Dec 15 2009

How to Beat Online Poker, For Real.

written by: John under Poker Strategy Comments: 6

iStock_000003439382XSmallEven your poker BFF might not tell you these secrets of online poker. You can read all the strategy articles you want and practice your skills till the end of time, but you’ll never be as good as many of your online opponents because they know some things that you might not.

Let me make clear that the tips offered are in no way forms of cheating; they are all perfectly legal tricks or resources that are not available in live poker. Cheating at poker online is illegal and immoral, so don’t do it. Actually, by implementing some or all of these secrets into your game, there will be no need for any illicit activity anyway.

The fact is, you might as well go ahead and step up your game because odds are that the guys who are beating you are using some of these tactics to do so, especially if you are a good player who just can’t seem to play as well as you do offline. The truth is that online poker is a new game, so in order to succeed, you have to adapt. If you feel you need to level the playing field, then read on…

#8: First of all, you need to enlist the assistance of an online poker tracking software such as PokerTracker 3, HoldemManager, or PokerStrategy Elephant. PokerTracker 3 is the most popular type of hold ‘em poker analysis software; however, that doesn’t mean it’s the best. I prefer HoldemManager, personally, but you can choose for yourself via the free trials available before purchasing (PokerTracker 3 offers a three-month trial; HoldemManager offers a 15-day trial). While these are specifically for Texas Hold ‘em poker only, there are other systems out there for Omaha and other games.

What these programs do is allow you to analyze your hands in great detail, so that you can identify your mistakes, and thus, correct them in the future. By tracking and logging your play, you will ultimately become a better player. This resource is not available at live poker games, obviously, but the fact that it is available to online players, redefines poker online. Therefore, you are really at a disadvantage if you don’t use one of these systems, simply because so many of your online opponents do.

While you can get free trials, the software itself for long-term use is around $80. Think of it as purchasing Microsoft Office for your computer; it’s costly, but it’s useful, and in the long run, purchasing a poker tracking software program is really an investment in your game, especially if you are anticipating going pro. Once you’ve purchased it, you’ll be able to use it for the lifetime of your poker career, unless down the road PokerTracker 4 comes out. Then, you’d have to buy that version if you want the most up-to-date program (again, it’s like upgrading Microsoft Office 2000 to Microsoft Office 2007). As online poker rooms update their software platforms, so do the tracking programs; these updates are generally free.

The good news is that these systems are quick and easy to setup, and they can significantly improve your game. More specifically, what online poker tracking programs do is save all the hands you’ve played in a database, keeping track of your wins and losses and presenting this information to you in detailed reports via easy-to-read graphs and charts. Not only can you analyze your own game, but you can also incorporate your opponents’ stats and study their hand histories as well, which brings us to the next tip.

#7: Once you have established your own database with one of the three poker trackers suggested above, you’ll then need to install a table scanning software onto your computer. These programs typically charge a monthly subscription fee that can run you anywhere from $10/month to $35/month, depending on the stakes you play at and the type of subscription you purchase (monthly, yearly, etc.). Right now, though, there’s a lightning-fast application out called TableScan Turbo that is in beta testing, so it’s free to download for a limited time.

Programs like TableScan Turbo scan for and auto-label fish, so while you’re playing normal poker, your fellow players, who utilize these extraneous resources, are running the tables that they play at much faster than you are. This program literally runs through the tables at your favorite online poker room in a matter of seconds and instantly indicates which ones are the most lucrative. If you look at a TableScan Turbo search, you’ll see a detailed chart that indicates such tell-tale signs of a fish as a high Pre-Flop Raise (PFR) average, a low Aggression Factor (AF) ranking, and the amount of cash a player has actually lost, in comparison to how many hands he’s played.

A high PFR is indicative of an obsessive raiser, while a low AF shows that a player is not an aggressive player, thus, easy to beat. While we all know that fish are easy to beat, we don’t all know how to locate them in a timely and cost effective manner. Those of us who use a table scanning tool will be able to pinpoint exactly where the biggest fish are. If you’ve ever wondered why there are players on waiting lists at certain tables when other tables have empty seats, it’s because these players are waiting to sit down at a table where they’ve located a fish with a significant deficit in their winnings stats. The program will also reveal how many people are waiting and other useful info.

You’ll see that the really good high-stakes players aren’t actually playing each other (aside from Dwan and that crowd, who just play to play and could really care less if they win or lose). The smart players are on the waiting list for a fish or taking him down at a table where they located him using a table scanning program. It’s more lucrative for them to just wait, and no one typically talks about this; it’s the best kept secret in online poker, and the kicker is that if you’re not using table selection software, you’re not playing poker at the level it has progressed to online.

#6: Once you’ve found your favorite fish, you can use what is otherwise called a “Buddy List” to keep tabs on fishy players. Add fish to your buddies, so that when you log on to your account, you can pull up your buddy list and instantly locate a fish you know of and join him at his table.

#5: Use a probabilities chart or probabilities calculator. You can do this online; however, pulling it out at the casino might stir up some trouble. When you are behind a computer screen, the world is your resource. Knowing where you stand in the hand is, in a round-about way, equivalent to knowing your opponent’s hole cards. Again, your opponents are doing it, and if you aren’t, you’re disadvantaged.

#4: This next secret to online poker isn’t really a secret; it’s more of a tip. Doing anything online, whether you’re paying bills, tweeting, playing poker, etc., is accelerated, by nature. By definition, computers, in general, make things go faster—things get done more quickly. However, when you’re playing poker online, you mustn’t let the speed of the Net take you down by being click happy. Being hyper-clicky is something online poker players must avoid. It is never going to make your game better if you raise, raise, raise, raise, raise… you get the point. While it’s very easy and tempting to play, play, play, and not slow it down to the pace you would play at in a live casino, you must.

Furthermore, utilizing advance play options is not always beneficial to your game, though many of us have already made a habit of it. If this is you, slow down. Slow playing your hand should not be something you do only in a live game. Phil Hellmuth recommends that you let your opponents do the betting and dictate the raises—even if you have pocket Aces. On the same note, once you stop over-raising, you’ll notice that the aggressive over-raisers are fairly easy to wipe out, if you can just be patient.

#3: Join an online poker community like TwoPlusTwo or FlopTurnRiver, online poker forums. Again, this is not a secret, but just another way that the Internet can enrich your poker game. Posting your hands up for subject of discussion and critique from fellow poker players is a very effective exercise for the development of your skills. Consequently, partaking in detailed strategy analyses of other players’ hands can also help you grow as a player.

#2: Utilize rakeback. Rakeback programs are completely free, and at no cost to you, you can receive cash back for a percentage of the rake you pay to certain online poker rooms (many online poker sites do offer rakeback, though not all of them do). Use an online rakeback calculator to estimate how much money you could be getting back on a rakeback deal.

#1: Act on time, every time. One of the biggest online poker tells is the time that a player takes to act. Due to the limited amounts of behavioral tells, and the non-existence of physical tells, timing is one of the biggest factors of reading your opponents. Thus, if you eliminate their ability to read you, your game will be tighter. Each time it is your turn to act, make your move at the same time on the clock. By leveling out your reaction to your hand, you won’t reveal anything about your hand to your opponents.

Typically, when you are dealt a good hand, you’ll act quick; adversely, when you aren’t sure, you’ll take too long to act. Don’t let your opponents notice or think twice about your reaction time. The strategy here is to pick a time (half-way down the clock is recommended), and act on that second on each and every turn. Unless, however, you want to use your reaction time against other players by making them think you have a weak hand and taking longer, or making them think you have a strong hand and acting faster.

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