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Online Poker Guide – Develop Your Online Poker Strategy

Online Poker Guide – Develop Your Online Poker Strategy


Although learning to play poker is easy, mastering the game and building your poker strategy can take considerable time and effort. Thankfully there are a lot of free resources and information available on our recommended online poker sites. So you can join one of the leading poker online sites, receive a great bonus and start perfecting your poker strategy from day one.

Whether you are playing at an online casino, at a brick and mortar casino or at home with friends – it is easy to learn to play poker. All you need is to get the grasp of the basic poker rules, join a game and learn as you go.

Starting to play is easy, but poker can take years to master. The good news is that with a few simple steps you can build your basic poker strategy and start improving your skills right away. Instead of experimenting at the poker tables and wasting time, money and probably some of your pride, use every hand you play towards building your poker strategy.

Where to Start Playing

Our poker experts at rank every poker site based on its trustworthiness, payment methods, customer service, software and the variety of poker games offered. We also look for the online poker operators that provide the best promotions and bonuses. So you can play a lot more poker for your money.

Visit our poker site expert reviews and find the site that’s best for you. While at it, don’t forget to claim your bonus that will get you started at the tables.

To get an beginner’s overview on basic basic rules and strategy for poker, be sure to check out our definitive guide for all you need to know.

Different Poker Versions

Although many think of poker as Texas Hold’em, there are many other poker variations. Most use the same basic poker rules and hand rankings, but each offers a unique and interesting way to play poker. Here are examples of a few:

  • Omaha Poker: The second-most-popular poker variant after Texas Hold’em, where players receive 4 Hole Cards instead of 2.
  • 3-Card Poker: Uses the same poker hand ranking and most rules, but the players compete against the dealer.
  • 5-Card Draw: Where players need to make the best hand of poker after only one draw.
  • 7-Card Stud: A poker version that doesn’t involve a Flop, and in most cases doesn’t include Community Cards.

There are many other exotic poker variations such Caribbean Stud Poker, Chinese Poker, 2-7 Triple and Single Draw, Ace-5 Lowball, Razz, HORSE, Pineapple, Short Deck Poker and more.

Which Poker Variant to Start With

At early stages we usually suggest to start building your basic poker strategy with Texas Hold’em. It is the most popular version and is widely available on any poker website and mobile casino we recommend. Texas Hold’em is a straightforward poker variant that uses the most common hand ranking and rules. So developing your basic poker strategy with Texas Hold’em will let you apply your poker knowledge and skills to other variations later.

Our recommended poker websites offer a wealth of resources that will help you learn Texas Hold’em poker and build your strategy. These include forums, videos, tutorials, practice games, social poker and more.

However starting with Texas Hold’em is merely our recommendation. In case you have in mind another poker variation that you would like to start with, check our poker site reviews that provide details on the games available.

Playing Poker Online

Karten und Tastatur

It is believed that poker at its current form has originated in the 1800s. Having been played in person around tables for centuries, poker has been transformed to an entirely different game since it became available online. Beyond being able to play against people from all over the world 24/7, online poker lets you focus and concentrate on the game from your own quiet, comfortable space.

But there are also challenges in playing online. Mainly the fact you cannot see the people you are playing against and read their body language and gestures, which is a big part of poker.

Still, online poker sites provide many tools you can use to your advantage while playing. For example you can view your hand history, use a hand-rank calculator, search for specific games, tables and stakes and more.

Read our expert poker reviews to find out more about the resources and benefits they provide to players.

Develop Your Strategy

Whether you are just taking your first steps at learning how to play poker, or you already played poker before and now looking to take your poker game to a new level, read our guide that provides simple tips for a poker strategy that can get you ahead of the pack.

Take Advantage of Poker Bonuses

All the poker sites we recommend on offer generous bonuses for both new and returning poker players. You can clearly see the bonuses on our lists and compare them, as well as find more about loyalty programs and promotions in our expert reviews. Simply stated: the more poker you play with bonuses, the less of your own money you have to spend at the tables. You can still keep your winnings, but these will be subject to the site’s terms and conditions.

