Skills You Need To Succeed at Online Poker

Casino chips placed in front of a tablet with poker on the screen.

When the early 2000s introduced the first World Poker Tour on television, the sport was elevated to new heights. People were fascinated by the large sums at stake and the betting behavior of professional players. Imagine watching a poker player bluff $5 million in a round – well, that’s happened.

As the game became more popular, people without access to casinos tried to find alternative ways to play, and their answer came in the form of online poker. With the rapid rise of poker players, the game became more competitive and so have the stakes. But before playing online poker for money, it’s important that you understand the rules associated with the game. This article aims to provide useful poker tournament tips for you to succeed.

Land-based poker vs. online poker

Land-based poker began to plateau after the 2008 economic crisis. It took an even bigger knock during the recent pandemic when lockdowns restricted visitors, and many budgets became limited. It would be wrong to say that it isn’t still widely played in brick-and-mortar casinos, but there has been a radical and undeniable swing towards online poker tournaments.

There are several factors to this, one of which is accessibility: suddenly, people can play anywhere, anytime. Additionality, affordability is a major contributor. Playing in a casino requires at least $40–$60, whereas playing live poker online can require as little as $2. Furthermore, the array of live poker tournaments to choose from and the convenience of playing in the comfort of your own home are other elements involved in the sudden rise of online casino games.

Basic online poker rules

Casino chips on a green felt table.

To get a good grasp on how to play poker (of which there are several variants) it’s crucial to know the basics. Because Texas Hold’em poker is the most popular format played, we will use it as an example.

The process

The dealer will digitally deal out two cards to each player once the table is full. There is a round of betting before the “flop” is put down – the player on the left of the dealer will start the betting and this continues clockwise throughout the game. The “flop” is when the dealer puts down three face-up cards following the opening round of betting, which players may then use alongside their hole cards to create a hand of five cards.

After this, another round of betting follows, then a single “turn” card is placed by the dealer. Following one more round of bets after the “turn,” a fifth and final card is placed down, otherwise known as the “river.” A last round of bets follows; once the bets are finalized, the players show their cards to see who wins. To gain a deeper understanding of the different rounds in poker, check out our in-depth poker glossary.  

The hands

Now that we know the process of a poker round, it’s crucial to know your different poker hands. This list below showcases the hands from best to worst:

  • Royal Flush: A 10, jack, queen, king and ace in the same suit (spades, hearts, diamonds or clubs.)
  • Straight Flush: Five consecutive cards of the same suit; for example, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8, all of clubs.
  • Four of a Kind: Four cards of the same number; for example, 7 of hearts, 7 of spades, 7 of clubs and 7 of diamonds.
  • Full House: Three cards of one number and two cards of another number; for example, 10 of spades, 10 of diamonds and 10 of hearts with 8 of clubs and 8 of hearts.
  • Flush: Five cards of the same suit; for example, jack, 5, 9, 4 and king, all of hearts.
  • Straight: Five consecutive cards of mixed suits; for example, 7 of hearts, 8 of clubs, 9 of clubs, 10 of diamonds, jack of spades.
  • Three of a Kind: Three cards of the same rank; for example, 9 of hearts, 9 of diamonds, 9 of clubs.
  • Two Pair: Two cards of one rank and two cards of another rank; for example, 9 of clubs, 9 of hearts, 5 of hearts, 5 of diamonds.
  • One Pair: Two cards of the same number or rank; for example, queen of hearts, queen of spades.
  • High Card: The hand with the highest card when no one else has a winning hand; for example, an ace will beat a king.

Six poker tips to avoid tilt in poker

A poker player in a blue hoodie celebrates a win at the poker table.

Playing in live poker tournaments can be tough. Tables are often very well populated, so it requires patience and beating lots of other players. However, most players will be playing recreationally, meaning their standard of play is lower. With this in mind, if you’re able to use your knowledge of the game (albeit basic), you will be able to cruise through players and potentially enjoy some wins. Here are some tips to go from zero to hero.

1. Play patiently

Being ready to play for the long haul means being selective with your starting hands. It’s tempting to play every hand, but for the sake of longevity, it’s about choosing the right time to go bounty hunting. You will notice players start to fall off quickly due to risky bets. It’s much harder to bluff your way through when a table is full of players. Knowing when to play on or not is a crucial poker skill to master.

2. Constantly monitor your table position

This is a key part of a successful poker strategy. It is a good indicator of when to be aggressive and when not to be. For example, at the beginning of a game, it may be detrimental to bet big, as there is a large chance someone from the other hundred players has a stronger hand. As the players thin out, you can start to bluff more and bet bigger.

3. Understand the behavior of the players around you

Understanding the psyche of the players around you is another important tip for success. Being able to identify the players who’re known to bluff or who will only bet if they have a strong hand gives you a good sign of when to raise, check, or fold.

4. Learn to be aggressive

Although it’s important to be patient, it’s also crucial to know when to play aggressively and try to win some of those small, medium, and big rounds. If you want to win, you need to play with some calculated risks. A good way to start is by selecting a few hands to play and betting them hard. Mixing up your style of play is also a great way to be more unpredictable, thus having more chances of scaring off players when bluffing.

5. Choose a licensed online casino

This cannot be stressed enough: playing live poker tournaments on a trusted platform is a must. Otherwise, you can end up playing for hours, scoring some great wins, and then never receiving the money.

6. Gamble responsibly

Remember, playing poker is about having fun, not about putting your savings on the line. Only buy in what you can afford to lose. Yes, you have the chance to win big. However, you can lose big too.

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