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The 5 Commandments of Online Poker

You found out about online poker, did you? Glad to hear it! Iím looking forward to seeing you at the tables. Really, I amóIím always looking to pad my bankroll. Sit down, stay a while.

Let me take your money.

Whatís that you say? You donít want to give me your money? Pffh. Do you know who I am? Oh, you want to learn how to win, do you? You want to make some cash off of this gig?

I tell you whatóIím feeling nice today. Iíll help you out. I see players like you all the time, and all of them make the same mistakes, over, and over, and over, andÖ If you want to win, just avoid making newbie errors. There are tons of them. Iíll make a list for you.

1. Donít play every hand!

Pretty basic, right? Maybe, but itís possibly the most important advice I can give you. Believe it or not, just because you have one ace in your hand doesnít make it invincible. A2 offsuit kinda sucks. K7 offsuit really sucks. If you hit your high pair with either hand, chances are pretty good thereís someone with a higher kicker waiting to stack you.

2. If you wanna play, learn how to bet!

If you wake up with AK preflop, raise! Youíve got a great hand, and probability says itís the best at the table. Get some value out of it.

Something I see all the time is beginners limping with pocket aces. Their reasoning is usually something like, ďI donít want to scare everyone out of the potĒ. This is really poor reasoning. Listen: your hand is incredibly strong preflop, so you need to raise the stakes. Thatís all there is to it. You want to create a massive pot. Limping isnít going to fool anyone, and itís not going to get you paid off. Itís just going to allow other people with random hands to outdraw you on future streets.

3. Know when to play, and when to sit backódonít sit on the fence.

In politics, Ďsitting on the fenceí means youíre a spineless jerk who canít do your job.

Same thing in poker. If you limp preflop (call the big blind), youíre sitting on the fence. You canít decide whether or not your hand is good enough to play, but you want to call, just to see if you can hit a flop. This is horrendous. I canít describe to you how much money youíll lose if you do this a lot.

This rule goes hand in hand with #2. If you want to play, be aggressive--pump the pot full of value. If youíre not sure whether or not your hand is valuable, it isnít worth playing. Just fold it.

4. Position is important.

Itís true: the order in which you act has a huge effect on how you should play your hand. Think about it: If youíre first to make a decision in a hand, youíre basically making a move blind. If youíre going to bet, youíd better be pretty darn sure your hand is strong. All those late position players might want to raise you up, and if youíve got a weak holding, you might be wasting your money.

In late position, you can afford to play some marginal hands. Youíve got the benefit of acting last; everyone before you is afraid of what youíre going to do. Postflop, you control the action. If the flop comes rags, you can bet, and take down your fair share of hands, even if you donít hit yourself.

5. Pay attention!

If you thought the first rule was basic, check this one out! You need to focus on the game. I donít mean focus as in, watch television in between hands, pay undivided attention when youíre involved. I mean focus as in:

- Turn absolutely all electronics, except your computer, off. This includes your phone. If you think your television isnít distracting you, youíre wrong. It is, and itís losing you money.

- Tell your wife to leave you alone. And your kids. And your mom. And your roommate. And insert person here. All of them need to go away.

- Keep your desk free of books, papers, and anything else that isnít directly connected to your computer.

In every session you play, you should be able to recall every showdown that happened at your table. You need that information in order to judge your opponentsí skill levels and playing styles. If youíre watching television in between hands, youíre not learning anything about your table. This will cost you money.

 

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