Poker is a game of skill, strategy and luck. Whether you play online or live, you need to have a solid understanding of the rules, the odds and the best ways to win. Online poker offers some unique advantages and challenges that can make it more exciting and profitable than live poker. In this article, we will share some winning strategies for playing poker online that will help you improve your game and increase your chances of success.
Know What Cards You Are Going to Play
One of the most important decisions you have to make in poker is what cards you are going to play before the flop. This is called your preflop strategy, and it determines how often you will enter the pot, how much you will bet and how you will react to your opponents’ actions. A good preflop strategy should be based on several factors, such as:
- Your position at the table
- The number and type of players in the pot
- The strength of your hand
- Your stack size and the blinds
- Your table image and history with your opponents
As a general rule, you should play tighter (fewer hands) when you are out of position (early or middle position) and looser (more hands) when you are in position (late position or on the button). You should also play tighter when there are many players in the pot or when the blinds are high, and looser when there are few players or when the blinds are low. You should also adjust your preflop strategy according to your opponents’ tendencies. For example, if they are very tight, you can play more hands and bluff more often. If they are very loose, you can play fewer hands and value bet more often.
Some examples of good starting hands to play in online poker are:
- Big pairs (AA, KK, QQ, JJ, TT)
- High suited connectors (AKs, AQs, AJs, KQs)
- High unsuited connectors (AKo, AQo, AJo, KQo)
- Medium pairs (99, 88, 77)
- Medium suited connectors (KJs, QJs, JTs, T9s)
- Small pairs (66, 55, 44)
- Small suited connectors (98s, 87s, 76s)
These hands have a high potential to make strong hands after the flop, such as top pair, two pair, trips, straights or flushes. They also have good equity against most other hands and can win big pots when they hit.
Disguise Your Holdings
One of the key skills in poker is to be able to disguise your holdings and make your opponents guess what you have. This way, you can extract more value from your strong hands and bluff more effectively with your weak hands. To disguise your holdings, you need to vary your bet sizes and frequencies according to the situation and your opponents’ tendencies. For example:
- When you have a strong hand, you can bet small to induce a call or a raise from a weaker hand. You can also check or slow play to trap a bluffer or an aggressive player.
- When you have a weak hand, you can bet big to represent a strong hand and make your opponents fold. You can also check or call to show weakness and induce a bluff from a stronger hand.
- When you have a draw or a marginal hand, you can bet medium to balance your range and keep your opponents guessing. You can also check or call to see another card cheaply or to control the pot size.
Some examples of how to disguise your holdings in online poker are:
- You have AA on a J-T-9 flop. You bet small to look weak and invite a raise from a straight or two pair.
- You have 72o on a K-K-2 flop. You bet big to look strong and make your opponents fold any pair or draw.
- You have QJs on a Q-T-8 flop. You bet medium to look like you have top pair or a draw and keep your opponents in the pot.
Find the Right Game to Play In
Another important factor that affects your success in online poker is the game selection. This means choosing the right table or tournament that suits your skill level, bankroll and goals. There are many different types of games available online, such as:
- Cash games: These are games where you can buy-in for any amount of money within a certain range and leave whenever you want. The blinds stay the same throughout the game and there is no limit on the number of hands you can play. Cash games are good for players who want to play for a long time, have a consistent income and have a good bankroll management.
- Tournaments: These are games where you pay a fixed entry fee and receive a certain number of chips. The blinds increase at regular intervals and there is a limit on the number of hands you can play. Tournaments are good for players who want to play for a short time, have a chance to win a big prize and have a good tournament strategy.
- Sit and go’s: These are games where you pay a fixed entry fee and receive a certain number of chips. The game starts when a certain number of players register and ends when one player has all the chips. Sit and go’s are good for players who want to play for a medium time, have a moderate risk and reward and have a good sit and go strategy.
To find the right game to play in, you need to consider several factors, such as:
- Your skill level: You should play in games where you have an edge over your opponents, or at least where you are not at a disadvantage. You can measure your skill level by your win rate, your return on investment or your poker statistics.
- Your bankroll: You should play in games where you can afford to lose without affecting your overall finances. You can measure your bankroll by your buy-in size, your cash balance or your bankroll management rules.
- Your goals: You should play in games where you can achieve your desired outcomes, whether they are fun, learning, profit or challenge. You can measure your goals by your motivation, your satisfaction or your feedback.
Some examples of how to find the right game to play in online poker are:
- You are a beginner player with a small bankroll who wants to learn the basics of poker. You should play in low stakes cash games or micro stakes tournaments where you can practice your skills without risking too much money.
- You are an intermediate player with a medium bankroll who wants to make some extra income from poker. You should play in medium stakes cash games or low stakes tournaments where you can exploit your opponents’ weaknesses and earn consistent profits.
- You are an advanced player with a large bankroll who wants to challenge yourself and win big prizes from poker. You should play in high stakes cash games or high stakes tournaments where you can face tough competition and win huge pots.
Make Adjustments for Your Opponents
Poker is not a static game where you can apply the same strategy for every situation. Poker is a dynamic game where you have to adapt your strategy according to the changing circumstances and the different opponents you face. To make adjustments for your opponents, you need to observe their actions, analyze their tendencies and exploit their mistakes. For example:
- If your opponent is very tight, you can adjust by playing more hands, bluffing more often and stealing their blinds.
