July 14, 2011
Rough Guide to Online Poker
Over the last 3 years of trying to figure out how to play poker and make money from it I have finally figured it out, this guide is here to help others and also serves as a reminder to me to keep me in check. I constantly go back to this in my mind and I think that these are the most important things to know for 6 max online poker and I have cut out everything else which is filler. While experience is the best teacher, it sure helps to have a smart outline to give you a jump start. Ive put this in one place so I can get it easily and I like writing stuff down because it gets it out of my mind and into reality.
The number one thing to remember: Poker is a people game that is played with cards.
Winning is as simple as reading your opponents correctly and managing yourself properly. While that sounds easy, many players find this surprisingly hard to do; as the saying goes 'it takes a minute to learn and a lifetime to master'.
Tools you need:
Deposit and Withdrawal Methods, Identification, HEM, Large monitor
You need to have moneybookers, neteller and a visa card all attached to your bank account, so that you can deposit and withdraw quickly and safely at all the different poker sites. I suggest you get each account in a different currency so that you can take advantage of different sites while avoiding exchange rate fees over and over again.
You need to have your identification ready so that you can verify who you are on the different sites so make picture files available on your computer to send via email to the poker site support when you register so it is at hand. I suggest when you sign up to a site you email them straight away and verify who you are immediately before you even make a deposit, that way you can be set up and be able to withdraw immediately should you decide you need to.
You need to get hold of a program called Holdem Manager (buy the full version with Leakbuster and Holdem Vision for $199), this program will be the key to improving your own play through reviewing hands you have played and also helping you to determine what kind of players you are facing online by utilizing the HUD. It is also key in your pregame routine and finding fish.
You will need a large
monitor that can comfortably fit 4 tables and multiple lobbys. You
want to be able to clearly read your HUD and see exactly what you are
doing and be able to follow the action properly, so a big monitor is
Books to read:
Hole Card Confessions by Owen Gaines
This book is a guide to teach you about how to play real poker. Poker is about ranges and how to manipulate your opponents by making them do what you want them to do. This book is a great introduction on how to think properly about that game, how to adjust to different players tendencies and what to do to exploit them. This book is not about game theory optimal plays, but dont worry about that, poker is played by people, not robots and no one is playing GTO. Exploit the people into making fundamental theory of poker mistakes and win.
Poker Math that Matters
by Owen Gaines
This book teach you how to properly assess all of the maths you need in poker in order to win. Pot odds, implied odds, expected value, g-bucks, ranges, hand combos and a bunch of quizzes that help you get these concepts into your head. A nice complement to his other book which teaches exploitable play, this book is all about the mathematical fundamentals that underpin no limit holdem poker. An absolute must.
The Mental Game of
Poker by Jared Tendler
Variance in poker is hard for the human brain to understand. We evolved in an environment which did not allow for the 'long term' to come into play. If we ran bad at life, we died, it was just that simple. As a consequence human emotions have a habit of hijacking our logical minds. This book will help you combat and come to terms with our emotions and self imposed limitations at the tables in order for you to make the right plays and play your best poker.
Treat Your Poker Like a Business by Dusty Schmidt
This is a guide not necessarily on how to play poker, but how to approach the game from a professional point of view. Dusty aka Leatherass is a phenomenal grinder who has maintained a high winrate over millions of hands and tens of thousands of hours at the tables. He helps outline what you should know and do off the tables in order to maximise your winnings on the tables.
There are lots of other books our there on poker. Go ahead and read them if you wish. However there is nothing covered in any of the other books which is not addressed in the above four books. I have found the above four books to be the absolute best in terms of clarity in writing, editing, and having all bases covered, as well as being affordable. Anything in the Dragthebar store is a good bet, and other books from publishers such as 2+2, d+b, cardoza and dimat are good aswell, but these are simply covering the same ground in what I consider to be a some what long winded, poorly edited and less fulfilling and efficient way.
Videos to watch:
Math of NL holdem by Aaron Wilt on Deucescracked.com
Aaron 'WiltonTilt' Wilt is one of the hardest working and best poker players playing today. This series is a must for the same reasons as why the Poker Math That Matters book is a must. Good poker is based upon a good understanding of all the mathematical concepts, and this video series helps to solidify these concepts in your mind.
Philosophy by PhilGalfond on Bluefirepoker.com
Phil Galfond aka OMGClayAiken is one of the best poker players in the world. This series will teach you how to properly think about a hand during play, about ranges and what actions by your opponents mean. If you consistently re-watch this series, every time you will see another thing that 'clicks'. I can remember first watching this when I had very little experience and thinking “this makes no sense at all, how can this ever be a good idea?”, now I watch it and think”thats absolutely brilliant, how can I apply more of this to my own game?”
Coaching Kristy by Andrew Seidman on Deucescracked.com
Why are we betting? Get Value, Bluff, Take down the dead money. BalugaWhale teaches you where and when to apply these concepts at the table in the most efficient way possible.
Amature to Pro and Common Spots by Alan Jackson on Bluefirepoker.com
These two series are a
must watch before you begin playing. Alan Jackson is a true grinder
who has played millions of hands. A great work ethic and very humble
player who can help you to understand all of the spots that come up
frequently over and over again and make you play an efficient and
thinking style of poker.
