6 Online Poker Tips Every New Player Should Know

6 Online Poker Tips Every New Player Should Know

This article was written by blackrain79.com contributor Fran Ferlan.

Getting started with online poker can be a confusing experience, and there are many pitfalls to avoid. 

But it’s also the most convenient way to enjoy your favourite hobby. 

And if you follow the right strategy, it can also be quite profitable.

In this article, we’ll go over the 6 most useful online poker tips for new players.

By following these, you’ll become a true crusher in no time.

There’s a lot to cover in this one, so let’s get right into it.

Online Poker Tip #1: Be Prepared for the Relative Skill Difference

There is a big relative skill difference between live poker players and their online counterparts. 

Online poker players tend to be more technically savvy, and a number of them have probably studied a bit of advanced online poker strategy.

Of course, there will also be a number of recreational players around, particularly at the lower stakes. 

Still, an average online poker player will play better than a live poker player, so you should take this into account when you first start playing online.

The skill difference, as well as the difference in game formats, means that you should probably start at the lower stakes online (meaning the stakes with a smaller buyin amount than you would at live poker games).

For example:

If you usually play a live $1/$2 cash game at your local casino, you are likely to play against a lot of recreational amateur poker players.

These games tend to be quite soft and can be beaten with a basic tight and aggressive (TAG) poker strategy.

Check out my popular article on how to beat $1/$2 cash games at your local casino by the way, if you don't know the right strategy for these games..

But if you were to buy in for $200 online (this is called NL200), you would encounter two big problems.

First of all, the player pool will be quite small at these stakes, as most people online tend to play lower stakes.

Secondly, in that player pool, there will be very few recreational players around. 

In fact, a number of players you’ll encounter at these stakes will be full-time professional or semi-professional poker players.

These players have more than likely spent countless hours playing poker and honing their skills, and are intimately familiar with the latest strategy and likely use the best online poker software.

In poker, the only way to win consistently over the long run is to play in games where you have a significant skill edge.

You can be the sixth best no-limit hold’em player in the world, but if you go up against the top five players in the world, you are still going to be a losing player.

So when first starting out online, it’s best to start at the lower stakes, and gradually work your way up as you build your skillset and your bankroll.

In fact, if you are a beginner poker player, I would advise to start at the very lowest stake, which is NL2 on most online poker sites (i.e. cash games with a $2 buyin).

I have also written the #1 guide available online in order to beat NL2.

This amount of money may seem trivial to a lot of people, and fair enough. The prospect of playing for pennies doesn’t seem too exciting, and a lot of players would prefer to play for some “serious money”.

If that’s the case for you, of course you can play any stakes you prefer. But if your goal is to make money at least somewhat consistently, it’s better to start at the lower stakes and gradually work your way up.

If you are beating a certain limit over a significant sample size, you can move up the stakes.

But if you’re a beginner poker player, chances are that even the limits that may seem trivial could pose a significant challenge to you.

For example, it’s not uncommon to find a number of professional or semi professional poker players at the stakes as low as NL25.

But you can still quickly grow a bankroll at these stakes.

For example, check out my recent video on how to quickly turn $50 into $10,000 at low limits.

Never miss my latest poker videos. Join 75,000+ who are already subscribed.

Online Poker Tip #2: Use Table Selection and Seat Selection Features

One of the advantages of online poker compared to live games is the ability to play multiple tables at once. 

On top of that, you have the ability to pick and choose to play on more profitable tables, and simply leave the tables that aren’t working for you.

Additionally, you can usually seat select as well, which is something you should take advantage of provided your preferred poker site allows for table selection and seat selection.

Let’s talk about table selection first.

Ideally, you want to find tables with plenty of recreational players around. 

Recreational players usually don’t take the game too seriously, and primarily play for fun. They usually don’t take the time off the felt to improve their game and learn any advanced poker strategy.

This is why they tend to have glaring weaknesses in their game and lose a lot of money over the long run.

