The Iron Man promotion at Full Tilt Poker rewards their frequent players. You have to play nearly every day during a month to qualify for the highest level of Iron Man. While you don't have to play daily to meet the lowest requirement, you still have to dedicate a good amount of time at the tables to qualify. Just the other day, I realized that I had achieved Iron Man status for a fourth consecutive month. My initial reaction was, "Man, I've been playing a lot of online poker!"
I travel frequently for work so I don't always have to the time to play live poker. Ironically, I work in a lot of casinos as a tournament reporter and cover various stops on the international tournament circuit. When the work day is over, I have plenty of opportunities to play live cash games. But more often than not, at the end of the night I return to my hotel room or rented apartment so I can play online poker. It doesn't matter if I'm in New York, Barcelona, London, Budapest, or Las Vegas, if I have the urge to play, I fire up my favorite online poker site. There's never a wait. I don't have to worry about exchanging my Benjamins for local currency and then convert the local currency into poker chips.
Multi-tabling is my favorite aspect of online poker. In just an hour of virtual time, I can log substantially more hands than I could by logging a long session in a brick and mortar setting. The best live dealers can pitch more than thirty hands per hour. On a good day, a live table with an automatic shuffler can average almost forty hands an hour. Online? You can expect more than one hundred hands an hour in some instances. Multiply that by four or five tables, and you can theoretically see five hundred hands inside of an hour. That's a huge difference, especially if you favor split pot games like Omaha/8 or 7-stud/8 cash games, because online action moves at a much more rapid pace than it does in a live setting. There's no delay for the dealer to half or even quarter a pot. Online poker is suited to my short attention span.
I primarily play limit hold 'em, so my decisions are nearly automatic. Mastering the art of multi-tabling was a difficult task to achieve during my initial forays into online poker, but I eventually adapted to the nuances of multi-tabling. I started out with two tables and as soon as I was comfortable, I added a third then a fourth and a fifth. Online legends like Hevad Khan are known to play up to thirty tables at once. I'm definitely at a disadvantage when I play seven or more simultaneous tables. Five is optimal for me, but most of the time I'll play two or three at a time.
Sometimes I'm amazed at the constant availability of games online, no matter what time of the day or night. I can win money at any given time and anywhere I am in the world. As long as I have an internet connection, I can play poker and chase down my favorite fish. Online poker offers the utmost flexibility because I can play for five minutes or five hours. It doesn't matter. And I can play on multiple sites at once! It's not uncommon for me to play SNGs on PokerStars at the same time I'm grinding away at couple of cash games on Full Tilt.
The strangest thing for me? Playing online poker while I'm in Las Vegas. When I used to live in Henderson, my roommate Grubby and I frequently played at Green Valley Ranch and Sunset Station. After a couple of hours, Grubby would often suggest we cash out, leave the casino, and head back to the condo to play poker.
"You see more hands online," Grubby said. "More chances to win."
Paul "Dr. Pauly" McGuire is a writer, poker player, and avid traveler from New York City. He's the author of the Tao of Poker blog which can be found at taopoker.blogspot.com. Feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.