Pro Poker Tips: Online Poker Tells

Taylor Caby plays online poker at FullTiltPoker.comWhen most poker players think about tells, they visualize physical actions that occur at the table. For example, the way an opponent’s hands start shaking whenever he has the nuts or the way he handles his chips in certain situations. Online players don’t have this sort of information to work with, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t tells in online play. There’s actually a great deal of information that an observant player can pick up on, and much of it can be discovered before you even sit down at a table. I call these important first impressions “pre-game tells.”

One of the most important pre-game tells is the size of your opponent’s buy-in. Whenever I sit down at a table, the first thing I look at is how much my opponents have bought in for in relation to the maximum amount allowed at that table. Most advanced players tend to buy in for as close to the table maximum as possible. They prefer to have as many chips on the table as they can, which gives them plenty of ammunition for bullying their opponents, bluffing, and semi-bluffing.

Weaker and inexperienced players are more inclined to buy in for a much smaller amount, often closer to the table minimum. By buying in short, weaker players are hoping to protect themselves from suffering a huge loss. What they don’t realize is that the more experienced players at the table are going to pick up on this sign of weakness. When I’m selecting a table, these are the types of players I’m looking to sit next to because they generally play scared.  Be careful, though, because there are players who buy in for less than the table maximum that are actually winning players.

When you’re playing on Full Tilt Poker, you can also gauge how experienced your opponents are by simply looking around the table and observing if any of the players possess an Iron Man chip. This chip is awarded to players who play a certain amount of hands each day, in effect rewarding them for being grinders. Because these players play so often, they have spent many hours working on their games and they tend to be some of the better players on the site.  If you are able to earn an Iron Man chip yourself, you may consider removing the icon so you don’t advertise that you are a serious player.

Another way to find more information about the players sitting at your table is to use Full Tilt Poker’s “Find a Player” feature. Simply click on the “Requests” tab in the lobby, select “Find a Player” and then type in your opponents’ screen names. By doing this, you can find out how many tables each of your opponents is sitting at, which can be an extremely telling bit of information. If one of your opponents is multi-tabling, playing at four or more tables at once, he will generally be a solid player, and quite often you will find that players who play this many tables at once are professionals.

When you add all this information together, it can tell you a great deal about a certain player’s level of experience. If the player you’re interested in bought in for the maximum amount, is sporting an Iron Man chip next to his avatar and is playing at eight tables at once, all signs point towards him being a very solid player, which is something you should keep in mind when you are playing a pot against this player. If most of the table fits this description, you might even consider selecting a different table to play at. On the other hand, if a player bought in for half of the maximum buy-in, doesn’t have an Iron Man Chip, and is only playing at one table, chances are he’s an inexperienced player and you’ll probably want to play as many pots with him as you can.

Because all of this information can be gleaned before you even play a single hand, you would be wise to use it when deciding which table you want to play at. Doing this will greatly increase your chances of having a winning session.


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Pro Poker Tip: Adjusting to Wins and Losses

Mike Caro plays poker online at DoylesRoom.comMike Caro’s Poker Tip of the Month: Adjusting to Wins and Losses.

Many of your opponents will treat you differently when you’re winning than when you’re losing. That’s because they’re conscious of luck and fear you more when you’re “running lucky.” When this happens, everything is as it should be in the universe, and your opponents are easier to control. You can bet marginal hands for value that you wouldn’t be able to otherwise — because you’d be afraid that these same opponents would be inspired by your losses and would raise aggressively or play deceptively.

It’s true. When you’re winning, your foes are apt to be docile and well behaved, and this allows you to press every hand for maximum value without fearing that they’ll get maximum value for their hands, too. But, wait! What’s the best way to adjust, depending on whether you’re running good or bad? Simple. Most of your decisions in poker will be “borderline,” meaning that the decision isn’t especially clear.

Do this: When you’re conspicuously winning and faced with a borderline decision between checking and betting, bet… AND between calling and raising, raise.

But… when you’re conspicuously losing and faced with a borderline decision between checking and betting, check… AND between calling and raising, call. These adjustments works like magic, and they’re pure profit.


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Pro Poker Tips: Finding the Right Game and the Right Mindset

Ben Roberts - professional poker playerFor me, poker is a game that is meant to be played joyfully, and the path to playing the game joyfully begins with finding the game that’s right for you and entering it in the right frame of mind.

If you’re going to be an emotional prisoner when it comes to your wins and losses, you won’t play at your best. You need to play with patience, joy and a certain amount of indifference towards winning and losing. You need to be cool, calm, collected and happy. It’s not about your skill level – that’s something you can improve on continuously. It’s about how you feel, as this affects the moves you make more than your skill or playing style.

Once you’ve attained the right mindset, you can proceed to finding the right game. I believe in watching a game for a while before you enter it. This gives you an advantage over your opponents because you can pick up on their tendencies. If you observe the way they play, you can adjust accordingly before they’ve had a chance to adjust to you.

This ties in directly to the concept of playing with joy, because experiencing different games and different opponents is what I think makes the game of poker so wonderful. Every time I wake up in my hotel room, ready to start a new day at the World Series of Poker, I’m excited. I know it is going to be different from the game I had yesterday—and different from every game I’ve ever had, really.

Another beautiful element of the game that I really appreciate is the way it provides me with fresh stimulation. Many people are under the mistaken impression that once you get used to playing the game, it becomes monotonous. This kind of attitude comes from people who are not true poker players. True poker players appreciate the diversity, the changes and the differences from day to day.

Ultimately, finding the right game comes down to finding the highest stakes at which you will be consistently successful. If you’re a beginning player who’s becoming a winning player, you’ll want to step outside your comfort zone and move up in stakes since that’s the only way to increase your earnings. It’s fairly self-explanatory that the higher the games you play, the more you will win; but that’s only if the players you are up against are worse than you. Remember, there’s not much point in being the 9th best player in the world if you only play against the top eight.

Once you’ve found your game, just remember that whenever you’re feeling good, you should go with the flow and play on, and whenever you’re not, you should stop. Either way, you must keep an even temper. When things go right for you, it’s great. When things don’t go right for you, as long as you did your best and you made your best decisions, you can still feel happy about your game. Take your losses gracefully. When you can take your losses well – when your losses and wins have the same meaning to you – then you have the chance to become a great player as opposed to just a good one. Poker is supposed to be a journey of joy, and anything that is a departure from that, is off your path.
Ben Roberts plays poker online at BetOnline and Bookmaker Poker – join him at a table some time!
Players from around the world including Americans can be members at FullTiltPoker.comFor more on these and other great online poker sites read the latest Player Poker Room Reviews here, at Gooners’s Guide to Gambling.