Where to Play Online Poker?
This is a question the pro instructors here get asked quite often. The answer is that it all depends on what you are looking for in a poker room.
These are the most important factors you have to consider
- Poker Bonus
- Customer Service
- Game Play
We would also like to say how much we greatly appreciate your kindness you show us by using our links when choosing a new poker room. The referral helps us offset the hosting service costs of streaming our free poker videos.
Broadening Your Horizons
I was recently talking to a relatively new player about poker. The conversation was uninteresting, until I realized that this player thought that No Limit Hold'em was the only poker game. This actually upset me, because I pride myself on being very good at all the different forms of poker. To this particular player, these other games don't even exist.
I'm not here to hate on No Limit - the game has taken poker to new heights - but I want players to realize that there are other enjoyable forms of poker and, while they may be less popular, they can be equally rewarding. Here are some good reasons why you should learn some of the other games out there.
YOU MAY NOT BE PLAYING YOUR BEST GAME. It's quite possible that you would be a better Omaha or Stud player than a No Limit Hold'em player. Every game relies on different skills, and your skill set could be more profitable in one of these other games.
GAME SELECTION. You probably know how important game selection is, but have you thought about how to increase the number of games you can select from? The more games in which you become proficient, the more you can look at before deciding which game to play.
AVOID BURNING YOURSELF OUT. When you start playing a lot of hours every week, especially in just one type of game, burn-out becomes a realistic possibility. If you mix up the games you play, you can give your mind a break from the monotony. Also, if you start to run bad, you can change games and try to turn things around.
BECOME A MORE COMPLETE PLAYER. Almost all of the "name" players on the circuit are more than just one-game players. They've usually gone through the ranks of all or most of the games. Take Phil Ivey, for example. Sure, he is an amazing No Limit player, but did you know that not one of his five World Series bracelets has come from Hold'em? He's won bracelets in Pot Limit Omaha (2), SHOE (Stud, Hold'em, Omaha, and Omaha 8b), Stud, and Stud 8b. He has shown a complete understanding of all the games, which only adds to his legendary status in the poker world.
Hopefully, these reasons will convince you to explore other forms of poker and make yourself a better all-around poker player.
Ethics in Question at the Poker Table
Recently, a few poker forums have lit up with discussion about the topic of multiple accounts under one player. Basically, the issue at hand is the ethical implications of one poker player playing in one tournament, but using more than one account.
This is basically the same thing as having two lives in one tournament. It's like busting out of the main event of the World Series, but being given a second shot in the tournament. Sure, you're paying twice the fee, but you get an edge by knowing that.
The edge comes from the fact that you are knowingly entering a tournament twice, and you can adjust your game as such. On one account you can play relatively tight, ensuring yourself a second shot in the tournament, while you gamble recklessly in another. You can push all-in with gambling hands and risk your first tournament life early for the sake of a large stack.
I won't go into the details of the issues that have come up both in the past and recently. If you dive deep enough into the online poker community, you can come up with your own conclusions on all the posts there are. This article isn't to implicate anyone, but rather open your eyes to the issue.
PokerTrails has always tried to give you, the poker player, an honest and straight forward insight into the professional poker circuit, as well as the online poker world. We feel it our duty to raise questions in the community and to strive to better the game for our fellow players. We're not here to question any specific player's integrity, but to question the integrity and ethical values of the entire online community.
Basically, my stance (and that of PokerTrails) is that this practice of multiple entries into a single tournament by a single player is 100-percent wrong. While you can put up whatever argument you want, the simple fact is this is a rule on the most popular poker room online (for poker tournaments, PokerStars.com has the most traffic) for a reason.
It's obvious that this is a practice that is a very gray area for online poker. Many people will argue that everyone does it, and it's impossible to really police hard, so we should allow it. It's a fair argument but it doesn't hold ground, because you're completely sacrificing the integrity of online poker by ignoring it.
Most people are claiming they didn't knowingly enter a tournament twice. For instance, maybe their friend had a problem and had to leave, so they took over that second account without intending to do so ahead of time. Whatever the circumstance, it should be considered against the rules all the same, since it's impossible to distinguish such things. You might be able to claim you're being ethical in your actions, but PartyPoker or PokerStars has no way of proving said claims.
