Here’s what poker training sites can’t teach you

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I participated in a proposition bet in January where I had to play$1-$2 pot-limit Omaha online for 30 days and make more than $25K, including rakeback. I ended up losing the prop bet, but I learned a lot about putting in massive amounts of cash-game volume.

Before I started the month, I figured I would need to play around 120,000 hands in 30 days to win, and I ended up only playing about 65,000. Most people instantly assume my lack of volume is because of laziness, when that’s not entirely the case.

The thing is, if you find yourself playing an eight-hour PLO session while 12-tabling, sometimes you’re going to come across some pretty insane swings.

If you see you’re down 15 buy-ins, which happens quite often, you need to stop and ask yourself a few questions: “Am I playing poorly because I’m tilting?” or “Am I playing too loose to try to get unstuck?”

What’s worse is you have to deal with these emotional swings while calculating 12 tables at the same time. It’s so important to take breaks and step back so you can stay stoic and rational.

On the other end, if you can’t seem to lose a hand and you’re up 20 buy-ins, is that affecting your play? Are you getting it in as an underdog on purpose just because you’re running so hot? It’s important to keep the long run in the picture when you’re on a big upswing or else you may get sloppy.

What poker training sites can’t teach you is what variance actually feels like. I made $118 an hour for 170 hours to make $20K (after $4K in rakeback) in the 30 days of my prop bet, but it really felt like I got destroyed the entire month. It’s because losing feels worse than winning feels good. It takes practice to control your mood swings while your variance runs rampant. It’s a skill not many training sites remember to mention in their videos.

By the way, the skill of keeping your cool is a lot more important for online poker as opposed to live poker because the volume is so condensed. If you tried to play 65,000 PLO hands in a casino, at the average rate of 30 hands per hour, it would take you almost 14 months at 40 hours a week. Yikes.

— Jay Houston is a Team Pro with DeepStacks and a PLO specialist who crushes the mid-stakes online cash games.