With that sort of build-up, you might think that online poker is the universe's gift to gamblers. In many ways it is, but online poker does have its downside. For example, always being able to get into a game can be a bad thing, particularly if you're prone to playing short sessions while you're waiting for something else to happen and your mind isn't focused on the game. If you are able to focus on poker while your kids light the grill to cook dinner, that's fine, but if you really should be outside to make sure they don't use gasoline instead of lighter fluid on the charcoal, be honest with yourself and at least sit a few hands out until you can be sure everything is OK.
Speaking of which, do you remember your kids? The sometimes cute and often annoying tax deductions that run around your house and eat your food? I'm sure they'd love to see their parents from time to time, even though they'd be horrified if their secret ever got out. The same thing goes for significant others, such as girlfriends, boyfriends, spouses, and pets. They all require nourishment, attention, and tender loving care, so you need to make time to get away from the neat video game you've found and fan the flames of whatever romance, friendship, or outside interest that makes life worth living.
One of the advantages of online play, the speed of the game and the increased number of hands you get to play per hour, is also one of the biggest downfalls for new players. We both took some time to adjust to the pace of online play, just as we went through a bit of a transition when we realized how fast casino poker games were as compared to the kitchen table games we'd played throughout college. Increasing the number of hands you play magnifies losing streaks as well as winning streaks, so your variance (a statistical measure of how much data in a set, such as your hourly poker wins and losses, jumps around) is much, much higher.
Another serious disadvantage of playing online is the lack of human contact. Yes, if you're awkward around your fellow humans, it might seem like a dream come true to be able to play in the privacy of your own home, but the best way to overcome social awkwardness is to put yourself out there and learn. Another down side of not being able to see your competition is that there is no way to verify whether or not your opponents are sharing information. It's pretty easy to prevent players from exchanging information verbally in a live game, but there is absolutely no way you can detect a cell phone when you're in one country and your opponents are somewhere around the globe. Along the same lines, you can't see a player's hand shake when they place a bet. You still have to decide whether that shaking means they're nervous because they're bluffing or because they flopped a straight flush and are afraid you won't call, but at least the information is there for you.
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