Must-Know Tips for Online Poker

OK, you’ve made the decision to give online poker a try, now what? Here’s a few tips to get your game in a good place, things to watch for you help with the basics and put you in a position to win.

Be Selective with Your Starting Hands

This rings true whether you’re playing poker online or live, but you need to be playing starting hands that are the correct strength for your position in the betting order at the table. The beauty of online poker is you won’t have to wait too long for playable cards - given the quick rate that hands are dealt. But with that said, neither will your opponents. So you need to enter pots with strong hands you’re willing to raise and play fast. 

Online opponents are also more willing to fold to preflop aggression since they won’t have to wait too much longer for another good hand to play, so smaller preflop raises can usually take down a pot before any cards hit the board as opposed to a raise amount it would take to accomplish the same result in a live game.

Don't Be The First Player To Limp

You should be playing cards that are good enough to raise preflop if you decide to enter a pot, so you never want to be the first player to limp. You are most likely to just get raised anyways, so don’t make a habit of it. 

Sure, you can complete on the small blind or check your option on the big blind if there are no raises in front of you, but if you don’t think your cards are good enough to open the action with a raise then that little voice in the back of your head is probably telling you to sit this hand out.

Don't Call 3-Bets Out of Position

If an opponent reraises behind you preflop, and you don’t have the goods to reraise over the top of them, then it’s probably just time to get out of the way. You will be playing at a disadvantage for the rest of the hand during postflop action, and either get caught in a trap of check-calling your opponent’s raise to a final crying call on the river, or you will face future re-raises in the hand. Your opponent knows what you’ve done just before them the rest of the way, and a good player uses that extra information against you.

Semi-Bluff Aggressively with Your Draws

You need to pick your spots when it comes to bluffing. This can often apply to just the right situation against a particular player or a particular hand. One of the most effective ways to bluff is to semi-bluff when you’re on a draw. If the board is showing a straight or flush draw and you happen to be holding the cards for that draw, then you can start to bet as if you already have a made hand. 

This is effective as a bluff because it looks as though you’re trying to bet players off the draw you’re actually trying to make, and you have a backup plan if the cards fall your way. Even with that advantage up your sleeve, you should still only use this strategy sparingly against opponents you think will respect the strength you're showing by betting and raising the pot on your semi-bluff.

Don't Bluff Very Often Versus the Fish

Bad players are actually not effective to bluff against postflop, because once they’re dealt a hand they like they’re going to become a calling station to the bitter end with the premium starting cards they’ve been waiting for. This is especially true if you have observed that they’ve been playing tight beforehand. 

It is much easier to take advantage of the bad players at your table with preflop aggression, as they either immediately fold or usually only call with premium hands that you then know to get out of the way if the cards on the flop aren’t right for the situation. 

Recognizing Betting Patterns

Betting patterns are the largest tell available for you to decipher when playing poker online. Good players keep most of their bets and raises to a uniform amount until they go in for the kill with large reraises or an all-in shove, but weaker players make a raise based on the perceived value of their hand. That is free information for you to work with when deciding how to proceed, and a big reason to give your full attention to the action at your table even when you’re not actively playing hands to learn your opponent’s tendencies.

Don't Be Afraid to Fold

The beauty of online poker is that even when you fold your cards, you live to fight again another day in a matter of minutes, if not seconds. The action never stops online, so if your preflop aggression is met with equal or greater amounts of aggression fired right back at you, or your semi-bluff falls apart on the turn, just release your cards. 

Another starting hand is coming in just the blink of an eye. You can find a better spot to make your play, and it takes way less time waiting than if you were playing live poker.