We constantly update with new bonuses and promotions. So bookmark our site and visit it regularly to stay up to date with the best poker offers.

Invest In Your Poker Knowledge

You will learn a lot from your wins and losses and you should always go back to analyse your games in retrospect. Many of our featured poker sites will provide you with your hand history that you can go back and revisit. It is also recommended to take notes, as long as it doesn’t interrupt your concentration on the game.

Poker isn’t a game you will just master at the tables. You will find online and in book stores a wide choice of blogs, videos and books on poker strategy. Two good places to start are Doyle Brunson’s Super System and Dan Harrington’s Harrington on Hold‘em.

Learn the Terminology

There are a lot of new words and terms to learn when you are new to poker. Getting used to the lingo is one of the most intimidating aspects of learning to play. There are of course many basic terms you must know like the names of the poker hands and bet rounds. But beyond the basics poker has a language of its own with terms like Three Bet, Cutoff, Double Gunshot Straight Draw, Open Ended Straight Draw and many more.

Don’t get frustrated by all the new words you may not know. They’ll become clearer as you progress. To get yourself acquainted faster, write terms you do not understand and look them up online. You can also ask others at the table, as usually most players are happy to help.

Use a Poker Tracking Software

Even if you want to compete with players at lower-stake tables, it’s always good to get some extra help. There are many simple tracking software packages that every player should have and use. It is essential because a tracking software can show you your past performance and let you analyse and learn. Some also provide stats on your opponents’ game. So you can quickly spot the opposition you are against and adjust your playing style and strategy.

Be Aware of Your Table Position

The seating position at the poker table is determined by the dealer button which moves clockwise around the table after every hand. Positions are changing with every round, so it’s important to understand each spot and the opportunities and threats of each.

At an early position you will be one of the first to act as opposed to a late position which will give you more information on what your opponents have done. In late positions you can raise more in case there have been no raises. Whereas those raises would probably be just calls in an early position. As a rule, you should always be more careful as you get closer to the small blind.

Be Selective With the Hands You Play

Tablet zeigt Graph

New players are often tempted to play every hand. Why should they fold and watch everyone else enjoy the action? But there’s a very good reason to be selective with your starting hands. A good poker strategy dictates choosing the right starting hands. This would mean passing on most bad and intermediate hands and throwing your weight behind good hands that don’t come as often.

The following are the best starting poker hands in order of value:

  1. A-A
  2. K-K
  3. Q-Q
  4. J-J
  5. A-K of the same suit
  6. A-Q of the same suit
  7. A-J of the same suit
  8. K-Q of the same suit

All of the above are Hole Card combinations will give you a good starting hand. You can stay in the game and comfortably raise most in late position. If you would like to be one of the first to act post-flop, you can even raise with hands like A-A and K-K in an early position.

Play Aggressively

There is no point in playing premium hands if you are not willing to take risk and place large bets. One of the top poker strategy tips is being selective with the hands you play, but backing the few hands you are playing with aggressive bets.

Beyond the large reward potential, aggressive betting can scare other players and force them out. If you are up against weaker players and notice they fold often, you can be aggressive with smaller pairs also. This will throw players off and let you hide the true strength of your hand.

Want to learn about more casino games? We’ve got you covered. Click below for our guides on the most popular tables games you will find at online casinos.

Play Against Recreational Players to Start

An important part of your poker strategy is to consider the skill level of your opponents and their mistakes at the table. It is always good to find weaker opponents, especially when you are just learning to play poker. Other than having time to stay in the game and develop your skills, playing against weaker, recreational players will build your confidence and it can earn you some money as well.

There are a few ways to spot recreational players:

    ♠Number of tables being played: Someone that is playing on 1 or 2 tables is probably more likely to be a recreational player than a person that is playing on 4 tables or more.

    ♠Blocked search: A player that blocked themselves from being searched could possibly be a good, regular player.

    ♠Playing overly aggressive or overly passive: A player that raises and bets on every hand, or gets scared and folds everything is probably an inexperienced player.

