Online Poker: Tips for Get Rich Without Leaving Home

Making money playing online pokerMost pro tips we present in this blog generally focus on in-the-flesh poker, and often tournament play. While in general you can glean “take outs” from these tips here’s a series that are specific to online poker:

Know when to quit (for the tournament, or the day, or week!)

You have to have a stopping point. Despite the ubiquity of re-buy tournaments on the Internet, in general you should never lose over ten percent of your total bankroll on the same day. If you do, you’ll just end up playing catch-up poker and generally your game will change for the worse.

Play within your means

Do not overplay your bankroll. You’ve got to survive the peaks and troughs of poker – whether in tournaments or cash games. You really do have to be disciplined to play cash-game poker because your bankroll is constantly at risk – and it’s easy to get in over your comfort level. In tournament play you know what you’re going to spend before you go – so if you tend to lack discipline – stick with tournaments!

Use those satellites!

If you’re a beginner at tournament play (or even a savvy semi-pro), earning your way into the big tournaments through satellites is good sense. Don’t pay a $500 entry fee when satellites are an option. If you’re not good enough to win the satellite, you’re probably not good enough to play in the tournament to the final table! Think about it.

Play a game you’re good at

Choose a poker game where your expected value is better than the average person in the field. You do not want to play a game that you’re not strong at just because the field is better and the final prize pool is richer.  As No Limit Hold’em is so popular at present, it might seem that that’s where the money is – but in fact, if you’re an Omaha player, your likelihood to be in the money is probably greater in an Omaha game, even if the prize pool is not as big.

Play only one game at a time (when starting out)

If you starting out on new, unfamiliar software, play only one poker game at a time despite all the latest multitabling features that the new poker room might offer! Play only one game until you are very familiar with the particular poker site, and then ramp up to two simultaneous games if and only if you’re absolutely sure you can do so without compromising your skill. Many online poker players should just stick with a maximum of two concurrent tables despite the top online pros playing 4 or 5 online tournaments at once. What they’re doing is gambling early and aggressively across several tournaments knowing they’ll bust out of a couple early, but they may gain a big stack in a couple of others, positioning themselves early on to get into one or two simultaneous final tables with a decent stack. You’ve got to be good to handle this level of play and this skill does not just arrive overnight!

Poker is all about the mathematics

There is no way around it. You do need to do your homework to be a good poker player. Input different hand scenarios into an odds calculator when you’re not in-play. Record and memorise the results. That way you’ll have the knowledge in the heat of battle and be able to make calculated decisions rather than panicked ones.

Poker is a game of learning – it never stops.

Knowledge is key in poker: books, game clips, a mentor… Poker books are great reading – regardless of whether you agree or not with the content – because they make you think. Authors have different styles of play – and all can be winning poker players! Many players learn best by pulling the “good bits” from each book/author and coming up with their own unique playing style. If you’re going to learn from poker videos pick those by professionals who have won the big bucks. Howard Lederer, Phil Hellmuth and even Annie Duke all have great videos out there. Play professional players if you can from time to time (eg    tournaments where pros are highlighted in red in the lobby). These guys play, chat and interact. Listen and learn.


Reading your opponent in online poker is far less easy. You need to take whatever you can get about an opponent and analyse it. When first playing a new opponent, ask yourself why they’re betting a given amount at a specific time in play. Study and familiarise yourself with each opponent’s betting patterns. Once you know that player, you’ll be able to apply suitable strategy around what they’re likely to have and how they’ll bet. Tag them! Most good online poker software lets you annotate players (only you can see it) and so next time you play that opponent you’ll be able to build on what you’ve already observed.

Consistent betting patterns

If you vary your betting according to your hand strength you’ll hide a sure-fire tell for online pros (most online players make fairly consistently bigger bets when they have a strong and vice versa). Be creative and deceptive!

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Don’t Tap on the Aquarium

Poker Fishing - great opportunities to build bankroll at CarbonPoker.comOriginally coined by poker pro Phil Gordon, this much-quoted phrase should be considered poker law!