- If your opponent is very loose, you can adjust by playing fewer hands, value betting more often and protecting your equity.
- If your opponent is very passive, you can adjust by betting more aggressively, raising more often and taking initiative.
- If your opponent is very aggressive, you can adjust by calling more cautiously, re-raising more often and trapping them.
Some examples of how to make adjustments for your opponents in online poker are:
- You notice that your opponent always folds to continuation bets on the flop. You adjust by c-betting with any two cards whenever you are the preflop aggressor.
- You notice that your opponent always calls with any pair or draw on the flop. You adjust by c-betting with only strong hands or draws whenever you are the preflop aggressor.
- You notice that your opponent always raises with any two cards preflop. You adjust by re-raising with only premium hands or strong draws whenever you face their raise.
Simplify Major Decisions
One of the biggest challenges in online poker is to make correct decisions under pressure and time constraints. Online poker is much faster than live poker, and you have to act quickly before the timer runs out or before someone else acts before you. To simplify major decisions, you need to plan ahead, use shortcuts and avoid distractions. For example:
- Plan ahead: Before each hand starts, think about what cards you will play, what actions you will take and what outcomes you will expect. This way, you will be prepared for any situation that may arise and avoid making hasty or impulsive decisions.
- Use shortcuts: During each hand, use some tools or techniques that can help you make faster or easier decisions. For example, use pot odds or equity calculators to determine whether to call or fold, use bet sizing charts or rules to determine how much to bet or raise, use hand ranges or charts to determine what hands your opponents may have.
- Avoid distractions: While playing online poker, focus only on the game and ignore anything else that may distract you from making optimal decisions. For example, turn off your phone, close other tabs or windows on your.
Learn How to Play Online Poker
Online poker is different from live poker in many ways. You have to deal with different software, different opponents, different game formats and different strategies. To learn how to play online poker, you need to familiarize yourself with the new aspects of playing online poker and practice your skills on the virtual felt. For example:
- Learn how to use the online poker software: You should know how to navigate the lobby, find the games you want, adjust the settings, use the chat box, review your hand history and access the cashier.
- Learn how to play online poker games: You should know the rules, the betting structure, the payouts and the strategy of each game you play online. You should also know how to choose the best games for your skill level and bankroll.
- Learn how to use online poker tools: You should know how to use some tools or software that can help you improve your game and gain an edge over your opponents. For example, you can use a HUD (heads-up display) to track your opponents’ statistics and tendencies, a hand replayer to review your past hands and learn from your mistakes, or a solver to analyze complex situations and find optimal solutions.
- Learn how to manage your online poker bankroll: You should know how to set a budget for your online poker sessions, how to choose the right stakes for your bankroll, how to handle swings and variance, and how to withdraw or deposit money safely and securely.
Play Solid Poker Early in Tournaments
Tournaments are one of the most popular and exciting forms of online poker. They offer a chance to win a big prize for a small investment, but they also require a lot of skill, patience and endurance. To win a tournament, you have to outlast hundreds or thousands of other players, which means you have to play solid poker from start to finish. One of the most important stages of a tournament is the early stage, where you have a deep stack relative to the blinds and antes. To play solid poker early in tournaments, you should follow these tips:
- Play a tight preflop range: You should only play strong hands that can make big pots when they hit or can withstand pressure from aggressive opponents. You should avoid playing speculative hands that can get you into trouble or cost you a lot of chips.
- Avoid unnecessary risks: You should avoid getting involved in big pots or coin flips unless you have a premium hand or a strong draw. You should also avoid bluffing too much or calling down with weak hands. Your goal is to preserve your stack and wait for better opportunities.
- Exploit weak players: You should identify and target weak players who make mistakes or play poorly. You should value bet them with your strong hands, bluff them with your weak hands, steal their blinds and antes, and put them under pressure whenever possible.
- Build a table image: You should build a table image that suits your style and strategy. You can either play tight and aggressive (TAG) or loose and aggressive (LAG), depending on your preference and the table dynamics. You should also adjust your image according to your opponents’ perceptions and expectations.
Only Play If You Feel Like It
Online poker can be fun, rewarding and profitable, but it can also be stressful, frustrating and costly. To enjoy online poker and play your best game, you need to be in the right mood and mindset. You should only play if you feel like it, and avoid playing if you are not feeling well or if you have other issues that affect your concentration or motivation. For example:
- Don’t play if you are tired: Playing online poker requires a lot of mental energy and focus. If you are tired, you will not be able to think clearly, make good decisions or react quickly. You will also be more prone to making mistakes, tilting or losing interest.
- Don’t play if you are angry: Playing online poker requires a lot of emotional control and discipline. If you are angry, you will not be able to control your emotions, handle bad beats or deal with variance. You will also be more likely to chase losses, play recklessly or tilt.
- Don’t play if you are distracted: Playing online poker requires a lot of attention and awareness. If you are distracted, you will not be able to observe your opponents, analyze the situation or exploit opportunities. You will also miss important information, cues or signals that can help you win.
- Don’t play if you are bored: Playing online poker requires a lot of passion and enjoyment. If you are bored, you will not be able to play with enthusiasm, creativity or curiosity. You will also lose interest, motivation or confidence that can help you win.