I had a cold deck, overall. I did catch a few hands, but they were few and the waits between allowed me to practice the other skills I need to develop. When playing at home with 300/600 and 75 antes we're usually down to 3 or fewer players, so stealing the blinds nets you a decent 1125 chips but its not much compared to the action during the hands. In the live game, we still had 6 full tables, so at the same level we're talking about 1650, just for stealing the blinds. Suddenly all the pro's talking about stealing the blinds to survive makes sense.
The best hand I saw (and can say stood up at a showdown) was when I got dealt pocket Kings. I raised, 4x the BB and was called down by one of the players on a rush. The flop came down Jack high, all different suits, and no straight possible. I went all-in.
At this point, I had bet strong preflop, and made a pot-sized bet at the flop. By all accounts, given how tight I was playing, he should have folded. Nope, he thought his Jacks were good. They weren't good enough, I took the pot as the turn and the river contributed nothing to either of us. I doubled up and the other gentleman became the short stack. It would take a few more hands, but he would be eliminated.
What amazed me about this hand is that he was convinced I was trying to buy the pot. Even though I had played tight all day, not even stealing many blinds, he didn't want to believe me that I had a strong hand going into it.
One of the most common questions I get from friends is "how well does playing online prepare you for a real game?" - well, honestly, the question is "Those idiots in the free money games - no one plays like that". Know what? They do, and they'll play for real money just as badly. Whether it's a tournament or a table, at the casino these are the people who feel they can win, or just mom and dad out for a fun weekend of gambling. In either case, they're not there for the same reasons you may be and their play style is that different.
How well does playing online prepare you? More on that tomorrow...