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Online poker first became a household phenomenon in the early to mid-2000s with millions of players tuning in to watch tournaments on TV and putting their skills to the test against their friends. Now in recent months it’s popularity has resurged and plenty of new players and experienced veterans alike are once more turning to Texas hold ‘em tables.
It’s a game that’s said to be easy to learn but hard to master and the only way to improve your skills is to keep playing. Whilst this is fundamentally true, we’ve got a page full of online poker tips and strategies that you can incorporate into your game to increase your chances of winning. Some of these tips are aimed towards new players, but there are also several advanced concepts that you can begin to factor in once you’ve got a good handle on the basics.
So, if you’re looking to either land your first tournament win or simply rule at the cash tables, we suggest you continue reading our guide to discover some of the most effective online poker strategies.
Many less-experienced players often state that poker is simply a game of chance. Although there is an element of luck involved, there are also multiple skill-based factors that determine who comes out on top. Of course, bad beats do happen and no poker Texas Holdem strategy is perfect, but your luck can swing both ways and if you want to become a long term winner you’re going to have to study.
Ultimately, online poker strategies are there to help you make the correct decision at any given time, whether it be to call, raise, push, or fold. There will be times when the optimal decision results in a loss, but poker ability is judged over thousands, if not millions, of hands and the occasional beat should be expected.
So, don’t worry about the one hand that you think you should have won. Take a step back to fine-tune your math, psychology, and deception skills and come back stronger next time!
Just like when playing the majority of available table games, there are several online poker tips and tactics worth bearing in mind. By considering these you’ll not only improve your overall game but also stand more of a chance of walking away with a win in the long run.
Poker is a game that you play with incomplete information – you don’t know what cards your opponents hold right until the showdown. As such, you can’t always be sure if yours are stronger. Nevertheless, certain starting hands are better than others.
Typically, good starting hands to play are pocket pairs (two cards of the same value) or suited connectors (consecutive cards of the same suit). In most situations, you’ll be looking to get the most value out of these hands by placing a bet in the hope that your opponents call with a weaker hand. However, you must remember that as additional cards are introduced the strength of your hand can weaken.
Bad starting hands include cards that are unsuited and also range in value. For example, the 2 of spades and the 8 of hearts. Most of the time you’d be best off folding this hand, but if you did choose to bet, you’d be playing a bluff. In this case, you’d need to bet big, as you’re trying to force your opponents to fold.
However, there’s one thing that you must always keep in mind and that’s position. This is one of the most important concepts in online poker and it’s often overlooked by new players. The dealer position, or ‘button’, is usually the last player to act in a betting round, and acting last has a tactical advantage because you already know how your opponents have acted. As such, you can gauge the relative strength of your hand against what your opponents may have by seeing how they act. If you don’t have a strong starting hand and you’re up against a raise, it’s sensible to fold.
There are several ways in which you can win a hand of poker – the most obvious of which is to have a better hand than your opponent once you get to a showdown. However, when you size your bets correctly you can represent a range of different hands and win the pot before having to reveal your cards.
One such way is to value bet. Now, to understand what a value bet is we must also understand what a bluff is. Essentially, a value bet is a bet that you’d make when you expect to have more equity than your opponent. You make it in the hope that your opponent calls with the second-best hand. Comparatively, a bluff is made to get your opponent to fold.
One thing that’s imperative to maximising profit is to size your value bets in accordance with the board. For example, your bet sizes should be smaller on a dry board as the chances of your opponent drawing are smaller. Conversely, there’s a greater risk on a wet board so larger value bets should be made.
With this in mind, it’s also important to keep an eye on your opponent’s bet sizing. They may inadvertently show a pattern that indicates the strength of their hand. They may not always be immediately apparent, but as soon as you’re able to get a read on your opponent’s strategy you can make suitable adjustments to your play style.
After you consider this information it should enable you to make some of the more difficult decisions at the tables, such as laying down big hands. Just because you’re holding strong hole cards, it doesn’t mean you’re entitled to win. You must gauge the strength of your hand during the entire hand, including the flop, turn and river, and bet accordingly. Many players complain about the outcome of a hand when their opponent has hit the ‘nuts’ on the river. However, what they leave out is the fact that these opponents often play their hand in a way that allows you to put your cards down.
For example, if a player has limped in preflop, called the flop, called on the turn and bets into you on the river when a potential straight has appeared it’s likely that they’ve hit that straight. Similarly, raises on the river are often indicative of weaker players hitting what they need. Therefore, as long as you pay attention to what happens at every stage of the pot you should be able to take advantage of weaker players.
The keys to winning at online poker are to keep tight control over your emotions and to try and make the right decision at every turn. Bad beats happen, it’s an unfortunate part of the game. If you allow your emotions to dictate your decision making you’ll likely lose more hands, thus further impairing your subsequent decisions.
