Top 10 Tips For Online Poker
Online poker might be quick to learn, but it is certainly not easy to master. We want to help you to win more pots by offering you 10 tips that should help you to improve your game. Remember, poker is a learning experience, so start getting your education right now. These tips cover the main aspects of online poker site play that can make or break both newbies and pros alike:
- There's no place like being at home with the odds at all times.
- Assessing whom you're playing against thoroughly and every step of the way - including yourself!
- Learning from what you've done wrong and right in the past.
- Everything about your money, including bankroll management, progressing from smaller to larger bets, and leveraging free bonus money.
1. Turn the odds in your favour
Despite its cool and mysterious aura, poker is essentially a number-crunching game. Knowing just a few basic maths tricks will help you out in many ways.
The simplest but most vital is knowing your outs - for example, if you have a flush draw (four cards to a flush) and your opponent bets, can you call? In this case, you have nine "outs" (cards in the deck that will make your flush). Simply multiply your outs by two and add two to know the likelihood that you'll make your hand on the next card. In this case it's 20% - so if your opponent has bet £10 into a £40 pot, you have the correct odds to call.
Of course there is much more advanced poker maths out there - reverse implied odds, breakeven equity, and more; as a beginner though simply knowing your outs gives you an edge.
There's a wealth of advice and information on the web about poker strategy. Check out this guide from about.com for some easy poker strategy tips.
2. Choose your battles
Play tight, but aggressive - that's the key to winning. What does it mean?
Playing tight means only playing a select range of hands - if you play only premium hands (pairs and big cards) then it's like getting a head start in a race. You'll often be ahead of your opponent before the flop and can see clearly on which flops you're likely to stay ahead.
Playing aggressively doesn't mean betting and raising constantly, but simply taking the many opportunities you have to do so. There are two ways to win a hand - having the best hand, and making your opponent fold. Only one of these is in your control.
Despite its cool and mysterious aura, poker is essentially a number-crunching game, and knowing just a few basic maths tricks will help you out in many ways.
Most importantly, recognise the power of position - if you act after your opponent you have a massive advantage. Utilise this.
3. Know your enemy
None of the above means squat if you don't know the kind of player you're up against. They say "play the player, not the cards" and that holds true in poker every single hand. Let's say you have a pair of red aces and the flop is 5h 8h 9s. You bet and your opponent moves all in. Easy call?
It is if you're against a good aggressive player who would do this with smaller pairs and draws, but what if your opponent is a "nit", i.e. super-tight. He only has sets and straights in his range when he raises you and even aces are an easy fold here. If you don't adapt to your opponents you'll be playing face-up and allowing them to run you over.
4. Keep your cool
Poker is a great game, but it can be extremely frustrating. Let's say you do call with those aces up there and your opponent has a ridiculous hand - 3c2d, the worst hand you can have. The turn and river are both 3s and he wins the pot.
Pretty angry, aren't you? You just need to remember that poker is still a game full of luck, and the worst hand (or player) can win. A lot. In fact, they have to - it's what keeps them coming back and it's how good players make their money in the long run.
5. Review and renew
Speaking of long run, it takes a long time to get to the long run. Much longer than you think - many players won't consider a good "sample size" of hands to be less than 20,000 hands played. So, because poker has so much luck and it takes so long to reach a good sample size, bad players can be winning and good players losing in any given game.
That's why it's so important to review your play - post hands on forums, study how you played, ask your poker-playing friends for their input. You never know if that pot you won was brilliant play or sheer dumb luck until you take a second look at it.
6. Turn up the volume
Since we know that poker is a game of the long run, can we reach the long run any quicker? Of course - increasing the volume of hands you play is easy in theory, and with some practice you can play thousands of hands a day.
Start off small - if you're playing two tables at a time, even increasing to three is a 50% addition to your hands per hour. Just keep adding tables as you grow more comfortable and soon even 12-tabling won't feel like a chore. Also, a lot of sites offer "fast-fold" variants where you instantly receive hand after hand - these tables are often four or five times faster than regular games.
7. Money for nothing
You can't get something for nothing, except in online poker.
All poker sites offer freeroll tournaments, which are small multi-table tournaments with no entry fee but real money prizes. Many great players like Annette Obrestad built their bankroll from these tournaments, turning $0 into millions of dollars. These tournaments attract loads of bad players, so anyone reading through these tips should feel confident in their edge against the field.
8. Good sites
You wouldn't play in a back-alley casino run by a mob boss, would you? So you shouldn't play at any old poker site. There are many trusted sites, such as PokerStars and iPoker and Ongame sites, that have years of proven security and service behind them. These are the kinds of sites you want to play on.
9. Good things come to those who wait
The long run is long, playing tight is the way to go, bad players can win a lot - if you hadn't worked it out already, poker is not a game for the impatient. Patience is a virtue and never more so than at the poker table. Maybe you go hours without a good hand, or even a win. Maybe you go weeks without getting good luck. It happens, and you just have to ride it out. Keep studying and playing your best and you surely will.
10. Manage your money
Last and most certainly not least - in fact, most importantly - is bankroll management. We've established that good players - the best, even - can lose for thousands, maybe even tens of thousands of hands in a spell of bad luck. That's why it's so important to have enough money in your bankroll to cover these dry spells.