Online Poker Tournament strategy
Below is some tips I wrote a while ago for online poker tournaments and thought I’d add them to my blog.
This is something we can’t stress enough when playing online poker tournaments. It is easy to get distracted whilst playing poker on the internet but this is just playing in to your opponents hands. Remember poker is about learning the strategy of all your opponents therefore its crucial that you analyse all the hands on the table even the ones you are not involved in. Look at which players are getting involved in a lot of hands and which are the tight players. You don’t want to get caught putting all your chips in the middle against a player who very rarely gets involved in a hand as this player is likely to be holding a premium hand like AA, KK, QQ and AK.
Any edge you can get over your opposition can be the difference between winning and losing a big tournament. So stop talking on the telephone, reading emails and watching TV.
Don’t play too many starting hands
This will always be one of the most fundamental strategies of any successful online player. Yet very few players demonstrate the knowledge and/or patience to play good starting hands.
Playing fewer hands will always give you an advantage over your opponents in the long run. Everyone has seen poker on TV and seen the professionals throwing their chips in the middle, bluffing and going all in with relatively weak hands. What you don’t see however is the hours of hard work and concentration that these players put in to make the final table.
Think about this, if your opponents play 50% of their hands and you only play 25% of yours you will have an advantage in the majority of the hands that you play. When you hit pairs your kicker is likely to be higher, your straight will beat lower straights e.t.c. By playing fewer hands you will continue to put yourself in the best position to win the hand.
Patience, patience, patience
One thing that is clear in big poker tournaments online is that a number of players think that it is crucial to increase their chip stack as soon as possible. What you need to remember is that a big poker tournament is a marathon not a sprint. With hundreds of players in a tournament you are not going to be able to win it in an hour but what you can do is lose it. So if you only play a few hands in the first two hours and you manage to double your chip stack then that is excellent progress. The other players on the table may think you are boring but I guarantee that any player who got overexcited with an average hand and got knocked out early would swap position with you right now.
Make Notes on Players
With so many players in an online tournament you aren’t going to be able to remember how your opponents are playing just by their name so make notes on them. Any small advantage you can gain in a tournament can be the difference between staying in and getting knocked out. Take a look at the following scenario. You have just been moved to a new table where two players whose poker nicknames are TeddyB and Moneyman. You look and see that you made the following notes about these players from playing with them previously.
TeddyB – Extremely careful player. Only ever raises with a high pair.
Moneyman – Likes to gamble and bluffs a lot.
These kind of notes are crucial in a tournament. If TeddyB raises you can assume the player has a strong hand. Whereas if Moneyman raises there is a good chance that it is a bluff.
With hundreds of players in a tournament making notes will give you an edge over your opponents.
Good players are constantly learning. They read books, poker articles, magazines and are always watching other players to help them improve their game. Poker is a game of skill, and its no coincidence that many of the best poker players in the world are degree educated and often have run successful companies. You can search for articles and poker books online which can help you significantly improve your game.
Below are a few recommended books with a brief description of how they may help you.
Doyle Brunson’s Super System – Doyle Brunson
This is known as the bible of poker. Written by 2 time World Series of Poker Champion Doyle Brunson along with tips and advice from many other poker experts it is an excellent read for all poker players.
Killer Poker Online: Crushing the internet Game – John Vorhaus
This book is dedicated to online poker and gives helpful tips and advice on how to improve your internet poker.
The complete book of Hold’em Poker: A Comprehensive Guide to Playing and Winning – Gary Carson
A poker book full of hints and tips which is useful for both beginner and advanced players.
Tournament Poker for Advanced Players (Advance Player) – David Sklansky
A book for players who are looking to improve there game even further. Acknowledged as one of the best poker books around and it gives excellent poker tournament advice.
Realise when you are beat
Sometimes you have to let go of a good hand. It’s not easy but some of the best play in poker is realizing when your opponent has a superior hand. Say for example you raise with QQ before the flop and you get three callers and it flop comes down A87. It is highly likely that one of the three callers has an A. Sure you can make a bet but if you get re-raised it’s almost certain your hand is beaten so you just have to chuck it away.
Remember the difficulty of Bluffing online
Players are far more likely to call your bluffs online than in a real card room. It’s much easier to click a button on a computer screen to call a big bet than it is to reach your chips in a card room and put in most of your chips. This means that your bluffs are often likely to be called online so you should be more selective on the hands you try and bluff. Another reason is that a player may be embarrassed to make a bad call in a card room whereas online it is faceless so that player is not scared of looking stupid.
Only play if you are in the right mood
This can not be stressed enough. If you are feeling tired, unhappy or have a headache there is no way you are going to be able to play your best game. To win in the long run at poker you must always play to the top of your abilities. So if your mood isn’t right quite simply wait till another day or take a rest and play later.
Calling bets to hit cards that won’t help you
One of the most common mistakes in poker is assuming that if you hit your cards you will win. Look at this situation. If you hold AQ and there is a flop of 9104 and you decide that the odds justify you calling to hit a Q or an A on the next card which is about 7/1 to improve your hand. The problem with this method of thinking is that your opponent may already have you beat even if you do hit a Q or an A. You are in major trouble if your opponent has any of the following hands TT, 99, 44, T9, A9, AT, KT, A4, TQ, AK, JK. These are all fairly typical hands that your opponent will play with. Although you can justify that you are 7/1 to improve your hand the odds on you actually winning the hand are far worse especially if you are up against a few opponents who are betting.
Poker is meant to be fun. Remember this is why you started playing the game. Make sure you play with money that you can afford to gamble. Poker is an extremely exciting game. It feels great when all your opponents fold when you were bluffing. There is also nothing more satisfying than knowing you are playing extremely well and outplaying your opponents. Just play your strongest game and enjoy yourself and you never know what may happen. Only one person can win but plenty of players can make the prize money and enjoy themselves in the process.