Online Poker Strategies: A Fundamental Guide
Online poker strategies come in all shapes and sizes. While some players will adopt an aggressive style full of big raises and fancy bluffs, others will utilise a more conservative style that leans towards fewer bets and more haste.
This range of skills and styles is what makes online poker so exciting, but also extremely tricky to master. Fortunately, however, there are some constants when it comes to poker strategies that work.
Underpinning virtually every style of play, these tactics are used by everyone with bankroll in the black; from Phil Ivey and Daniel Negreanu to the faceless grinder online, the poker strategies we’ve outlined for you in this guide should be enough to set you on your winning way.
Of course, whether you choose to become a bluffer or a value bettor in later life is your choice; however, to ensure you have a solid set of fundamental skills, we recommend you drill the following nuggets of poker advice into your brain.
Before we outline any “on-the-felt” techniques, the first thing you need to understand is variance. Without an appreciation of this concept, you’ll never be able to fully commit to certain plays as you’ll always be focused on the immediate outcome rather than the long-term expectation (EV).
Underpinning every move you make at the poker table is a mathematical phenomenon known as variance. Technically defined as the statistical distribution of results over a period of time (basically good and bad luck) variance can have a major effect on your game.
Every move you make at the poker table has a certain expectation and knowing the most profitable move in each situation is the goal of every poker player. However, because poker involves variance, it’s possible that the right move won’t always return a profit.
For example, if you moved all-in with pocket aces pre-flop, you’d be the statistical favourite over any other hand (expect pocket aces). However, because you’re not 100% guaranteed to win, it’s mathematically possible for you to lose ten of these situations in a row.
Does this mean that it’s wrong to move all-in with pocket aces? No. All this simply means is that, in the short-term, your hand lost. However, over the course of, say, 1,000 hands you would be in profit. This is what’s known as variance and it’s something you must understand if you want to employ successful poker strategies at the virtual felt.
Online Poker Strategy: Fundamental Concepts
Now we’ve started to build your knowledgebase with an explanation of variance, let’s start to strengthen your foundations with three more nuggets of poker theory:
Know Where to Start
Before you set off on any journey you need to make sure your car is in perfect working order and the same is true in a game of poker. If your starting hand isn’t good enough to suit the situation at the table then everything that follows will be a struggle.
With this in mind, here’s a quick guide to the hands you should raise with pre-flop during a game of No Limit Texas Hold’em:
A-A, K-K, A-Ks, Q-Q, A-K, J-J, A-Qs, A-Qo, or A-Js.
All early position raises + 10-10, A-J, K-Qs, K-Qo, K-Js
All early and middle position raises + A-10s, K-10s, K-Jo, Q-Js, Q-Jo, 9-9, 8-8
Going the Opposite Way
At the virtual felt it’s important to ascertain a player’s strategy and their position in relation to you as quickly as possible.
For example, if the aggressive players are to your right, you should allow them to make moves and only re-raise when you have a strong hand. Conversely, if the aggressive players are to your left, you should be much more wary of making raises because they are more likely to 3-bet you.
The fundamental principle at play here is doing the opposite. However your opponents are playing, do something different in order to counteract and take advantage of it. Adopting this mentality requires you to be a more observant player, but the payoff is that you’ll become a much tougher player to beat.
Make it Smaller
Modern online poker strategies now require smaller bets. Compared to the old days of online poker when it was all about size and aggression, things are a lot more subtle nowadays.
For example, most players will now raise 2X or 2.2X the big blind pre-flop and will often only open with the top of their range (i.e. their best hands) from early position. Poker is a fluid game that evolves over time and, today, the best way to win is by reducing your pre-flop bets both in terms of size and frequency.
To thrive in the modern online poker climate you need to stay up-to-date with current trends and if you can do that, as well as bear in mind the strategies we’ve outlined in this guide, you should be able to take your bankroll to new highs.