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Myths of Online Poker

Playing poker online is a fun and profitable way to enjoy the game. For those players accustomed to playing live games, the Internet provides a wealth of resources to introduce players to online play. But don't be deceived! The player new to online cardrooms may hear any number of inaccurate and just plain wrong "facts" about playing poker on the Internet. Here we dispel a few myths you may have heard.

Myth #1 — Poker Requires Advanced Math Knowledge

Thank movies like Aces (2006), All In (2006), The Grand (2007) and Limitless (2011) for this misconception. We've all seen math savants in poker movies create fantastical algorithms to fleece fortunes from their unsuspecting opponents. Don't be fooled—while poker involves some knowledge of basic algebra and probabilities, it isn't rocket science. For those who brain lock at the very thought of the word "math," fear not. Hand review software is available to explain hand calculations so that even you, the class dunce, can understand. Be assured there's plenty of winning poker players who couldn't count their hole cards and come up with the same number twice in a row. (Okay, that's an exaggeration but it's close.)

Myth #2 — Players Have More "Bad Beats" Online

Numerically this is true but not because of some sinister Javascript code. Think about it: live players usually see about 30 hands an hour at the table. Meanwhile, online players easily see three and four times this number during the same time span. And it's common for online players to play at more than one table at a time. It stands to reason that the more hands one plays, the more often one sees "Bad Beats." Too, "Bad Beats" stand out from other hands, making them more prominent than folds or wins. And don't forget, "Bad Beats" happen more often to good players than to donkeys who occasionally win against the odds by "sucking out." The bottom line is that the same percentage of "Bad Beats" occur, whether playing live or on the Internet; players just play more hands online.

Myth #3 — The Best Player Always Wins

Again, you've been watching too many movies if you believe this myth. Sure, Mike McDermott bankrupts Teddy KGB every time at the end of the movie Rounders (1998) but remember you're watching the same movie over and over; view here. The fact is that even top pros experience variance from time to time. No player, no matter how good they are, wins every single time they play. As poker legend Amarillo Slim famously said, "Nobody is always a winner, and anybody who says he is, is either a liar or doesn't play poker." Compare poker playing to flipping a coin: over the long haul, the coin will land either heads or tails 50% of the time. But predicting how it will land any given time is impossible. It's the same with good poker players; over time they win but not on every single occasion. So while the good player may have a losing night on occasion, at the end of the year he'll emerge as a winner.

Myth #4 — Poker Pros Live A Rock Star Lifestyle And Are Filthy Rich

Some players, mostly 20-somethings who were lucky enough to strike it rich early on, fit this description. Perhaps you've heard poker players hosting debauched parties in high-roller Vegas casinos, throwing money around like confetti and drinking the bar dry. But these are a distinct minority of players because it's a sure prescription to go broke. Successful poker pros know how to manage money, particularly their bankroll, and most don't drink heavily. (Just ask Doyle Brunson.) Most pros who make a decent living playing poker are "grinders," spending long hours at the table waiting for the hands that give them an advantage over their opponents. Remember perhaps the most famous poker quote of all: "It's a hard way to make an easy living." That statement implicitly recognizes player discipline and a sensible lifestyle commitment—not partying like it's 1999.

Myth #5 — Only Tight Players Win Online

While it's true that consistent winners wagering for micro-stakes play tighter than a crowded can of sardines, it's because of all the maniacs who play like donkeys. But once a player moves up to higher-stakes (and better players), playing too tight is a prescription for losing. Good players soon recognize "rocks" who play only super-premium hands and won't give them any action. Meanwhile these good players steal blinds and pots with bluffs, well-timed aggression and smart position play. Don't be a cookie-cutter player, playing a predictable A-B-C game. Shift gears from time to time and vary your play and your table image.

Myth # 6 — The "Cash-Out Curse"

This is perhaps the most ridiculous myth on this list. Supposedly players who cash-out their winning from an online cardroom have bad luck for doing so. The "reasoning" behind this absurd claim is that players are "punished" for taking out their money from the poker site. That's like saying a poker player in a brick-and-mortar cardroom is stricken with "bad luck" because he cashes out when he leaves the game. Why would an online poker site want a player—any player—to lose money? If an online cardroom runs a good game with attractive interactive features, they can be confident that a player will continue playing at their site. Cheating players is not only unbelievably unethical, it's highly illegal as well. And how could an online poker site "curse" a player? That's crazy.

Myth #7 — Really Good Players Have Telepathic Powers Capable of Reading Their Opponents' Minds

This is almost as ridiculous as Myth #6. Sure, good players pick up on their opponents' tells and Doyle Brunson even says "Show me your eyes and you may as well show me your cards" but if you really think poker pros are as good as they are because they read their opponents' thoughts then you've been watching too many bad poker movies. And to think an online poker player thousands of miles away can read an opponent's mind is nothing short of preposterous. Besides, online tells are scant; click speed may give an indication of play but in truth, it's commonplace for online players to play as many as four tables simultaneously and so they have no way of tracking an opponent's click speed and whatever tell it may mean.

Myth #8 — You Must Be A Supremely Talented Poker Player To Win Consistently

Most of today's top poker pros are in their 20s and seemingly just appeared from nowhere. While their success may seem to be the result of good poker genes or an abundance of raw luck, it's simply not so. Take it from Doyle Brunson: "What took me decades to learn, these kids can get on the Internet.... What I learned by brute force, dealing out hands, they learn on computers. It tends to make for fairly technical players, but they make up for it with aggression, the kind that comes when you learn things fast." Sure, some players may have a better aptitude for the game than others, but the simple truth is that these so-called "whiz kids" have played millions of hands to learn the intricacies of poker. None of them is an "overnight success." It's one reason why online poker is so popular; it speeds up the learning curve compared to how old-school players like Brunson learned the game.

Myth #9 — Online Poker Is Manipulated To Determine Winners And Losers

This is a sour grapes claim from losing poker players. They think that just because they rule their home game and do well against fish in a brick-and-mortar cardroom, the online game must be "rigged" since they consistently lose while playing on the Internet. The fact of the matter is that all aspects of online poker India are totally random, much more than live action poker games. Virtually 100% of online poker games are aboveboard and legitimate; those in the past that were not were quickly exposed and shuttered, making headlines in the process. Ask poker players experienced in both online and live games—they'll say that online poker is much tougher than its brick-and-mortar counterpart. This fact often holds true for even online games played for micro-stakes. So don't listen to donkeys who blame algorithms for their crappy play. The simple truth is that they're crappy players.

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