Players have a tendency to express their contempt of poor play, but doing so is a major mistake. It’s totally counter-productive. You want people to make mistakes at the poker table. If nobody ever screwed up, all the skill would be taken out of the game – and the winner would just be decided by the cards.

If a player is making bad calls at your table (online or in-the-flesh), it is almost guaranteed he will suck out on you, or someone else, at some point during the game. When it happens, don’t try to embarrass him or make him feel bad. Why would you want to do that? You want him to stay at the table for as long as possible. If you berate him for making a bad call, it will put and end to his good time, and he may walk away from the game. That is the worst thing that can happen. Instead, do the opposite. Joke around with him, and make him feel as comfortable as possible. This greatly increases the chance that he will stay in the game until he goes broke. If you’ve made him feel especially welcome – he might even buy back in!

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Why Tells Work: Mike Caro

Mike Caro Professional Poker Player - and amazing poker coach!

The statements above are commonly uttered, homespun wisdom – and are wrong! Totally wrong. Horribly wrong.

It’s not enough to know how a person acts when he’s bluffing. When you understand why he acts that way, you’ll be able to read him, even in unfamiliar situations.

Thoreau said, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Most people are prevented from living life as they want. In childhood, they’re required to do chores they hate. They grow up having to conform at school. As adults, they must shake hands they don’t want to shake, socialise with people they dislike, pretend they’re feeling “fine” when they’re really miserable, act “act” in control of situations where, in truth, they feel frightened and unsure. These people – the majority of folks you meet everyday – are actors. They present themselves to you as people different than they really are.

Deep within themselves they know they are not the same person they pretend to be. On an unconscious level, they think, “Hey, I’m so phoney that if I don’t act to disguise my (poker) hand, people will see right through me!”

And that’s why the majority of these pitiful people are going to give you their money by always acting weak when they are strong and strong when they are weak.

When people play poker, they find themselves in an unfamiliar environment. In real life they lie sometimes. They mislead sometimes. In poker they have to mislead or lie all the time. They simply cannot afford to tell the truth in a dependable way. Otherwise they might as well spread their cards face-up on the table.

Ah, I hear you thinking, “Some players tell the truth about their hands, sometimes.” And you’re right. That’s why I said “in a dependable way.” When an opponent declares truthfully, “Don’t call me, I have a flush,” he’s hoping you don’t believe him or that you, at least, have doubts. He’s hoping that you will call, so he can say, “I told you so.”

In poker, your hand is your secret. Now, you can take this next part as gospel: If an opponent, trying to win your money, voluntarily does anything that he thinks you’re observing, it’s an attempt to confuse you. When poker players put on an act – subtle o5r obvious – they’re trying to convince you that the nature of their hand is something alien to the truth.

And, so, were born my theories of tells. Central to my teaching is something called Caro’s Great Law of Tells: “Players are either acting or they aren’t. If they are acting, then decide what they want you to do – and disappoint them!”

Easier said than done, you’re thinking. Not really. You can usually determine that an opponent truly is acting if you see any mannerisms that are unnecessary.

Right now, you need to know something of extra-special importance: your opponents will strongly tend to act weak when they hold strong hands and act strong when they hold weak ones.

Put these 2 concepts together and it should be obvious to you that if you see a bettor shrug conspicuously, he holds a strong hand. His shrug is meant to deceive you by making you think he’s in doubt about making the wager or that he is possibly bluffing. Don’t be fooled. A player who was truly weak or bluffing wouldn’t go out of his way to share his doubt. That would invite a call. Any invitation to call should be declined, unless you, too, hold a powerful hand.

This tell isn’t just from novice players either. Even pros do this, but the important thing is, the more sophisticated the player, the less exaggerated the tell. It’s still there, just reduced in scope. Against experienced players, peer deeper. Listen harder. Their tells come in whispers, not shouts.

Tells come in lots of varieties: there are involuntary tells, in addition to the acted one. For instance a suddenly shaking hand is never a bluff, even though many experienced poker players become suspicious and mistakenly call when they see it happen.

Ever hear a sad sigh at the poker table? All the time? And when we hear it, we know better than to call, right?

