Online Texas Holdem
The ability to play online Texas holdem from your house or apartment or on your tablet or phone while you're on the go is one of the best developments of the last 20 years. No longer do you have to get dressed and drive or fly to the nearest casino with a poker room or risk the dangers of playing at an underground game.
Now you can find thousands of players competing online at any hour of the day. The largest online poker rooms have tens of thousands of players around the clock and dozens of online rooms have over 1,000 Texas holdem players waiting for you to join the action at any time of the day or night.
But before you jump into the fray take a few minutes to learn more about playing online including about online poker room bonuses, deposit and withdrawal options, playing styles, limits, and a few things about strategy.
Free Games and Freerolls
At the low end of online Texas holdem play are free ring game tables and free tournaments. These games don't cost anything to play and you can't win real money. The competition is terrible and even if you play perfect strategy the variance can be brutal. You'll win eventually if you keep playing solid poker, but you'll also get drawn out on often.
The next step up is freeroll tournaments. These are almost always run as no limit Texas holdem games. You get to play for free but the top finishers win real money. Most players who finish in the money win pennies and even the final table finishers usually only win a couple dollars. But what can you expect?
Freeroll tournaments are also filled with poor players, but you will find a few decent players at most tables. You need to play a tight and aggressive tournament strategy, but don't be surprised if you get knocked out by a player who plays an odd hand or should fold instead of calling.
You can play in freeroll tournaments until you win enough money to start playing at the micro limits and keep improving and building your bankroll from there.
Real Money Stakes
Once you master the free games or if you want to jump in at the lowest levels of real money online Texas holdem play you can play at the micro limit tables. These tables start with limits as low as .01 / .02 at some poker rooms and the no limit games can be entered with $1 or less.
Surprisingly, the play is much better at the micro limits than at the free tables, but the overall level of your competition is still quite poor.
The low limits are where most players start feeling like they're playing for real money, but you can still play at these limits with a deposit of $100 to $200. Even if you're a consistent winner it's difficult to make a living at this level.
Your best bet to win consistently is to play a solid game focusing on tight starting hand requirements, correct calls and folds base on pot odds, and not trying anything fancy. Simply [lay your best poker, bet when you have the best hand, and fold when you don't. Most bluffs are a waste of time and trying to fool your opponents isn't worth trying because they probably aren't paying attention anyway.
At the medium limits of online Texas holdem, you start separating the real players from the pretend players. If you're able to win consistently at this level you can make a decent living as an online poker player.
You have to be a good fundamental Texas holdem player but you also have to be able to read your opponent's betting patterns, adjust your play based on the table, and think beyond the current situation. You need to start visualizing all of the possible outcomes for every hand and use this information to make every single decision.
When you start playing online Texas holdem at the high limits you're playing with a great deal of money. Pots can reach hundreds of thousands of dollars and frequently reach into the tens of thousands.
The competition is good, with professional poker players joining these tables often. Not only do you have to be a top of the line player from a poker basics standpoint, you also have to be able to play the other players and constantly adjust your game if you want to be a long term winner.
Another issue that can become a concern when you play at these limits is moving your money around online. The best option is usually direct bank wires into and out of the poker room, but when you're moving tens of thousands of dollars and more it can create issues that low level players don't have to think about and deal with.
Limit and No Limit
Most players are introduced to Texas holdem by watching a no limit game. Most televised poker games and tournaments are no limit Texas holdem. When you start playing online you'll have plenty of no limit options.
But online poker rooms also offer limit Texas holdem games and many players would be better off starting in these games instead of jumping into the no limit games. You still have to play solid poker to win at the limit tables, but a mistake rarely costs you your entire stack like it does at the no limit bales.
If you're a new player or are just starting to play online, consider trying your hand at a few low level limit tables before moving up and / or to the no limit tables.
Online Texas holdem strategy is the same as live game strategy. The only real difference is you can't see your opponents so if your game depends a great deal on reading your opponents you'll need to make a few adjustments moving from live play to online games.
We have an entire section of the site dedicated to Texas holdem strategy, so if you want to get a complete education you should investigate that. But here's an overview of the important parts of online Texas holdem poker strategy you need to focus on in order to be a winning player.
The importance of playing better starting hands on average than your opponents will never change. If you want to be a winning Texas holdem player you have to use smart and tight starting hand requirements. The good news is most of your online opponents play far too many hands so this makes your job easier.
Position is directly related to your choice of starting hands. Only play your strongest hands when you'll be out of position and you'll get better results. Most players ignore position so if you simply use good judgment you'll be ahead of most Texas holdem players in this area.
Don't be like most online Texas holdem players and simply jump into the first game you see. Take some time to watch a few tables and find one that seems to be filled with poor players. Choose to play against worse competition, not better, and your results will instantly improve.
Until you reach the middle and high limits you're probably best to not bluff at all. You might be able to run a successful bluff from time to time at the low limits, but most of your opponents simply aren't very good so they won't even realize they should fold or call, depending on what you're trying t accomplish, so your bluff will be wasted.
You can't see your opponents when you play online but you can notice certain playing tendencies they have. Some players become predictable in certain playing situations and if you pay enough attention to learn about these situations you can use the information to increase your profits.
