Each and every online poker player you speak to will give you their own unique take on what makes for successful play. That is, assuming they are happy to hand over whatever their trade secrets happen to be!
The problem being that with such an extensive library of tips, tricks and guidelines to work with, it can be difficult to know where to start. How can you be sure which represent proactive guidelines you should be following, which have no relevance to you and which could potentially steer you in the wrong direction?
The answer? Well…it’s not exactly easy to make head or tail of the vast archives of online poker resources currently doing the rounds online. Which is precisely why we thought we’d simplify things a little for you, by providing the five most important ‘golden’ rules every online poker player should follow to the letter.
So if relatively new to the world of online poker and looking to make genuine progress starting right now, the following five guidelines are guaranteed to set you off in the right direction:
- Monitor Your Bankroll
First and foremost, every successful poker player and gambler at every level needs to master the art of bankroll management. While it might not be the most glamorous or exciting part of the job, it is nonetheless a key fundamental to preventing yourself from going broke. Just as long as you keep an eye on your bankroll and our strategic with your money, you will never find yourself in a position where you cannot handle what’s happening. By contrast, allow your bankroll to get out of control and you could find yourself in a hole there’s no getting out of!
For example, you may feel so strongly about the hand you’re currently holding that going all-in seems like something of a no brainer. After all, you could be in for a serious payout and it’s unlikely that anyone else has a better hand than yours. Nevertheless, there’s still every possibility that somebody does indeed have a better hand than yours – hence you can never be 100% sure of the outcome. Which in turn means that if losing everything on this one move would represent the kind of loss you really cannot tolerate, going all-in could be the worst thing you can do.
Always manage your bankroll in accordance with your own personal and financial circumstances – not those of anyone else.
- Don’t Believe in “Hot Streaks”
Unfortunately, there never has been and never will be such a thing as a hot streak. Some players instinctively believe that from time to time, they find themselves in ‘the zone’ and quite simply cannot put a foot wrong. In reality, it is simply a case of pure chance that has led to the current scenario, which is guaranteed to come to an end soon enough.
The ‘hot hand’ theory as a whole is fundamentally flawed and has absolutely no value or bearing on the game itself. Likewise, there is no such thing as being in any kind of zone that makes you temporarily untouchable. Ask any seasoned experts and they will tell you the same – knowing when to walk away while on an apparent winning streak is just as important as knowing when to cut your losses.
- Never Forget Your Own Needs
As most dedicated poker players will know, it is extraordinarily easy to lose track of time and find yourself accidentally sitting in front of the computer for hours on end. You only meant to log on for a couple of hands – the next thing you know it’s 2am and you haven’t eaten a thing or moved since 9pm. The problem being that the greater the extent to which you neglect your own personal needs while playing, the less likely you are to play at your personal best level.
Fatigue, hunger, thirst, dry eyes, poor posture etc – all the kinds of things that can and will have an impact on the quality of your game. The simple fact of the matter being that if you want to play at your absolute best, you need to keep your energy levels up and be in the best possible frame of mind during every hand. Hence the reason why experts comprehensively recommend taking regular breaks at least once every 30-60 minutes.
And just for the record, the only thing worse than neglecting your own needs during a poker session is to take things one step too far with ‘liquid courage’. You may have fun at the time, but might not be able to stomach the financial hangover you experience the next day!
- Don’t Play Just for the Sake of It
If you genuinely want to improve your poker skills, you need to start taking it seriously. The idea being that each and every hand of each and every game is seen as a valuable and important opportunity to improve and enhance your skills. The exact opposite being playing poker just for the sake of playing poker and reading absolutely nothing into it whatsoever. The moment you find yourself playing in a somewhat robotic manner is the moment you will gain absolutely no value from the poker you play.
Which is why even when looking to kill just a few minutes here and there at home, on the bus ride to work or anywhere else across the board, you need to take every hand and every game as seriously as the next. Improving your skills and capabilities as a poker player means focusing your attention and putting in the required effort – not simply playing because you don’t have anything better to do at the time. This is precisely what separates the professionals from those who spend their lives confined to amateur hour.
- Embrace Your Unpredictability
Last but not least, predictability is only detrimental when playing with the same small group of opponents on a regular basis. Give it enough time and they will pick up on your habits – positive and negative alike – in order to determine the best way of taking you to the cleaners. When playing online however, it’s an entirely different story.
Realistically, the likelihood of playing with the same opponents on a regular basis online is practically zero. Instead, you’ll find yourself pitted against hundreds of thousands of completely random poker players at all levels from all over the world. Meaning that there’s absolutely no reason why you cannot follow the same habitual style with every game you play, never having to worry about your predictability being detrimental.
That said, should you eventually find yourself in a position where you’re heading into pro territory, you may come face to face (virtually or otherwise) with poker professionals who need no more than a few hands to pick up on good and bad habits alike. Meaning that once you do successfully step out of amateur hour, the time comes to focus on a more balanced style.