    ♠Chatting away: Recreational players tend to chat more at the tables. If a player makes frequent use of the chatbox, especially venting out or making rude comments, it’s probably a player without a lot of experience and skill.

    ♠Playing out of position: Weaker players will disregard their position and only play on the merit of their cards.

    ♠Playing fast: Experienced poker players will take their time to make decisions, while inexperienced players will make snap decisions which will give away the strength of their hand.

Learn to Bluff

If the best poker players in the world wouldn’t bluff they wouldn’t be the best players, and probably wouldn’t be winning prize pots worth millions either. But even if you aren’t planning on winning the World Series Of Poker anytime soon, learning the art of bluffing should be a big part of your online poker strategy. You will miss the Flop or Turn a lot of times as this is the nature of poker. So learning to bluff at the table can help you force your opponents to fold.

Good poker players know how to bluff and get their opponents to fold, even if their opponents have better hands than theirs. A good way to start is by learning the Continuation Bet (C-Bet), which you make on the Flop after leading the betting Pre Flop. This is a good point to apply your bluffing tactics. And if you manage to put up an aggressive appearance, your opponent may believe you are trying to buy the pot while you actually may have a good hand.

Don’t Bluff Too Much

Bluffing is a part of your poker strategy that you should keep perfecting. But even if bluffing works for you occasionally, don’t be a victim of your own success. Pulling too many bluffs on marginal hands will cost you a lot of chips.

An important skill to learn is how to semi-bluff, which is used when you have a drawing hand that has the potential of becoming a strong hand. So bluffing in this case is only a contingency plan if the hand goes bad in subsequent rounds. Otherwise you have a chance of making a decent hand if your bluff gets called.

Defend Your Blinds

Stapel von Münzen

Traditional poker strategies dictate that most hands should be folded on big and small blinds. However, more current strategies say that blinds should be defended in most cases, although it is sometimes counter-intuitive.

When you are in the big blind you have already placed a bet because you had to. And when the Flop comes out you are second to act. So why should you defend in this position? Because in the Post Flop bet you are the last to act. Therefore you can raise, call a raise or check if no other player raised in the Pre Flop.

Being last to act at the poker table gives you a lot of information about your opponents, so you can comfortably use it to your advantage with a range of hands. But always play the blinds with caution and be wary of re-raised pots and the number of players remaining in the hand.

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Don’t be Afraid to Fold

When starting to play poker you will probably be tempted to hold onto hands, but you must learn that if you want to be a successful poker player, you should be ready to fold a lot. Players in low-stake games don’t bluff as much. In the long run you are doing yourself a big favour by folding when the opponent’s aggression puts you in doubt. When passive players who usually call or fold start raising out of nowhere, it’s time to fold even if you have strong hands.

Keep in mind that you need to adjust your playing style to fit your opponents at the poker table. Not all poker players are passive. So in case you are playing against an overly-aggressive opponent that constantly keeps raising you should consider easing up on the folding. Like in all other aspects of poker, understanding your opponents and adjusting to different types of players is key.

Understand Hand Rankings and Odds

Understanding starting hands is a very basic and solid poker tip. But understanding the rankings of complete 5-card hands is an important part of your poker strategy.

You should also be aware of the odds of hitting a winning hand. These include Outs which are the number of cards in the deck that can contribute to a better hand. By understanding the Outs you can then calculate your Hand Odds. Based on these two figures you can then find the Pot Odds and decide how much money to put in the pot.

Luckily there are many hand ranking cheat sheets available online. Print one out and keep it handy when you play poker. Many of our recommended poker sites also provide online odd calculators and analysis tools you can use in real-time while playing.

Start at Low Stakes

Many poker players find little interest in playing low stake games. But if your goal is to learn poker and develop your strategy, there are several good reasons to start playing at low stake tables:

  • You will feel more comfortable knowing that you are not risking a lot of money, and will play more freely and confidently.
  • Starting at lower limits will let you play against inexperienced players. This will give you the opportunity to practice and gain confidence.
  • It will give you the opportunity to understand in real-time the whole game, positions, hands and how you should take into consideration all your other playing skills and strategies.