It’s a cyclical problem and titling can happen to anyone. Sometimes the only way to avoid tilt is to take a break so that you can regain control over your emotions.
When you play online poker against other players the bets you place tell your opponent a story. Now, that story doesn’t have to be true. The contents can be packed with lies in the hope that you can force your opponent to fold the best hand. A well-timed bluff could not only win you a pot that you’d otherwise lose, but also helps to mix up your play so that the other players can’t get an easy read on you.
The problem is that the ‘story’ you’re telling has to make some sort of sense. The only way that it will is if your bets are reflective of the cards you’re trying to represent at every stage of the hand. So, you must always consider how it looks to your opponent – if you had the hand that you’re bluffing, would you have played it any differently?
During every hand of poker, you’re using the community cards to try and create the winning hand. Those cards that help you do so are known as your ‘outs’.
To help you to understand ‘outs’ we’ll use a head-up example hand:
You’ve got four hearts and you’re waiting for the river to land a 5th so that you create the winning flush – your opponent has two clubs. Now, there are 13 hearts in a standard 52-card deck, 2 of which are in your hand and the other two are on the board, leaving nine remaining.
At this point, a total of 8 cards have been dealt (you and your opponent each have two hole cards and there are 4 community cards), which means there are 44 cards left. Of those 44 cards, there are 9 hearts that will win you the pot – these are your ‘outs’.
So, the odds of you making the flush are 35:9 (35 cards will not make your flush, whilst 9 will). Therefore, the chances that you’ll make your flush stand at approximate odds of 4 to 1.
Pot odds relate to the ratio between the size of the pot and how many chips you need to put in to call.
As an example, we’ll use the above scenario of needing a heart on the river to make your winning flush. There are currently 10 chips already in the pot and your opponent bets their final 10. In this case, you’re being asked to pay 10 to try and win 20 – this results in your ‘pot odds’ being 2 to 1. As we’ve already pointed out, the chances of hitting your flush are close to 4 to 1. Therefore, taking a 4/1 risk for a 2/1 payout is unwise.
However, if there was already 100 in the pot before your opponent bet their final 10 chips, you’d be asked to pay 10 to try and win 100 – pot odds of 10 to 1. As these pot odds offer a 10/1 payout when you’re only taking a 4/1 risk, it’s a wise move and, in this instance, you should call.
So, you may be looking to polish your poker tournament strategy or simply practise for free. Thankfully, there are many ways in which you can do so.
First off, a great number of online poker sites allow you to play with free chips. You can use these to play the various sit and go’s, tournaments, and cash games to get a feel for each type of online poker. In most cases, this is just a way to play poker for free, but certain sites also award players with free tournament entries for winning free play games – so be on the lookout!
Next, there’s the vast range of computer poker games that are available on both leading social media sites and elsewhere on the internet. Of course, these preclude you from winning any real money, but they’re another great way to familiarise yourself with the intricacies of the game.
However, similarly, there are also poker casino games that are made by some of the top providers in the iGaming industry. Amongst the many offerings, you can play NetEnt Texas Hold’em and be in with a chance of winning real money. It’s you versus the dealer and pays are awarded for creating ranked hands – the higher on the hierarchy, the bigger the payout!
Get stuck into the table action at one of our suggested casinos below:
How do I get good at online poker?
Practice. Practice. Practice. You can study different online poker strategies and read different poker tips until you’re blue in the face, but the only way to improve is to put your skills to the test. However, you must also maintain a level head at all times and keep tight control over your emotions. When you first start playing you’ll likely make a few mistakes, but learning from them and understanding how to avoid them will help you out in the long run.
Can you cheat at online poker?
In the past, there have been a number of online poker scandals that, at their heart, have been as a result of players cheating. However, as technology has advanced, online poker sites have improved software to detect potentially fraudulent play. That being said, there is still the possibility that collusion exists at certain tables – where multiple players who are sitting at the same table discuss their hands and what their best course of action is. Thankfully, poker sites keep a close eye on this and if they have a reason to believe this is occurring the account will likely be banned.
Is online poker harder than live?
There are multiple schools of thought on this. On the one hand, because you can’t physically see your opponent it’s harder to get a read on them and see if they have any specific tells you can use to your advantage. On the other, since you’ll only need to focus on their betting strategies and habits some players find it easier to weed out the newer players from the professionals. Ultimately, both variants offer unique gameplay elements and some players may be better suited to one over the other.
Can you make money from poker online?
Like any other online casino game, you can win money when playing poker. However, you do need to use a fundamentally sound poker strategy and choose the right games. Online poker tournaments are a great way to win big prizes if you prefer to play for a longer period, whereas cash games are ideal if you’re looking to secure quicker payouts.
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