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The Poker Counselor's Corner (54)

The Poker Counselor's Corner (54) 0001

Editor's Note: In addition to being a poker enthusiast, gambling columnist, and lecturer, John is a National Certified Counselor (NCC). He has a Master of Arts degree in Counseling from West Virginia University, and a Bachelor's degree in Psychology with a minor in Sociology from Lock Haven University. You can arrange for interviews, speaking engagements, or ask your question to "the Poker Counselor" at

I've tried and tried to get into online poker, but it just does not appeal to me. I'd much rather make the hour drive to the casino or play in home games in the neighborhood. - Posted at an online forum by Jefferson

You are certainly not alone in having trouble finding that same "spark" for the online game that many hold for the live version. You see, the impersonal and mathematical nature of the online version does not meet the psychological needs that many of us attempt to fill in live poker. Poker is a personal challenge and a social challenge. We want to feel the rush and the positive emotions that accompany outplaying those we see around us. In addition, we seek out the camaraderie of poker. Poker professionals are often fierce competitors on the felt, but great friends away from it. The same is true with recreational players. My point is evidenced by the reaction of the poker world over this past weekend. Every poker room that I visited had talk about the passing of poker legend Puggy Pearson. Every poker veteran that I encountered seemed to have a humorous tale about Puggy from the poker past, or could retell stories of how vital Puggy was in bringing poker where it is today. Even younger players who had never met this legend held a true respect for the man, listening to the stories and asking questions. It was as if the entire poker nation was in a time of quiet mourning, acting in respectful remembrance of one of the founding fathers of No Limit tournament-style poker. This is an example of that unity that appeals to many in the live action poker world that is generally absent in the online version of the game. Online poker tends to be inherently impersonal. Online players play in a robotic fashion, using their intellect to drive their decision making process. In that process there is very little in terms of interpersonal interactions or emotional investments. While wins online may improve our bankroll and improve our ego, they do very little to satisfy those interpersonal and emotional needs. Puggy will certainly be missed in the card room. His memory will live on in many in the poker world. The same could probably never be said if it was a very successful internet-only player who might pass away. This is one of the facts that allows us to know that no matter how encompassing online poker builds to become, there will always be a large amount of players who will return to the live version of poker.

I have qualified for the main event of the WSOP by winning a seat online! I have very little live experience. Any advice? - Emailed by LittleJon

Let me one of the first to sincerely congratulate you on securing your seat. That is extremely exciting, I'm sure. The success of internet qualifiers in all of the events in recent years certainly proves the point that online-focused players can indeed find success at the WSOP live events. Obviously my main advice is for you to start logging serious time at live action games. If you are unable to get to a casino from your home, then at least find some competitive home games that will enable you to hone your skills at reading others and masking your own tells. Enter into live tournaments, as NL tournaments carry a much different strategy and feel than limit cash games (or even NL cash games). Since you won your way into the "big show" via online play, you probably have solid poker skills. The key is to now transfer those skills, and add more skills, as you focus on live action poker. Next, get yourself mentally prepared for your trip. Confidence may be the most important character trait that a player can hold. With that in mind, if your plane lands in Sin City and you still have a twinge of self-doubt in your mind, you are sure to come out behind for the trip. I found that even veteran poker players were taken a bit aback by the sheer size of the room & the hubbub at the Rio last year. Like an airplane hanger stuffed with poker tables, it was certainly not like your cozy local casino with a handful of half-filled tables. This immense setting and huge amount of players/onlookers/press can intimidate and distract even a seasoned live action poker player. With that in mind, I'd suggest that you get to Vegas as early as you can to get comfortable with the setting and your play. Jump into one of the innumerable cash games that accompany the tournaments. Play in some other preliminary tournaments, or join in on the satellites that are held regularly. Think of your total experience as a working vacation. Have fun but be seriously focused. Hold your confidence and believe in yourself no matter the cards and the results. Best of luck.

Keep those questions coming!!

Ed Note: Believe in yourself by playing at Pacific Poker

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