Tells can account for a large share of your profit. You’ll discover them in all types of players, from beginners to world-class pros. And all you need to do is disappoint any opponent who tries to influence you. You do this usually by folding when he acts weak and calling when he acts strong.

Poker tells surround you – and they’re pure profit. They work because opponents aren’t accustomed to lying or misleading all the time, but in poker, they must. And they usually do it quite poorly.

Mike Caro


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Poker Pro: Getting Paid on a Monster


AcesOne of the most profitable situations in poker is one in which you’ve flopped a monster and someone else is betting into you. It’s an incredible feeling but, alas, one of the rarest occurrences in the game.

In reality, making money when you’ve flopped a great hand is one of the hardest things to accomplish in any game. It takes a combination of factors to get your opponents to bet into you – or even call your bet. But just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Keep the following tips in mind the next time you flop the nuts, and you may just be able to increase your stack substantially.

Pay attention to the board’s texture.

Sometimes you’ll flop a monster and can’t get paid no matter what you do. Most often, this will happen on a really scary board like A-A-K rainbow. There are just very few hands that your opponent could be holding where he’d even consider putting chips into the pot.

Now, change things up just a little and say you’ve flopped a boat on a board of Ah-Kh-Ad. With a potential flush draw out there, you now have two things working in your favor; your opponent may think you’re on the flush draw or he may be on the draw himself. Either way, you’re much more likely to get action if you bet this board than you would on the rainbow flop.

The fact is you’re probably not going to get your opponent to put anything into the pot unless he’s connected with the board in some way. Sometimes this means checking your monster down to the river in hopes that he catches something that makes him think his hand is good.

Size your bet to your opponent.

This is a concept that takes a little work to master but is based on a simple principle – know your opponent. The strategy you employ against a tight opponent is probably going to be different than the one you employ against an aggressive one, and knowing who you’re facing across the table will make your decision easier when you’re trying to figure out how to extract that extra bet.

For example, if I’ve flopped a huge hand against a very tight player, I may try to overbet the pot in an effort to make it look like I’m stealing with a weak hand. Hopefully, he’ll read my play the way I want him to and either call or re-raise me to push me off the hand. Conversely, I may make a very weak bet against an aggressive player, hoping that he’ll come over the top and try to steal the hand. In either case, I’m trying to play into my opponent’s image of me and get him to commit chips that he may not put into the pot otherwise.

Image is everything.

Along those same lines, another key to getting action is to make your opponents think you’re giving action, even when you’re not. Talk to the other players at your table. Make them your friends and draw them into conversation.

By developing an engaging table personality, your opponents will have the impression that you’re playing more pots than you actually are, which can help you convince them to pay you off when you’ve made a huge hand. If people think you’re loose when you’re actually playing tight, they’re much more likely to chase their draws or call with weak pairs than they would be if you’re a complete rock.

Of course, there’s no sure-fire way to guarantee that you’ll get paid when you flop a huge hand. Like most things in life, it’s about being in the right place at the right time. But if you size up the table successfully and the variables line up in your favor, your monster may not scare away the action after all.

Roland de Wolfe

Roland’s most recent win was more than $691,000 for first place at the European Poker Tour’s Main Event in Dublin, Ireland and he’s now the only player to win championship events on both the WPT and the EPT.

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2 Hot Poker Tips from the Mad Genius

  • Getting extra calls in poker

Your opponents have a calling reflex. That means they’re predisposed to call, rather than fold.  They came to the table hoping to play hands, hoping to call. Your job, when you hold a big hand, is to provide a reason.

Often they’ll call anything that moves. So if you want that call and see an opponent about to fold, do anything! Knock over your chips. Wiggle in your seat. Whatever gets their attention might make them suspicious. There’s nothing to lose, because you’re about to lose that call anyway. It won’t always work, but sometimes it will – and that’s free money.

  • Don’t bluff after a frequent bluffer checks

When a player with a strong history of bluffing checks to you, the chances that he has a reasonable calling hand is statistically high. Conversely, players who usually check their weakest hands, rather than bluff, provide profitable opportunities for you to bluff. That’s because they often check weak hands – with the same prospect as yours – hands that may beat you half of the time in a showdown. So against those non-bluffers, you have something to gain by doing the bluffing yourself after they check: you secure the whole pot.

