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Objections to My Latest Blog

by Alan Schoonmaker |  Published: Apr 22, '11


Hi everybody,

Not surprisingly, several people have objected to my blog, “Irrational Reactions to the Indictment.” You can see some of them in the “Comments” section below the blog. Other objections were made face to face and by email. Here is a slightly edited version of one email exchange. “B” graciously gave me permission to publish it.

B wrote:


You say that you “rarely play online” and that is painfully obvious based on the remark that “if you’re an online pro, you probably can’t beat live games without making huge changes in your play.” I can agree they will need a larger bankroll and will have to get used to keeping count of the pot, etc. However, a player that can beat .25/.50 or .50/1 online should be able to CRUSH 2/5 or 5/10 games live. I play both live and online at the stated levels, and I can tell you the live games are way, way, way easier, and playing 2/5 live is more profitable than playing 10 tables of .25/.50 online. I hope for your students and your readers’ sake that the people you are working with on these seminars and coaching to help with the switch have more knowledge about the online side.

I replied:


Thank you for writing.

I hope others do the same because we will all benefit from exchanging information and ideas.

I agree that the online games are much tougher. But you are minimizing the problem of switching.

Virtually all serious online players reduce variance by multi-tabling for lower stakes. When the stakes become much higher, the swings will be much larger.

Many online players don’t have sufficient bankrolls to play for larger stakes, not even if they could get all the money they have online. And, of course, many of them can’t get that money quickly.

As a former business school professor, I must add that everyone who has studied new businesses knows that a major reason for failure is inadequate capital.

Ditto professional poker players.

Cocky entrepeneurs and poker players believe that the guidelines for capital requirements don’t apply to them. They think, “Maybe other people need that much, but not me. I’m better.”

So they run into problems and go busted. It’s happened thousands of times.

Even if a player has the financial bankroll to handle large swings, he may not have the psychological bankroll.

I coined that term years ago. It’s the amount of money a person can lose without becoming so upset that his play deteriorates. It is almost always much less than the financial bankroll.

There are other important adjustments to playing live. Many online players get so bored with the slow pace that their attention drifts.

Many online players have no ability to read body language or to control their own.

Some online players are so dependent upon hand-tracking software that they are lost without it.

One issue that is rarely considered is the implications of the much higher rake and other costs such as tokes, jackpot drops, gas, and food. The total costs are more than twice as large, which can easily switch a player from being a winner to a loser.

For example, “Stoxtrader” Grudzien and “Zobags” Herzog wrote an excellent book, Winning In Tough Hold’em Games. It was based on the results of three online pros. For several hundred thousand hands, their win-rates were .73, .55, and .04 BB/100 hands.

I asked Stox on my radio show, “Why are you reporting the results of a breakeven player (the one winning .04 BB/100)?”

He replied that with rakeback that player was winning over $100k per year.

Borer, Mak, and Tanenbaum made a similar point in their excellent book, Limit Hold’em: Winning Short-handed Strategies. “Rakeback is essential for serious players.” (p. 352)

There is no rakeback in live games, and the rake is much higher. You may get a small comp for food, but it’s a tiny fraction of the rake paid. Subtract the greater costs of live play, and that professional’s profits become a substantial loss. Even the players Stox listed who had much higher win rates would have most of their profits wiped out by the higher costs of live games.

Since you have already played successfully both live and online, you have clearly learned how to make many of the necessary adjustments.

Many online players have not made them. In fact, they probably haven’t even thought seriously about them.

In addition, many of them are quite young, and young people tend to be arrogant.
They may believe, “I’m so good that I can easily switch.”

They are probably wrong.

Thanks again for writing.


I discuss the adjustments needed in my forthcoming Card Player column, “Switching from Online to B&M Poker.” It will appear in Issue #11. Later columns will discuss how to make those adjustments.

If you have a question, please add it in any comment section, or e-mail me Before emailing, please check my first blog, “What is poker psychology coaching?”

Any views or opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the ownership or management of


11 years ago

Id love to know where you deal where you dont see 4 or 5bets in a 2,5 or 5,10 game....Also you must be biased or an online player yourself to think online players will just crush those live limits. As a dealer myself I can tell you that there are some great 2,5 5,10 players in my room who 3,4,5bet more times an hour than i can count. Online players are good, but so are live and i think for experienced players of both diciplines, the playing field will be even.


11 years ago

sorry bout the repost...thought my first one didnt go through


11 years ago

The past week at the casinos has been very good for the regular winning players.
The internet players forced to play live have been very easy marks. They keep making excuses for getting it all in with the worst of it. I guess they are used to the "catch up" software of internet poker. They seem surprised when they go all in with a weak pocket pair, and run into a small pocket pair like queens, and lose.
Another thing I notice is the internet players only last a couple hours, and bust out and go home. If you are running your mouth constantly about me, me, me, at least bring enough money to the game to make listening to your bs a little more palatable.


11 years ago

I guess they are used to the "catch up" software of internet poker.


Say what? What's catch up software?

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