When table selecting, you want to make sure you have at least one recreational player at your table. 

More is better, of course.

You also want to take the seat to the direct left of the recreational player, but more on that in a second.

6 Online Poker Tips Every New Player Should Know

In poker, most of the money you’ll win won’t come from your genius plays, but from the mistakes of your opponents. 

That’s why it’s crucial to have at least one recreational player (aka the fish) at your table, as they will be your primary source of income in this game.

Conversely, if you play at a table full of skilled, experienced regular players (aka the regs), you will have a much harder time making any profit, because these players simply won’t make as many fundamental mistakes you can take advantage of.

Poker is a game of skill, and the only way to win consistently is to play against players you have a significant skill edge over.

Some online poker sites have table statistics you can look at to gauge what kind of opposition you’re likely to encounter at the table.

These statistics will usually show you the number of hands played per hour, average number of players per pot, and the average pot size.

Let’s break these down one by one:

A) Number of hands played per hour

Ideally, you want to look for tables that play fewer hands per hour, because these are more than likely to be populated by recreational players. 

There are two reasons for this.

Number one, fish usually take a longer time to act, because they often don’t know what to do or don’t pay attention to the betting order.

The second reason is that fish play far more hands on average than the regulars, and tend to play them quite passively. 

This means that it takes longer to play a single hand, because a lot of players have to make their actions, which usually involve a lot of checking and calling.

B) Number of players involved in the pot

You want to look for tables with a high percentage of players involved in the pot, because these are more than likely to be recreational players. 

As mentioned, fish tend to play far more hands than the regulars (this is one of the telltale signs of recreational players).

Conversely, tables with a low percentage play a lot tighter on average, which means it’s going to be more difficult for you to extract value. As the saying goes, you can’t draw blood from a rock.

C) Average pot size

Look for tables with a small average pot size, because these are more likely to be populated by recreational players.

Fish tend to play passively (i.e. checking and calling as opposed to betting and raising), so they usually won’t build up huge pots.

Note that some online poker sites won’t display these statistics, and will have anonymous tables instead. 

This is not necessarily bad news, since poker sites with anonymous tables will usually attract a larger number of recreational players.

Now, let’s talk about the seat selection (provided your poker site allows this feature).

Ideally, you should look for seats on the direct left of the recreational player.

This means you will play most hands in position against them, which means you can be the first one to take advantage of their mistakes.

If a fish limps into the pot (something they are prone to do), you can isolate them with a raise and try to play a heads-up pot against them post flop.

Playing in position as a preflop aggressor against a single opponent (preferably a fish) is the most profitable money-making spot in no-limit hold’em, period.

Check out my ultimate preflop poker guide for more details on the isolation raising and other preflop concepts you should know.

When seat selecting, it’s also worth paying attention to the players on YOUR left, as well.

Ideally, you want to find weak and passive players on your left, because the player on your direct left is the one that can make your life difficult.

For example, if the opponent on your left is an aggressive regular who likes to 3-bet a lot, this won’t be a fun experience for you.

(A 3-bet preflop is a re-raise against another player’s open-raise.)

Aggressive players will also defend their blinds more often, as opposed to passive players who will be apprehensive about playing out of position.

For these reasons, if you have one or two very aggressive players on your left, consider finding another table.

There’s no point in putting up a fight against a player in position, as this is more than likely to be a losing battle.

Learn to Make $2000 Per Month in Small Stakes Games With My Free Poker Cheat Sheet

Are you struggling to create consistent profits in small stakes online poker games? Would you like to make a nice part time income of at least $2000 per month in these games? 6 Online Poker Tips Every New Player Should Know 
If so, then I wrote this free poker cheat sheet for you. 

This is the best completely free poker strategy guide available online today. It shows you how to crush the small stakes games step by step. 

Learn exactly what hands to play and when to bet, raise and bluff all in! 

