If your results are best described as ‘somewhere around the break-even’ and if you’re finding it difficult to turn a decent profit at the online poker tables consistently, understand that you’re not alone. Unfortunately, most online poker players struggle with the same set of issues.
However, all it takes is a few minor adjustments that can take your game from ordinary to incredible—from break-even to smashing it.
Here, we highlight some subtle but extremely effective online poker tips to take your game to the next level.
Only play in good games
In Rounders (1998), Mike McDermott (played by Matt Damon) rightly said, “if you’re not able to spot the sucker in your initial half-hour at the table, you’re the sucker.”
Well, this is very true. If you want to play online poker with friends and win, you need to play against players who are weaker than you.
For example, if you’re the 8th best online poker player in the world, you’ll be the best player at almost all tables. However, if you join a table with those 7 players that are better than you, you’ll become the sucker.
If you intend to play online poker for real money, always try to put yourself in positions where your likelihood of winning is the highest. This is why leaving your ego at the door is important while you’re playing online poker.
Bottom line is, if you want to have a positive win rate, you should at least be better than half the players at the table —and if you’re looking to make a lofty profit, find players who aren’t as good as you. Here’s a simple checklist for a good online poker game:
- Reraises are either very frequent or very rare
- There are a lot of multiway pots
- At least one player is limping repeatedly
If you’re in a game with all these boxes checked, you’re in a fantastic position to make some decent money. However, if none of the boxes are checked, leave the table and find a more profitable one (unless you want to test your online poker strategy against stronger players).
If you play this game on a poker website, ensure you take advantage of the table statistics offered by the majority of poker sites. Choose an online poker table with a high percentage of players seeing a flop and a high average pot size. This is an important online poker strategy beginners often ignore.
Whether you’re playing online poker as a professional player or as a hobby, it must be a fun experience. You’re going to do well when you’re in a good mood. So, playing this mentally exhausting game when you feel like it makes a lot of sense.
If you feel anger, fatigue, or frustration building up, quit the session before wasting any time. This will potentially help you save a lot of money.
Suggestion: Before playing a session of online poker for real money, imagine going all-in and losing your entire stack on the very first hand. If this thought doesn’t bother you, you know that you’re ready to play your A-game for a lengthy session. However, if going all-in and losing one of your buy-ins firsthand doesn’t sound bearable, reconsider playing.
Play solid online poker early in tournaments and don’t care about survival
There’s a time and place for preserving your stack, and this shouldn’t be done during the beginning of the tournament. This is probably the most misunderstood aspect of tournament online poker strategy.
To finish in the money, you’ll have to at least double or triple your starting stack (maybe more). Instead of taking a defensive approach, you should be playing aggressive and solid poker early to build up a stack for a deep run.
Attack when your opponent shows weakness
Most online poker players don’t check with hands that may call multiple bets as frequently as they should. This means, that when they do check, they generally have a relatively weak hand that will usually fold if faced with multiple bets. This situation is basically ‘bluffing with nothing.’
When your opponent starts showing a fair bit of softness in a heads-up pot (such as if they check on the turn and the flop), you can integrate some aggression in your bluffing strategy and take advantage of them. You shouldn’t just bet with your semi-bluffs, you should also bet as a pure bluff with nothing hands, preferably ones with excellent blocker effects.
Fold when you’re not sure
What’s the biggest difference between a professional player and a mediocre player? A good player can lay down a good hand like top pair when they think they’re beaten.
While this sounds extremely easy, it’s difficult to do in practice because of how our brains function. Naturally, we’re curious and want to win. When we fold, we give up our chance to win the put. Thus, we’re not able to satisfy our curiosity as we’re not able to find out what our opponent has.
The fastest way to lose in online poker is ineffective bluffs. Do you know what’s the second-fastest way? Calling too frequently and in the wrong situations. Whenever you’re not sure whether to fold or call versus a raise or bet, folding will be your best bet.
Suggestion: When you fold in situations like these, ensure you note down the details of the hand so you could find out if you made the correct fold once your session is complete. Discussing and understanding hands like these is an effective way to improve your skills consistently and bridge the gaps in your online poker knowledge.
