To be a Long-Term Winner in Online Poker Games a Range of Skills is Required
Many players believe that beating online poker is all about the strategy. While you need to have the skills to out-play your opponents, this is far from the only factor. I’d suggest that hand reading, bet sizing and other ‘strategy’ skills are necessary, though not sufficient, to beat the game.
You’ll see from the list below; poker strategy is involved in just one of 10 tips for beating online poker games. Here is the full list of what you will find below:
There is a huge difference in the average skill level of opponents across different poker rooms. Some rooms are filled with online pros, most of them playing at multiple tables. Others are filled with amateurs or recreational players.
If you want to beat online poker games, then you should be looking for the easiest sites. Your hourly profits will be bigger playing against recreational players (even if you can beat the pros).
Look out for sites which are big sports betting brands and also offer poker. These rooms benefit from cross-over traffic. It only takes one or two ‘wild’ players in a game to get the action going – as the other players will all be after those chips.
Sites to avoid include those that reward high volume play (for example with rakeback). These sites tend to attract skilled players, who multi-table, grinding out an hourly profit. You can find more on where to find the best sites in our guide to the easiest poker rooms.
It does not matter how much better you are at playing hands than your opponents, money management (also known as bankroll management) is an important poker skill. Every player experiences a bad run now and again. This is part of the natural ‘variance’ of poker. Even the best players suffer downswings of 10+ (cash game) buy-ins on a regular basis.
If you don’t protect yourself by managing your poker bankroll, those swings can lead to going broke. Accepted bankroll levels are 20 buy-ins for cash games, 50 Sit N Go buy-ins and 100 (or more) for poker tournament players. Many players use these levels as an indicator of when to move up and down buy-in levels.
Players who feel that those buy-ins are too strict are generally those who are lucky enough not to have experienced a downswing yet!
There are a lot of different poker game variations. Texas Hold’em dominates both the online and live games. In addition, you can enjoy Omaha variants, mixed games, stud and draw. Each of these games can be played as a cash game, tournament and sometimes in other formats (Sit N Go, fast-fold, lottery games).
Add to this the different types of betting (pot-limit, no-limit, fixed limit) and speeds (hyper turbo, turbo, standard) – and you have a huge number of options. Within tournament poker, there are still more sub-formats. These include knockout bounties, progressive knockouts, rebuys, satellites and big ante games.
It can be enjoyable to switch things up sometimes, and even to play different formats at once. If you want to beat online poker games consistently, specializing is the way to go.
Learn to beat one game, work on your hand histories and fix leaks, fine tune your strategy – and you’ll become a consistent winner.
There is no reason you can switch games now and again to keep things fresh. Having a go-to format that you are sure you can beat is a great way to top up your bankroll while you take shots at higher buy-ins!
If you are playing at a smaller site, then the chances are you’ll come across the same players frequently. Taking detailed notes on their tendencies will give you a big edge.
Many players have betting patterns which change when they are weak or strong. They will not be paying enough attention to figure out that you know that a 1/3rd pot bet means they missed and ½ pot means they hit the flop.
By taking detailed notes you can get a huge edge over many players. This applies to pros (who often multi-table using a standardised strategy) as much as it does for amateur players. Avoid simple one-word tags like, ‘fish’, ‘tight’ or ‘station’. Instead include details on position, their holdings and bet sizes. It is amazing how often you’ll spot patterns after doing this for a while.
If you are multi-tabling yourself, taking notes might not be practical. In this case you could buy a tool to keep track of your opponents. Commercial software like Hold’em Manager will keep histories of every hand you play – including then tendencies of your opponents. This will quickly flag the weak players and give you information you can use to get thin value from your opponents.
Note that some sites do not allow these tools. You should check the terms and conditions before you purchase one.
Whichever form of poker you play, position is the key to beating the games in the long term.
This simply means you play more hands when last to act than when you are first to act. The simplest way to do this is to play more often when you have the dealer button, and fewer hands from ‘Under the Gun’.
