Will Geeks Be the Next Poker Stars?

by Casey Lynn
Contributing Writer, [GAS]

So 22-year-old Peter Eastgate has become the youngest World Series of Poker champion ever. It was also the longest final table in the history of the series, 274 hands in 15 hours and 28 minutes. Though a $9.1 million payday isn’t bad for 15 hours of work.

Like most younger poker players coming onto the scene these days, he got his start online; he decided to make money playing Internet poker rather than going to college. A gutsy choice… or maybe he just knew how good he was. Still, the Internet has become a popular training round ever since the Cinderella story of Chris Moneymaker, who turned a $39 online satellite into a $2.5 million World Series win… his first live and in person tournament ever.

So what I’m wondering is–with these younger, Internet-poker-playing competitors swooping in and stealing the pot from the seasoned pros–does the training of online poker actually give you an advantage? I imagine that to some degree it’s an issue of scale; you can play a heck of a lot more hands from your computer than you can if you have to wait until you can get to Atlantic City on the weekends.

But here’s the geeky rub: if you learn to play online, where there are no tells or body language, do you learn to play the numbers better? Do you get a better feel for the uncluttered probabilities? And if so, could this actually make you a better player? Could geeks take over this sport? How much of poker can you learn, and how much is instinct?

I will add one caveat, though: the difference between playing Internet poker for real money, and playing for “play” money or in a computer game. Computers don’t play like real people, and people playing for peanuts don’t play like real people, either. Though that can be a great way to learn the game, if you sit down at a table with players who have something to lose, you’ll notice the difference very quickly.

Image Source: flickr