TOP 5 POKER ONLINE STRATEGIES
If you are a serious online poker player, multitabling for hours on end racking up those Frequent Player Points, or just a casual player firing up the PC to play a quick Sit & Go, you will need some basic strategies to help you along. Heck, even Doyle Brunson needs a little help sometimes.
These days there are pages and pages of poker strategy available on the market - books, websites, training videos - and there's no reason why every player should, with a little effort, learn some invaluable tips to aid their game.
To save you a little time, we have picked out a few fundamentals to help your game go more smoothly, and hopefully win you more cash.
1. POSITION, POSITION, POSITION
As the cliché goes, you need to learn the three Ps to improve your poker game: Position, Position, and Position. Joking aside, there's some truth in that if you are a novice, as it will be one of the first poker strategy concepts you will need to learn.
The basic idea is that you gain an advantage in later position (LP) on the table by seeing other players' actions. Conversely, if you are going to raise or call from early position (EP), you need a pretty good hand. Unfortunately, it is sometimes hard to remember this concept with everything else that is going on. But those who want to be successful need to constantly factor in position with every decision that they make.
2. GET A GRASP OF POT ODDS
As you get more confident in your Texas Hold'em play, it is vital to get a grip on the concept of pot odds. Many players still rely on gambling when chasing that unlikely final ace on the river, and prefer to go with gut instinct than sound mathematical thinking. That is a mistake: get even a rudimentary grasp of pot odds and you will be able to make a better judgment of whether you should still be in a hand or not.
So, what are pot odds? Pot odds are the percentage you are contributing to a pot compared to the odds of you winning a hand.
Let's say you are playing a cash game and you are holding Kc 10c. The flop reads Ac 3h 8c and the pot stands at $2. Your opponent bets $1.50, making the pot $3.50. It is $1.50 for you to call. Is it worth you making the call? The answer is probably no. To hit your flush you would really need pot odds of 4/1 or better; here you are getting just over 2/1. Let the hand go.
It takes time and practice, but it is vital to understand pot odds, or its big brother, Implied Pot Odds (the future money you could make from opponents if you assume they are going to carry on betting after your draw connects), to become a better player.
3. CHOOSE YOUR HANDS WISELY
If you're new to the game, sensible hand selection is an essential first step for budding online poker players. Some will want to play every single hand they are dealt, but that's a sure way to go broke.
Instead, you want to stick to playing good solid hands and letting the bad ones go. Yes, you will see pros bet with just about any two cards, but in those situations they are playing the table position and using their knowledge of the playing style of their opponents. In those instances the cards you are holding become less important.
Until your post flop skills develop avoid playing weaker hands that will only get you in to trouble. Discipline yourself to throw away bad hands. Your bankroll will thank you.
Finally, remember that the later the position you are playing, the more hands you can play. Why? Because you will face fewer opponents and are less likely to get caught out. When you are first to act, play only premium hands - at least until you are very comfortable with the game and your opponents.
4. READ THE TELLTALE SIGNS
In a live poker game, reading your opponent's physical tells is a key skill. That player has just thrown in a big bet and is sitting upright with his arms folded - does he have the nuts? When I study my opponent he averts his gaze and stares at the ceiling - is he bluffing?
Obviously, with online poker you can't see your opponent - unless you are playing one of the new poker sites that use webcam technology - so it is much harder to work out tells. But that's not to say there aren't certain things you can look for.
With experience you can pick up a few common online poker tells, most of which are based on how long your opponent takes to act. Over time you will notice that a lot of online players are very predictable.
Let's say you are playing a tournament and make a bet. Your opponent pauses for about 20 seconds and then raises. He may genuinely be sizing up your bet, trying to work out if you are bluffing, but a pause like that usually means a player is betting with a strong hand and doesn't want to rush in too quickly.
Look out too for players who make an instant check after the flop or when sitting in the big blind. This is generally a pretty straightforward tell - their hand is garbage. They are happy for their hand to see a flop in an unraised pot (if they are in the big blind) or are first to act after the flop and have missed entirely. The 'auto-check' button, that mainstay of the online poker game, is a tell-tale sign that someone is weak, Exploit it.
5. KNOW THY OPPONENT
Like any sport, poker requires time, effort and training if you want to improve. There are lots of rich poker players out there, but they haven't got there on blind luck - they have honed their skills, learned new tricks, and played a lot of hands over a long period of time.
Luckily, online poker lends itself perfectly to the student eager to learn. There are now more resources than ever for improving your game, and not just the classic strategy books and magazines. Strategy websites are everywhere nowadays, as are training videos, forums to share and discuss your hands, even subscription services where you can employ a coach to assess your online play.
But strategy is just one part of improving. To get better at online poker, you need to start taking notes on your opponents. Most online poker sites will have an area set aside for note-taking so you can record observations about the regulars you'll come up against. Perhaps there is one player who always bets postflop, or a loose-passive player who plays a lot of pots but is prone to folding against the slightest aggression. Note it down and refer to it later when you play against them again.
If you are playing a tournament or Sit & Go, consider signing up to a website like SharkScope.com, which allows you to find the playing record of any online player. For cash players, think about getting some more advanced tracking software, such as an HUD (Heads-Up Display). Some sites allow you to use your HUD to display information on any opponent right there on the screen. It's expensive but can prove invaluable in the long run.
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