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Online Poker Skills

By Gary Steele

When playing poker exclusively online it is possible, and maybe even likely, that you are actually hurting your poker skills. The reason for this is that it is very easy to learn how to win online. Once you learn the secret to winning online poker (I am not giving away the secret) you will find you do not have to have great poker skill to accumulate a large bankroll. My skills at playing poker are good enough to win slowly over the long run, but it is tough to beat the rake using the techniques you read about in books.

Let me give an example of what I am talking about, without giving away any real secrets. My favorite starting hand for winning online Texas Hold’Em poker is a pair in the hole below tens. I especially like getting pocket eights (don’t ask me why, I just seem to flop a set frequently with eights). Conventional poker wisdom tells you to either fold with a low pocket pair or raise with a low pocket pair. I know this. I write about this all the time and I fully understand the reasoning behind it. So what do I do when I get a low pocket pair? I hope nobody raises and limp in whenever possible.

I understand I will only flop a set one out of every thirteen times, but it is so profitable to do so in the right situation that you have to take the shot. I would guess it pays somewhere between thirty and forty times the blind *on average* when you flop the hidden three of a kind at the correct table. For these odds it makes sense to limp in even from first position with a pair of twos in the hole, even though it defies all poker logic.

My advice is to hone your poker skills against the very good players at the table. You will have plenty of opportunity to do so. You are not trying to beat these players, you are simply trying to stay even against them and limit your losses. You have to know who the good players are so be sure to pay close attention to each player’s style. Do not neglect the lessons we have all learned from Slansky and Brunson; they are invaluable. You also cannot play “online” poker in a B&M casino. The players in casinos are typically much better than those online.

Online poker has given us all the opportunity to play when we do not have access to a casino. Learning to exploit the weaknesses of bad players is the key to being a successful online player. I wish you luck in learning the secret and I will see you at the tables.

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