full article image

Online poker has one very substantial difference between it and land-based casino poker.  Online, you can’t see your opponent!  This means that tells are a lot harder to detect in online poker.  It also means that you have to “look” for other indications of an opponent’s strength or weakness in a hand.

At Juicy Stakes Poker, we say that aside from knowing the Texas Hold’em poker rules backward and forward, you need to pay extra careful attention on every hand.  Since no one can see what you are doing, we suggest that you keep a very detailed ledger about every hand and every player.

What Will the Ledger Record?

Basically, you want to record who bet early and out of position.  You want to see who limped in the see the flop.  Limping in to see the flop could be a ploy to hide a big hand or it could be the exact opposite: a foolish attempt to beat the odds by trying to vastly improve a poor hand.

It should be clear that it takes quite a bit of time to “know” an opponent.  The ledger should have the position of each player before the flop.  You might also note how quickly a player folds before the flop.  A quick fold followed some time later by a slower fold usually indicates that the first hand was very bad and the second hand was a borderline hand.

Inconsistency is Synonymous with Erratic Play

If you are the inconsistent player, look out!  A good player will find a way to exploit your inconsistencies.  So, it is as important to be consistent in your own play as it is to detect erratic play in an opponent.

Still, discerning a blatant inconsistency in an opponent is a big plus for you.  It is a plus in the game you are playing and it will be a plus in future games as well as you gain the confidence that your observational skills are at the level they need to be to help you win.

Betting Speed is to True Hand Analysis as Fool’s Gold is to Gold

We often think that if a player plays slowly, he or she is hiding a big hand.  In fact, there are several other reasons why a player might bet slowly.

  1. They simply don’t know what to do.  We see this often in YouTube clips of top players and we think that it’s fine for a player to think deeply about a hand.  Sometimes what passes as deep thinking is just an inability to decide.
  2. The player might be working out some poker math and having a difficult time doing so.  Until a player masters poker math, it can be very hard to come to a good conclusion based solely on the math.
  3. The player is actively trying to remember what has happened in this hand or, if you are still too early in the hand to base a conclusion on the hand itself, the player may be trying to remember how you have played in similar position in the past.

Slow or fast play may be an indication of something that might or might not reveal itself over time.  But there is no magic prescription that can tell you how to read one player’s slow or quick play.

Patterns, on the Other Hand….

If you can see patterns in the way an opponent plays, you will be far ahead of that opponent and possibly everyone else at the table!  Patterns are long series of decisions that you can parse to form a pattern.  A single fast or slow play is not a pattern.  Folding from early position is also not a pattern.  In fact, none of the actions we look at to see if we can figure out a pattern constitutes a pattern, BY ITSELF!

If your betting forms a pattern, a good opponent will catch on to it and will use it to her or his advantage.  This is another reason to keep a ledger.  The ledger is not just about the other players; it’s also about you!

How and When to Chat

Online poker rooms have a chat box so players can “talk” to each other.  The way you use the chat box can tell a discerning opponent about you.  You can learn a lot about other players by the way they use the chat box.

Some players are simply arrogant.  This may be deserved if a player is very good.  But it is usually not deserved.  This is one area where the YouTube clips are helpful.  We rarely see a good professional poker player demonstrating arrogance toward other players.  The one exception to this general rule is Phil Helmuth who is sometimes arrogant to amateur opponents.

This is especially true when the amateur plays a hand “wrong” and Helmuth loses the hand.

Some players like to analyze previous hands.  We suggest that you let them do so without contributing to the conversation.  Here is where paying close attention and observing the other players’’ behavior is very important and if you join in on the conversation, you could easily lose the thread that reveals useful information about an opponent.

Betting Can Show a Player’s Skill Level

The most common deficiency in poker skill comes in the most basic aspects of poker math.  This is not easy to master but every player has to know the basics of poker math to win consistently.  If you see that a player doesn’t understand pot odds, expected value, outs, and general odds, you can use that to your advantage.

As for yourself, you do need to study enough poker math to make good decisions on every hand you contend.  For this reason, among many others, we suggest playing at low stakes, which Juicy Stakes provides abundantly, until you have learned enough of the mathematical side of poker and have the financial means to advance to a higher stakes level.

Staying Calm

In poker terms, the act of losing one’s calm is called tilt.  We have to avoid tilt at all times.  Online, it is hard for an opponent to see that another player has tilted but through the chat box many players communicate anger, frustration, criticism of an opponent’s betting, and other indications that he or she has tilted.

Eat, Drink, and Sleep Correctly

Avoid alcohol during games!  This is something many land-based casino gamers lose track of, forget, or simply don’t care to think about but even one beer can affect your judgment and poker is almost always about judgment.

Similarly, staying hydrated during a game is very important.  Drink water or soda but avoid anything sugary.  This won’t affect your play like alcohol will but it will send you to the bathroom too often.

Finally, we have to teach ourselves to sleep well.  Every poker player has to get enough sleep and the highest quality sleep.

Juicy Stakes Poker Wishes All Players Good Luck

After all is said and done, there is also a lot of luck in poker.  The skill players have makes it possible to reduce the effect of luck and to turn luck in their favor.

To get all of the poker experience you want in relatively small doses we invite you to JOIN JUICY STAKES POKER NOW!


Recommended Articles

First Things First: Learn the Rules for Texas Hold’em

Before you place a single bet in a Texas Hold’em game, you should learn all of the Texas Hold’em poker rules.  If you are coming to Hold’em from friendly games with friends of a weekend night, you should know that online poker players are out to win money.

Are the Rules for Texas Hold’em Hard for New Players to Learn?

Texas Hold'em is now the most popular variation of poker. Players play Texas Hold'em in tournaments and in friendly weekend games with pals. We do think that the Texas Hold'em poker rules are just a bit difficult for beginners, but the rules are very easy compared to Texas Hold'em strategy.

How Did Texas Holdem Become so Popular?

It seems that Texas Hold’em has always been the top poker variation but that is not the case at all!  Texas Holdem was played almost exclusively in the wildcat oil fields of West Texas for decades before it was brought to Las Vegas by Crandall Addington, Doyle Brunson, and Amarillo Slim in the 1960’s.