Because online games move faster than live games, obviously the "long term" is reached a lot more quickly. Downswings (and indeed upswings) will last the same number of hands on average, all other tilings being equal. However, those hands are played at a quicker pace online and so will take less time to play through. For example, if a live-player goes on a downswing of 5,000 hands, it will last for over 150 hours of play. By contrast, if an online player who plays two tables a I once were to experience the same downswing, then it would only last approximately 30 hours.
This can potentially make downswings a lot easier to handle for the online player. Even for a casual player, 30 hours of play might only take a couple of weeks to get through. He won't experience that sinking feeling that the live player may sometimes get when he hasn't won any money for literally months. Individual sessions are more uniform, too. An online player is extremely unlikely to play a whole session without winning a hand, which is something that happens occasionally to live players. However, there is a downside to all of this. While downswings tend to be over faster chronologically, they are also a lot more brutal. A downswing for an online player incorporates a lot of bad luck in it comparatively short period of time. A live limit player who is devastated by a 40-big-bet losing session should be thankful he is not an online player on the wrong end of a
100-big-bet beating, which is well within the realm of possibility. Additionally, if an online player tilts for, say, 30 minutes, that episode of tilt will lose him a lot more money because he will be playing more hands per hour when it happens. For an online player, therefore, it is even more important to stop playing at the first sign of tilt.
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