But, against a frequent bluffer, that opportunity isn’t usually available, and a s a consequence, bluffing is seldom the right move following their check.


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Hachem’s Tournament Poker Tips

Aussie Poker Pro Joe HachemLebanese Australian Joseph Hachem stunned the world of poker after beating a record-breaking 5,618 player field in the World Series of Poker 2005, where he won a cash sum of $7,500,000. (I can still hear the Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi cries from his supporters!)

Here are a couple of tips from Joe that might help you get more from your Tournament Poker.


Don’t worry about who the chip leader is, or what’s happening on the next table. The only players you have to beat are the people at your table. I only busted about five people out of the whole tournament when I won my bracelet. I played with about 60 different people, but I didn’t have to bust all those people myself and, ironically, I probably busted the fewest number of people of anyone on the final table. A lot of times in the past, the winners of the World Series of Poker have actually taken plenty of scalps along the way – but not me!


I have a basic strategy and then I adapt that strategy for the table I’m at. If everyone at the table is passive, I’ll be the aggressive one. If I’m at a table with maniacs, I’ll wait for the right time and let them create the action. Whatever the table does, I’ll do the opposite. Sometimes you can play perfectly, keep your head down, and just get on with it.


Stewing over lost tournaments is like grieving – you have to go through the process. You have to prioritise how important a game is to you and react in proportion. Last night I got knocked out of a media tournament but it meant nothing to me – it doesn’t hurt at all. I then played in a shitty little thousand dollar tournament and busted out with the first hand I played. I moved all-in with A-K. If it had been the first hand of the Main Event I would never bust out the first hand unless it was Aces. You learn to prioritise – how important is this tournament to me? Then I start analysing. Or, to name it more honestly, stewing!


Don’t get angry; it doesn’t help anybody except your opponents and others in the tournament. I may go on tilt for one hand, say for three minutes. If I realise that I’ve done something absolutely stupid, then I do get angry, but I’ve trained myself to get over it quickly. You have to or you’re doomed.


Play each hand as it comes. Try to make the best decision hand-by-hand and don’t try to win the tournament. It sounds simple, but quite a lot can go wrong. That’s the thing with poker – you can do everything perfectly and still go home broke!

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The Tale of 10-2

Many poker fans know that the 10-2 is known as the “Doyle Brunson”, and some will also be aware that it’s the hand Brunson twice won the World Series of Poker with – but do you know the exact details of how those mediocre starting cards made him a two-time champion? (He’s now a ten-time champion…)

Poker Hand 10-2 is known as Doyle BrunsonThe first time, in 1976, Jesse Alto made a sizeable pre-flop raise with As-Jh and Brunson made a loose call with 10s-2s. The flop hit Doyle a little bit, but it hit Alto big. It came Ah-Js-10h, Alto bet with top two pair, and Brunson called. The turn brought the 2c, making Brunson two pair, and he moved all in. Naturally, Alto called. Doyle was in terrible shape – he had only a nine percent chance of winning the pot. But as they say, it’s better to be lucky than good, and the 10d on the river made Brunson a full house.

10-2 in Texas Holdem is the Doyle Brunson handThe next year, Brunson was heads up with Bones Berland, and neither had great pocket cards. Berland held 8s-5h, while Brunson had 10s-2h. And just like against Alto, the flop hit Doyle, but it hit Berland better. It came 10d-8s-5h, and both players checked. Berland was trying to trap, but he himself fell in on the turn, when the 2c (the exact same card that came on the turn the previous year) made Texas Dolly a superior two pair. Brunson bet, Berland moved all-in, and Doyle called. He didn’t need any help at this point – he had Berland dead to an eight or a five – but he got help anyway, the 10c on the river making him a full house once again.


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Mike Caro: The Flawed Concept of Thinning the Field

Thinning the field improves poker hand profits?There’s a favorite poker concept shared only at the highest levels. It’s hush hush. It’s a guiding force. It’s believed to be fully understood only by poker masters. It’s clever. It’s mysterious. It’s intuitive. It’s wrong!