These are the proven strategies that I have used as a 10+ year poker pro to create some of the highest winnings of all time in these games. 

Enter your details below and I will send my free poker "cheat sheet" to your inbox right now.

Online Poker Tip #3: Buy in for the Table Maximum in Online Cash Games

If you decide to play cash games online, always buy in for the maximum table amount. Online poker sites allow you to choose your own buy in amount, but you should always choose the table maximum.

There are a few reasons for this.

First of all, not buying in for the table maximum is usually a telltale sign of recreational poker players. 

The reason why recreational players buy in for less than the maximum amount is the fact that they aren’t confident in their playing abilities.

So they want to minimize the amount of money they can potentially lose.

Or they simply don’t have enough funds in their account to buy in for the full amount, which means they have no bankroll to speak of (yet another sign of a recreational poker player).

Trying to minimize your downside this way is a faulty logic. When you sit down to play poker, you should be prepared to lose your entire buyin at any given moment.

Poker has a short term luck element involved, meaning you can lose despite playing perfectly.

If you’re not perfectly comfortable with losing your buyin (or a couple of them, for that matter), you are playing in the wrong games, and should probably drop down in stakes.

6 Online Poker Tips Every New Player Should Know

Losing some money while playing poker is inevitable, so there’s no point trying to work around that by buying in for less.

All you can do in this regard is practice proper bankroll management and play in games you have a reasonable chance of beating over the long run.

Another reason to always buy in for the maximum amount is to maximize your potential winnings.

In poker, you can only win as much as you put in the pot. 

Skilled poker players will always want to have as many chips in front of them as possible, so they can win as much as possible.

For example, if you have 50 big blinds in your stack and you double up, you won 50 big blinds. But if you have 100 big blinds and you double up, you won 100 big blinds.

If you want to achieve success in poker cash games, getting familiar with the deep stack strategy is a must.

The deeper the stacks, the more technically complex the game becomes, and the more skill you need to play it optimally.

Conversely, the smaller the effective stack sizes, the more luck will play a role in your results.

If you’re not comfortable with playing deep stacks yet, you can try another poker format like multi-table tournaments.

Multi-table tournaments usually have shallower stack sizes than cash games. 

Also, large potential cashout always attract a number of recreational poker players, so the competition is arguably softer in tournament poker.

However, tournament poker also has a lot more variance built into the format, meaning it’s harder to cash out consistently.

So if your goal is to make money at least somewhat consistently, cash games are likely to be a better option for you.

Deepstack poker is the arguably the most complex poker format. It's also the one where your skill edge can really shine through.

If you want to master the deepstack strategy, enroll in Blackrain79 Elite Poker University.

You will get a comprehensive step-by-step guide on how to play every single street in no-limit hold'em, along with example hands to make learning easier.

You will learn how to pull off huge multi-street bluffs with confidence, as well as the advanced hand reading techniques you'll need to pull off huge hero calls like a pro.

The course contains 17 hours of advanced poker training, hundreds of step by step example hands and downloadable "cheat sheets" below all 50 videos.

If you are serious about taking your poker game to the next level, enroll today.
Get $100 OFF Use Code: ELITE100

Online Poker Tip #4: Get a Good Rakeback Program

Most online poker sites will offer some kind of reward program as an incentive to keep playing at their site. It’s worth shopping around to find the program that works for you.

These loyalty programs usually come in the form of welcome bonuses and rakeback.

Welcome bonus or first deposit bonus means that a site will match your first deposit bonus. For example, if you deposit $500, you will get $500 on top of that, or some similar variation.

However, these deposit bonuses always come with strings attached, so make sure you read the fine print before depositing.

First of all, you will never get the whole bonus right away, but have to unlock it in increments by playing on the site.

The bonus only unlocks after you’ve wagered a certain amount of money (i.e. contributed enough rake).

So in reality, you’re not getting free money, but rather you’re getting a portion of your money back.

