Playing Online Poker

Online Poker has become hugely popular in the last decade and the convenience of playing in the comfort of your own home was one of the main contributing factors to the boom that the game experienced. In years gone by, poker was a game played by people of dubious moral character in back-rooms, funded by loan sharks. 

Today the biggest winners in poker are math and science graduates, who have studied the game in minute detail, played millions of hands and developed a cold and calculated style for beating their opposition.  

Playing Online vs. Playing Live

When internet poker first came about in the early 90’s, it was slow to take off. People playing online poker feared that they were being cheated because they couldn’t see the cards being physically shuffled and dealt, nor could they see their opponents. The game’s purists argued that playing poker online wasn’t real poker at all, and that the skill of the game lay in staring down your opponent and figure out if he was bluffing or not by reading his physical ‘tells’.

While it’s true that physical tells aren’t available, one thing online poker has done is steer people towards studying the theory and mathematics of the game and these days even the seasoned live pros would accept that most of the game’s skill lies in reading your opponents patterns and bet sizing/timing tells so you can zone in on what possible hands he can be holding, rather than taking a guess based on how much he’s perspiring.

The great ‘Is Online Poker Rigged?’ debate has been long since put to bed. Players have analysed millions of hands from most of the big sites and have found that everything is as it should be. Sometimes it can feel like things are stacked against you, but this is simply because you play so many more hands online, meaning the bad beats come thick and fast!

How Do I Start Playing Online Poker?

The game is very simple to get into. There are a huge array of online poker sites these days. Have a read of our online poker guide, which features poker room reviews and pick one which suits the type of game you want to play, whether it be tournaments or cash, holdem or stud. If you’re nervous about starting off playing for real money, almost all online poker sites have a play money option which will let you test out of the software and get used to the speed of the game and reading the action. In fact its always advisable to take a shot at play money or low stakes when trying out a new site, as making a misclick at bigger stakes because you’re not familiar with the software could cost you a lot of money!

One thing to be aware of is that the quality of play at most stakes is much higher online than live. For instance if you’re used to playing €1/€2 cash games in your local casino, you’ll find that if you go to play these stakes online, your table will be comprised mostly of professional players. Luckily, due to having lower overheads, online poker rooms can spread games at much lower stakes.

You’ll find that the standard at 10c/20c online is about the same as €1/€2 live. It’s still possible to make money though! Online tables see about 3 times as many hands per hour as live tables and you can play multiple tables as well. With a bit of practice you should be able to play 500 hands per hour, compared with 30 live. So, even though you’re playing lower stakes, you can eek out a comparable hourly win rate.

Online Poker Software and Training

There are a huge amount of products on the market to help you get better at online poker, from programs that store every hand you play and give you detailed statistics about your (and your opponents’) play, to mathematical analysis packages.

The tracking software program ‘Holdem Manager‘ is a must for anyone who wants to take online poker seriously. It breaks the game down into a huge array of statistical categories and allows you do analyse your play in fine detail to check if you have any big leaks which you weren’t aware of. As well as that, it features a HUD which is overlayed on the table while your playing, which displays the statistics of your opponents. This is critical for multi-tabling as the HUD basically pays attention to the other players while you’re focusing on your actions elsewhere. Some players think these software packages detract from the game of poker and turn it into a numbers game, but the sites allow it and players who want to get an edge in any way they can are happy to use it.

If you feel like your game could do with some help, there are a number of sites which offer training videos, where professional players record videos of themselves playing and talk through their thought processes. These videos are very helpful for new players and subscriptions to training sites start at about $20 per month. Our recommendations are Deuces Cracked and BlueFirePoker.