It may seem strange to see a section on bankroll management in a set of things about strategy, but the best Texas holdem players follow bankroll guidelines and f you want to be the best you need to start acting like he best. Make sure your bankroll is big enough to support your play at your current levels.
When you play Texas holdem the way you play your hands can be classified as one of four different playing styles. It's important to understand your playing style and be able to place your online opponents in one of the four categories as well.
When you can determine which playing style each of your online opponents uses you can use this information to make better playing decisions against them. Here are the four playing styles.
- Tight and aggressive
When you play tight and aggressive it means you don't play many starting hands and when you play a hand it's usually played in an aggressive manner. This means you bet and raise trying to force your opponents to make mistakes. You rarely check and call because you can't get your opponents to fold when you play passively. Tight aggressive play is generally determined to be the most profitable way to play.
- Loose and aggressive
A loose an aggressive player plays their hands aggressively like the tight and aggressive player, but the loose player plays far more hands. A loose aggressive player can be profitable in the long run if they play well after the flop, but they have more to overcome to reach profitability than the tight aggressive player because they start too many hands behind their opponents.
- Tight and passive
A passive player rarely bets or raises, choosing to check and call in most situations. This style doesn't force your opponents to make mistakes and forces you to show down the best hand because your opponent doesn't have an opportunity to fold. Because of the tight starting hand requirements a tight and passive poker player can play close to break-even poker in many games, but it's difficult to be a long term winner playing this way.
- Loose and passive
A loose player who also plays passively has almost no chance of winning in the short or long term. They play too many hands and then let their opponents lead the action.
You want to play in a tight and aggressive manner as much as possible if you want to win the most in the long run. In some games you can loosen up your starting hand requirements slightly but you want to keep playing aggressively as often as possible.
When you're able to place your online opponents into one of these categories you can use this information against them. If you know a player is aggressive you can check to them with a big hand sometimes because the odds are strong that they'll bet. If a player is passive you can draw to hands more often because they won't make you pay a high price to do so.
When you start playing poker online for real money you can usually get an attractive sign up bonus. These usually offer a set percentage of your deposit up to a certain amount.
Here are a couple examples.
- 100% deposit bonus up to $100
- 200% deposit bonus up to $500
If you get a 100% bonus up to $100 it means the poker room matches your deposit up to $100. If you deposit $25 the poker room matches it with $25. If you deposit $100 they match it with $100.
If you get 200% on a $100 deposit you get an extra $200.
Most online Texas holdem bonuses are placed in a special part of your account and released in small increments based on how many raked hands you play or how many poker or comp points you earn. You might have $10 of your bonus account released for every 500 raked hands you play or every 100 comp points you earn.
The only way to know exactly what you're signing up for and what you have to do to clear the bonus is read the terms and conditions closely. If you don't completely understand how a bonus works you can contact the support department of the poker room. It's always better to find out about bonuses before making a deposit.
Deposits and Withdrawals
If you're going to play online Texas holdem you have to be able to move your money into and out of the poker rooms. Your ability to do this easily is directly related to where you live.
For example, if you live in the UK you have a wide range of online wallet accounts and other deposit and cash out options. But if you live in the US you might need to use a credit card or direct bank wire to make a deposit and accept a check in the mail to make a withdrawal.
Here's a list of popular deposit and withdrawal methods for online Texas holdem.
The easiest way to see which options you have is to look in the cashier area of the poker room where you play or contact the customer support department.
When you play online Texas holdem you have to use the same type of bankroll management as you do playing live poker. If you don't have enough bankroll to ride out the ups and down of playing poker you stand the chance of running out of money. If you can't buy into a game you can't possibly profit from the game.
Here are some general online Texas holdem bankroll guidelines. They aren't exact because they don't take into account your ability. If you're a losing player you'll never have a big enough bankroll.
When you play no limit Texas holdem ring games you should keep from 20 to 30 times the average buy in amount of the games you play. If you play $500 buy in no limit games you should have between a $10,000 and $15,000 bankroll.
Limit players should have 200 to 300 big blinds for the limit they play. If you play $20 / $40 limit you should have $8,000 to $12,000 in your bankroll.
If you play no limit Texas holdem tournaments your bankroll requirements are tied more closely to how often you can manage to finish in the money and how often you're able to make a final table with the chance to win a large prize pool.
When you win a large tournament you might win anywhere from 100 to 500 times your buy in, so this can have a large impact on your bankroll.
A good rule of thumb is to start with 25 times the average buy in of the large player pool Texas holdem tournaments you play in. As you play you can see how often you can get into the money and how often you need to do so to break even.
Some of the top players only need four or five times the buy in as a bankroll, but even most of them have 50 to 100 times the buy in or more.
The biggest job of your bankroll other than buying into games is to give you enough of a mental cushion that you don't have to think about the playing decisions made on every hand in relation to your bankroll.
In other words, you want a bankroll big enough you never have to think about it while you're playing.
In addition to all of the information above, we have provided you with a few other articles we think you my find useful for playing online poker.
Playing Texas holdem online is a great way to unwind or compete in an exciting game from the comfort of your home. You don't have to waste the time and energy to travel to the nearest poker room and you might even get a big bonus for playing.
Concentrate on playing good strategy and using a solid playing style and you can be well on your way to long term profit and fun.