Gradually expand your comfort zone

Nobody is born an expert and even those who have some experience with Texas hold’em need to take it one step at a time when playing online. It is recommended to start playing at limits that are below what you used to play in live games, so that you gradually expand your comfort zone. Until players get familiar with the interface and learn how to take advantage of the higher frequency of hands played, it is wise to play at lower stakes. There is less time to think about your next action, especially when you sit down at speed tables or open several tables at once.

To find yourself in the comfort zone, you need to create the proper playing environment which should be fairly simple if you play from home. The convenience of playing from any location as long as you have a steady Internet connection can backfire when people start playing poker just because they can. Friends and acquaintances can turn into distractions, and under their influence many players underperform or alter their otherwise winning strategies. If you feel that a certain environment is inadequate for playing Texas hold ’em online, then refrain from experiments that can turn particularly costly.

The reason for why it is so important to play in bankroll, goes beyond surviving inherent downswings and includes the seemingly abstract notion of comfort zone. It is very difficult not to think about what the chips you are playing for represent in the real life and this will only add additional pressure to your strategy. By keeping the limits lower than what you can afford to lose, and setting stoploss limits to avoid lengthy downswings, players can focus exclusively on their game and results speak for themselves.

Play better hands, not more

Poker players who have turned this game into a steady source of income know that the more hours they spend at the poker table, the more money they make. Confidence comes from experience and this is why any professional will tell you that the more hands you play the better your chances are to make an honest living. This shouldn’t be misinterpreted as an invitation to loose aggressive poker, because the correct way of adding more hands is by putting more hours in poker. A tight aggressive player will focus on premium hands out of position and those with potential for big gains from late position without loosening up.

What frequently happens is that players who have the correct approach towards Texas hold’em start playing more hands than they are supposed to, without even realizing it. This kind of change in their game is triggered by winning streaks, because when players feel that they are on a roll, are tempted to broaden the range of cards they play. While shifting from one gear to another is a good thing to do, the change should be the result of new conditions at the poker table, not abstract and relative notions such as luck.

It is okay to play more hands if you know that the ones you are playing against are on tilt, because if you hit a favorable flop, you have a good chance to double up. There is nothing wrong in playing more aggressively against tight passive opponents, but only when you have position over them and cards that justify a raise. When you try to increase your winnings on short-term by simply getting involved in more pots, you are simply tempting fate and will probably cripple your budget.

Secure cheap cards with a raise

There is a popular saying stating that some people are too poor to buy inexpensive stuff, which will break down soon and require repairs or replacements. The same goes with Texas hold’em players who are drawing for a straight or flush, and hope that the opponent with allow them to see the next card cheaply. A popular misconception says that if you don’t bet or raise, you will keep the pot reasonably low and this will make it less expensive to see what the next street brings.

While this might work at a shorthanded table full of tight passive players, when playing against eight or more opponents who like to play their hands loosely, the strategy fails miserably. If your cards do not have intrinsic value, but the flop is encouraging and enables you to hope for a straight or flush on turn or river, you need to swim against the current. More precisely, a player drawing should resort to bets or raises to induce the idea that his hand is strong enough already.

This attitude has a two-pronged benefits, because on one hand your opponent will have it difficult to make an accurate read, and on the other hand you get to see cheap cards. It might not look this way, but if you make a strong bet or a check raise, your opponent will probably refrain from firing another bullet on the next street unless he has a monster hand. If you don’t make your flush or straight you still have fold equity and can risk making a bet, and if your hand improves the opponent will never know what hit him.

Steal one blind at a time

Many professional poker players begin their careers as “rake-back warriors”, a term that is used for identifying players that make most of their profits from rake-back. Each time a hand is played, the poker client will take a small percentage is make to cover its operational costs. Those players who have a history with a particular company, will enjoy various promotions and among these rake back campaigns are very important. This means that a small portion of the money that is taken as rake will eventually return to the players straight to their account, we can be used at the poker tables. More on rake and how it can a part of it be recovered can be read at

For those who use multi-tabling this is a particularly exciting feature, as a lot of money would otherwise go to waste. One of the most dangerous things about grinding and focusing on rake back is that players forget how important it is to steal blinds. A lot of chips are saved by simply taking advantage of the weak cards that other players are dealt when they are in the small or big blind position. Instead of simply limping with an average hand, a player should take advantage of his late position and attempt to steal the blinds if no other opponents are showing signs of aggression.

This kind of action is a win-win play, because in most cases the small and big blind will not try to protect the money invested by default. The worst-case scenario is for either of them to fight back, but even if this happens you have the upper hand thanks to your late position. Frequently a continuation bet will close the deal, and even if it doesn’t, your average hand will have a better chance of improving due to your opponents’ indecision.

Bankroll management is the key

For casual players it might seem less important to set up a budget reserved exclusively for poker and have a strict bankroll management. They can afford to think in this manner, because for them Texas hold ’em is nothing more than entertainment and it has an occasional nature. Any long-term plan, has to begin with setting up a bankroll and all of the buy in amounts for both poker tournaments and cash games need to follow certain rules.

A percentage of the total amount can be invested and the only way of increasing the limits, is by actually making more money at the tables. The only exception to the rule is when poker players decide that they have beaten the limit, despite having nothing concrete to show for. In theory, a player can choose to move on to higher stakes despite not making enough money to justify this action, if he has solid reasons to think that he would fare better if playing for slightly more money.

Leapfrogging limits is unacceptable and one of the merits of bankroll management is that it prevents such reckless actions. The rules say that a player shouldn’t buy in for more than 1/20 of his total bankroll, but this rule is tweaked if players intend to start at higher limits. Even if it is much more difficult to have 40 times more money than your standard buy in, the fact that you will be playing against better opponents at higher stakes, makes it vital to be extra careful. Variance is not to be trifled with and the only way of keeping potential downswings under control is by having enough money to the rebuy almost indefinitely.