How to Win at Poker
10 Tips for Winning Poker Online – Follow them to improve your game – and your bottom line.
- Reviewed by WSOP Winner Chris ‘Fox’ Wallace
How can you win at poker online? There are many different tips, tools and techniques that will help new players get up to speed, as well as ease the transition for live players that are new to playing online poker. With that in mind, here are the top 10 online poker tips for those new to the game or who simply want to improve their game and consistently win at poker.
Begin by Playing Low-Stakes Poker
Whether you’re a complete novice or are used to playing high-stakes live games, beginning with lower-stakes is advisable when starting out with online poker. There are several reasons for this:
- Your first sessions will primarily involve getting used to the online poker software.
- The pace of online poker is much faster when compared with live poker, and may take some adjusting to.
- Lower stakes will allow you to explore and experiment with the software, the lobby and the gameplay without putting too much at stake.
- Smaller stakes allow you to exercise good bankroll management without making a huge first deposit.
- Without too much on the line, you can concentrate on evaluating the gameplay experience without stressing too much about any losses.
Generally speaking, online poker will tend to offer more difficult opposition than live games at comparable stakes. Starting low will help all new players gain a good understanding of how to play, and ultimately how to win at online poker. And don’t forget you can win real money prizes without risk when playing in freeroll tournaments.
Become Familiar with the New Aspects of Playing Online Poker
Use your first few sessions to get familiar with some aspects of poker unique to the online version, such as using the time-bank feature. For experienced live players, having a set amount of time to act – and a relatively short time, at that – can be a significant adjustment, and new players may also be surprised at the speedy pace of the online game. Use the time-bank to get a little more time for your decisions.
Compared with playing live, online poker players can generally expect to see more than twice the number of poker hands per hour that they’d be used to, and when a hand is over there’s rarely time to rest before the next one is dealt.
From the layout of the lobby, the in-game controls at the table, the cashier page, rake-back offers and other bonuses, there’s a lot to explore. It’s worth taking some time to get acquainted with the site before you even fire up a table.
Start Out by Playing a Single Table
One of the many benefits of playing online is the ability to play more than one table at a time, but we’d recommend leaving multi-tabling until you’ve gained a little more experience.
Learn to win at online poker consistently on one table first – there’s nothing wrong with starting slow, and this approach can help you understand many of the nuances of online poker without becoming overwhelmed. Once you feel confident playing a single table, you can begin adding extra tables one at a time, if you feel comfortable doing so.
Create a Distraction-Free Zone for Playing
For many online players, their home is their poker room – instead of driving to a casino, they just have to fire up the laptop on the sofa. And so distractions such as watching television, talking on the phone or surfing the web can cause them to make a mistake, either by playing a hand poorly or missing out on information that could assist them in future situations.
Developing an unprofessional attitude towards playing can translate into not taking poker seriously enough to win. Create an environment free from distractions to give yourself the best chance to win at poker.
Consider Making Key Hardware Updates
As we’ve discussed, playing on a laptop while sitting on the couch in the family room is a situation bound to create distractions. Playing at a desk, ideally in a room separate from the rest of your living space, can help establish a professional attitude while playing online poker. And if you’re playing a lot, investing in an ergonomic chair can help reduce issues with back pain.
Other upgrades can help towards your goal of winning at online poker. For example, a large, high-resolution monitor can reduce eye-strain and will make multi-tabling much easier, while a high-quality mouse can reduce wrist strain, as well as the time it takes to complete action.
Master the Art of Bluffing
You won’t always get dealt the best cards at the table, so bluffing is an essential part of any winning player’s strategy. Getting better at bluffing will enable you to win even when you don’t have the best hand, but before deciding to bluff you need to consider things like your position, stack size, table image and the play of that hand so far. Bluffing is one of the trickier skills to master, even for the best poker players. Luckily for you we’ve put together a full comprehensive guide on how to bluff successfully!
Use Software Functionality to Your Advantage
Many different poker-specific software tools are available – see below – but the best way to start using software to your advantage is through a feature already present on most poker sites: the note-taking function. One of the great things about playing online is that you can make notes on your opponents during play, which are visible whenever you encounter them again.
Also available on many poker sites is the ability to color-code players. Developing a color-coded system for identifying the relative strength of players can help with table selection. For example, let’s say you always tag the best players at your table with a red tag. If you see a table full of red-tagged players in the lobby, you’ll know to steer clear.
Consider Purchasing Software
Software programs like Hold’Em Manager and Poker Tracker provide a head’s up display feature (HUD) that gives information about your opponents by tracking all of the hands you’ve played together. This data will then be available to you at-a-glance, whenever you meet that player at the tables.
These programs often also include a hand history replayer. While a lot of poker sites offer a free hand history tool, they lack much of the functionality available in more advanced programs. The ability to replay a cash session or entire tournament away from the tables is an invaluable study tool for any poker player.
Sit ‘n Go Wizard is a learning tool for tournament players which can help you gain an understanding of ICM (the independent chip model – a mathematical approach to evaluating equity in the late stages of a tournament). It’s a great tool for improving your calling and shoving ranges, which is a big step towards learning how to win online poker tournaments regularly.
Explore Free Software
Some of the best internet poker software (for use while studying) is actually free.
- PokerStove, and similar programs, allow you to calculate your equity versus a range.
- HoldemResources.net has many features useful for tournament players, including a Nash Equilibrium calculator (a mathematical tool aimed at producing game theory optimized play).
- The App Store and Google Play Store offer many free downloadable apps to improve your game, including DTO Poker which evaluates your decision making at a granular level.
Explore Efficiency Software
Other poker software is available to assist more established online players with multi-tabling. If you’re making the transition to intermediate level play and beyond, this type of software can be very useful.
Programs such as Table Ninja and Auto Hot Key can help to maximize efficiency, for example by setting up hotkey shortcuts to make certain actions (e.g. raise 1.5x the big blind) faster, automating tournament registration or setting up custom layouts for multi-tabling.
For both the experienced live player and the poker virgin, there are plenty of tips to follow to make your introduction to online poker as pleasant and profitable as it can be. Sticking to the tips in this guide should help you become a more successful player when it comes to playing poker!