Tips for Playing Online Poker

Your Computer

The poker clients for most of the new cardrooms use a lot of computer resources.  Combine this with using extra software to capture hand history and running a session tracking program like Poker Tracker and you can quickly hit the limits of older computers.  If you have an older computer you will probably want to limit what you run at the same time you are online playing.  This can be a problem if you want to play on more than one table at the same time (a feature offered by most online cardrooms).  You can solve this problem using one or both of the following techniques:


Buy a New Computer

The newest round of poker clients can be taxing on slower systems, especially for advanced graphical clients.  If you are playing online at medium limits 5-10 to 20-40 it can be very worthwhile to look at replacing your ancient system with something more current, especially if you take advantage of the fact that you can often play at more than one table at the same time.  This may also be the time to upgrade your monitor.  New 19 and 20" flat panel monitors which run at 1600x1200 resolution will allow you to see four fully zoomed tables at the same time for maximum multi-tabling.


Configure Your Client

Many of the client software offers very nice looking animation.  The most significant thing you can do to improve the speed of your game and make everyone hate you less is to TURN THIS FEATURE OFF.  While those little cards are being dealt around the table everyone is waiting for you.   The people around you will appreciate your faster play and of course it behooves you to get as many hands per hour as you can.

There is also a setting called "Optimize Graphics."  You should attempt to turn this setting on and, if you don't experience graphics corruption, leave it on.


Get high speed internet

Your dialup connection just isn't cutting it anymore.  Get a DSL or Cable modem and then kick yourself for not doing it sooner.  There is nothing more frustrating than being disconnected because of a modem problem and being forced all-in when you hold a great hand.


Online Opponent's Tells

Even though you can't see your opponent to pick up physical tells, there are a number of tells online as well


Betting Patterns

This is the strongest tell both online and off.  Many opponents will play the same type of hand the same way every single time.  By watching how your opponents bet when they hold a monster vs. the how they bet when they are bluffing you can gain (and not lose) a significant number of extra bets.


The Hiccup

Some opponents will make a stuttered check in early position on a flop when they flop a monster.  You need to have a good connection to your cardroom and be observant to notice this, but it almost always will play out like this:  FLOP them: stuttered check, you: bet  them: call TURN them: check, you: bet, them: check-raise.  Depending on what kind of hand you hold you may want to check through the flop or the turn.  Of course if you have a monster hand in this scenario you can be sure to get lots of action from them because they have what they believe to be a monster hand as well.


The Instant Check or Raise

When your opponents check quickly in front of you be aware that they may be using the check in turn buttons available at all online cardrooms.  This can be a good opportunity to pick up the pot if you are last to act or even if there is one opponent left to act after you regardless of what cards you hold.  Similarly when they instantly raise this also gives you a great deal of information about their holding (they were willing to raise no matter what the people in front of them did).


The Long Delay

This is a player specific tell, but it's usually pretty consistent by player.  A long pause before a bet usually either means a very big hand or no hand at all.  This is where your observation skills come into play.  Similarly a long pause before a check usually means your opponent has a weak holding.