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Poker Strategy: Transitioning From Live To Online Poker With Vlogger Jeff Sluzinski

Jeff "Boski" Sat Down With Card Player To Discuss Some Of The Nuanced Differences Between Live And Online Poker

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Jeff Sluzinski, better known as Jeff “Boski” to his viewers, has one of the most popular poker vlogs on YouTube. Sluzinski’s vlog chronicles his life as a poker pro playing tournaments in Las Vegas.

The Michigan native has made his living playing tournament poker, both live and online for the last 15 years. He has racked up $919,421 in live tournament earnings over his lengthy career, as well as more than $630,000 on the virtual felt.

He is known as the “Original ACR Pro” and is currently a sponsored pro for Americas Cardroom.

Since the coronavirus-induced gaming shutdown in the U.S., many live players have been forced to move to the online realm to continue playing. Card Player sat down with Sluzinski to discuss some of the finer points of transitioning from live to online poker.

Steve Schult: There are lots of poker players around the country who aren’t able to play live poker and have been forced into the online world. What is going to stand out to new online players as the biggest difference between the two variants?

Jeff Sluzinski: The action. Even if you are just playing one table online, you will be seeing a lot more hands than you would be if you were live. The dealer doesn’t have to shuffle the cards, players don’t take as long to act, and you have the option to multi-table.

So you will have two, three, or even four times as much action depending on how many tables you can play. Take it easy, take it slow, and don’t be discouraged. Don’t start thinking that you alone are getting more bad beats, more action hands. It’s just a numbers game. You’re going to see more bad beats. You’re going to see more coolers. It’s not rigged.

SS: With the increased variance because of the increased number of hands, is the threat of tilt more prevalent? Is there more of an emphasis on the mental game aspect of poker?

JS: You could say that. It’s a lot easier to tilt online because there are more hands. You’re going to get hit with more shots. Imagine you’re in a boxing match. In a live setting, you might play one round. But online, you play 12 rounds in the same time you play one round and you’re going to absorb a lot more punches.

And how you deal with this adversity is going to dictate how your session goes, so you’re a lot more susceptible to tilt.

SS: I like that analogy. That’s a good one.

JS: It feels like a punch to the gut every time I take a bad beat. It never stops hurting.

SS: What about the absence of physical tells? A lot of new online players don’t enjoy the fact that you can’t see your opponents and read their body language. How reliable can timing tells and other online tells be to replace the physical aspect of live play?

JS: Since there are no physical tells, timing and sizing tells are going to be more important. It’s going to be more of a math-based game. There are programs, such as legal heads-up displays [HUDs], which anyone can use, that can give you a better idea of your opponent’s tendencies, even if you’re not paying attention.

SS: I know some sites like Americas Cardroom allows a HUD and other sites like WSOP.com and Global Poker do not. Do you notice a difference in game quality between sites with or without HUDs? What are your overall thoughts on this type of software?

JS: Some players do feel that it gives some people an unfair advantage. Some people have even messaged me recently and they said ‘Hey man, I saw you were using a HUD. That’s cheating. That’s like using steroids.’

Well, I get what you’re saying. But if steroids were legal and didn’t hurt your body and were available to everybody, then I guess everybody would take steroids. Information is power. And I think most sites you can have a HUD on. I see both sides of that coin, but they have been around since day one and I think there are more unethical practices going on that I think are more dangerous to the community than HUDs.

It’s just the nature of the beast. If there is money being wagered, people are going to find an edge. That’s just the harsh reality of it.

SS: If someone came to you and said they were going to use a HUD for the first time. What stats would you tell them to look at to spot leaks in both their own game and their opponents?

JS: It’s going to take you a long time to set up the HUD and understand what the numbers mean. Otherwise, it’s going to be screen clutter and you won’t even know what you’re looking at. So, you want to educate yourself as to what the numbers mean and what those stats say about a player.

In general, a fishy player will have a big gap between their PFR [preflop raise percentage] and their VPIP [voluntarily puts money into pot percentage]. That means they limp a lot and don’t raise a lot. They might be something like a 40/10 [VPIP/PFR], while a solid reg might be 25/20.

SS: One of the other aspects that stick out to me is the stakes that are played. Most players play smaller stakes online than they would live. $1-$2 live doesn’t play the same as $1-$2 online. Why is that?

JS: That’s a very good point. I think there is a softer player pool live than online and as a general rule, your stakes should be divided by 10 when you play online. If you are normally a $1-$2 player live, you should be playing $.10-$.20 online.

If you play $100 tournaments live, then you should play $10 tournaments online. That is going to have a comparable skill level and I believe this is because the average person that plays online is just more versed than live players. They have played more hands and they have more experience.

The volume and the experience are going to make them a better player overall and it is going to make the bad players go broke quicker. They’ll play more hands per hour even if the stakes are lower, especially with the ability to multi-table.

SS: Speaking of multi-tabling, back in the glory days of online poker, there were several guys that would play 24 tables or more. That’s not really prevalent anymore, but as people get more comfortable playing two or three tables at a time, what is the max number of tables they can realistically shoot for?

JS: It definitely depends on the person. Back in the day, I was one of those players on PokerStars. I played 20 tournaments at once and just stacked them all on top of one another and they just kept popping up.

Decision. Boop. Another decision. Boop. They just kept popping up one after another. The main reason people have cut back on tables is because the game has gotten harder. Therefore, you have to pay closer attention to your opponents in different situations, while tournament or table selecting more.

SS: In your opinion, which is going to have the softer player pool? Online tournaments or cash games.

JS: I’m sure cash games are closer to solved, if that’s a thing. But there aren’t as many variations in cash games as there is in tournaments. And it’s always safer to play tournaments. Not to say that there is a lot of collusion and cheating going on in online poker, but if you are in a 1,000-person online tournament, there is less of a chance that two buddies are sharing hole cards. I do think that sites, for the most part, do a very good job of policing this.

SS: The last thing I wanted to touch on was bankroll management. With the increased variance, how many buy-ins is considered reasonable to have for a given stake? Should you even keep your entire roll online or keep some of it separated?

JS: As long as you trust the site, you should have at least 100 buy-ins for your average tournament buy-in amount. If you play a $10 tournament and a $20 tournament, then your average buy-in is $15. So you should have at least $1,500 ready to put into play whenever need be.

But 250 buy-ins is a more reasonable amount if you want to become a professional poker player in order to withstand the swings of playing tournaments. And even then, there is still a very good chance that you’ll lose all that money, even if you are a winning tournament player. That’s how insane the swings can be.

You can play where you fold a lot and try to cash at a slightly higher rate to lower the variance, but that will hurt your long-term win-rate.

SS: Any other advice for aspiring online players?

JS: Don’t take shots, unless it’s a super juicy tournament. And don’t gamble more than you can afford to lose.

Tilt can be a real problem, especially if the money really means something to you. That is really going to amplify the tilt.

Let’s say you got your stimulus check and your wife tells you that there are some bills to pay. And you say “Honey, I’m going to double it online.” Don’t do that.

Tell her “Honey, let me put $50 online and $1,150 we’ll put towards the bills and food. Let me have a little fun.”