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Copyright © 2006 All In Magazine
Ten Tips to Improve Your Online Poker Game
Author: Lena Katz
You play for fun, you play for thrills, you play to distract yourself
from work--but in a perfect world, you'd play for tons and tons
of money. In this story, Shawn Rice, UltimateBet online team member
and traveling pro, as well as teacher at PokerByExample.com, shares
10 ways that you can improve your online game and hopefully become
one of poker's big winners.
Tip 1. Play within your means.
Don't overplay your bankroll. Whether you're playing in online
tournaments or cash games, you have to withstand the peaks and
valleys of poker. You really have to be disciplined to play cash
game poker because your bankroll's constantly at risk, and it's
easy to get in over your comfort level. In tournament play, you
know what you're going to spend before you go in--so if you tend
to lack discipline, I suggest you stick with tournaments.
Tip 2. Know when to quit for the day.
You've got to have a stopping point. In specific, you should never
lose over 10% of your bankroll the same day. If you lose 10%,
you're playing catchup poker, and it changes your game play for
Tip 3. Play a game that you're good at.
Choose a game where your expected value is better than the average
person in the field. You don't want to play a game that you're
not strong at, just because the field is better and the final
prize pool is richer. Because no limit hold 'em is so popular
these days, it might seem that that's where the money is, but
in fact, if you're an Omaha 8 player, your likelihood to cash
in is greater in an Omaha game, even if the prize pool isn't as
Tip 4. If you're a beginner in tournament play, earn
your way into the big tournaments through satellites.
Don't pay a $500 entry when satellites are an option. Reason being,
if you're not good enough to win the satellite, you're probably
not skilled enough to play in the main tournament.
Tip 5. When you're starting out with new, unfamiliar
software, play only one game at a time.
Do this till you get very familiar with a site. Only start playing
two at a time if you're absolutely sure you can do so without
compromising your skill--and even then, it's advisable to stick
with a maximum of two simultaneous games. Oftentimes you'll see
top online pros--Poker Ho, brsavage, Scott Fischman and JohnnyBax--playing
four or five online tournaments at once. What they're doing is
gambling early and aggressively in several tournaments with the
knowledge that they'll bust out of a couple early, but the hope
of gaining a big stack in a couple others, positioning themselves
early on to get into one or two two simultaneous final tables
with a decent stack.
[see recommended Online
Tip 6. Learn the math of poker.
There's no way around it. Do your homework. Input different hand
scenarios into an odds calculator when you're not in play. Record
and memorize the results. That way, you will have the knowledge
stored in your brain in the heat of battle, and you'll be able
to make a calculated decision rather than a panicked one.
[Learn to calculate
poker odds and outs]
Tip 7. Knowledge is key, whether you glean it from books,
videos, or a mentor.
All poker books are great--regardless of whether you agree or
disagree with what is written--because they make you think. Different
authors have different styles of play, and there are so many different
winning styles of play at poker. You may find one that suits you--or,
after having read many books, you might pull the most helpful
things from each one and come up with your own unique play style.
If you're going to learn from video, pick videos by pros who have
won a lot of money. Annie Duke, Phil Hellmuth and Howard Lederer
all have outstanding instructional videos available. Different
Web sites offer poker tutors: PokerByExample, PokerMentors.com.
Find a pro that you respect, and see if they offer one-on-one
Tip 8. Know your player.
The disadvantage of playing online is that you can't read your
opponent--but the advantage is, you learn more about respecting
the amount of the bet. When first playing a new person, ask yourself
why they're betting a certain amount at a particular time. Study
and familiarize yourself with each opponent's betting patterns.
Once you know that player, you will be able to strategize your
play around what he's likely to have--based on his betting patterns--and
it really will matter less what you have.
Tip 9. Stay consistent with your betting patterns.
if you vary your betting according to your hand--making bigger
bets when you consider yourself to have a strong hand--it will
be a tell for many online pros.
Tip 10. Learn to control your emotions at the table.
Poker in many ways is like boxing. It's all about how you relate
to your opponent. It's how you counteract somebody's bet, raise,
check-raise, and how you follow up with a fold, a call oe a raise.
Whether you're a boxer in the ring or a player in the game, in
order to be a heavyweight champion, you're going to have to take
the punches.What separates the pros from the amateurs is how they
deal with it. Take a break, do breathing exercises. If you're
in a tournament, take a step back and remind yourself that one
or two bad beats hasn't yet knocked you out. If it's a cash game,
don't get back in the ring till you're ready to fight.
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