I think both the detractors and myself would agree that if we could eliminate this practice we would. People on the other side of the fence believe that others only do this because it's the norm and you have to combat it with your own arsenal of entries into a tournament.
However, by letting it go under the radar, we're making it ethical to cheat. If we don't openly acknowledge it and tell everyone who plays online that it's not an okay practice, then we make it okay for people to set up all sorts of shady operations online. We can't let our most prominent players and leaders in online poker to go unnoticed and not question their ethics, or our entire community as a whole will crumble.
Years ago, Vegas was full of cheats and card manipulators. Now they have been run out of town and it's safe to gamble in Vegas poker rooms. I think that online poker will eventually run out people bending the rules and doing other unethical activities, and we'll have a safe haven for poker players in the future.
But, we cannot turn our heads and allow it to go on without calling attention to it. Hopefully this article opened a few eyes on the subject, and people won't be so quick to defend prominent players blindly without realizing what they're doing. We're not here to call out cheaters, but to help our community grow!
Brett "Gank" Jungblut
Dominating Online Poker
People ask me all the time, 'How do you get to so many final tables'' or 'What is your secret, how are you good at every game'' or 'How do you play 8 or 9 games at once'' Here are my answers to those questions.
First of all, to excel in anything, you must fully understand as much information as possible about the subject. This takes time and requires dedication. In 1997, I fell in love with the game of poker. During my 1st semester at college, I encountered online poker. Now, poker is in my blood, as my dad has been a semi-pro his whole life, but I felt I could not start playing until I turned 21, legal age to play in a casino. However, online poker changed this. Now I could play from my dorm room from 2am till dawn, or in between classes, or all weekend, which, of course, I did. The more I played, the more I wanted to play, however, since it took me several years to become a winning player, I wasn't playing enough as I was always going bust. But then things turned, I started winning consistently, I had finally started to figure this game out. After winning at low limit (3/6) hold'em consistently for a few months, I got bored. So I moved on to Omaha Hi/low, a much more complex game. Unfortunately, being a winning hold'em player did not mean I would be a winning Omaha hi/low player. Eventually, I moved through all the games, making sure I was a winning player at all games, as versatility is always important, especially for game selection. Then it happened! I found out about poker tournaments. I played a few, and I realized I found my poker home. Tournaments attracted me much more then live games, as there was a winner declared. I should point out here that being the best at anything I do is much more important to me then the money earned from it, which is why I liked how tournaments had a champion at the end of the night. I now felt comfortable playing any tournament, as I felt I had very good knowledge of all the games, although my tournament theory needed catching up. I have since played well over 10,000 tournaments, which is highlighted with WSOP gold. It is my never ending quest to be the best that allows me to wake up everyday and want to play poker so much, and it is that effort which allows me to put myself in a position to make more final tables, more often.
As far as playing multiple games at one time, it is important to realize that this is a gradual process that has to develop over time. If you over expand your playing tables to quickly, you will not being giving enough attention to all your tables. I am able to play so many games at once for several reasons. First, since I have played so many hands, it takes me less then a second to know what I will do in a particular situation. Also, I use two 19' Sony LCD monitors, which allows me to view 8 games without overlap. The internet is a great place to practice your game, as you get a lot of hands per hour, and it gives you an opportunity to play all the different games at affordable limits.
Check-Raise in Style,
Brett 'gank' Jungblut
note by gank: This article appeared in Bluff Magazine, you can learn more from me at Pro Poker School
Multi-Tabling Online Poker
One of the biggest advantages of online play, when comparing it to brick and mortar, is that you can play multiple games at once. But you need to be careful about how you approach your multi-tabling strategy, as overextending yourself can lead to financial disaster.
