We are now eight months deep into this current pokerless void, and something must be done. As we have mentioned before, we were very fortunate to be on a poker trip to Tampa Bay when the world stopped spinning. I believe we got in exactly one tournament back home in early March before the world REALLY shut down. And since… crickets. While our neighboring New Hampshire opened their poker rooms over the summer, we have not been in a position to enjoy the live game, and likely won’t be for months yet. Which brings us to online poker.
Paul and I both played online poker before Black Friday, and Paul recently wrote a heartfelt plea for all states to make it legal once again. Recently, we have had some opportunities to play on the Pokerstars home game site. Paul is so happy to get back to some form of poker (any form of poker) that he would play daily if he could. I, frankly, hate it. So we thought, what better topic for a Throwdown Thursday. Online poker: love it or hate it?
First up is Paul, lover of all things digital.
Paul: Playing vs. not playing at all seems like a no-brainer. Live or online: you play your cards, track your opponents’ tendencies, and come up with the best strategy to win. Seems like the same process to me, absent the occasional political discussion that makes me put my headphones on.
Heather: Boy, I could not disagree more. Online poker lacks all of the things that I love about the game. Social contact, getting a feel for your opponents’ game, social contact, keeping an eye out for all varieties of tells, and did I mention social contact?
Paul: The next time I figure out a physical tell will be the first time I figure out a physical tell. Maybe I’m too ADHD for that kind of attention. Betting patterns and tracking what people have at showdown I can handle, and that’s actually easier online. Especially because note-taking is much easier online than live.
And social contact, yeah that’s great in theory until you’re in a tournament seated next to drunken Nathan Lane shouting in your ear. Give me my cave and wifi!
Heather: I find it harder to pay attention online than live. I have excellent focus at the poker table. But when I’m not in a hand online, I’m doing anything other than seeing what happened at showdown. I’m checking Facebook, or I’m reading the latest news. Maybe I’m playing Words with Friends. It isn’t pretty. Without social cues, I’m a mess.
I know in my brain that online poker moves faster than live poker, but it FEELS like it takes an eon to get through a damn hand.
Paul: And they call me the twitchy one! There’s certainly a lot of multi-tasking that can happen when you’re online, but when you decide to focus on the action you can collect a lot of information. Lord knows when we’re playing live, we’re texting, checking online news, and catching some game out of corner of our eye. And then there’s drunken Nathan Lane.
Heather: You may be doing all of those things. I’m paying attention live. Except when I’m responding to your texts…
I just find the online game boring and enraging in turns. If I get two-outed on PokerStars one more time when I’m all in, I’m going to call in the FBI on their randomization algorithm!
Paul: And here she goes from the grassy knoll. I hear PokerStars conspiracy theorists are congregating in Roswell next year for a convention. May get you a ticket for Christmas.
Heather: You’ve seen it! It is atrocious the bad beats I take when I’m all in on Pokerstars. You know I am not making this up!
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Paul: Taking off the tinfoil hats for a moment…sure, I miss some aspects of live poker – the people I do enjoy, the dealers we love, the feeling of real cards and chips. But right now, when we are committing to lowering the risk for ourselves and others for the spread of the disease which shall not be mentioned: it’s the only option we have for poker. And can I remind you that our current entertainment option is season 5 of Billions subtitled “Do You Remember When You Did Not Hate Every Character and Paul Giamatti Had Not Become A Caricature of Himself?”
Heather: Boredom is not a sufficient reason for me to waste my time playing online poker. There are these wonderful things called books, you know. There are even books about poker!
Paul: As you know, my motto is boredom is death. Boredom is an excuse for anything.
Heather: Well that pretty much sums it up I think. Boredom for the win.
Think I’ll stick to my books and Billions until we can play live again.
Paul: You’ll find me on PokerStars.
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