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
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.
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,
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.
-Beating Up on Weak Players
-Go Big or Go Home
-Mixing It Up
-4 Quick Tips for Better Online Play
-The Truth About Tells
-Asian Poker Players
-Seating in Cash Games: A quick way to increase poker
-Lessons From the FBI
-The Gordon Pair Principle
-Battling with 'The Mouth'
-Grinding Out the Borgata
-Standard Pre-Flop Raises in No Limit Tournaments