Position is a universal strategy consideration in poker. It works because you get more information when last to act. For example, if you have a medium strength hand and act last – only to see a big raise, and then an even bigger reraise ahead of you, then you can lay it down without committing more money. If you were first to act, you might have bet out before getting the news that 2 opponents love their hands!
While strategy is complex for many poker games – playing in position will make money in the long-run, all else being equal.
I started this list with site selection. Table selection is closely related (and just as important). This involves choosing the easiest games to beat from the list available in your site’s lobby.
Most poker sites list statistics with their available games. These show how big the average pot is, and the average number of players seeing each flop. This gives you an indication of how loose each game is. The wildest tables will see both numbers higher than average.
This information alone is not yet enough to find the best game. You need to check the table and make sure that the seat available puts you in a good position to take advantage of the fish. Sitting to the immediate left of an active (or just plain bad) player gives you plenty of opportunity to isolate them and play pots in position.
Table selection can apply to sit n go tournaments too. If you see several ‘regulars’ already registered for your games, then it could be prudent to wait. Once they have filled their quota, the games can have a better balance of amateurs to pros. Even if you can beat other professionals, games with them in will never be as profitable as those without.
Remember, table selection is not a ‘one and done’ activity. You need to regularly reassess each of the games you are playing I – and move table if things have tightened up.
Tilt sounds almost comical – a bad beat sees the ‘red mist’ descend, making you play like a maniac in order to get even. Unfortunately, this happens to most players in one form or another. Any time you play differently to get ‘your chips’ back from that ‘lucky fish’ you are showing signs of tilt. There are other forms too. Some players get some downbeat from consistent suck-outs that they start playing passively, so as not to risk too many chips. This passive play leads to more beats – continuing the cycle.
Good players acknowledge that tilt can make a difference. They make plans in advance to deal with this should it strike.
The most obvious strategy is to simply take a break. Getting away from the games, even taking a walk for 10 minutes, is often enough to get your rational self back functioning again. Another strategy is to keep a file of hands where you got lucky on hand. You can review this when someone sucks out – maybe reminding yourself that you are a long term winning player along the way.
Finally, why not fire up a game at 1/20th of your normal bankroll – and go crazy there for a few minutes. This can help relieve the stress and get your focus back for the main game.
The most common way that winning poker players increase their hourly profits is to play more tables. Some players enjoy 12+ games at once. They will sacrifice some profit from each game – 12 is simply too many games to follow closely enough to maximize value. This is made up for by the sheer volume of hands. For example, someone capable of making $10 per hour while playing 4 tables ($10 / table) might be able to make $6 per hour from 12 games, almost doubling the hourly rate to $72.
You’ll need to invest in software tools like Hold’em Manager or Poker Tracker to help you with this. You will also need to adjust your strategy. Folding some marginally profitable hands from early position will let you focus on the more obviously profitable spots.
Remember that any leaks in your game will be magnified. Make sure you have a solid strategy and process for reviewing your hands after each session before you add more games. This can be done in stages, moving from 4 to 6, then 8 and so on. If you reach a point where you feel overwhelmed, drop one table and practice until you are comfortable again.
Poker sites compete fiercely with each other to attract players. You can take advantage of these deals by staying flexible – moving to the room which offers the best promos or loyalty rewards. While a rakeback deal is a common way for multi-tablers to get cash – you do need to balance this with the fact that sites offering this are often tougher than their rivals.
Players searching for how to win at online poker should keep a list of sites to check out – and make sure they do not miss out on reloads, promotions or other loyalty rewards.
Poker is tough enough when you are feeling fresh and bringing your ‘A-Game’ to the tables. When you have a couple of drinks, the finer points of strategy quickly become irrelevant. Many a good player has seen their bankroll decimated by taking a shot after a boozy Friday night out. If you lack discipline, why not set up a special account at a different site? This can be used for ‘donking around’, instead of your main accounts.
Playing tired or when feeling under the weather are not quite as dangerous. Both situations make it hard to bring you’re a-game. Step down in stakes – or keep your sessions short until you feel well rested again.