Online poker is all about speed. Host sites like Party Poker employ a constant 30 second clock so as to keep games on the move. Here are a few tips to help you keep up with the pace of internet play without making hasty decisions.
1. Connection: The most important part of any online player’s game is their connection. Nothing hurts more than helplessly folding pocket Kings as your room goes herky-jerky trying to load. While being forced to fold premium hands is a worst case scenario, losing decision time is a much more common problem. 30 seconds is already an awfully short time for making decisions, but if that time gets cut in half because of some funky connection issues then you are really pushed to the limit. Here are a few ways to avoid these issues:
- Play on Established Sites: As exciting as it is to be a part of a smaller site, sometimes those sites cannot handle a large influx of traffic. Unless you are already a part of a small site and just love it to death, direct your online poker play to the PartyPokers of the World Wide Web.
- Pay the Money, Get Cable: If you plan to play more than $50 per month in online poker – get a cable connection. You will make your money back with a high-speed connection both through not folding hands of your own and benefitting from the hapless folk who do.
- Don’t Overload your Computer: As exciting as it is to play in seven hands at once, if your computer cannot handle it then you are in for seven problems. Start with one window then add one at a time until things get clunky. Remember that Doyle Brunson made millions playing in one hand at a time so you won’t suffer too much if you can’t play in five.
- Play Poker if You are Playing Poker: If you are playing poker, don’t start checking your email, watching the new Rambo trailer and downloading a Super Nintendo emulator – play poker. First of all, this will benefit your game because you will be focused. Secondly and more to our point, all of your precious RAM and bandwidth will be going towards operating a poker room rather than whatever else it is you are trying to get going.
2. Auto Options: In every room that you go into from Party Poker to Betsson there will be a little tab with a few options that you can enable with one easy click. These options are designed to further streamline the game. The two most important ones to turn are “Auto post blinds” and “Muck all losing hands”. When you auto post your blinds, you will ensure that if you get distracted for a few seconds, you will not be dealt out if you are a blind. Mucking losing hands (not exposing your cards if you lose the hand) is important because you never want to give the rest of the players more information than you have to. There are a few other auto options, but those can be dangerous. The “raise any” box is lunacy because all it will do is issue a minimum raise which accomplishes absolutely nothing. As a rule, if you are going to raise, put some thought into your raise and accomplish something with it. Also if the player to your right goes all in over the top of the player that you were planning to raise, then in a split second, you’ll end up coming over the top of a premium hand. The “check/fold” option seems harmless, but it can really throttle your game. Good poker players bet without good cards from time to time. They do not just randomly do it, they wait for the right opportunity then they capitalize. The only way to identify the right situation is to wait for the entire situation to develop. By clicking “check/fold” you are cutting yourself short.
3. Don’t chat: Do not chat as you play online poker. It is distracting and it is pointless. This is not Brick and Mortar poker, you are not going to be able to read much about your opponent when you are only able to read what it is that they write. If you are playing a friendly game of play money Hold’em, hey, go right ahead and type away. But if you are playing with cash and looking to make money, there is no reason to ever type one thing in the chat bar. Ideally you should disable the chat bar in every room so it cannot distract you.
4. Trust Yourself: While it is a more incomplete process to establish reads online than in person, it can still be done. Just like in a casino or a home game, the most important thing to observe is a player’s betting history. Once you recognize what someone brings to the table, take advantage. Let loose-aggressive players hang themselves and come over the top of tight ones. On the internet you need to identify and react, you do not get the same luxury of time that you get in a casino. So if you have allowed yourself the opportunity to take advantage of the table by keeping track of players’ betting histories and by not clicking “check/fold” and then clicking over to another window, trust yourself to take advantage. One of the few non-betting history reads that can be made online is the time a player takes before he bets. Most of the time, if a player uses up a good portion of his clock to make a bet or raise it should be taken as a sign of weakness. So if you are going to attack, do it quickly and without hesitation.
5. Use Bonus Codes and Rakeback: If you plan on playing online poker, you really should use bonus codes and rakeback. Both can be found at any number of sites from rakebreak.com to the interestingly named bonuswhores.com and while this doesn’t directly pertain to speed of game play, it definitely has to be mentioned in any article on online poker. If you went to bonuswhores.com and looked up Party Poker, you would see that with the right bonus code you could get 30% of a $150 deposit matched by the site – you would get $45 free. And frankly, that’s one of the weaker offers. There are plenty of 100% matches for up to $600 and that is a lot of free money! Rakeback can be a little confusing but the gist of it is that for every dollar you get raked by a site, you get a point. Reach certain thresholds with those points and you get money back. Go to either of those sites and you will find oodles of free offers. Also you can just search the phrase “Party Poker bonus codes” and you’ll get a bunch of offers for Party Poker specials.
When you play online poker, you and your computer both have to be prepared for hyper-action. You have to keep up with the clock or you will lose your money. Remember that these sites make their money by raking in a little bit of your chips in every hand, so they want as many hands played as possible. Get yourself on a rakeback plan so you can re-coup some of that money. And just like at a casino or a home game, you have to keep in mind that poker is not a game of playing your cards, it is a game of identifying and capitalizing on situations. Get connected, go fast and find the free money.