Perhaps I’m one of the few that will admit it, but many years ago, when online poker was new there were at least a couple times when I loaded up my favorite search engine and entered such queries as “how to win at poker guaranteed”, “secrets of online poker winning”, and even “how to cheat at online poker”.
It is not at all uncommon for new players, or even long-term losing players, to dream that answers to such questions exist, and that a magical poker genie can make their dreams come true. But this is a poor strategy, to say the least. Players are quick to find any number of external factors that they can blame their failure on, but are slow to take responsibility for their own mistakes.
Winning at poker isn’t easy. The vast majority of people that play the game are long-term losers. In fact, even those who devote a lot of time to learning the game may still be unable to become profitable players. Below I’ve outlined some basic tips to get players started, but I must stress that these only scratch the surface. Poker is similar to sports betting, both can be beaten in long-term spans just like modern day stock exchanges.
Proper Bankroll Management is Paramount
The reality is that until you let go of the “get rich quick” mentality, your poker career probably isn’t going to go anywhere. Many poker players, even winning poker players, end up busting their online poker accounts, wiping out weeks, months, or even years of effort, simply because they don’t know how to manage their bankroll. If you move up in stakes every time you win, and fail to move down in stakes when you lose, it is almost inevitable you’ll eventually go bust.
If you’re a winning SNG player, you shouldn’t be playing a game where you can afford fewer than 40 buy-ins with your bankroll. In ring games, if you’re a fixed limit player, you’ll want to stay at stakes low enough to allow for a 300-500 big bet bankroll. When you exceed 500 bets, consider moving up in stakes. When you can afford fewer than 300 big bets, you need to move back down in stakes, and rebuild your bankroll.
The same scenario applies for NL and PL ring games, but we base these on having a 30-50 max buy-in bankroll. If you never deviate from this plan, it becomes impossible for you to truly ever go bust, and your chances of becoming a successful poker player will greatly increase.
Don’t underestimate the importance of protecting your bankroll. In a sense, doing so is all that matters. The level of risk also depends on how much you rely on poker for your income – are you a professional or a recreational player? Taking shots, moving up in limits, and dropping back down, are factors that all players must consider. However, a player can be a little less risk averse if they aren’t relying purely on poker for their income. If they go broke, at least they won’t be ruining their livelihood. That isn’t to say you should take more risks if you’re a recreational player, but doing so won’t cripple your ability to make a living.
The opposite is true of a player who relies on poker for most or all of their income. There’s no sense in taking unnecessary risks, and protecting the bankroll is of the utmost importance. As a professional player, your bankroll is your lifeblood. Just as a carpenter can’t go to work without his hammer and nails, you can’t go to work without your bankroll. Think of your poker bankroll not as mere money, but as the tools of the trade. If poker makes up your sole income or the vast majority of it, busting out will be a disaster.
When it comes to moving up in stakes, there shouldn’t be much pressure. It’s always a goal of players to move up in stakes and increase their earnings. But it’s also fine to simply settle on a certain limit, and to try and rack up the profits. Don’t feel like you need to move up just because you’ve played at a certain limit for a long time. Move up only when you feel comfortable to do so.
Manage Your Emotions: Avoid Tilting and Steaming
Even if you follow our recommended bankroll advice, tilt and steam are still major factors. To be successful at poker, you need to turn your tilt switch off, or remove the switch altogether.
The best players in poker, Phil Ivey, Tom Dwan (durrrr), and Daniel Negreanu are players who rarely go on tilt. But even when they do, it doesn’t seem to affect them much. Learn to control your emotions. Take breaks, relax, keep a healthy diet and sleep regimen, vacation often, and generally do whatever it takes to play poker without emotions. When you combine turning off your tilt switch with proper bankroll management, you’ll be 90% further along than most poker players.
Even with the above information, it will be impossible for you to play your “A” game every time you sit down at the table. Not to sound clichéd, but the old adage of “every hand is part of one lifelong session” rings true. Getting upset over a bad beat, or trying to get even if you are down on the session, might seem important at the time, but such tactics are meaningless long term.
Once you become more experienced, you will find that it’s a lot easier to get a beat on how well you’re playing. Advanced statistical programs like Hold’em Manager and PokerTracker can also do this for you, but it should always be obvious to you when you’re getting outclassed rather than simply being hit by bad luck.
Are you losing when substantially ahead? Or are you getting outplayed by superior opponents? If you’re losing hands despite being the statistical favorite, you can certainly garner some solace from your play. After a while, bad beats will simply be a part of the job, and you should be able to laugh them off without any tilt issues.
Exercise Game Selection
No matter how good you are at poker, there will always be certain games where, for whatever reason – and the factors may only exist on that particular day – you can’t win. Maybe players are cheating. Maybe your seat position sucks. Maybe an opponent has scouted you in detail, and is exploiting a leak in your game that you’re not aware even exists. Whatever the case might be, swallow your pride and leave the table when you’re struggling to win.
Too often, players persist in believing that they have a massive edge at that table, even though the evidence clearly shows that they’re struggling – if not taking a flat-out beating. Of course, there is a fine line between giving up an edge, and recognizing when something isn’t right and simply stopping for the day. But one thing is clear – if you’re a winning player, you’ll always find games you can beat. So why stay seated at one where you’re struggling to stay afloat?
The poker media likes to create an atmosphere of glamour, making idols of the best players in the world, and turning the game into a chase to the top table. While this makes for great TV, it’s a terrible distraction for those looking to maximize their profits.
Firstly, few players have the talent to beat other elite-level talent. Players like Phil Ivey and Daniel Negreanu don’t exactly grow on trees. It’s a huge mistake to play against players of a similar or higher skill level, rather than focusing on getting into games with fish.
Game selection is one of the most crucial factors in becoming a profitable player. In a sense, the above tips are meaningless unless you exercise good game selection. Making the most money playing online poker is a matter of finding the worst players around, and beating them. It’s as simple as that.
Tips for Winning More at Poker
Now that we’ve covered the fundamentals, here are some other tips for winning money playing online poker:
#1) Use Poker Software – Tools such as PokerTracker and Hold’em Manager with Heads-Up Display (HUD) are critical components in improving your poker game, and will help you build an edge over your opponents. They will track your play, and that of your opponents. These tools can also analyze your results, and show you where to improve. Every few months will see upgrades and new features being added, keeping you on top of the latest developments and trends. These are 100% must-haves for anyone serious about online poker.
#2) Subscribe to a Quality Training Site – Going with a monthly training site, like Deuces Cracked or Card Runners, can be one of the most affordable ways to get a leg-up on the competition. Most training sites offer a large selection of videos, produced by professional players and active forums. These can be a great way to view and learn from experts at an affordable price. Most training sites will come with yearly or monthly fees, but there’s usually a free trial period as well.
#3) Consider Poker Coaching – This is not important during the initial stages of your poker career, but once you find yourself reaching a level you can’t beat, you might want to hire a poker coach to get you over that hump. Today’s market is stuffed with poker coaches, and many of them are pretenders, so it’s important to do your own research before making a choice. Top end coaching can cost upwards of $300 an hour.
#4) Post Hands, Discuss Strategy – Develop a group of professional or semi-professional players with whom you can exchange hands and discuss strategy. Posting hands at forums is another excellent way to discuss your approach and receive advice from seasoned players. Two Plus Two (2+2) is the largest internet poker forum, and is the place where many WSOP Main Events winners learned their game. Greg “Fossilman” Raymer is a notable Two Plus Two participant who has achieved considerable success.
Here conclude the tips I have for winning money playing online poker. I wish you the best of luck.
Author: Savanah Lavinder
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