Online poker is the go-to betting game for people all around the world. It became particularly popular during the pandemic and resulting lockdowns, with players using it as a way not only of taking home prizes, but also socializing with friends remotely. The surging poker activity during lockdowns was observed in much of the world, with the four U.S. states supporting legal real-money poker all posting record online gaming revenues.
Al of this is good news for players. It means there is more activity and therefore more money swilling around the game. That makes for more opportunities to win, and more opponents against whom to play. That said, you shouldn’t dive into online poker without preparation and strategy –– so here are some tips on how to find success.
Being selective with starting hands
One of the biggest learning curves for new players revolves around patience. When you’ve just downloaded a shiny new poker app on your smartphone and those cards start being dealt your way, it can be more than tempting to play every time. Folding is the ultimate anti-climax to the new player. But with time, you’d do well to learn when to play, and when to hold back. It’s a key skill that the world’s best players have refined to an art. Just make sure to pounce when that big hand does come around.
Calculating the odds
As you begin playing and practicing more regularly, it is likely you’ll develop something of a knack for math. The online game moves quickly, and being able to recognize and calculate poker odds can give you a significant advantage. It’s a little bit advanced, but if you understand some basic probabilities associated with different situations, you’ll be better for it. Don’t get us wrong – we don’t exactly expect you to replicate the mental arithmetic of Rain Man at the blackjack tables. But it can’t hurt to develop a basic understanding of the probabilities, as the game progresses. If you know what might be coming next, or how good a chance you have of winning a given bet, one thing it’ll do, is help you to make sound decisions.
Getting good at bluffing
Bluffing might seem like a dishonest ruse, but it’s probably the most artful, cunning and… well, fun part of the game. At the very beginning, you might be hesitant to bluff. But as you rise through the ranks, it becomes a more integral part of playing. There’s nothing quite like forcing another player who probably had a better hand than you to fold (especially when you truly had nothing!). It becomes a test of willpower and resolve. As a bonus, doing well with your bluffs can pay off going the other way as well. That is to say, when you have a great hand, your rivals might believe you are bluffing again, and go in… only for you to blow them away with your cards.
Defending your blinds
Defending your blinds at every possible opportunity has become one of the main strategies in modern-day online poker. For those who may not know, poker blinds are “forced bets” made by the two people immediately clockwise of the dealer (or dealer button, which rotates each hand in the event that there’s a central dealer). The person next to the dealer is the small blind, and the next person is the big blind (typically double the small). In the big blind, you’re the last to act in the initial betting round, so you can call the shots when it’s your turn, with a lot of information about the other players in mind. Of course, you have to consider the possibility or re-raised pots and the number of other competitors in the hand. There’s no single method that always works – but it is considered good play to defend those blinds, since you don’t have a choice but to play them in the first place!
Even given the above strategies, you should not enter online poker games expecting to be able to earn winnings every time on pure skill. Poker is not, as some mistakenly look at it, an investment strategy. But with a little luck, the tips above do give you a better chance of winning. And if you can get on board with some of these basics, then with time, you might just find that the game is both a fun and profitable hobby.