Online poker is a game that takes time to get used to, but it is hardly impossible to get comfortable. There are some finer dynamics that you will learn in time, usually strategy oriented, while the basics of online poker are easy to adapt to.
Basic fundamentals like finding the top poker bonus can increase your bankroll and improve your overall poker experience, and the best part is that it takes little to no effort whatsoever. New online players might neglect some of the “pre-game” steps for online poker, but there is no doubt that they are critical to your success.
1. Have a Bankroll
Having a bankroll is a necessary step to take whether you are playing live poker or online poker. If you do not maintain and control your bankroll, you can not realistically consider yourself a serious player. Playing without a bankroll is like driving a car without insurance or a license, and on the opposite side of the road. You might be able to get away with it for a little while, but eventually you will end up crashing and burning.
The proper bankroll that you need will vary from game to game. Micro stakes players need 20+ buy-ins, while small stakes heads up players often times carry closer to 100 buy-ins. Your exact bankroll is going to ultimately be decided by you. There are guidelines that you can, and should, follow, but there is nothing that is set in stone.
2. Get the Maximum Bonus
Earning the maximum deposit bonus is one of the easiest ways to ensure that you are making the most “free money” as possible. There is nothing involved with earning a top deposit bonus other than shopping around. Depending on where you live (US vs. non-US), you will have different options available to you. As a general rule of thumb, however, the poker sites that accept US players tend to offer the biggest bonuses. Read the bonus terms carefully before you sign up and deposit, though, because some bonuses are more difficult to clear than others.
3. Choose a Good Site
There is no shortage of shady poker sites out there. If you don’t shop around for a reputable site there is a shot that you will wind up losing your money in the end, which can be a problem with some poker sites. No, there isn’t a major risk that you will be swindled out of your deposits, but it always remains a possibility. Some networks have a better overall reputation than others, and this will make it safer to play at these select sites. In the end, the best plan of action is to simply join a site that you have already heard of. You can’t really go wrong if you join a site that has tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of players. The smaller and newer the poker room, the bigger the inherent risk is of getting cheated.
4. Buy Poker Software
Poker software is a foreign concept to even some of the most experienced online players. I guess if you want to say the “main” software people know is Poker Tracker because it has the most stats on other players. What poker software does is allow you to track your progress on the tables. These programs will tell you everything from how frequently you get involved in pots, to how often you raise, to your tendency to re-raise and fold pre-flop. In short, there isn’t a whole lot that these programs can’t do. The benefit to poker software is not only that you can analyze your own play, but you can also gauge how your opponents play. Using other players’ statistics, a HUD (heads up display) will tell you exactly how a certain player tends to approach the game. These HUDs are shown as boxes over a players name at the table, and it will give you a quick snapshot of how they play. The quick stats will tell you how aggressive the player is, how many hands they like to play, and how many hands of data you have on them. You also have the ability to expand the data and find out even more information. For an investment of less than $100, this software will make a world of difference.
5. Join Poker Forums
Joining poker forums is one of the best ways to get familiar with the online poker scene. Not only will forums allow you to quickly adapt to the online world, but it is also a great way to improve your strategy at the tables. Many of today’s top poker players learned a lot at popular poker forums like TwoPlusTwo.com. It costs nothing to join almost any of the major poker forums, and they will teach you infinite valuable tips, tricks, and strategy. Getting serious about online poker means that you should start participating at the forums, whether it means reading, posting, or a combination of the two.
6. Never Open Limp
Never open limp is quite the basic piece of strategical advice. The basis for this guideline is that weak play is almost always bad play. If a hand was worth limping with, it was probably also worth raising with. Instead of tipping the advantage in your opponents’ favor, make a raise pre-flop and take the initiative. It will win you a number of pots pre-flop, and it will allow you to push the action post-flop. Limp folding and even limp calling pre-flop is a fantastic way to burn through your money.
7. Be Aggressive
Aggressive play builds upon the sixth tip of never open limping. Generally aggressive play has been adapted by almost all of the best players in the world. In fact, all of the top players know how to effectively navigate an aggressive style of play. One of the few big name cash game players who doesn’t play aggressively is Phil Hellmuth, and everyone knows how much he struggles. Scared money seldom makes money, and this is absolutely true in poker.
8. Make Folds
A tendency of online players is to see way too many showdowns. Sometimes it is best to just let go of your hand. There is a natural inclination to call off bets to see if maybe, just maybe you happen to have the best hand, but it is just not worth it in the long run. Players who call down with super weak hands are usually holding what are known as bluff catchers. A bluff catcher is the type of hand that will only be able to beat a complete bluff. There will be occasional spots where a bluff makes a lot of sense, but your opponent is going to have it more often than not. It feels great to pick off a big bluff but it feels a lot worse to make a bad call.
9. Pick Bluffs Selectively
Just as making a lot of folds is pertinent, so to is attempting well placed bluffs. Calling off light and making tons of bluffs is the perfect recipe for failure. Picking good spots for a bluff is dependent on a handful of variables. For example, bluffing a super tight player on the river after they called two streets is probably not a good idea. By contrast, bluffing a calling station is even worse. If you are going to run a bluff, you should have a feel for how your opponent plays and what types of hands they are likely to be holding. If you can’t figure these two things out, passing up on bluffing is generally your best plan.
10. Play Pots in Position
Playing pots in position is one of the easiest ways to win the most with your big hands and lose the least with your weak hands. If you think about it, this is the general premise behind all of poker. Position allows you to play hands comfortably, no matter what you have pre-flop or post-flop. Out of position pots can certainly be profitable as well, but you should be calling with weaker hands in position, and stronger hands out of position. For every bit of position that you have, your overall hand strength is equally improved.