure you are getting the right implied odds to hit with these hands.

In terms of pre-flop betting strategies, another thing you will want to be mindful of is what 3-bets from live players mean. In situations where a player three-bets and they are not incredibly short stacked and desperate to double up, it in all likelihood means they are doing so with a premium hand. Unless you have a good reason to believe otherwise, assume there range is something like QQ+ and AK. Since players at $1/$2 live games are generally loose, you may want to widen your 3bet range to include JJ/AQ when you expect to have position post flop but generally speaking three-bets generally mean a big pocket pair, and unless you are getting good odds to call, just muck your hand, and wait for a better spot.

Although the recurring theme in this article has been the importance of playing a tight aggressive strategy and to use bluffs sparingly, it does not mean you should never be bluffing in live poker games. In fact if you are not, you are very likely missing out on a lot of dead money! Although players don't like to fold, they are not always going to have a hand, and will tend to play fit/fold pot when they miss, which means you can pickup a lot of pots when the other players have likely missed the flop. The best times to try to bluff are when there are fewer players involved in the hand, since it means it's less likely one of the other players will have a hand and there are less players who you want to fold. If you have raised pre-flop, you can continue to tell the story of having a strong hand, but following through with a continuation bet.