The opponents’ skill level increases every time you move up stakes. Once you progress and become a better player, you can move to higher limit tables.

Play Value Bets

As its name implies, a value bet is a bet that is designed to increase the pot value. In order to place a value bet effectively, you will have to consider the following factors about your opponents:

    ♣The strength of their hand: If they feel their hand is good they will be willing to call more.

    ♣Their view of your hand: Even if you have a strong hand you can still make a small bet to make the other player think your hand isn’t that good, and encourage them to call.

    ♣Their ability to fold: Some players won’t be willing to fold a big hand. So they will call a large value bet.

    ♣Their call threshold: Most poker players have a natural limit on how many chips they will call in one bet.

Don’t Play Beyond Your Bankroll

Smart bankroll management is one of the most important practices for poker players at all levels. Even though it might seem like common sense, many poker players (including very good ones) constantly struggle to manage their finances. Beyond being paramount to safe gambling, being smart about how you invest and spend your poker money will help you keep your prize money, stay in action and move up the stakes.

The following are six useful bankroll tips:

    ♦Keep your personal finances completely separate from your poker finances. At least until you start winning considerable sums, avoid spending your poker money on anything else but playing poker. Don’t count on that money to pay bills and be smart on how much money you commit to poker.

    ♦Always play within your bankroll. Although it seems tempting to dip into your cash when things are going well, always stick to the limits you initially set for yourself. Practicing discipline when you are winning will come in handy when you are tempted to dip into your wallet to chase losses.

    ♦Don’t get desperate because of variance. Every poker player will face losing spells. Don’t get rattled, concentrate on your game and never try to play more recklessly in hope of recovering losses.

    ♦Move down in stakes if needed. There is no shame in moving down limits if losses decreased your bankroll. You can move up the stakes once you have enough funds to play higher again.

    ♦Keep track of your sessions. Set time limits and play only at times that seem to be the most productive and profitable for you.

    ♦Include in your bankroll other expenses. Include in your poker bankroll additional expenses that are not directly related to your bets. These include buying poker merchandise from online sites, purchasing poker books and magazine subscriptions, data and roaming costs if you are playing from a mobile device, and food and drink you consume while playing.

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♣️ Should I practice online poker for free?

If you are learning the game and the hand rankings, then playing for free can build your confidence. Once you are past this level, however, free play does not add much value when it comes to learning strategy because the other players at the table will play differently when real money is at stake. One example is that real money players are more likely to fold earlier if they don’t have a strong hand.

♣️ How do online poker tournaments work?

If you play in an online poker tournament, you will be required to buy-in and will receive a set amount of chips. The prize pool will be determined by the online casino, and the tournament can run from 3 hours to more than 10, depending on the rules (whether re-buys are allowed, for example), the number of players, and the size of the initial buy-in.

♣️ How do you improve your online poker skill?

Practicing poker regularly for real money is one of the best ways to improve your skill. To stretch your bankroll, find the best poker bonuses available online. Analyse your games to identify your weaknesses, use poker tracking software and read and learn as much as you can about poker strategy and terminology.

♣️ Why is position important in online poker?

To play poker well, you need to have as much information about the other players’ hands as possible. Your position determines what order the betting will take. In Texas Hold’em for example, the player to the right of the button will be the last to make a betting decision, and can base it on the actions of the other players as well as their own hand.

♣️ How is online poker different from a live game?

There are several differences between playing online or playing in a land-based casino, but the main difference is speed of play and the number of tables you can play at a time. In land casinos, play is often much slower, but online is faster and you can play multiple tables at a time. The availability of bonuses to play poker is much higher online, but the difficulty factor can also be higher partly because you cannot see your opponents to read their body language.

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Ziv Chen

Ziv Chen

Content Writer

Ziv's Story

Ziv Chen has been working in the online gambling industry for over two decades in senior marketing and business development roles. Ziv writes about a wide range of topics including slot and table games, casino and sportsbook reviews, American sports news, betting odds and game predictions. Leading a life full of conflict, Ziv constantly struggles between his two greatest loves: American football and US soccer.

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