Also, these bonuses usually have a restricted time period to unlock (like 60 or 90 days), and they expire after a certain period.

6 Online Poker Tips Every New Player Should Know

So only commit to unlocking the bonus if you are confident you will actually be able to unlock it.

These bonuses may be a hassle, but they could still be worthwhile to help your bottom line.

Another form of loyalty incentive is the rakeback program.

Most sites will offer some sort of a rakeback program as an incentive to keep playing on their site.

The rake is the small percentage of the pot you pay to the site for the pleasure of playing. Some sites give you a portion of the rake you’ve contributed back to your account.

This is basically free money, and it can really help your bottom line.

While rakeback programs aren’t as generous as they once were, you can still find decent rakeback on some sites, so it’s worth shopping around for it.

Some sites will offer other incentives to play on their sites, like free tournament tickets, points you can redeem for merchandise, lottery coupons etc.

I prefer the cold hard cash, though.

Bottom line: rakeback program and other loyalty programs are a great way to boost your bottom line, but always make sure to read the terms and conditions to figure out exactly how to qualify for the program.

Also, don't get fooled by the misleading marketing, and make sure to only play on reputable, licensed online poker sites.

Online Poker Tip #5: Invest in a Hand Tracking Software

One of the disadvantages of online poker is the inability to physically see your opponent. 

This can also be viewed as an advantage, since your opponents can’t see you, as well. This is useful if you can’t keep a poker face to save your life.

Either way, the inability to see your opponents means you can’t rely on physical tells to get information about them.

You can, however, keep track of your opponent’s stats to get an idea about their play-style. 

You can theoretically do this manually, but a much more efficient way is to invest in a hand tracking software like PokerTracker 4.

PokerTracker 4 is a hand tracking software that lets you import your hand histories from your preferred online poker sites to make comprehensive statistics about your game, as well as your opponents.

This goes way beyond merely keeping track of your results, hours played, and your winrate.

PokerTracker 4 shows you every imaginable poker stat, and it’s an indispensable tool for every serious poker player. It’s also easy enough to use even if you’re not especially technically savvy.

6 Online Poker Tips Every New Player Should Know

One of the most useful features of the software is the Leak Tracker. Leak Tracker analyses your stats and shows you exactly where your stats fall out of norm for most winning poker players. 

This means you don’t have to guess at what you need to improve in your game. The program tells you where the problems might lie, so the guesswork is completely out of equation.

Another useful feature is the heads-up display (or HUD for short). The HUD is a little pop-up that shows up next to your opponent’s username, and it shows all their relevant game stats.

This includes the number of hands they play, their overall aggression level, their betting frequencies, and so on.

You can customize the HUD to display any stat that may be useful to you as I show you in my mega popular PokerTracker setup guide.

Or you can just use one of the ready-made HUDs instead.

PokerTracker 4 basically pays for itself, because the value you get from improving your game, as well as getting accurate reads from your opponents will be worth it many times over.

If you’re still not sure about giving PokerTracker 4 a go, there’s a fourteen day free trial if you follow the link.

Try PokerTracker 4 today to take your online poker experience to the next level. If you take online poker seriously, this is the most no brainer investment you can make.

Online Poker Tip #6: Learn to Multi-table

One of the main advantages of online poker compared to live poker is the ability to multi-table, i.e. play at multiple table at once.

There are many advantages to multi-tabling, namely the ability to put in much more volume at a shorter time. 

Poker is a long term game, and it takes a while to truly assess your poker results. Even if you play perfectly, you’re not guaranteed to win every time. 

All you can do is try to make the best decisions possible at all times, and after a while you’re going to get ahead.

But there are bound to be a lot of ups and downs in your results, and the only way to get over that is to put in the volume.

Being able to multi-table can help you put in an insane amount of volume. 

Experienced grinders can play as much as 1000 hands in an hour or so. 

