Poker is arguably the best card game in the world and has been immortalized in TV and films for decades. If you’re new to the game and want to play online poker it is important that as well as knowing the rules you have a strategy. If you’re a seasoned pro you probably know these tips but they are still worth reviewing in case you come across something you haven’t before.
Let’s take a deep dive.
Texas Hold’em Poker
Arguably, Texas Hold’em Poker is the most famous iteration of the great card game. As such, the following tips are in relation to Texas Hold’em. They can work for other versions of the game, so they are worth a few minutes of your time even if you play Omaha poker or some other iteration.
Play Your Good Starting Hands Only
Is it tempting to play every hand you’re dealt. Why fold early and watch the game unfold when you can be in on the action? Well, the main reason is that you’ll hemorrhage money if you do.
The pros don’t do this and tend to only play hands where they feel they can win. They play the monster hands only which can be determined thus:
- A-K suited
- A-Q suited
- A-J suited
- K-Q suited
The idea is that these hands can be used in late positions to raise and drive winnable cash to the pot. Other good hands include any pair higher than six, together with ace to 8 in the same suit.
The pros don’t rate low pairs like 2-2. You’ll have to experiment to discover why.
To win a game, poker or otherwise, you have to play aggressively. By playing your strong hands the chances are your cards will be good enough to win. Betting hard on the strength of these hands will make weak players and players with weak hands fold.
As your skills develop, you’ll be able to play smaller hands to force weaker players out.
Poker is a psychological game, so use this to your strength.
Bluffing is the Key to Success
Bluffing is a real art in poker and even the online version requires you to lead players to believe you have a good hand when you don’t. The best in the world perfect their bluffing and have won several more hands than they would have done if they only played the powerful hands.
One key element to bluffing is the continuation bet (c-bet). The idea is the c-bet will keep the pot going and keep others players guessing. Which if you think about it is the idea of the bluff. If you’ve established a reputation as an aggressive player, bluffing is a powerful part of your poker strategy.
That said, don’t rely on it too much. If you use it a lot you may find you bleed chips playing marginal hands especially if another player doesn’t respect your plays.
Where it can be used more frequently is that if you have a hand that can turn into a strong hand, you can use a minor bluff that may fool players into folding. For example, you have the 3-4 diamonds, and the board is showing 6-7-10 two of which are diamonds, so there is a chance you could get a straight, straight flush, or flush possibilities.
Budget and Stakes
It is important that you set a budget and stick to it. This ties into your level of play. Let’s look at stakes first.
It is important to understand that budget doesn’t determine your level of play. Say, for example, you have $1000 doesn’t mean you should be playing for $5/$10 or $100 buy-in games. Your level is determined by your skill and experience.
It is a good idea to play for stakes at which you feel comfortable, and if you get through 10-20 winning sessions playing at one stake level, then move up to the next.
In terms of budget, the golden rule is never to chase losses or bet more than you can afford to lose. If you’ve budgeted $100 for the night, play the $0.05/$0.10 games. This allows money for rebuys and the like.
Consider Live Play
A criticism of online poker is the dependence on random number generators (RNG). This is the algorithm that aims to mirror the randomness of a deck of cards as much as possible. Some people are more “feel players” and can gain lots of information from sitting at a real table and competing against others, rather than facing random faceless opponents online. If that speaks to you, perhaps you ought to consider heading out to your nearest poker room rather than to an online poker site.
Poker is an amazing game and if you can refine your skills and perfect your strategy, you’ll not only see more profit coming your way but you’ll get more from each poker session you play.