Whether you are a serious online poker player or an enthusiastic amateur looking to make some cash online, you need to strategize if you want to win big. It doesn’t matter if you play Hold ‘Em cash games, tournaments, 5 Card, Omaha, or Stud: having a plan when you start playing is what will make the difference in your results. Everyone needs a goal to work towards, whether it is a one night or twenty-one-night goal. So here’s a list of 13 Tips for Online Poker that will help you develop effective strategies for your game, and set you up to start bringing home cash instead of leaving it on the table.
To start small, you need to think clearly about what kind of stakes you want to play. If you can afford to lose $100 per month, only buy into $100 on a site for the month. Whatever your personal bankroll limit, you have to stay disciplined about managing it. Failing to manage your bankroll adequately is how you end up in money trouble before you have a chance to blink.
Additionally, you need to make certain that you aren’t putting all of your cash in play at one time. A player with a limit of $100 needs to stick to $2 and $5 ante games, one at a time. Starting at higher stakes means you will be reluctant to go back to lower stakes games after winning and losing for a while. The temptation to spend more on higher stakes games will be very hard to resist. Keep things small and simple, use bankroll management to limit spending, and you will find yourself coming away from the table with more cash in hand.
Always Play Rested
Tired players lose more often. Your brain is far less effective when you don’t get sleep, and you will overlook the small details about your opponents and their strategies that play out hand by hand. These details are the key to accurate predictions of play based on observed betting behaviors and play decisions. If you are too tired, and you miss these details or miss a detail at a crucial moment, you are playing to lose. Think of poker like any competitive sport: being in great condition mentally and physically brings out your best game.
When you aren’t finding success at poker, or anything in life really, you need to take a step back and reflect on your approach to your activity of choice. Are you being purposeful and intentional about reflecting on your play? Are you making sure that you are learning from mistakes and not just obsessing over them? Treat your poker game as a professional pursuit: you need the best information and data to track your goals and improve your performance. Be serious, take your play seriously in an intelligent, thoughtful way, and you start to see results.
Embrace the odds
Take the time to educate yourself regarding the odds of winning with your current hand. For traditional poker players, this means memorizing various card and hand combinations for your particular game. Whether it be Omaha, Texas Hold ‘Em, 5 Card Draw, or any number of variations. Fortunately for online poker players, there are numerous free and paid apps and software programs that can analyze the table for you and help you instantly determine your present odds based on your cards and the cards on the table. Some programs even have odds calculators that will let you run combinations of pre-flop hands. These help determine your odds of winning based on what comes up versus what is already in your hand. Use your resources when it comes to odds calculation, and you will see more wins coming your way.
Don’t be Greedy
When you get too caught up in the action and the thrill of playing those big hands for big paydays, it is easy to go on tilt and feel invincible. Fight that feeling and keep your goals in the forefront of your mind. Think back to the beginning of this article: start small, and keep it simple. Don’t get greedy. You have to crawl before you can walk, and you have to walk before you can run. Keep this in mind whenever you play, and you will start to see better results over time with consistent play.
Relax and Avoid Tilt
Decide your motivation for play before you start: are you playing to have fun or playing to win money? Even if you are playing for cash, keep in mind that getting emotional about which way a game is going is only serving your opponents, not yourself. You need to realize when you are too emotionally involved to make smart plays. Even pro players lose sometimes. How you can come back from losses is often what makes the difference between long term winning and losing streaks.
Keep Distraction Free
Keep your playing area well organized, comfortable, and distraction free. Face your desk or computer away from the TV and windows, and make sure you have adequate lighting to prevent eyestrain. Turn your mobile phone off or on silent, and disable any apps on your computer that could keep you from focusing completely on the game. Distractions that take your attention away from the tables you are playing can cost you hands, hands cost you pots, and pots cost you money. Stay focused.
You are never too advanced or skilled a player to learn from others. There will always be someone smarter, better, more experienced, or with better strategies than you. Major league poker players also spend time at online poker tables. Why? Because they can clean up multiple tables at a time and make a lot of money very quickly online. Watch them play, see how they bet in different situations, and try to learn their strategies, or at the very least understand how and why they do what they do. Never stop learning, because that journey never ends for a poker player.
Study the Maths
Poker, like all games of chance, is a game of statistical probability where your information is incomplete. While this sounds like a complex concept, it is really just the simple practice of knowing how to select which starting hands to play. Winning by using mathematical probability is just a matter of entering pots with the best hand more often than the other players. Learn how to be mathematical by weighing the statistical odds, then select the best hands to play.
Bluffs and Tells
Bluffing should be applied liberally at tight-play tables. Loose tables, where players bet big and play aggressively, also have a tendency to fold like a cheap suit every time you make a big play of your own. Regarding reading the tells of unseen opponents on the other side of the internet, it is down to timing. How long does it take for them to check, bet, or raise? How big or small do they bet when they put their money down?
Reading these signals can give you insight into what their strategy is, and to whether or not they are picking up what you are putting down, or trying to make a bluff of their own. No matter what play style you employ, learning to bluff well and read tells online is going to be a key factor to your success.
Know the Importance of Position
The dealer is usually the last one to act in a betting round, giving them a strategic advantage. Since all other bets are already made, they can evaluate other players’ intentions, plus know the exact amount to wager. Use this strategic edge to your advantage by playing more hands when in later positions than in the earlier positions. Smart players often relax their requirements for starting hands in late position play since they have additional options as the hand plays out.
Hand Strengths and Outs
Like a well-known card players’ song says, you need to know when to hold em and when to fold em. Understanding your odds from a mathematical standpoint lets you establish the likelihood that you are holding a winning or “strong” hand. By the same token, you should also be able to read the cards in play. Being able to determine if you have low odds of winning (a “weak” hand), is vital.
Based on the strength of your hand, you usually have three options before a flop. You can check to see a free card, make a bet based on the strength of your hand (or with the intention of leading a bluff) or you can fold. No matter what, it takes practice to develop strong betting skills in any situation. So pay attention to how others check, bet, or fold. Observe the circumstances under which they do so to get a read on their strategy.
Use Tracking Software
Reflecting on your play style in victory and defeat is one of the trademarks of a great poker player. When it comes to online poker, there are myriad paid and free software programs that can help you. They not only evaluate your hand and the table you are playing in order to determine your potential strengths and weaknesses but also track each action you take in a game, helping you to determine where and when your strategies are working. Smart players know to compare their data from game to game. This allows them to ensure they are making the best decisions possible, and to learn from their mistakes. If you’re looking for somewhere free to start, you could do much worse than Andrew Prock’s Poker Stove.
13 Tips for Online Poker – Conclusion
I hope you have found these 13 Tips for Online Poker useful! Going forward, they should help you develop the strategies necessary to achieve your goals for your online poker game. Good luck, and always remember this: you have to play to win.
Check out some of these resources for further tips on improving your game:
Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below, and maybe even share your own tips for online poker!