The trick is to figure out the optimal number of tables to play. If you're not yet a winning player, which is perfectly fine, you should be playing only one table, concentrating all your energy on learning the game. Once you become a winning player, you will be in a position to benefit from playing multiple tables. However, you have to realize that if you make an average of $10 an hour playing one ring game, the math is not as simple as thinking, "If I play five ring games at the same time, I will make $50 an hour." In business, there is a term - the point of diminished returns - which basically means that the more you take on, the less you will make at each activity - in this case, each game you are in.
So as you start to play more games, you will make less money at each game. This is OK as long as you don't play too many games. As an example, let's say that for every game a player plays, his expectation for each game goes down by $1. At one game, he can expect to make $10 an hour, but when he plays two games, he will only be making $9 an hour at each game, or $18 an hour. Three games at $8 would be $24 an hour, and four games at $7 an hour would be $28. Five games at $6 an hour and six games at $5 an hour will both net him $30 an hour. Now, at seven games at $4 an hour, he experiences the first decrease in his hourly expectation. So, in this particular example, playing five or six games would be this player's optimal strategy, if purely making money is his primary objective. It will not be as easy for you to judge the effects of playing more games, so the process may take a while. Also, realize that what may be your best choice now, may not be optimal for you down the road.
I hope this example provides you with a better understanding of how to approach multi-tabling. One other thing to consider is that the more games you do play, the less energy you will be able to put towards improving your game and reading your opponents. As far as building up to your optimal number of simultaneous tables, take your time getting used to each table you add. Play a single game until you feel you are able to read your opponents, and stick with it until you become proficient. Then move to two games. Learn to read multiple opponents at multiple tables. Then, in time, move to three tables.
Becoming a good online poker player doesn't happen overnight; it takes time and patience. As my high school basketball coach Roger Schutack used to tell me, "Take care of the little things, and the big things will take care of themselves!"
Keep Swinging, Brett "gank" Jungblut
As well as being one of the top online players in the world, Brett is also the CEO of ProPokerSchool.com, which has become one of the fastest growing poker schools. PPS offers free poker videos with top poker players. Check it out!
5 Steps to Enjoying Great Poker on the Internet
You may already have heard about the growing popularity of poker games on the internet but you may not realize that it only takes a few simple steps for you to start enjoying it. Here are the 5 things you need to do to make the most of this a new hobby.
Find the Right Site
Perhaps the most important step of all is to choose a website where you can play safely and enjoy the complete internet poker experience. There are great sites around now and the likes of the Sky Poker one will have you playing and having fun in no time. Ideally you will find one which lets you get started gently but will also cater for your needs as you become more experienced and demanding with your playing.
Learn the Basics
Once you know on which site you are going to be playing the next step is to work out the basics of the game of poker. The good news here is that it is a simple enough game to learn and a user friendly website will give you all of the information and tips you need to get going. It won’t take you long before you feel confident about playing in games with experienced players.
Once you know how to play poker on the internet it is time to get playing. This is all about making the step from knowing what you need to actually doing it. If you are a bit worried about doing this then you could try a free game at first, to let you dip your toes in the water. You will soon see that it is nothing to get worried about or feel nervous about.
Make Some Friends
Once you begin you play regularly you will find that there are other players who are keen to speak to you and become friends with you. This is one of the huge benefits to playing poker online these days. As you become more comfortable with the game you will also feel more relaxed about speaking to other players on the site.
Make It Suit You
Probably the best thing about online poker is that you have the flexibility to play it the way you want you. You might prefer a few games in the morning, for example, or you might want to play through the night instead. It is all about getting the experience you want whenever you want it, and you have plenty of options to let you enjoy your games of poker exactly the way you want them.
While it’s important to get experience in online gaming (perhaps with play chips) there will come a time when you want to find gambling websites that accept MasterCard and other credit cards. Every player should be looking for a way to deposit quickly and securely so he or she can begin to enjoy Internet gaming.
For most online-casino enthusiasts around the world, there are few road blocks to their chosen pastime. U.S. players have a different experience. Several organizations and Web sites provide plenty of useful information on this crucial topic.
Casino enthusiasts in the United States continue to be frustrated with the inability to enjoy their pastime on their home computers. While some Web sites at least allow players to use “play” money there are several top sites that won’t allow players to establish an account of any kind.
