There is always a funny post in the forums the other day about online vs. live play. The consensus, as usual, is not wrong but has grasped the beast by the tail and not the horns. Online play is obviously simpler than live play. There is far less information to deal with, and that information can be organized and quantified by software that is nothing short of miraculous. Online you are flying a jet plane, enclosed in a comfortable cockpit fitted with leather seats, joined by a helpful copilot, and a whole industry of technopokernerds available to help you. Live, you are in an open jeep three miles from a paved road.
Simpler, does not mean more profitable or easier. Online play is simpler, but far more rigorous. It does not reward the soul reader, the gambler, or the degenerate. It rewards the ability to think about straightforward but highly abstract concepts. Precision and speed of thinking are tremendously important. Unite these traits with the tolerance for repetitive tasks (one sees the advantages of youth), and a winning personality type emerges.
Live play, in complete apposition, rewards the balancing of immense amounts of information and just as importantly, more variables. You are usually much deeper, and facing more opponents. Everything you do is under the glare of real, physically present opposition. You need as much patience as intelligence: discipline in the field is the currency conversion, as the enemies are slow, slower, and slowest, and you have none of the comforts of the online cockpit. Field conditions are often abysmal, and if you hate the mud of humanity, you are not going to last long. The rewards of higher variance are higher profits, but you can’t have one without the other.
The winning live player is a weathered and cunning general. The winning online player is a diligent professor. Both are hard to be and rare to find.
Online play is also challenging because it is self-selecting. Imagine a casino where there are infinite tables, exactly suited to your bankroll and needs. Everyone would be comfortable and skew toward within a few degrees of their ability. Of course, nothing like this exists live. Live play is immensely profitable but nerve-wracking because everyone is forced to play at a level which is miles ahead of their skill level and usually far beyond a sound theoretical bankroll. Online players love to mock live play, but their frame of reference is almost completely upside down. It’s like criticizing toddlers for being bad drivers. This attitude, however, as all blinkered attitudes do, keeps them from seeing the truth of their respective games.
Then there is the bottom line, which is all most players really think about, considering that they mistakenly believe poker owes them a wage (just look at all the incredibly stupid posts about winrates and “making money”, as if wealth was created in the game). Online is not just faster than live, it is incredibly faster. You will realize your earn and your edge in the online world. Live play is so slow and complex that you in fact may never understand, or at least have solid evidence of, where you really are. People, even experts, just make up numbers of hands for a relevant sample size to help you imagine it, dreaming up big round figures, making them bigger and bigger all the time, like a vanishing horizon point, to impress upon you not their knowledge, but their lack of it.
To decide which you should play (and the answer is obviously both, but let’s pretend everything is the dialectic they like to pretend it is), you should decide where your strengths, personality, and mental fortitudes lie. That’s it.
Do an honest evaluation and the question, when asked correctly, like most, answers itself.