Compare this to the snail’s pace of live games where you can only play about 30 hands per hour, and you can see why online poker is often preferable for players who want to put in serious volume.

Playing multiple tables at a time may seem daunting at first, but it’s not as difficult as it may seem.

If you want to start multi-tabling, start by adding only one table, then gradually add tables when you become comfortable with the current number of tables you’re playing.

If you start getting overwhelmed, drop the number until you find the pace you’re comfortable with.

Playing multiple tables at once will also help you avoid boredom due to a cold run of cards. 

If you keep getting dealt garbage hands, you may get the urge to start playing hands you know you really shouldn’t be playing because you’re tired of folding all the time.

Multi-tabling can help with this problem, because the pace of action is faster, so you won’t feel the need to play junk hands and force the action.

Putting in a bigger volume will also make you more money in the form of the rakeback. The more hands you play, the more rake you contribute, and the more rakeback you earn.

freedom of online poker

If you want to unlock welcome bonuses in full, you’re going to have a much better chance if you multi-table.

Check out Nathan’s full guide on how to multi-table online poker for a much deeper dive.

However, just because you can multi-table, it doesn’t mean you have to. 

There are certain tradeoffs you need to be aware of when it comes to multi-tabling, namely less time to think and make informed decisions.

Also, there’s only so many tables you can add until you start getting diminishing returns, and at a certain threshold, adding too many tables can actually hurt your winrate.

Check out my other article on why you shouldn’t multi-table too heavily for some common multi-tabling pitfalls you should avoid.

Bottom line: multi-tabling is a great way to put in more volume and get to the long run faster, but don’t feel compelled to play more tables than you are comfortable with.

6 Online Poker Tips Every New Player Should Know - Summary

Online poker is a different beast from live poker, but it’s still essentially the same game. However, there are some crucial differences you should be aware of when first starting out. 

To sum up, here are 6 tips every new online poker player should know.

1. Beware the relative skill difference

Online poker players tend to be more skilled than their live counterparts, and a number of them have studied quite a bit of advanced poker strategy.

This means that you should probably start at lower stakes when you first start out playing online, and gradually work your way up. 

2. Table select and seat select

One of the advantages of online poker is the ability to table select and seat select. 

Always have at least one recreational player at your table (more is always better, of course). Ideally, you also want to grab a seat to the direct left of the recreational player.

This way, you’ll be able to play most hands in position against them, and take advantage of the many mistakes they’re bound to make.

3. Buy in for the table maximum

Always make sure to buy in for the table maximum, and use the auto-top up option to always have as many virtual chips in front of you as possible. 

If you’re not comfortable with losing your entire stack at any given moment, it’s a good sign you should probably drop down in stakes.

4. Get a good rakeback program

Most online poker sites offer some sort of loyalty program as an incentive to play at their site, so it’s worth shopping around for the one that works for you. 

Rakeback programs pay out a percentage of the rake you’ve contributed back to your account, and they’re a great way to boost your bottom line.

However, don’t get fooled by the misleading marketing, and always read the fine print to figure out the terms and conditions of the promotional offers. Also, make sure to only play on licensed, reputable poker sites.

5. Invest in a hand tracking software

Poker is a game of incomplete information, and the player with the informational advantage will come out on top more often than not. 

Use a hand tracking software like PokerTracker 4 to keep track of your winrate and your opponent’s stats. 

PokerTracker 4 is an indispensable tool for both professional and aspiring amateur poker players alike, and it’s a must have if you want to improve your poker game.

6. Learn to multi-table

The ability to multi-table is by far the biggest advantage of online poker. Multi-tabling allows you to put in an insane amount of volume, get to the long run faster, and to earn more rakeback and bonuses.

However, you should only play the number of tables you’re comfortable with, i.e. the number of tables that still allows you enough time to make the best possible decisions.

Lastly, if you want to know the complete strategy I use to make $2000+ per month in live poker cash games, grab a copy of my free poker cheat sheet.