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How Much Should Online Players Socialize In B&M Games?

by Alan Schoonmaker |  Published: May 13, '11


If you’re a typical online pro or semi-pro, you probably never asked that question. If you did, your most likely answer was, “As little as possible.”’

While multi-tabling, you couldn’t socialize, nor did you want to. Socializing would have distracted you.

You probably created an anti-social working environment. You sat in your quiet, private “cave” and told everyone, “Leave me alone when I’m playing.”

Being anti-social increased your income online, but will reduce it in B&M games. Every smart businessperson follows a simple rule:

Keep Your Customers Happy

Apply that rule, especially to your best “customers,” the weakest players. They tend to be the most social.

Unfortunately, they are also the most frustrating. You’ll dislike live games’ slow pace and distractions, and they are usually the slowest, most distracting players. They ignore the action, make improper bets, act out of turn, and ask stupid questions such as, “How much is the bet?” You’ll probably dislike socializing, but it will:
• Increase your action and save bets
• Provide more information
• Make your life more pleasant
• Reduce the danger of tilt

You can’t realize why you should socialize without understanding a critical fact.

B&M Players Are IMMEASURABLY More Social

Many play primarily for fun, and games are often “cocktail parties with cards.” Players talk about sports, families, politics, and jobs, and they make connections for relationships and business.

The weakest players want fun and pleasant relationships more than profits. They don’t study the action or try to win every dollar. They may straddle or bet blind, avoid check-raising (because it’s “unfriendly”), tell the truth about their cards, or even check down the nuts.

They’ll ask you where you live, what work you do, and what your hobbies are. They’ll spout opinions about athletes, entertainers, and politicians.

You’ll want to ignore them. Don’t do it. You’ll make them think that you’re “too serious,” “anti-social,” or even “cutthroat.”

You’ll get a worse reaction if you harshly reject them. If you say, “Don’t bother me,” they may get angry or hurt.

You may feel contempt for people like that, but you must hide your feelings. Better yet, try to understand them. Let’s say you went to a restaurant, spent a lot of money, but had a miserable time because of contemptuous waiters. Would you go there again?

Then why would you expect fun-loving, sociable players to react differently if you’re unfriendly or contemptuous?

Improving Your Action And Saving Bets

If opponents, especially weak players, like you, they’ll give you more action and be “kinder” when they’ve got better hands. They’ll relax and have fun instead of trying hard to beat you.

Conversely, if they don’t like you, they may tighten up and play more aggressively and deceptively. Being “anti-social” can convert weak players into tougher ones.

A few of them just won’t play with you. They’ll go to another table. Conversely, if they enjoy your company, they may change tables just to be with you, despite knowing how well you play. That may seem unbelievable, especially if you’ve use software to identify and avoid tough players. But it happens all the time.

Providing More Information

If opponents like you, they may tell you tell about players, promotions, and other cardrooms. “That guy’s tricky; he loves to bluff and sand-bag.” or “I love playing with this idiot; he usually blows three racks.” or “I hate playing with this rock.”

They’ll tell you about bonuses for high hands, aces cracked, and bad beats. Without that information you may fold your beaten aces or quietly muck your quads when nobody calls.

They’ll tell you about other cardrooms’ games and promotions. You may learn that another cardroom spreads a game you’d really like or that it’s offering a new promotion.

Making Your Life More Pleasant

You’ll spend many hours playing poker, and that time will be more pleasant if you feel that you’re among friends. You wouldn’t like working with people who treated you like an enemy. Why make your opponents feel that way?

Remember, they are naturally predisposed to dislike you. Your superior play hurts both their wallets and egos. To overcome that predisposition, you have to work hard and act unnaturally.

Reducing the danger of tilt

Tilt may be a huge¸ but unexpected threat to your bankroll. To win as much from thirty hands per hours as you’ve won from hundreds, you’ll have to play for much higher stakes. The larger swings can put you on tilt, and bad beats are much more painful when the pots are five or ten times bigger than usual.

Bad beats are more painful when you lose because of an opponent’s stupidity. If your aces get cracked by kings, it’s bad luck, but acceptable. When they get cracked by seven-four offsuit, it can be excruciating.

If you’re relating comfortably to your opponents, you will be less upset by bad beats, huge losses, and the other tilt triggers. Conversely, if you feel surrounded by enemies, you’re much more likely to overreact.

Let’s take having your aces cracked by seven-four offsuit. You’ll be much more upset if the doofus taunts you, “I knew you had aces, and I gladly risked a few dollars to have a shot at busting you. That’ll teach you to stop looking down on us, Mr. Online Pro.”

You may think it could never happen, but I’ve seen similar incidents. The victims were almost always arrogant, and the entire table enjoyed seeing them punished.

