The first time you play poker online, you may be thrown off by how different the game is when playing on the web versus playing in person. We’ve all held a few hands of cards around the kitchen table, but not everyone has online poker experience, and it can take a little getting used to.

So let’s go over the big differences between live and online poker.

Learn the Math

You’ve got to learn the math of poker if you hope to be a serious online player. You can’t rely on reading your opponents’ facial expressions, it’s harder to bluff, and a lot of the psychology is out the window. Or so it seems. If you understand the mathematics of the game, if you know how to play the odds and the other players do, too then a whole new level of in-game psychology opens up. Grab a book on the mathematical side of poker, study it, and learn a whole new level of the game.

Determine your Level of Seriousness

You’re not playing a few hands with friends around the coffee table anymore; you’re now playing poker in tournaments and on the web. You could run into famous players and world champions on the web, and you have to decide whether or not it’s in the cards, if you’ll pardon the pun, for you to be a serious, high-level player.

If you want to play for fun, get used to the idea of losing some money now and then as the cost of admission. If you want to be a serious pro, get used to the idea of losing thousands at a time in the hopes of winning thousands more.

Be realistic. Becoming a poker pro is a job, not a hobby. Do you have time for that?

Avoiding Tilt

Tilt is when you get steamed when you can’t focus because the game has you peeved. It can happen even more frequently online than off, because you’re not hanging out with friends and betting pennies; you’re playing with hard-core opponents and betting real money.

Do what you do to relax when a game isn’t going your way. Sip your tea, have a smoke, stretch, or drink some water — whatever it is you do to blow off steam. However, if you really can’t get it together, fold, close the browser, and come back later.

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