There a thousands of videos out there, and again while some are great, they are mostly rehashing the same concepts above. Go ahead and watch as many as you like :)
The game before the game:
Poker playing is full of mental traps, you can begin to feel invincible or feel like anything you do will not work within just a few thousand hands. This variance in poker is what takes its toll the hardest on the human mind and can lead to illusions of both grandure and failure. Remember that poker is just a game and keep things in perspective. Having other hobbies is very good for you, having a wide circle of friends and keeping fit and eating healthy are also very important to playing good poker too. Playing poker in your spare time should be fun, not a source of discomfort in your life or something which stops you from doing other things. It is just a game.
Volume or Winrate
There is a disease that
is going on in the online poker world and that is mass multi tabling.
You need to focus on increasing your winrate bb per-100 rather than
playing 24 tables and millions of hands. There are several reasons
for this, but the main ones are simple. Playing millions of hands at
1bb/100 is counter productive. You will submit yourself to mental
torture facing the inevitable variance that such a style dictates,
you will be playing hours on end and many times have nothing to show
for it whatsoever, or worse, negative earnings, you are not able to
learn by playing a robotic monotonous style which is easy for your
opponents to exploit and you will end up engraining sub-par play into
your mind which will be hard to overcome. The key to being a good
poker player is to be able to process different types of information
which is presented to you and then make the best play. Mass tabling
simply doesnt allow you to think like this and ends up costing you
big time. Stick to playing 4 tables and thinking about your decisions
and focus on improving your play. Once you can crush the limit you
decide to play and everything is simply automatic, then it is time to
increase the tables. But unless you are a solid 8bb+ winner over 4
tables over a sample of over 100,000 hands, then stick to 4 tables,
you are not as good as you think you are. Infact, no one is impressed
that you played 300,000 hands in a month at 1bb/100 it is a real
waste of time, and you could make that same 30 buyins in a fraction
of the time if you learned how to actually play poker properly! When
some one tells me they are playing 12+ tables and are making 1bb/100
all I can think of is this :
The fact of the matter is you are leaving money on the table if you do not have rakeback. Every site takes rake and this is how they make their money, thats why they keep the games safe and have an interest in keeping the games fair. They make their money regardless of whoever wins or loses at the tables in the form of rake, so thank the rake for providing you with the luxury of being able to play from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. Having said that rake does add up to a lot of money each month so make sure that you get the best rakeback deal you can get. There are many great affiliates out there and there is no reason you should not have rakeback at every site you play at. Money is money so search around for the best deal and get that locked in. However, as we mentioned above, grinding for rakeback or simply mass grinding in general is bad. Play to win at poker and view rakeback as a nice bonus. Do not focus on playing hands 'just to get the hands in for my rakeback/bonus' instead think about playing hands because the games are good and you have plenty of fish to fry.
Speaking of fish, this is where the most money comes from! So it only makes sense that you play all of your poker when the fish are out in their numbers. That means weekday evenings and all day on the weekends. Playing in the midweek when all the bad players are at work is a waste of time and is ultimately unproductive. Play when the games are good and get in good games.
As mentioned above, having access to a good game with bad players in it is probably the biggest key to making money at poker. Because the fish can be playing anywhere, its essential that you have the option to play anywhere to find them. Thats why having moneybookers and neteller as well as a Visa card is essential so that you can quickly deposit on a site should the games be particularly good on a site you have not yet got money online. Also, spreading out your roll across many sites is a great idea because then you can just jump right in and get the fish before someone else does. Playing at one site 'because thats where I like to play' is just like saying 'I like to make making money harder than it could be'.
Before you play you need to be in the right mindset to be making analytical decisions. You need to feel fresh and alert. If you have a hangover, or have another thing going on in your life that is consuming your mind at the moment then that means you should not play poker. Before I play I like to shower, have something filling to eat, get a large cup of green tea and get comfortable in my seat. I load up HEM and review my last session of all pots won and lost 40bb+, this gets me thinking analytically about ranges before I play and gets me motivated to improve on my mistakes
Load up the lobbies in all the poker rooms you play on and filter the limits you play, filter out full tables and look at the tables, look for the following : Random stack sizes (these are typically casual one buyin players who are soft), very high players perflop% (lots of flops means lots of loose play), high pot size (lots of money going into the pot means lots of gambling!) and try to find the fish you have identified in your HEM database as big losers, this is where the real money is made. You make money playing with bad players, it is your job to find them.
3 simple rules to apply when playing:
The ten second rule
Every time you are about to put money in the pot, think for ten seconds, then act. If you are about to put money in the pot, whether its calling or raising, think about your best play for 10 seconds. Then act. This will save you loads of money from when you instacall off your stack preflop with jacks against a 5/5/1 player! Or are getting C/R'd on a A72r when you hold A9o. Take this time to think and make the best played based upon your opponents range, his style of play, and table flow.
The mark hand
Every time you get in a spot you dont know what to do. Make a mental note of it and immediately after the hand open the HEM last hand popup and tag the marked hand box. Review it later when you have time.
Timing tells rule
Each villain has a rhythm they typically play. Take these notes and copy paste them into the HEM note taking feature. “Insta pot =, Insta check =, instacall =, Insta 1/2pot =, Tankbet =, Tankcheck =, Tankcall =” Whenever you notice someone doing something either very slowly or very quickly make a note of it. Each time you see this confirmed or denied then add a + or – to the tally they have. Once you have say 5 instances of this tell you can be sure that its a pretty reliable read and will prove invaluable in future hands. For example:
“Insta pot = riverbluff+4, Insta check =weak+1, instacall = weakmade hand+7 and draw+2, Insta 1/2pot = set on dry board +3, overpair in 3betpot+2, Tankbet = weak hand+2, Tankcheck = trappy hand+1, Tankcall = marginal hand +5”
Heres the post in PDF format