Final Remarks

Hopefully, you realize now that your old, “anti-social” habits have to change. But you can’t let socializing be too distracting. You must strike a delicately, constantly changing balance between socializing and concentrating. In this situation emphasize socializing. In that one emphasize concentrating. But never ignore either one. Future blogs will discuss how to make these balancing decisions.

“How much should you socialize?” is just one of the decisions needed to switch successfully from online to B&M poker. You have many more of them, and they won’t be easy.

You need help, and my partners and I are providing it with webinars and seminars. You can view a free video of our first webinar at

I’m just a psychologist, not a poker expert. My partners, Chris “Fox” Wallace and Adam Stemple, provide the strategic expertise. You can learn about them in my earlier blog, “What Should We Do About Black Friday?”

We’ll have another webinar May 24. Chris and Adam will conduct monthly seminars at Running Aces, Minnesota’s newest and best cardroom. Chris, Adam, and I will conduct a seminar in Las Vegas June 27-29. You can get more information at

I hope to see you at our webinars and seminars.



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

Has Card Player turned into a commercial site for this self-serving blogger?

Are "sandwich boards" next?

This is just blatant!!


11 years ago

I went fron playing online to live and Im not all that social and still do well. I keep to myself and dont speak much. Im never rude, but unless I have to talk, I have nothing to say. Im there to win money, not friends. Also, when youre quiet, there is kind of an intimidation factor that can be used in your favor. I mean really, who would you rather play against, Matusow or Ivey? Maybe in a 1-2 game your info might matter. But in 5-10 and up your suggestions are worthless.


11 years ago

C'mon, gents; his would be the seventh commercial on this page, preceded by Carbon Poker, Poker View, Paddy Power Poker, Betfair, Tilt, and of course Card Player Poker [powered by UB (you can't make this up)].

Let Al be Al, and props to SawItOff, who actually had something to say about his post.


11 years ago

I don't have a problem with the advertising and self promoting, what I have a problem wit his the Card Player blog tab getting taken over by bad content. I used to love reading the Card Player blog tab and would check it everyday. But now that it's been taken over by Alan Schoonmaker and Chris Wallace, once a week tops.

The blog section used to be about what was going on in top pros lives and some hands every know and then. Now it's just basically sections from people books, bleh no thanks.


11 years ago

The poker community consists of people on every level, from beginners to experts to legit champions. What Al writes represents considerations or approaches taken by certain players on certain levels, and I respect that that isn't the cup of tea of those who are beyond that level. It's impossible to please everybody. Since Al is not a current top pro (or a Poker Hall of Famer like Tex), you could make a case that what he has to offer might have little applicability in the real world of poker as it's played today by the most successful players. I get that. But imo what he writes should be judged on its merits, not dismissed out of hand on ad hominem grounds. The merits might lie in that glimpse of what occupies or holds back some players.

Is flaming the few bloggers we have going to get us new and better ones?


11 years ago

I agree that flaming the bloggers doesn't get anyone anywhere and is done way too much on this site. However, I can see why people would be angry at this guy. He is simply trying to profit from people who were put in a terrible situation after April 15th.

He has no valid reason to believe his seminars will truly help anyone become a live pro. The obstacles that prevented people from being live pros before black friday are still there. This guy knows that. He's just trying to cash in on the fear and panic that ensued after black friday. If he really thinks people are going to overcome these obstacles by attending a few seminars then he's not informed enough to be blogging here.


11 years ago

The ppa has to prove to the government not all card games are luck try playing with a expert gin player and see who takes the money down in the end.


over 10 years ago


great great post!

I play live 8/16 LO8 at the Venetian and find it really hard to beat the rake.

A fellow player told me I was being much too serious when I was playing.

He said that in order to get action I need to portray being an action player myself.

In reality, I'm probably what you'd call a nit, but he is too, and he said that all I needed was a bottle of beer in front of me (not even drinking it!) and to be chatty and upbeat.

Especially in a game like LO8, you want players to give you action. that's where the money is in this game.

I felt like I wasn't getting enough action on my big hands and that my river value bets are too often uncalled.

Besides, projecting joy makes it a real feeling. in other words, if you try to look happy, you often start really feeling this way, too!

As you said, feeling good is a major anti-tilt step.

There's so much into this and us young internet punks (what can you do?) underestimate that.

I got live players annoyed by my table demeanor even though I try my best to have my poker etiquette at top notch. What I missed was that recreational live players don't care that much about antics. While slowrolling is bad, a serious-unhappy face is much worse for business, and so noticeable, too.

...and I don't even start talking about our well being. How can one go by playing poker for the money on a daily basis when he creates so much antagonism? who wants to live/work like that in such environment?

I promise to you and to myself that i'm going to read this post again and again and again. For me, personally, this is pure gold!

Thank you so much, doc! :)

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