Online Gambling Tried and Tested TipsWe've received several e-mails requesting money-making suggestions geared to new players. The core disciplines offered below should help beginners and serve as a review for more advanced players.
When Playing in a Brick and Mortar Cardroom…
1) Protect your hand. Legitimately winning a pot and subsequently witnessing the chips finding their way to an opponent’s stack creates a sick feeling. This travesty is caused by dealers losing focus and pushing pots to the wrong player or by a player mucking a winning hand. Typically, the rightful winner receives incorrect verbal information about the opponent’s holding or the player with the winning hand inadvertently causes his or her hand to be declared dead. The way to avoid mucking a winning hand is to maintain control of your cards until the dealer has pushed the pot to you. Get in the habit of simultaneously trading your winning cards for the chips in the pot as they are being pushed to you. Your cards represent your receipt. Never muck your tickets just because your opponent announces a better hand. If he says, “I have a full house,” do not fold your hand before verifying his holding.
2) Peek and memorise, but don’t flash. I memorise my hole cards when I pick them up initially. By never picking them up again (unless I want to convey a false tell), I eliminate the risk of giving away information. For example, when playing Texas hold ‘em and seeing a flop of 10c-8c-2c, beginning players often recheck their hole cards hoping they hold a club. If they hold two clubs, they generally sit there looking uninterested in their excellent hand since, when a player is suited, he’s very aware of it and what his target suit is, and therefore has no reason to recheck his cards. Another mistake amateur players make is to physically lift their cards too high. Take care to cup your cards and keep them close to the table as you look at the corners. Be especially careful to hide them from players to your immediate right, the most susceptible visual angle.
3) Be observant, but don’t stare. Overtly concentrating on an opponent alerts that player of your focal point. In addition, when involved in a multi-way hand, eyeballing a specific adversary will reveal whom you are most concerned with. Your objective is to observe your opponents’ betting patterns and body language furtively. Watch how much they bet (when playing no-limit), note how they handle their chips and recognise their betting intervals (how long it takes them to act) when they’re strong versus when they’re weak.
4) Silence is golden. When involved in a hand don’t talk or do anything that you don’t ordinarily do. After you gain experience you will be able to add false tells and profitable table talk to your poker arsenal, but stay calm and quiet until you’re assured that movement and discourse will not reveal the strength of your hand.
When Playing Online…
1) Click on the correct betting option. While this advice seems simplistic, I must admit to having clicked on ‘fold’ when I held the absolute nuts and called more than once when I meant to fold. In these instances I lost concentration and clicked too quickly when it became my turn to act. Take your time and make sure your action corresponds to your intention.
2) Act in turn. Avoid using the ‘lazy’ action options such as ‘call any’ and ‘check or fold’. Poker sites deploy these options to speed up the game, but using them gives your opponents an unnecessary advantage when they observe your instantaneous action. For example, if I make a huge raise in no-limit and the opponent to my left calls as soon as my bet registers, I know he clicked on ‘call any’ and has a premium hand.
3) Play one game at a time. I realise many online action junkies participate in two or more games. (A friend claims she has played 20 tournaments simultaneously.) Until you are experienced, your best chance to turn a profit is to play only one cash game or tourney at a time. To prevent becoming bored after folding a hand, use the lag time between your actions to assess the play of your foes and to contemplate your future options through the end of the hand you’re playing. You might even take some notes on your opponents’ play while you wait.
4) Look for tells. You can’t see your opponents, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t ‘telling’ you something. Track how many hands they play to determine whether they’re loose or tight. Target the loose players since they’re less likely to hold premium cards when they get involved in a hand. Correlate opponents’ betting intervals with the strength of their hands. Many players bet quickly when they bluff or hold marginal hands. Conversely, they take their time when betting their monsters in an effort to make you think they were carefully deciding whether to bet or check. These propensities identify the classic ‘weak means strong’ and ‘strong means weak’ tells.
5) Act consistently. Take the same amount of time to act on your hand when it becomes your turn. I recommend approximately five seconds for mundane decisions and 15 seconds for more difficult decisions. That spread will allow you to conceal the strength of your hand. To avoid allowing adversaries to differentiate between your hard and easy decisions, occasionally take 15 seconds with ‘no-brainer’ decisions. In no-limit hold ‘em, open raise three times the big blind with any preflop raising hand. By doing that, players won’t be able to differentiate your huge hands from your steals. Watch for adversaries who invite you in with small preflop raises and then show big hands such as A-A, K-K or A-K at reveal time. These players will generally raise more when they hold marginal raising hands such as A-10 and 7-7. They don’t want company with those hands.
6) Do not show cards. Your opponents may flash losing hands (using the ‘show cards’ option), intending to create a false image or hoping to foster your sympathy when their A-A falls to small suited connectors, but you shouldn’t show any folded cards or losing hands until you’re experienced. Giving away what you played in a certain situation benefits your opponents. Some sites have a ‘muck all hands’ option. This allows you to automatically reveal all winning hands and muck all losing hands that you are not required to disclose.
If you follow these suggestions, play within the comfort zone of your poker bankroll and always participate when healthy, rested and devoid of distraction, you should improve your results.