BECOME A SUCCESSFUL ONLINE PLAYER
Transitioning to online poker can be a bit of a learning curve for players accustomed to live games, even if they rule their home game. Fortunately there are plenty of effective approaches and products available to assist the online newbie. We're here to help. Below are eight potent pointers to bring budding online poker players up to speed quickly. They demonstrate how neophytes to online poker can elevate their play to become consistent winners.
No matter if a player is comfortable wagering big in live poker games, it's recommended that he or she begins online play by starting at lower levels. The idea is that in addition to learning how to transfer one's usual solid game from live action to online (e.g., not play too many hands, sizing bets, etc.), playing for lower stakes removes the pressure of quickly discerning the differences between live and online play.
For example, a misclick that calls a bet when a player intends to fold could be costly in a high-stakes game. Become thoroughly familiar with the functionality of an online cardroom before graduating to bigger wagers. Too, playing at lower-stakes mean a smaller poker bankroll. Thus there's no need to be concerned about subpar performances at the onset while learning the nuances of online play. It should also be noted that when comparing online and live play at the same stakes, one will invariably find that online players are usually tougher opposition. So, by gradually working one's way up to higher online stakes, a player will become more comfortable with online poker, completely understand the differences between live action and online play, and learn how to consistently win.
As we mentioned briefly above, part of transitioning to successful online play includes becoming thoroughly familiar with the functionality of an online poker cardroom. There are features unique to online poker sites, such as the player clock that only allows as little as 15-20 seconds for a player to act before his hand is mucked. A time clock is used for online games to encourage action and to maintain player interest in the game. While it may sound minor, it's nonetheless a significant adjustment for a deliberate live action player. Other online interactive features may require hands-on practice before a player becomes comfortable using them such as betting specific dollar amounts, rake-back offers, cardroom layout, cashing out, etc.
Perhaps the most jarring aspect of Internet poker to an old-school live action player is the sheer amount of hands one sees per hour online. While a dealer in a brick-and-mortar cardroom may deal 30 hands an hour, one is likely to see four times that number in the same time interval when playing online—even more headsup. The speed of play may even be more bewildering to a complete novice at poker, as many decisions and calculations that are second nature to experienced players may swamp a newbie's thoughts. Often, before he's aware of the time, the clock has expired and his hand is mucked. Again, playing at low-stakes tables to start one's online poker experience will ease the pain of the learning curve.
While an experienced live action player may be tempted to leap headlong into multitable play (multitable play is NOT MTT or multitable tournament), it's best to learn how to win consistently at one table before tackling three or four at a time. One reason why online poker is so popular is due to "multitabling," the act of playing poker simultaneously on more than one table. Just be sure to be thoroughly comfortable with the interactive features offered by your online cardroom. Then add one table at a time until you reach the point where you're comfortable (and profitable) multitabling your optimal number of simultaneous games.
While this is a common pitfall for live players who use earbuds to listen to music at the table or chat with tablemates instead of giving the game their undivided attention, diversions are even more dangerous to online players. Resist the temptation to watch TV, text or talk or surf the Internet. There's really no need to fill in time between hands online since they come so quickly. Diversions that distract your attention from the game leads to mistakes in betting or evaluating hands, not to mention missing an opponent's betting patterns that may improve your decisions when giving action.
You want to be successful playing online poker? Approach it as a job. That means taking a professional attitude to your game. Making a conducive work environment for your online poker play goes a long way toward becoming successful. Remember to strive for improvement at all times. If you do find that playing only one table is resulting in too much downtime between hands, consider playing two tables simultaneously, then gradually work up to three or four. If you find you're making more money multitabling, by all means continue until you find the right balance between multitables and profit. The point is to be professional and make good business decisions when playing online poker.
If you want to be a pro, play with pro gear. That means having computer hardware suitable for good play. It may sound obvious but if you want to succeed, don't play poker for money on a smartphone with a 3" screen. At least have a good-sized tablet, better yet a large laptop and best of all a PC with a high-quality resolution monitor to prevent eye strain. A man-cave or an office, separate from the rest of one's home, is the beginning of a professional setup.