Use the right hands to defend your big blind
Since you already have one big blind invested in the pot, it’s a special position. Due to this reason, whenever you’re faced with a raise while sitting in the big blind, you’ll have better pot odds to call compared to other positions — consider it as a discount.
Since you’re the last person to act preflop and your discount, you can call with many more hands profitably than if you were sitting in a different position. While that’s not to say you should call raises with mediocre hands like 5♦ 9♠, the more borderline hands such as 6♥ Q♥ and 9♦ K♣ become playable in most situations.
But how wide should you defend? Well, it depends on a plethora of factors. Following are the four main ones:
- Stack sizes (when short-stacked, prioritize high card strength and play lesser speculative hands).
- The size of the raise (if the bet size is large, you should play tighter).
- The number of players in the hand (when at least one player has already called the raise, play tighter and only call with hands that perform well in multiway pots).
- Position of the raiser (play looser against the late positions and tighter against the early positions).
There are other significant factors too, such as how frequently your opponent will do continuation bets post-flop.
Make more money and build the pot by fast playing your strong hands
No player likes to check their flopped nut flush 3 times. This sight is already sad, after which they clumsily table their online poker hand when their challenger checks back the river. Playing slow is one of the biggest mistakes players make, especially those who are not confident enough to chase their opponents out of the pot when their poker hands are strong.
In the majority of cases, betting your strong hands to build the pot and safeguard your equity is your best bet. However, we don’t mean that you should always raise or bet your strong hands post-flow. You may check your strong hands if:
- The range of your opponent is heavily weighted toward hands with little to no showdown value.
- There aren’t a lot of scare cards to prevent you from getting paid on later streets.
- It’s highly unlikely that you’ll be outdrawn.
However, when you’re unsure, just bet (or if you weren’t the preflop aggressor, check-raise). While it’s frustrating when your opponent folds, that’s not nearly as disheartening as missing out on potential value or being outdrawn.
Semi-bluff aggressively with your draws
Looking to crush online poker? Bluff effectively. However, not bluffing effectively is one of the fastest ways to lose your money at the online poker table. So, how do you control your bluffing frequency?
Letting the cards you have dictate if you’re bluffing or not is the most effective way to bluff. This means you should bluff with hands that have outs to improve to the best hand on a later street, like a couple of overcards to the board, flush draws, or straight draws.
Due to their potential beyond the bluff itself, many online poker players refer to these hands as semi-bluffs.
Don’t be the first player to limp
If you’re the first player to enter a pot, limping is a big no. Following are two reasons why you should avoid this play:
- You give the players behind very attractive pot odds, increasing the likelihood of you facing multiple players, which considerably decreases your chances of winning the pot.
- You can’t win the pot before the flop like you could if you raised.
But there’s one acceptable situation if you’re thinking to limp: at least one other player has already limped. This is known as over-limping and it may be a decent play because you’re getting good pot odds to join the action so, hopefully, you can hit something great on the flop.
Play fewer hands and play them assertively
There’s a cap on how many starting hands you’re allowed to play before the flop, even for the best players of the world. If you try to play a lot of hands, your chip stack will simply bleed away (unless you’re lucky).
The fastest and simplest way to improve your bottom line is to develop a solid preflop strategy. However, it’s easy to develop solid preflop ranges, having the discipline to stick to them is challenging. Don’t play a hand that’s not worth playing—there’s no need to get impatient.
Playing a tight range of playable and/or strong hands is the best approach, and you should show an aggressive intent when playing those hands. Aggressively playing all your hands, including the more speculative ones such as 5♣ 5♥ or 6♠ 7♠, enables you to disguise your actual hand’s strength.
When you raise, your opponents wouldn’t know whether you have 7-6, A-K, or A-A, which makes you very difficult to play against. Remember, aggressive and tight plays help you win the online poker game.
You don’t need to be Daniel Negreanu to understand the poker tips highlighted above. With the right tips and strategy, you can start winning money at online poker right away.
Take notes while you play, take a shot at the bigger tournaments, and always practice at the low-stakes games. The more you play, the better you’ll become.
Best of luck!
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