There is a lot of great poker that you can watch on the internet. We also offer great poker action at Intertops. You can learn a lot from watching poker. We feel that the experience you get figuring out hands by playing online is an even better learning experience.
Can You Improve Your Game by Watching Poker Online?
We all look to the experts when trying to learn something new - or improve our skills. And, these days, we most often look for expert opinions on the internet. YouTube clips are great, but do they tell the whole story? Definitely not!
Is it a Good Idea to Watch Poker on the Internet?
We often receive questions from our players as to the value of watching poker on YouTube. Now, we think that watching poker on YouTube is fantastically entertaining and has a lot of good teaching moments. One great teaching moment that repeats itself often is the great lay down. Here the pro lays down a good hand because he or she has figured out to a large percentage—since it is usually impossible to be 100% sure—that their hand is just not good enough.
The commentators often praise the pro to the hilt for a great lay down but the pro came to a logical conclusion and decided that continuing with the hand was not a good idea.
Watching YouTube or Playing Online
If you’re home, you have these two options. We feel that both have their own value. Online poker gives players much need practice. When you watch poker on YouTube, you see the cards and you know the odds of winning the hand. You also need practice—a lot of practice—making decisions based on supposition, surmise, and logic. You can get that practice when you play poker online.
One Large Drawback of Watching Poker
The YouTube clips have one major drawback. Just as we said that seeing a pro make a great lay down happens pretty frequently, another common occurrence on YouTube is when a player goes all in.
Just as a solidly logical lay down is a great teaching moment, the frequent “all ins” constitute very poor teaching moments. We would venture to say that you should never go all in until you have played poker for a very long time and gone through many hands.
A Lesson from Baseball
You might not fully understand baseball or even a little bit but it’s enough to know that baseball has similarities to cricket. There is a batter and a pitcher. It is a cliché in baseball that a batter doesn’t fully know his profession—hitting the ball—until he has had many thousands of “at bats” which is the term baseball uses for chances to hit.
An at bat in baseball is usually very short. It is considered long if the pitcher has to throw ten pitches. So, the amount of learning a baseball player gets from one at bat is quite small; ergo the need for thousands of at bats and the experience they bring.
Now let’s take the metaphor to poker. If you go all in and you lose, you’re out of the game. Depending on your available bankroll, you might not be able to play for several days or even longer. By not going all in, you extend your poker session by many more hands and it is the experience you accumulate by playing thousands of hands that makes you a better poker player.
Why do the Pros Go All in So Often?
The quick answer is that they don’t go all in very often. However, it makes for great theatre so the YouTube clips have a lot of all in calls - no one bothers to put all the "boring" hands on YouTube. The pros also know that going all in and losing removes you from the tournament and the chance for the big winner’s payday.
When Should a Player Go All In?
There are really only two situations when going all in is a good tactic: when you are sure that you have the better hand, and when you are sure that your bluff will scare off all of the opponents on the hand.
Since it is rare that you know that you have the best hand with 100% certainty, and since it is very hard to be sure that an all in bluff will scare away the opponents, it stands to reason that going all in should be a rare event.
For amateurs, poker players who play often but are not yet ready to challenge established pros, and especially for new players, going all in is as close to a play that you should never make. There is a term in mathematics called the asymptote. It refers to situations where the statistical value of any single thing or of any single event is close to naught even though it never actually becomes naught.
In poker, unless you’re a great pro, the statistical number of times you might even consider going all in is close to naught. In mathematical terms, we might say that it is asymptotic.
When May I Consider Going All In?
Let’s say that you have a very powerful hand. By very powerful, we mean better than a flush. Now you look at the cards on the table and try to imagine what your opponents might have in the hole that would give them a better hand than you.
If you honestly can’t think of any such scenario, you may safely consider going all in.
Should I Go All In, Then?
Good question. We said that you could safely consider going all in. Now, let’s look at the downside to winning with an all in call.
Let’s assume that your opponents did exactly what you did: they imagined what you might have in the hole that could beta their hand. If you go all in, they will have to evaluate the possibility that you’re bluffing or telegraphing that you have the nuts.
They might conclude that you’re bluffing and call you all in. You’ll win a big pot. However, it is far more likely that they will conclude that you aren’t the type of player who would make an all in bet as a bluff. That would logically lead them to the conclusion that you have a far better hand than they have.
In such a situation, it is usually far better for you to make a bet that would induce a call or even a raise. In that way, you are much less likely to scare off a player with a good hand of his or her own. In the best circumstance, a simple bet might induce an opponent to go all in on you. Then, you will really win a lot of money.
So, as amateurs or still-inexperienced pros, we suggest that whilst you’ll enjoy watching poker on YouTube you should take all the “all in” bets with a heaping “grain” of salt. And you should play poker online as much as possible because playing is far better as a learning tool than watching.