I’m talking about “Thinning the Field” – the notion that driving opponents out of pots reduces your chances of being beaten. Makes sense so far, right?

They claim some big hands make more profit when a whole herd of opponents aren’t chasing them to the river. They’re right. When too many players try to draw out, the profit expectation can be reduced. Many hands earn more money on average when targeted by a few opponents than when targeted by a lot of them.

But such arguments for thinning the field are illusion. Let me tell you how it really is.


More than 30 years ago, I started explaining that any hand, except an unbeatable one, loses value when the number of opponents passes a certain point. I used a five-card poker example. Suppose you’re dealt a king-high straight flush from an infinite deck of cards. We’re playing showdown for the antes and there is no draw. Whatever you’re dealt at first is what you end up with, except duplicate cards that are exchanged. (Remember, we’re imagining an infinite deck). The best hand is a traditional royal flush.

Well, you have a hand that’s second best to a royal, and the chances against any specific player having you beat are almost 650,000 to 1. Obviously, against just one opponent, you’re in a profitable situation. Do you want 2 opponents? Of course! Twenty? Sure. A thousand? Yes, again. Each added opponent adds to your profit expectation – up to a point. Strangely, each additional opponent is a little less valuable than the one added before.

Now it gets weirder. If you played against six billion people, your king-high straight flush would be unprofitable. In fact, it would be almost worthless. You’d be an enormous favourite against each opponent independently. But put six billion opponents together and you’re likely to face at least 9,000 royal flushes superior to your hand. Because poker is played so that there can only be one winner, your king-high flush would have to encounter no royals to win. What are the chances that there are no royals when you’re predicting over 9,000 of them? Effectively (although no mathematically) impossible.


That shows that there can be a cap on the number of opponents a hand can face and still be profitable. There is also a range within the possible number of opponents for which a hand remains profitable, but that the profit is reduced. Does this have a real-world application in poker, where practicality limits the number of players at a table to ten or fewer?

Yes. And you should remember that many hands have a best number of opponents. Too many or too few, and the expectation of profit is reduced. Let’s take Aces before the flop in Hold’em as an example. The most profitable number of opponents for a pair of aces (in Limit Hold’em) is four or five, depending on conditions (I could argue for six in some cases, but I won’t).

The most profitable number of opponents for a starting pair of kings or queens is even fewer. This is why many pros recommend thinning the field with big pairs. They hate the thought of letting opponents draw out, when an extra raise could have saved the day.

Now it seems as if everything I’ve said adds weight to the argument in favour of thinning the field doesn’t it? Well, here’s why the concept is wrong. Indeed it would benefit you to right-size the number of your poker customers and discourage too many calls. But there’s a problem.

When you make an extra raise (typically a re-raise) to thin the field and keep players out, you’re more likely to scare away the weaker hands that would have been the most profitable to you had they called. Stronger hands are apt to play anyway. Often, the unwanted effect is that acting to thin the field backfires. You have a better chance of facing the right number of opponents, but they’re frequently the wrong opponents. And that’s why making extra raises to thin the field frequently fails.


But sometimes you may want to thin the field, anyway. You should try it when players acting behind you are strong and players already committed to the pot are weak. That way, you often end up chasing away sophisticated opponents and playing a strong hand only against weak ones. Conversely, if strong players are already committed and weak players remain to act behind you, it’s often better to call and invite these usually looser opponents in. Raising just chases away the weak action and leaves you stranded with stronger foes.

Get it now? Thinning the field is a noble ambition, but it often backfires. If you try it, choose situations in which weak players are already in the pot and strong players can be chased out – not the reverse.


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Pro Poker Tip: Being A Bully

Gus Hansen is a member of Team FullTilt

Many players understand the concepts involved in building a large chip stack during a tournament. What they don’t understand, however, is how to use their chips effectively once they’ve gotten them. Once they’ve accumulated a lot of chips, many players want to control the action, but they haven’t thought through how to take command of the table.

