You were the master of poker at your regular home game. You did fairly well at the local casino. But when it comes to the art of online poker, you just can’t capture the same magic. Saddened you head back to your home game and beat it, return to the casino and dominate, re-open your online account and bust. Why? You know you are a good poker player and can win so why are you having so much trouble playing online? You are in the comfort of your own home, dressed in your most comfortable clothes, listening to and watching your favorite music and shows. No leering eyes watching your every move. Your friends are not mocking your life choices. Everything is at its best so why are you not at your best with online poker?
While the games are the same, there are some major differences between playing poker in a live game and playing online. To help navigate some pitfalls when playing online poker, here are 10 tips that can help you transfer your poker skill to the online world.
10. LEARN THE INTERFACE:
When you sit down at your home game or at a casino, you know where your chips are, how to raise or fold, how to interact with the other players or dealer. When you join an online table, these things are not as instinctive. With buttons and pictures everywhere, it can be mind-boggling. One thing that every online poker player should do is spend some time learning the interface. Sit out for a couple of hands and familiarize yourself with the buttons. Find out how the raise buttons work, and more importantly, where they are. Discover the chat options. Spending a couple of minutes familiarizing yourself with your table surroundings will speed up your play and could prevent you from making a mistake.
9. COMFORTABLE STAKES:
When you set up a home game with your friends, you play at stakes that are comfortable for everyone. When you go to your local poker room, you sit at a table that fits in your budget. The same logic applies to online poker. You should always play at stakes in your comfort zone and when first starting, play at a lower level. Playing in your comfort zone will make it easier for you to concentrate on the game.
8. JUST ONE TABLE:
Limiting yourself to just one table is extremely important when you are starting out playing online poker. There is a lot to see and process when playing poker online and when you are new, it can be a bit overwhelming. Playing just one table at a time can help prevent some sensory overload allowing you to concentrate on making the right call. Just because the option to play at multiple tables is there, does not mean you should.
7. BE SELECTIVE:
You will see a lot more hands playing poker online. No downtime while the cards are being shuffled and dealt. No waiting while everyone takes a bathroom break and no idle chatter or raucous laughter to distract the table from the game. When playing live poker you will see between 25-30 hands per hour. When playing online, you will see between 75-100 hands per hour. With hands coming at you three times as fast, the tendency to get frustrated with a lengthy dry spell will increase causing you to make bad decisions. The best players know this is just a part of the game. Don’t play marginal hands just because you haven’t seen a good hand in a while.
Just like at the live tables, your position at the online poker table is important. You need to learn how your seat affects the decision making process. And how your opponent’s seat should affect theirs. Make sure you pay attention to where the button is during the hand, particularly if you are playing multiple tables. Mistaking early position for late position when holding a marginal hand can save you a re-buy.
5. BE AGGRESSIVE:
When you play poker live, you have the benefit of being able to see and read your opponent. When online, that advantage is lost. Finding a way to regain an advantage over your opponent is necessary. Playing aggressively with your hands is one way to do this. When playing live, we partially disassociate with the money because we are using chips to represent bets. When we are online, this disassociation is even greater because our only interaction is with a mouse and keyboard; there is no physical interaction with any form of funds. As this separation increases, people become braver and more liberal with their bankrolls. Make them pay. Aggressively defend your blinds and your big hands. Luck favors the bold and aggressive players tend to be lucky.
4. THE ART OF THE BLUFF:
Another way to gain your advantage is the Art of the Bluff. Bluffing online is vastly different from playing live. When you are live, you can see your opponent, chat with them, pick up on their various nuances all to make a decision. When you are online, the only information you have is the bets and betting history. Learning to use this to your advantage, to be able to tell a story about your hand different from what you actually have, is key to being a successful online poker player.
3.REVIEW YOUR HANDS:
During any session, you will have hands that you question your choices. When you are playing live, it is almost impossible to review the hands as people either don’t remember what they had or are unwilling to talk about it. When you are playing online you have the advantage of tracking your hands through software like PokerCraft on GGPoker. This software allows you to look at your hands and your choices, giving you an idea on what you could have done differently. Should you have bet more on the turn, did the opponent give some information that you missed. To further your learning, you can sign up with ‘Ask Fedor’, a highly advanced analytics program, that will analyze every decision you made in the hand. Through continual review you will improve your decision-making and online poker skills.
2. GOOD ENVIRONMENT:
One of the most important aspects of playing poker online is having a good environment in which to play. When you are sitting at a live table, you are aware of the game, paying attention to the other players, carrying on casual conversations; all the things needed to keep your mind active. If you need food or drink, someone will be around to get it for you, so even when you are not in the hand, you are still watching the game and learning about your opponents. When you are playing online poker, without these extra stimuli, your mind will wander. Whether it is streaming a video or checking email, leaving the computer to get a drink or some food, these non-game related distractions will cause you to make foolish mistakes. To alleviate the issue, before playing, get yourself set up. Have a water bottle handy. Set up your snacks. Empty your bladder. Make sure you are well rested. Being in a good place both mentally and physically is key to being successful at the online poker tables.
Poker is a game of patience but playing online poker can feel rushed. With a clock that will time you out in 30 seconds or less, the overwhelming nature of poker sites, the massive number of buttons…there is a lot to process and not a lot of time. To be successful, you need to stop. Do not rush yourself. Take your time. Fold if you are unsure, it is better to lose a small hand, than rush a decision and lose your entire bankroll.