The American Gaming Association (AGA) reports that the Comprehensive Problem Act of 2009 adds yet another level of legislation to the current ban on Web-based gambling for U.S. players. H.R. 2906 (the official name of the act) was introduced in June 2009 by representatives from Virginia and Nebraska. The purpose of the act is to amend the Public Health Service Act already in place.
Dozens of deposit methods are in use around the world. Many of those methods also provide a way to withdraw winnings. Some don’t. As most online players now know, U.S. gamblers have a difficult time finding gambling Websites that accept MasterCard.
The reason is simple: Many online casinos want to avoid violating federal laws in the United States so they don’t accept funds from U.S. players, no matter what method they want to use. However, there are a few reliable online casinos and poker rooms that invite U.S. players. These sites may accept MasterCard when it’s time to deposit money.
Some industry observers have stated that using credit cards to deposit money for online gambling is a thing of the past. These experts feel that debit cards or other electronic-funds transfers will take the place of the classic bank credit card (including MasterCard).
But for the time being you should still be able to find casinos that will allow you to use MasterCard. Try sites to deposit your gaming funds with MasterCard. It’s difficult but not impossible.
Multi-tabling Online Poker Games
This week I decided to write a little about multi-tabling online poker. It's a big topic since so many people are starting to do this in an effort to increase profits. Let me address a few topics before I get into strategy for multi-tabling.
First, yes, it's possible to make more money this way. But you must first be a winning player at one table at a time. This sounds obvious but many people seem to think that they are 'winning players' when they really aren't, and then expect multi-tabling to actually break them out of their losing ways. Just because you can play two, three or even more times as many hands doesn't mean you'll suddenly be a winner!
Second, this will actually hurt your earning rate a little. That's because you don't have the time to think each decision through clearly, as your acting on instinct and playing auto-pilot. You can't possibly make as solid decisions as you could at one table. If you work on it, your instincts will improve, and your decisions will usually be close to optimum.
With that in mind, I recommend starting out slowly. If you've never played more than one table at a time, start at three tables and work your way up. Four-tabling sit and goes is the minimum I would recommend to anyone interested in that line of work. I'd also say on average, most people multi-tabling have three or four games open at once.
Limit Hold'Em is the easiest and fastest game to multi-table, since most decisions are pretty much standard. You get aces on one table out of five at once? Raise. You don't even have to think about how much to raise as you would in no limit. Just make your decisions quick and make them meaningful.
I also don't recommend playing different games unless you are used to it. I can four-table four different games, but I don't usually do so because it can be confusing. Your mindset also changes from game to game, which is hard to adjust to. I really recommend sticking to at most two different games, preferably just one though.
I don't recommend going past four tables until you've logged 100 or more hours at that level. Move up maybe one or two games at a time, until you reach what you feel is the maximum number of games you can play profitably at a time. Maybe that's six, eight or ten, or more if you can handle the tables on your computer. Another limitation could be your monitor itself, in that you might not be able to see all the tables well enough to play as many as you wish you could.
I run ten tables of sit and goes at a time, and make my decisions very quickly. I fully utilize the action buttons ahead of time, always checking the fold button when, no matter what the action is to me, I am folding. I always click the 'call big blind' button if there's a situation where I would limp along with a few others, but won't call a raise with a hand. For instance, if I quickly glance at a table with a bunch of early and mid position limpers, and I have a small pair in late position, I will click it with the intentions of just calling behind. I won't do this with many hands, since often it will depend on what the action is to me.
Say I have two tens or jacks early in a sit and go on the button. If there's five limpers, I'm very likely to just limp along behind and hope to flop a set or over-pair. If no one calls and it's folded to me, even though the blinds are small, I usually put in a raise in late position with such a hand. I have position and there are very few hands left, and I usually will have the best of it. I will charge them to out-flop me, or I will pick up a small pot quickly.
Always make sure you are focusing your immediate attention on the table that needs your response the fastest. If you've put off playing a few hands on two tables and you're trying to focus on how to make a difficult decision with a marginal hand on one table, I usually make my decision as soon as I can. Then I switch to the table where I have the least time remaining to make my decision, or the one with the easiest and quickest move needed.
