Mike “the Mouth” Matusow: “Online poker is so fake that its funny”
About a month ago, Matusow was involved in a high stakes NLH session over at Full Tilt and amid a chat box exchange with a player named Msampoerna articulated his oft-mentioned cynicism about online poker. According to Matusow, “online poker is so fake that its funny . . . this is stupid . . . u think cards just role on ioff likehere inlive game.” A few found it strange Matusow might try to advance the “online poker is rigged” argument on the very site he is paid to represent. Indeed, the second part of Matusow’s quote does suggest something along those lines -- as if he really believes there is something sketchy about how the site’s randomizing program deals out the cards.
The first part, though -- where Matusow says “online poker is so fake that its funny” -- doesn’t necessarily refer (only) to the integrity of the software. Here Matusow is more likely speaking of the way people play online as opposed to live poker. As he pointed out in a 2005 CardPlayer interview, with online poker “the speed of the game is so fast” many players “think they have to play every hand.” Thus come horrific beats and other oddities one doesn’t normally see in the casino. “Online players are the worst players in the history of mankind,” Matusow goes on to say. “Guys put in $13,000, $14,000 when they can’t beat anything. Only online do you see that. That can never happen in a live game. I crush the no-limit online.” (Matusow here is presumably referring to the $50/$100 NLH game he mentions earlier in the interview.) Matusow reiterated that boast in his chat with Msampoerna last month: “i play anyone inpoker live poker any stake anytime.”
Barry Greenstein: “I get pretty bored online.”
Greenstein appeared this week on the Pocket Fives podcast, and among other things was asked about differences between online and live play. He mentioned how when he wrote his book, Ace on the River, he hadn’t really played much online, and so relied on conversations with Phil Ivey (who had played a lot online) to write his internet chapter. Now that he’s been signed on to represent PokerStars, he has gotten more online experience.
In the interview, he noted how when he plays online he usually finds himself “playing bridge also or surfing the web, reading news stories, things like that.” He went on to explain: “I don’t get the sensory feedback from playing one or even two games online. It’s not enough for me, because the way I [have] always played poker live, I was always talking to people, looking around the table at what other people were doing. I was reading people, that’s how I spent my time. Now when I play online, I don’t get that same sensory feedback. I get pretty bored online. And the funny thing is, the younger players -- and I’ll use Phil Ivey again as an example -- who’ve played more online than I have, when they come to a live game, they’re so used to playing more hands and multiple games . . . they don’t get the sensory feedback playing live. So it’s like we have opposite problems . . . Phil is more focused online actually than live, and for me it’s just the opposite.”
“Bodog” Ari Engel: “It’s exactly the same game.”
Engel is an online pro who has frequently appeared in the upper reaches of Pocket Fives’ player rankings (today he’s ranked 21st). Recently he’s been playing more live events. After being an early chip leader at the L.A. Poker Classic main event at the Commerce last month, he made a modest cash by finishing in 50th place. During that tournament Engel appeared as a guest on The Circuit where he mentioned that the Commerce event was only his fifth $10K live tournament. (He also talked about having obtained a backer to enter that particular event and, one presumes, subsequent ones as well.)
During the interview, Engel talked a lot about the differences between online and live play, with his choice of words betraying his own background in interesting ways. At one point he characterized having made a mistake in a hand -- he had bet an amount other than what he had intended -- as having “quote-unquote ‘misclicked.’” Ultimately, Engel downplayed the differences: “Rule No. 1 is you have to realize that it’s poker, it’s still the same game . . . I’m talking about [how to advise] a regular online pro wanting to play his first live event. You know, it’s exactly the same game. You cannot approach it differently . . . . There are just minor technicalities that are different.”
Engel’s been thinking further about the issue on his blog lately, with an interesting post this week listing some of his observations from the circuit about live poker. In the post, Engel talks about difficulty estimating stack sizes (something he also discussed on the podcast), the significance of slower blind structures, and bubble play (among other topics). “Above all though,” claims Engel, “tournament strategy does not change between live and online poker.”
Gonna refrain from drawing any conclusions. It is tempting, though, to generalize that while live pros emphasize differences between online and live play, online pros are more likely to stress similarities. Gotta imagine any player’s opinions are largely influenced by his or her relative success playing online and live.
I do know that when I sit down at a table in Vegas next month, there’s little chance I’ll be lacking in “sensory feedback” (as Greenstein says happens to Ivey and other online players). From my past (limited) experience, I’m anticipating the opposite -- sensory overload.
Labels: *high society