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5 Rules of Online Poker You Should Never Forget

By Taylor Smith in Tips & Tricks / Strategies
| September 28, 2017 12:00 am PDT
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The “online poker boom” may be over with, but playing poker over the Internet is still popular around the world. It arguably reached its peak back in 2003 when Chris Moneymaker became the first person to be named world champion by qualifying for the World Series of Poker Main Event through an online poker site.

Since beginning to offer real money wagering in December of 2001, PokerStars has grown into the largest online poker site on the planet. Today, PokerStars still controls more than two-thirds of the total online poker market in the world. As of now, the only place in America in which PokerStars is legal to play is New Jersey, but that could change as the push for legalized gambling gains steam elsewhere in the United States.

If you’re just getting into the world of online poker for the first time, or even if you’re a seasoned veteran player, take note of the following guidelines to ensure that your bankroll will continue to grow.

Monitor Your Bankroll

If you don’t take a disciplined approach to bankroll management, you’re going to find yourself going broke in short order. A solid bankroll strategy and a little bit of luck can go a long way toward helping a poker player steadily win more and more money. If you let your emotions get the best of you, you’re probably going to dig yourself into a deep hole.

Sometimes, you may feel so strongly about a certain hand that you are confident in going all-in on it. This is an urge you need to resist. The potential payoff is huge if it hits, of course, but you have no way of being absolutely certain that your hand is the best hand. The potential downside absolutely outweighs the potential benefit of going all-in on any single hand.

It’s also important that you don’t get overly concerned with your balance in the middle of a game. If you feel that you’ve lost too much already, checking your balance could put you into a negative or even desperate mood. Playing with a desperate frame of mind is an easy way to get beaten. On the flip side, seeing a swollen balance could lead to you subsequently taking on too much risk in your next hands if you get too overconfident.

Playing a set percentage of your bankroll from hand-to-hand is crucial. Even if you lose, you’ll still have money to fall back on if you want to play again. Going overboard on a single hand can lead to your funds dwindling quite quickly.

Don’t Believe in “Hot Streaks”

In sports, a hot streak is when a player or team feel that they are in a groove and can do no wrong. Stephen Curry may hit five consecutive three-pointers, or Giancarlo Stanton may hit a home run in five consecutive games. Once players like that are in the zone, it’s hard to stop them.

The “hot hand” theory also extends to poker players. This, of course, is known as the “hot hand fallacy.”

The hot hand fallacy is the faulty belief that a person that has experienced a streak of success with random

events has a greater chance at success in the future.

This, of course, is bogus.

That said, it is a little bit different with a game of skill like poker. There is still luck involved, but it’s not as random as a game like roulette or rolling dice on the craps wheels.

Winning a few consecutive hands certainly does not mean you’re destined to reel off several more wins in-a-row. Buying into the notion that you’re playing with a hot hand can lead to riskier decisions, which can lead to losses starting to pile up. Never forget that you need to manage your bankroll wisely, and don’t get carried away with your emotions. That can lead to trouble.

Don’t Ignore Your Own Needs

As someone that works from home, I can tell you that it’s easy to get wrapped up in work and forget about doing things necessary to properly function. The same can happen if you’ve been sitting at the computer playing poker for a while.

Keeping your energy up is vital when it comes to playing poker at your personal best level. If you’re feeling hungry, thirsty or tired, your brain isn’t going to be functioning at peak capacity. You don’t think as crisply when you’re distracted by things like hunger, so be sure to take necessary breaks every now and then to address your own human needs.

It’s also important to be sober, obviously. Despite whatever liquid courage you think may be helping you, trying to play poker while you’re drunk is a fool’s errand. You’re not going to be as sharp as you are with a clear mind, so resist the urge to take a few pops before you sit down at the table.

Get a good night’s sleep. If you’re feeling tired, take a nap. Don’t keep playing through it, because you won’t be at your best. Keeping some food in your belly, keeping the (non-alcoholic, preferably) fluids rolling and getting enough rest are all underappreciated but crucial aspects of succeeding in the world of online poker.

Don’t Play Just to Play

If you find yourself at home with nothing else to do, firing up an online poker game is probably not the best idea. You have to enter every game with the proper mindset. Playing poker out of boredom is probably going to be enough to get you beat.

As a player, it’s of the utmost importance that you take every game as seriously as the next.

Even a tiny mistake can come back to haunt you, especially when there is real money on the line. Those tiny mistakes can easily continue to add up, which can be a difficult thing from which to recover. You are playing online poker because you want to, not because you don’t have anything better to do.

Different players have different ways of playing. Some players need complete quiet around them in order to focus everything on the task at hand. Others may need some white noise from the TV in the background just to calm the air. Finding your comfort level and limiting distractions may sound obvious, but it’s also highly necessary.

Don’t Worry About Being Predictable

You don’t need to play with a balanced style, especially in small stakes games that feature large-field tournaments. When you’re going up against as many as 10,000 opponents, other players are definitely not going to be picking up on your individual tendencies.

It also helps that most of the players you will be going up against in these massive tournaments are not professionals themselves. Most of them are people bored at work that are playing poker just to kill some time on the clock. Most of these people are, in all likelihood, pretty bad poker players. You can bet big on strong hands all you want in these situations.

A lot of novice players also tend to be highly aggressive. While this can make things dicey for you, it’s more likely that they don’t actually know what they are doing. Keeping a level head and not raising every hand will go a long way to making sure you’re at the table for a while. Those uber-aggressive novice players tend to run out of money quickly and never come back.

That said, once you advance into higher-stakes games against true professionals, you’re probably going to have to lock it down and play a more balanced, hard-to-predict style. It’s key to vary your bets and make your game a bit less predictable when you’re squaring off with the big dogs.

These tips will not guarantee that you’re on your way to becoming a millionaire poker player, but heeding the rules can help make you a more well-rounded player overall.

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