Stepping up from playing poker for play chips to real cash games is a much larger leap than you would first imagine. If you have done well in the practise arena, you will no doubt be chomping at the bit to make your first deposit and start playing for real. However, although much valuable experience can be gained on the play tables, this is one scenario where practise does not make perfect.
When you play on the practise tables, you are playing against fellow learners and players who are just there for a bit of fun. You are given a thousand play chips to start with, but if you lose them straight away, “what the hell” – you just press the reload button and, hey presto, there are another thousand chips in your account. You cannot afford to be that loose in real play or your time at the cash poker rooms will be very short indeed.
The main indicator of just how free-spirited the play tables are can be observed by looking at the corresponding lobbies for cash and play games. Within each lobby there is a column indicating the percentage of players seeing flop each hand. In play chip games, this regularly above 60%, whereas in real life, players will call into flop less than 30% of the time. Not only does this mean that the cash games are much tighter, you will also notice that the pots are smaller – an important factor if you have acquired a perception that every hand has the potential to generate a months´ salary!
Real cash games are much more serious than what you may be used to. No more friendly banter or appreciative comments about a fellows´ “nh”. More down to the serious grinding against players present only to collect their bonuses, achieve qualification for a larger tournament and wait for the killer hand that coincides with the killer pot. Without wishing to paint a dour picture of the online poker community, money is involved, and a lot of people take money very seriously.
There are three key pieces of advice we can offer to players making that first step into real money games:-
Allow more time. Real money games are a lot slower, and whereas you may be used to entering a play money tournament and winning it within the hour, it will not happen when playing for cash.
Play plenty of freerolls, SnGs and MTTs. Once you have opened your real money account, you will be entitled to join more games than you could as a practise player. Take advantage of low entry buy-ins to experience the difference in play from what you have been used to.
Start at a much lower level than you feel is appropriate. Your initial venture into the real world of online poker is likely to be a losing one. Do not let that put you off, but get involved at lower stakes than you think you should to minimise the loss and allow you some collateral to fight back.