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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
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