During the pandemic period, interest in online poker boomed. Numbers of new players on the major poker sites shot up by over 250%.
This rise can’t solely be put down to casinos closing and home games being called off due to social distancing. There’s a lot of newbies to the poker world out there. The Las Vegas Review-Journal has recently confirmed that the World Series of Poker Online will return for a third consecutive year in 2022. New hopefuls will be hitting the virtual tables for bracelet events online, with the best winning a seat at the 2023 Finals in Vegas itself.
How do you get yourself to the top of the pack? Here’s a few things to consider.
Master the basics
Online poker can be much faster than the live game, with an average of 50-60 hands being played per hour. It’s a big speed increase on 25-30 in a casino and perhaps 15-20 in a friendly game round a kitchen table. It’s a good idea to learn some poker terms, and their practical impact in the game. If you’re not sure if a table allows a ‘straddle’ you might be confused as to why a player may post a bigger blind bet (chips wagered before any cards are dealt) than the compulsory amount. Make sure you quantify the ‘rake’ – the fee that the house takes from each pot– and consider signing up with a poker site that has ‘rakeback’ terms, where some of that is refunded to players who remain active on site.
Online poker tourneys can go deep into the small hours, and it’s important to be in comfortable surrounds. Try to be in a space with as few distractions as possible, and if that’s not feasible, perhaps consider investing in some noise-cancelling headphones. Don’t distract yourself – while it can be tempting to open another browser window and have a quick look at the day’s headlines if you fold early in a hand, you risk missing, or arriving late to the next one. Remember the pace of the online game. You’ll also be missing information about how opponents are playing by ‘stepping away from the table’.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Many poker sites will allow you to play for as little as a quarter per hand, and this should be taken advantage of. On one level, it will buy you time to get used to the nuances of online play with less financial risk. On another, you’ll oftentimes find the better players at the higher stakes tables. Work your way up. Virtual stakes games and apps like Zynga Poker can have their place at the very beginning of a poker journey, but without some cash backing those chips, players will often be way more cavalier than they would in a real poker game. To build worthwhile experience, that 25 cents could be invaluable.
Learn from the pros
You’ll find many poker sites have coaching software. You’ll find many professionals who offer coaching courses – for a price. There’s plenty other ways to pick up tips without cashing chips online though. Some free hacks include hitting YouTube, where you’ll find ‘Kid Poker’ Daniel Negreanu has an excellent channel offering tournament strategies. Twitch may be more famous as a platform for streaming video game play, but these days there’s over 250 poker channels. A full house of pros like Kevin Martin, Matt Staples and Lex Veldhuis frequently livestream themselves taking part in online matches for you to pick up hints and tips from.
Poker is a game of skill. Everyone can get lucky with the odd hand, but over the course of a long game, the best players win out. However, to quote the late casino industry veteran Mark Pilarski, “The smarter you play, the luckier you’ll be”.