So, you have decided to make the shift from recreational poker games to competing for real money. As a result, you are probably wondering what actionable advice you can use to make the cards work for you. There are many ways to start in online poker and be on your A-game.
Yet, to get there, you will need to arm yourself with a lot of patience and accept your sessions as a learning experience – one that may never come to an end as it were. Yet, there are quite a few things you can do to improve your game and play poker in a constructive and ultimately beneficial way.
Start Easy, Start Small – Bankroll Management
Players who are just breaking in online poker should brace themselves. There is a lot of losses to go through until you find a rhythm for yourself. The low-stakes poker games are often the best games you can participate in.
This way, you get the most experience out of a nominal investment. While there are some free money poker options, we don’t recommend you stick with those as the competitiveness of such games is fairly low due to the nature of the currency used.
Starting low will give you a very good idea where you are in relation to others. If you are struggling on the entry level, that will immediately show that you have some studying to do. And this is the second most important thing to do when you start playing online poker more seriously.
Keep Learning, Find Inspirational Stories to Follow
The key to progress is to not give up and to make conscious choices as a player. As a mature individual, you have way more knowledge and grasp of concepts, but learning is still an effort and a dedicated one at that.
With this said, learning will require persistence and commitment which can often be in short store when you play online poker against better opponents. However, as long as you are dedicated to improving yourself and try to analyze your mistakes that led to a bad beat, you are still on the right track.
One particularly smart thing to do is to find inspiration in others. Maria Konnikova, for example, is a PhD researcher who has decided to become a professional poker player. As of the moment of writing she has amassed $311,368 in live poker earnings and has written a book or two on the matter.
Her story might just prove the inspiration you need to pursue poker more seriously, but make no mistake – consistency is crucial to success, and sometimes talent too.
Don’t Underestimate Bonus Utility
While bonuses may not seem like something you would want to opt into, card rooms always make sure that their sign-up promotions are very helpful. Many cardrooms will even offer you a no deposit bonus you can claim and turn into something more significant over the course of your regular gameplay.
Bonuses at cardrooms come with no specific expectations. All you need to do is to continue playing for real money, and then bonus funds are released immediately. You can either cash this money out or keep it on your account so that you have a way to join the higher-stakes games.
But don’t jump the gun on this one yet. Rather, think about how you can master your low-stake game and make the most out of every promotion available at the card room.
Ask Your Friend to Join for Support
Poker is a lonely business and friendships are a rarity in the professional scene. After all, just like any other competitive sport, while you can cheer for someone you consider a friend, there is always a bit of jealousy to go hand-in-hand with that experience, too.
Besides, many old-timers are always happy to see new and promising talent picking up the game. For example, Konnikova was a complete outsider to the poker scene when she contacted Erik Seidel who then introduced her to Phil Galfond, a player who has amassed the impressive $2,966,023 in live earnings.
In any event, asking friends to join and play with you will give you an incentive to be better – competition within groups usually motivates most people, and produces good results.
See the Experience as Something Positive
Playing poker will be grueling especially if you are investing a lot of time in it and hoping to turn a solid profit. Many poker players have one lucky break and then end up losing a fair bit. To avoid this, you need to figure out to be more like Konnikova.
And one thing to do that is to see poker as a positive experience – as something that allows you to grow as a person. Of course, dull optimism won’t help you actually win a WSOP bracelet per se, but it will equip you with the coping mechanisms to do away with bad emotions and therefore let you grow within the game, learning from bad experience.
Don’t Jump the Gun Too Soon
After a few lucky days, most people finally gain the confidence to progress to a higher plain of poker. However, keep in mind that the low-stake and mid-stake games can be vastly different. While you may preside over the kitten table of online poker, playing with the big cats will take some polishing.
Therefore, it may always be a little better for your self-esteem to continue grinding low stake games while you still continue to improve and maximize your efficiency and success rate. If you still catch yourself in grave mistakes even at an entry level, extending your stay at those first echelons of the poker world isn’t a bad idea at all.
Keep on Reading
Read up on why and what makes players successful. Don’t hesitate to follow the latest interviews and soak up every bit of wisdom, knowledge and personal experience those big players impart. And always keep in mind that poker pros can be cagey and sometimes even feed you the wrong information. It’s up to you to be able to read their poker face correctly.