When I’m the big stack in a tournament, being the bully is always my first consideration. I want to eliminate players, continue to build my stack, and avoid dangerous situations. If I can create a scenario where I’m the table captain – meaning I dictate the size of the pots – the rest of the action becomes easier to read. I can frequently steal the blinds and antes, and if someone else re-raises, it’s pretty easy to put them on a hand because I know they can only play back at me with really strong cards.

One of the first keys to becoming an effective big-stack bully is to stay aware of your fellow players and the size of their stacks. Don’t give short stacks easy access to all-in moves with any Ace. If you raise with a hand like 9-8 suited and a short stack comes over the top and pushes all-in, then you’ve created a bad situation. Even if you’re getting the right odds to call, you don’t want to double anybody up.

You also have to recognize those players that won’t stand for your bullying or who are just trying to survive and make the money, but are so low in chips that they have no choice but to push. At some point every player reaches their breaking point. You should be conscious of that moment so that you don’t needlessly hand over chips to someone who is ready to play back by pushing all-in and putting you to a tough decision you don’t want to face.

Sometimes, being the bully means that you’ll have to make a crying call even when you don’t want to. For example, if I feel like the short stack is pushing with any Ace, I’ll sometimes gamble even if I think I may be behind before the flop. If I’m holding something like K-Q suited, I’m going to try to knock the player out of the tournament. I’ll basically play with anything down to K-8 suited, because if he has something like pocket 6s or a naked Ace, it’s a choice I can live with.

Of course, being a bully doesn’t mean you should let your aggression outweigh good sense. Playing smart poker – raising at the right times against the right opponents – is always something to keep in mind. For example, if you’re raising on the button with a weak hand like 10-6 against two small stacks in the blinds and one of them pushes, you’ve created a bad situation that you really could have avoided.

If I’m raising in these spots with hands like K-9, J-10, A-9, I’m not worrying too much about getting called or re-raised by a short stack. But with 10-6 off-suit, you have to think – maybe I don’t need to lose a bunch of chips with this hand and double someone up. A good rule of thumb here is to ask yourself if your opponent would push with 10-6 themselves. The answer is, probably not. They would have folded with 10-6, so you created a bad situation by raising with it in the first place.

When you’re trying to be a bully, try to think about what your opponent would do if they were holding your cards. Put yourself in their position and reverse the hands. If you think they would push all-in with the same hand you’re holding, then your hand is strong and you should be a bully and push. If they would have folded your hand, then you should probably let it go too.

There are some hands you’re going to play no matter what, and if you’re behind, you can’t worry about losing. Just say to yourself – that time I was unlucky, next time it will be different. If you raise with A-8 on the button and the blind pushes with A-10 – well, it happened. Put the hand behind you and move on.

To be a successful bully, you have to be willing to take some risks and to lose some chips. Remember, it’s OK to lose the occasional battle in order to win the war.
Gus Hansen

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Golden Rules for Playing A Big Slick

Click to visit for poker room reviews and ratingsThere’s no doubting that Ace-King is BIG, but is it slick? Whole poker books have been written on how to play this hand in various situations.

Big Slick is the hand that looks oh so strong, but actually can be tricky to play – and proves the end of the line for many players.  It’s an easy hand to get stuck on and, if you play it often enough, and push it hard enough, you will get burned. People have dubbed it “Anna Kournikova” because “it looks great, but never wins”!

Have a look at the table of percentage chances for the Big Slick to win against a range of hands. You’ll see that the only time you’re really in grim shape is when you run into A-A or K-K. If you’re a-K is drawing a lot of heat, it’s probably already badly dominated.

Some Golden Rules:

  1. Don’t get carried away – it’s only a drawing hand.
  2. Make strong raises to drive others out.
  3. Call raises when in position.
  4. Be careful not to overplay A-K in a raising war.
  5. When you’re short-stacked move all-in – it’s a great chance to double up.
  6. If you’re a big stack you can call short stacks at very little cost.
  7. Be cautious with a medium stack – you can push too hard
  8. A-K is not worth going broke for.

Kishan Nielsen

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