4 Quick Tips to Improve Online Play

Tip One: Mix Up Your Play:  Once you have mastered the fundamentals of a particular game (for the purpose of this article we’ll use Hold'em) it's very easy to lapse into mechanical play.  This is particularly true when playing online.  While live casinos are literally designed to stimulate and engage, your cubicle or home most likely has the exact opposite effect—which can lead to just “playing by the book.”  If you happen to lapse into a predictable manner of play (failing to adjust to the overall table, failing to notice the tendencies of the players to your immediate right and left, making moves without asking yourself “what am I trying to accomplish?”) then it may be time to tweak your game a bit.  Instead of waiting for Queens, Kings or Aces, raise with a 5/3 offsuit!  Not only will it help get you out of your funk, but it’ll also keep your opponents off balance. 

Tip Two: Limpin' Ain't Easy:  Although this applies to both live and online play, we see it so often in online games that it had to be included:  don’t limp when you’re the first to enter a pot!  As Chris Ferguson explains, "The logic behind this tip is that since you have no money involved in the pot, if you fold you lose nothing. Therefore, if you’re going call you had better have a hand that expects to earn money—and if your hand is a favorite, you should raise.  In addition, you will also stop giving away valuable information about the hands you are playing (astute players will quickly divide your holdings into raising and calling hands).  By raising every time you enter a pot, you reveal the minimum amount of information possible."  (It should also be noted that in Hold’em there a number of hands that are not worth a call, but are worth a raise—however, that’s another article.)  In short, the best way to think about this rule is that if a hand is not strong enough to raise with, it's probably not strong enough to call with.  

Of course, in poker, there is an exception to every rule.  If for instance, you’re holding Aces and you know that the maniac to your left will raise if you limp in, then by all means, limp away.  However, this play is a much more advanced move and you had better know what you’re doing before you try it.  Not only do you risk wasting a big pocket pair, but you may easily end up going broke if your opponent limps behind you and makes two pair on the flop with a K,5.   

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Tip Three: Online tells: When playing online poker, most tells have to do with betting speed.  The "dramatic pause" is one of the easiest to catch. In most cases, a bet preceded by an extended pause, indicates strength from a player who is trying to project weakness. On the flip side, a check preceded by an extended pause, likely indicates weakness from a player who is trying to project that he is strong enough to at least "consider" betting (most likely he's just hoping to catch a free card.) It should also be noted that most players rarely check-raise after a dramatic pause. When attempting a check-raise, most people want to appear completely normal so as not to discourage your wager. If you are check-raised after a "dramatic pause," tread carefully.  It's also smart to watch out for instantaneous "auto button" raises. These bets often indicate a monster hand.  The player is most likely attempting to intimidate you into making a call. 

Tip Four: Short-Handed Play:  Most likely, a good number of the tournaments you'll be playing online will be Sit-and-Go's (9-handed games that begin as soon as 9 players signup to play.)  When playing Sit-and-Go's you'll inevitably be faced with short-handed play (or at least you hope you will be).  When playing short-handed, aggression is key.  I’m sure you’ve seen it before: the game gets down to three or four players and suddenly the guy on your right is going nuts!  He’s raising, re-raising, and completely dominating the game. To the beginner, or to those inexperienced in short-handed play, this wild-man appears to have just thrown caution to the wind.  He finally shows down a hand and he’s holding K,9!  However, he probably won the hand—and he probably stole a bunch o’ blinds before that.  So what’s his trick?  Aggression.  A complete poker player must learn to play a solid aggressive game. It’s simply not enough to sit back and wait for good cards during 9/10 handed play, only to fall apart when you’re close to the big money spots.  For example, have you seen T.J. Cloutier at a final table?  He’s about as tight as they come until he reaches short-handed play.  That’s when he comes out firing.  He does this because he knows that if he doesn’t, someone else will—and then it’ll be him getting run over and not the other way around. 

We know this tip may make you a little uncomfortable if you’re generally a tight player—but believe us, once you learn to enjoy short-handed play it’s probably the most fun you’ll have at a poker table. 

Bonus Tip: Pick the Right Website: We've tried most of the online poker sites out there, and in our opinion, Full Tilt Poker is the absolute best. It's secure, the software is excellent, and there are plenty of beatable games.


Additional Articles:
-Beating Up on Weak Players
-Go Big or Go Home
-Conditional Probability

-Mixing It Up
-Sit-and-Go Strategy
-4 Quick Tips for Better Online Play
-The Truth About Tells

-Asian Poker Players
-Seating in Cash Games: A quick way to increase poker profits
-Lessons From the FBI
-The Gordon Pair Principle
-Battling with 'The Mouth'
-Grinding Out the Borgata
-Standard Pre-Flop Raises in No Limit Tournaments


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