You’ve decided to jump into the world of online poker. Congratulations! Poker is a great hobby that requires mental acuity, skill, and a bit of luck to succeed. However, before you go jumping into million-dollar contests or games that have blinds in the thousands, you’ll need to learn a few basics and have some strategies in mind. The good news is that the team at SGPN has a few seasoned poker pros on staff, and we’ve worked out a detailed online poker guide filled with advice and tips for beginners!
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Beginner’s Tips, Advice, and Guide to Online Poker
Before you head to your nearest online casino, check out our online poker guide with key tips and advice to avoid a few of the common landmines that folks starting out may fall into.
Also, let’s get this out of the way now. You don’t need expensive sunglasses to play online. If you want to live out your World Series of Poker dreams while sitting at home, go for it, but no one can see how cool you look in an online game. We just saved you a few hundred dollars that you can put towards a tournament.
1. Set Limits
The first rule on our list is setting limits for dollars and play. Never bet more than you can reasonably afford. It may sound like fun to bet a car payment on a single hand of poker, but it may not end up working out in your favor, especially when you’re starting out.
Also, set limits on how much time you want to spend on the computer. Any game played online can be addictive. If you find your play impacting your work, home life, or even your sleep schedule, it’s time to dial it back a little. Remember, you can always play tomorrow or next weekend.
2. Figure Out How You Want to Play
No-limit Texas hold ’em is the most popular version of online poker, but there are other options available. Learn the rules and try a few different games before settling on one that you want to focus on. Available options may include:
- Pot limit Omaha
- Omaha hi-lo
- Chinese poker
- 5-card draw
- 7-card stud
3. Take Advantage of Free Play
If you’re an absolute beginner, start at the bottom and work your way up. Most online casinos offer free tournaments, free play, or online poker for beginners to help new players learn before jumping into money tournaments. Get comfortable at the table, make a few mistakes without any money on the line, gain experience, and then take on some more experienced competition in a cash game.
4. Learn the Percentages
What are the odds of getting pocket pairs? It’s about 1 in every 17 hands. If you get two suited cards on the draw, what are the odds of getting a flush? It’s slightly better than 1 in 3. If you need two cards on the turn and the river, what are the chances of getting them? Believe it or not, it’s less than 1%.
Knowing key percentages and how likely certain percentages come up will help you get ahead of the game.
A few other important numbers to know are as follows:
- Premium hands like Ace/King only show up at the draw in about 1 in 50 hands. Waiting for the ideal hand may not be the best strategy.
- Didn’t pair up on the draw? The odds of pairing either of your cards on the flop is only about 1 in 3 hands.
- Don’t chase inside straights. They work out in slightly fewer than 1 in 10 hands.
- Pocket jacks are more likely to lose than you may think. The chances of a bigger card showing up on the flop is over 50%.
6. Learn to Look for Patterns
A lot of beginners like to set a strategy and stick with it no matter what. Pay close attention to how players in your room bet or react to bets. You’ll want to pay even closer attention to how they react to certain cards on the river and turn. Finally, pay especially close attention when they turn their cards over.
Online poker doesn’t offer as many clues as in-person. You can’t see a guy overplay a bluff by betting too confidently or looking too tight when holding a huge hand. However, you can see how long it takes players to make decisions and what their play patterns are. You have a lot less to focus on, and that can make it easier for players who aren’t experienced yet.
Pattern recognition in online play is a crucial skill to develop. When you can figure out what your opponent is doing only by their behavior patterns, you’ll be well on your way to joining higher-level games.
7. Take Courses, Listen to Podcasts, Read Everything
Getting good at poker is like anything else. You’ll get better with practice, but you also need to continue to learn and evolve as a player. Online poker resources, especially for beginners, have a ton of options at your fingertips, and you’ll learn who you like to listen to, which players offer practical advice, and who has no idea what they’re talking about.
8. Have Fun
Poker is a hobby that you may be able to make a little money at, but keep it light. If it starts to feel like a chore or you’re agonizing over your hands, stop.
Poker should never feel like work. It should get you excited to out-think the competition, and sweating out pots should be enjoyable. The moment that it stops being fun is the same moment you need to move on to another way to fill the hours.