In the latest in a series of video interviews with the Paul Phua Poker School, poker pro Dan Colman talks to Paul Phua about AI, tells, and the trouble with online poker
In the latest in the Paul Phua Poker School videos featuring top pros, I am delighted to have Daniel Colman sharing his frank views on poker. Dan is an exceptional player. He made headlines when he won the 2014 Big One for One Drop for a $15m payday, but it was no accident: he had already won $2m in the Monte Carlo Super High Roller Grand Final that year, and he has won many more since. With earnings of $28m in all, he is the second most successful live tournament player in the world.
But enough about money! The point I am making is that Dan knows his poker. And what is even more remarkable is that he began as an online player, in his teens.
All this makes him the perfect person to ask about the difference between online and live play. Dan Colman is not afraid to speak his mind: “I think the way the online poker game works,” he says in the video interview with me, “is that it puts recreational players at a severe disadvantage.”
The problem is, he says, that professional players are equipped with all kinds of software and online trackers: “They mine hands from the days and weeks before to get a database on players they’ve never even played with to understand how they play.”
I agree with Dan. I have always preferred to play live. It’s more sociable, more fun than staring at a screen. And, as well, there is more psychology involved. You get a feel for how your opponents play. You may even get a read on them, which tells you what cards they are holding.
There can be a big adjustment for online players looking to move into live games. “When you go from the online realm and cross over to live poker,” says Dan Colman in the video interview, “you’re always uncomfortable at first. [Young players] might know ‘I have to bluff right here’, but then they think about it and they think ‘Oh, maybe they’re on to me, I check’. You have to get confidence to be able to follow through with your game plan in live poker.”
Here is a funny story, which I also talk about in the video interview. I have played for many years in what poker players call The Big Game, which is a cash game at extremely high stakes. Some of the world’s top poker players would fly into Macau, or Manila, and play for huge pots in this Big Game. One of them was Dan “Jungleman” Cates.
I can say this because now he has successfully plugged that leak in his game, but as a very experienced and skilled online player moving to live games, Jungleman had tons of “tells”! We so often knew exactly what his cards were, and when he was bluffing!
Finally, there is one other aspect of online play that both I and Dan Colman are concerned about, and which we discuss in the video. AI programs are now beating even the world’s best players. I have written about this before. How will that affect online poker?
This is what Dan Colman has to say in the video interview: “I think online poker will die down as a result of computers and machines playing. I think this will come in the next one, two, three years.”
So, all you online players, if you don’t want to bow down to our AI overlords, maybe you should try a little more live poker! Play some home games with your friends. Visit a casino that offers cash games. Enter some live tournaments. Who knows? You may well find it makes poker more fun.