To help you get started down the right path of winning at online poker, we’ve devised some winning tips for online poker that are essential if you want to succeed in the digital poker space.
- Start Off Slow
- Have A Healthy Bankroll
- Start With One Table
- Remove All Distractions
- Take Frequent Breaks
- Learn The Math
- Be More Aggressive
- Don’t Bluff The Fish
- Think In Ranges, Not Hands
- Be Prepared To Lose
- Have Fun
Start Off Slow
Many players start off at stakes that are way too high for their skill level. It’s important to know that $1/$2 online is light years away from $1/$2 live; even if you’re a winning player in your casino’s $1/$2 game, you’ll find yourself getting crushed if you play $1/$2 online.
That’s why it’s important to start off at lower stakes when first playing online. Playing lower stakes means you’ll be up against a lot more recreational players, and you’ll be able to get a feel for how the game is played. While live and online poker are the same game, just through different mediums, people play them very differently. Live poker is a lot more passive, whereas online poker is far more aggressive, which can take a bit of getting used to.
Have A Healthy Bankroll
When playing any form of poker it’s recommended that you have at least 30 buy-ins for your stake level in cash games, and at least 100 buy-ins for MTTs. However, this need is exacerbated when playing online, as the game moves a lot faster, meaning that you’re more likely to see big swings that could see you go broke if you’re not properly rolled.
This is part of the reason why we suggest starting off at small stakes – it’s much easier to find $300 to have 30 buy-ins at $0.05/$0.10 than it is to find $6000 to have 30 buy-ins at $1/$2.
Start With One Table
Online poker is significantly faster-paced than live poker. While at a live poker table you may expect to get 20 hands an hour, at an online table you can easily get 3-4x that. If you’re playing a fast-fold version of poker, it’s common for people to play 200 hands an hour – that’s ten times as many hands as you get playing live!
It’s tempting to load up as many tables as possible now that you’re finally able to play more than one at a time, but we’d recommend against doing that until you’re comfortable at your stake level. Playing 3-4x the number of hands you usually play can take some adjusting, so start with one table until you’re comfortable with the pace of online poker.
Remove All Distractions
Playing online poker requires a lot of concentration, as you’re constantly being dealt hands and being forced to make decisions. If you’re sat there scrolling through Instagram while your favorite TV show is on in the background, it’s going to be hard to make optimal decisions.
That’s why we recommend removing all distractions from your playing area while you play. Put your phone on silent, turn off the TV, and focus on the game. You’ll be surprised at how much your game improves when you’re able to give your sole focus to the task at hand.
Take Frequent Breaks
One of the reasons people surround themselves with distractions is that it’s hard to keep focusing on one task for a significant amount of time; therefore, by having distractions nearby, people give themselves mini-breaks from the game to reset their focus. However, in practice, this doesn’t work, as the distractions become too enticing, and take focus away from your game.
Not only that, but online poker is an intense game with a lot of swings that can be tough for some people to handle. It’s incredibly common for players to log on and be down a couple of buy-ins within the first 2-3 minutes of playing. This is part of the reason why it’s so easy to tilt when playing online poker.
If you’re prone to tilting or losing focus while you play, we recommend taking frequent breaks during your sessions. This allows you to reset your focus, check your phone, de-tilt, and then come back to the game ready to play.
Learn The Math
Yes, we know it’s boring, but math is a vital part of poker, and you won’t be a winning player until you can do it backwards, forwards, and upside down. You should have a complete understanding of poker odds, outs, pot odds, minimum defense frequencies, and general poker probabilities – and know how to use them in-game.
Without understanding the math, you’re unable to know whether a play you’re making is profitable or not. “Should you draw to this flush?” “Is your hand a favorite against your opponent?” “What are the odds you’ll improve on the river?” These are questions that any winning poker player should be able to answer, and without knowing the math, you won’t be able to.
Be More Aggressive
A trademark of every winning online poker player is that they’re aggressive players. They don’t often take the passive route and are always betting and raising when they come into a pot. If you had to boil it down to a single attribute, aggression is the key factor that makes someone a winning player.
By being aggressive, you give yourself two chances to win the pot – either your opponent can fold, or you can win at showdown. If you play passively, you’re relying on having the best hand at showdown. While this can happen often if you play strong enough preflop ranges, it’s never a guarantee, and there will be long stretches where it seems impossible to win a hand at showdown.
This means we want to be aggressive preflop and postflop. We never want to open the pot with a limp, we want to 3bet and 4bet our opponents more, we want to be doing more continuation betting on the flop, and we want to be doing more raising when our opponents bet. A player who regularly does all of these things is a tough player to play against, as they’re always putting you under pressure and putting you to a decision.
So, if you want to become a winning poker player online, make sure you’re aggressive!
Don’t Bluff The Fish
It may sound like simple advice, but you’d be surprised at how many people mess it up! Many recreational players are calling stations; players who will call down with a wide range of hands in the hopes that they’re good and to “see what you’ve got.” These people cannot be bullied off their hands, and they very rarely fold if they have a piece of the flop.
So, for the love of God, do not try to bluff them! These players are walking ATMs, and we want to be making withdrawals, not deposits. By all means, build the pot if you’ve got a big draw so you can make more money when you hit, but if you miss, save yourself the cash and just check – they weren’t going to fold anyway.
Think In Ranges, Not Hands
One of the biggest differences between a losing player and a winning player is that a winning player will think in terms of ranges, not in individual hands. Not too long ago, it would be common to hear people say “I put you on AK,” or, “I think she has 99.” This type of thinking is flawed and doesn’t take into account how people actually play.
For example, you’re first to act UTG, and you raise to 3bb in a cash game. If you’re a good player and not a complete nit, you’ll be doing this with more than one hand. You’ll be doing it with AA, KK, QQ, JJ, AK, AQ, AJs, and a number of other hands. Therefore it would be stupid of me to try and pinpoint what you have to a single hand, I should consider how to play against all the hands in your range.
Trying to put your opponent on a single hand is essentially guesswork, and while you might be right sometimes, most of the time you won’t be and will be making significant mistakes.
Train yourself to think in terms of ranges, and you’ll quickly see a vast improvement in your poker game.
Be Prepared To Lose
This is one that no one likes to hear, but it’s true nonetheless – get ready to lose. A lot. Online poker is a tough game, and even the winning players only win between 50-60% of their cash game sessions and only cash 15-20% of their tournaments. This means that winning players are still just less than half their cash game sessions, and only cashing one of every five tournaments!
The variance in online poker is much higher than it is in live poker, due to the increased number of hands you’re playing. This means that the swings are a lot more dramatic, and it’s common for players to go on 20, 30, or even 50 buy-in downswings during the course of their online career.
At some point, you will run worse than you ever thought possible, for longer than you ever thought possible – what matters is how you deal with it and how you bounce back from it.
The most important part of playing online poker is to make sure you have fun! After all, what’s the point of becoming a winning poker player if you don’t enjoy playing the game? You should play and study poker for the enjoyment of the game, rather than any desire to get rich or make some fast cash.
If that’s your goal, you’ll soon find out why people say poker is a hard way to make an easy living!
If you enjoy yourself while at the poker table, you’ll always be a winning player.
In conclusion, mastering online poker demands dedication. By starting low, managing your bankroll, and embracing aggressive play, you’ll pave your path to victory. Stay focused, take breaks, and think in ranges, not hands. Remember, losses are part of the journey; resilience matters. Ultimately, prioritize enjoyment – the key to lasting success at the virtual felt.