As you get deeper into playing poker online, consider setting up one monitor per game instead of playing split-screens (unless of course your monitor is big enough to clearly encompass four or six games simultaneously). Other helpful hardware items include an ergonomic chair to reduce back strain and a versatile mouse to prevent wrist discomfort or even carpal tunnel syndrome. One helpful hint: don't use a wrist rest, as it doubles pressure inside the carpal tunnel. If a bathroom is conveniently close by when time comes to answer nature's call, so much the better.
This tip goes hand in hand with #5. As an online poker pro, you're going to spend many, many hours in your office or work space. Give yourself every chance to succeed by creating a healthy environment chock full of positive energy. Have a small refrigerator nearby for refreshments such as energy drinks, fruit juices and sodas. Keep a coffee pot going if you like. Have an assortment of healthy snacks such as fruit or nuts at hand. If it's not distracting to you, keep a selection of your favorite music available to keep those good vibrations flowing. A room with bright colors always helps one's mood, as do potted plants and flowers. All these dimensions support a professional approach to your job of playing online poker. A healthy, positive mood will help you make better poker decisions and playing in comfortable environs will facilitate long gaming sessions and ultimately, winning more money.
Many players avoid utilizing specialized software when playing poker online because "it's not cricket." But if the terms of service (TOS) of the site where you're playing allows it, then you're placing yourself at a strategic advantage by eschewing specialized poker software. You may be sure your opponents are using any and every tool to maximize their chances of winning and you should too. A variety of software packages exist to help the player substantially improve his online play.
One natural place to begin is an interactive feature already present at most online sites: a notepad. Use this to reference opponents' play, such as bluffs, overbetting weak hands or not raising premium hands—any play that seems out of the ordinary is worth tracking. For that matter, so are a player's habits. If an opponent always raises when they're on the button, no matter what pocket cards they hold, that's something worth noting too. In tournaments, notepads are a handy tool to keep track of net (or loss) stack counts per level. In short, an online notepad is a versatile tool that should be used to track a variety of information. Never forget that poker is a game of incomplete information; the more info you have, the better decisions you'll make.
Another convenient tool is "color-coding" your opponents. By assigning colors to your opponents based on their strength, at a glance you can scan the lobby of an online poker table and decide whether the tank you're looking at is full of sharks or fish. Remember, the strength of your opposition can mean the difference between a winning poker session or a losing one.
Some of the best software tools for poker players are free. Poker Stove (https://pokerstove.soft32.com) is an invaluable hand equity calculator and one every player should use. It evaluates the range of hands players could hold and also calculates pre-flop and post-flop equity based on board cards. Another free resource is Universal Replayer (http://universal-replayer.net). It replays a tournament's hand history, allowing you to analyze you and your opponents' playing style. Don't overlook Holdemresources.net (http://www.holdemresources.net), available for a free trial. It provides tournament analysis for both push/fold scenarios as well as 3- and 4-bet schemes.
If you're willing to pay for software (and at some point you should be), consider software like Holdem Manager (http://www.holdemmanager.com), a tool that auto-detects any poker clients already installed on your computer and thereby allowing hand history to be directly imported into its database. If manual importation is necessary, it's simple to do. Holdem Manager (http://www.holdemmanager.com) analyzes the entirety of your poker hand history, giving you in-depth statistics that allow you to make better decisions. Other software facilitates "grinders" with multitabling, a vital feature to keep from being overwhelmed by the sheer number of hands and their speed. There's also software with heads-up display (HUD), useful for when playing just one opponent at the table.
As you develop your online play, you may discover that you prefer heads-up play or super-fast turbo sit-and-go (SnG) tourneys. Whatever game or variant you prefer, poker software will help you analyze your play, correct any weaknesses you may have and improve your decision-making.
Consider the above tips to be a step-by-step process in becoming a winning online poker player. Have fun and make money while playing a game you love. It may be a "hard way to make an easy living" but when you consider that you can win individual pots worth more than the daily wage for many "real" jobs—all from the comfort of one's home—it's a no-brainer why people all over the world play online poker for a living. So "Let's shuffle up and deal!"