Don't try and spread yourself so thin that it's difficult to play a ton of games at once. A lot of players shy from using the check/fold button in the big blind, but I disagree. It only speeds up your game, and helps you move through hands and tables quicker, making better decisions when it matters. You might miss a little something here or give something away there using these buttons, but you speed up your play overall, which makes up for the loss.
There are few players at lower limits, even middle limits, who are aware enough to know what the check/fold button really indicates on your part: weakness. Sure, some might pick up on it, but if you're folding anyway, then you have lost nothing and are giving very little away about your playing style, since you were folding no matter what the action was to you.
If, on the other hand, no one does raise, and it's checked automatically by you, then your opponent might know that you aren't too happy with your hand-pre-flop. This is where I think most people forget that regardless of what your hand is, just because you don't like it pre-flop doesn't mean the flop can't hit you. All my opponent knows is there is a moderate chance I will fold for a bet. It doesn't mean the innocuous flop missed me.
If my opponent really held a strong hand, he would have probably raised my blind anyway. Therefore, I know that my opponent knows my hand isn't a monster, and that he is still in the dark with where I stand. I can pick off bluffs and re-bluff at aggressive players who I expect to attack my sign of weakness, and pick up extra bets when I literally hold nothing, but suspect my opponent does, too.
I remember what information I give away by multi-tabling, such as this example, and use it to my benefit. Some limitations are not as bad as you would think when you multi-table, such as this supposed sign of weakness.
Multi-tabling successfully is all about quick reactions, good instincts, and feeling comfortable. Go slow and find a level of comfort that will make your profits come in at their maximum level.
note by gank: Jon Eaton is an extremely talented online and real life poker pro living in Las Vegas. He was the Editor in Chief for my website Poker Trails that was one of the first to cover poker tournaments all over the country.
Online Poker Minimum Requirements
Success at the Online Poker Tables Begins with Having the Right Equipment
Operating System: Windows XP SP2, Windows Vista
CPU Processor: Intel Pentium D (Dual Core) 2.8GHZ or AMD Athlon 64 3500+
Memory: XP at least 1 GB RAM, Vista at least 2GB RAM
Hard Disk Space: 5.1 GB + 1GB Swap File
Sound Card: DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card
Video Card: 3D Hardware Accelerator Card Required, 100% DirectX 9.0c compatible 128 MB Video Memory
Video Card (ATI): Radeon X800 or Video Card (Nvidia): Geforce 7600 or any Video card that supports at least 1600x1200 resolution
Windows XP/Vista compatible mouse and keyboard with latest drivers
Your desktop monitor is very important. I prefer the largest screen possible because viewing multiple tables at once is easier when they are each larger. Ideally, a 21 inch monitor will fit 4 online poker tables on the screen without having to resize any.
Reliable Internet Connection is extremely important. A cable modem connection or DSL with sufficient bandwidth is needed. Dial-up connections are not reliable enough and often experience costly delays and disconnects and make multi-tabling virtually impossible.
Laptops are great for traveling and in case your home internet connection goes out in the middle of a tournament. Ideally, a 15 inch widescreen allows the poker games to be viewed easily. Additionally, laptops can be used alongside your desktop to allow you to multi-task on the internet while playing on your desktop but not interfering with window screens popping up on top of the games your playing.
Your favorite music. I do not recommend anything to heavy or stressful, but instead try upbeat or acoustical.
Surround yourself with positive energy. Fung Shui beliefs can be applied to produce a positive working environment. For example, a clean and organized desktop will promote a positive flow of energy in your computer room.
Drink Plenty of liquids, especially water. Eat regular healthy meals. Get plenty of whole wheat, fiber, fruits and vegetables into your daily diet. Taking a vitamin supplement is recommended as that will make sure your brain and eyes are getting all the nutrients that they need.
Sitting for long periods of time on a regular basis without physical activity can have serious negative consequences on your health. Working out, walking, jogging or playing sports can keep you physically and mentally sharp.