Sussing out the other players
One of the biggest differences between playing poker in a bricks and mortar casino and online, is that you cannot see your opponent. You cannot read their body language or see if their lips twitch or eyebrows raise whilst they are bluffing. Yes, it is more difficult to glean that hidden information from a player in an online scenario, but it is still possible. Here are some tips on how to do it.
- Take notes
Playing online gives you the opportunity to take notes on every player you come across. You can track the way a player plays. You may not come across that player for another few months, but when you do your notes will be there, ready and waiting. You usually access the notes feature of the site by right clicking on a player, and selecting the enter text function. The presence of notes should be indicated in some way when you next come across that player. As time is not unlimited as far as note taking is concerned, it might be prudent to work out some form of shorthand that expedites the note taking process.
- Your opponents location and time zone
The location of a player is usually available when you hover your mouse over their username. If you work out the corresponding time zone, you may also to be able to work out whether the player is tired or at his best.
- Is your opponent playing other games simultaneously?
You can find this out from the "find a player" function that may be available from the home page. If you discover that the player is playing on multiple tables, he may find it more difficult to concentrate on your game.
Styles of Play
Many players adopt a constant style or pattern of play. Get to know their style, and you can attempt to predict how they will react to a given situation. Typical patterns of play include:
- The Bluffer
Players who you catch out bluffing should be called (or raised) more often. Be wary of the players you haven't found to be bluffers.
- How aggressively or passively they bet
And how the other players react. For example, a normally passive player who raises an aggressive player probably has a very good hand.
- How they react to raises
If the player is cautious, and folds to raises on all but the finest hands, you can use this to your advantage by betting on a hand that is perhaps a little weaker than you would prefer.
- Their opening bet
Some players always bet the size of the pot on their opening bet, especially when there is a "bet the pot" function. This may not be an indication of the strength or weakness of their hand - it's just something they have got into the habit of doing. If you observe this, try not to feel compelled to fold good hands that are in with a chance of winning.
Advice for beginners
Most beginners are advised to adopt a "tight, aggressive" style of play. "Tight" means that you fold lots and only play the good hands. "Aggressive" means that you lead the action by betting or raising, so that you maximise the size of the pot. You can probably work out what loose and passive mean, but generally if you like to play "loose aggressive" you shouldn't do it with real money!
James Bond, pictured above, playing "tight aggressive" in Casino Royale.
Tip: Your opponents can track the way that you play aswell. Try not to be predictable and don't always following the same pattern of play.