Pinned Become a winning player at online poker - Part I - Strategy

    • Become a winning player at online poker - Part I - Strategy

      [Die deutsche Version gibt's >HIER< ]




      Poker in truth is a game about decisions. Every hand you are faced with choices that have consequences. You decide about how much you are willing to invest, after evaluating the risks and rewards of your choice. Our strategy is nothing more and nothing less of being aware and concious about our decisions and why they are profitable and why we took them. That grows our confidence in our pokerplay and we also need strategy in order to establish a good poker mindset, to be aware of our bankroll situation and its implication and it empowers us to interact with the tools we have at our disposal in order to sharpen our strategic knowledge and beat our opponents. Strategy is connected to every aspect of our poker game and the better it is the more we are able to put us in oppertunities to win.

      Before starting to get serious about playing we have to make a lot of choices in regards to how we want to approach the game, how we put ourself in the most profitable position with what limited amount of strategy and experience we currently have and what we think is the right variant for us. Let me start with an excurse and a question for you guys:

      Have you had your driving lessons already and made your driver's licencse or are in the progress of it? Remember your first two driving lessons. You probably were happy to get the car moving ahead, you noticed the road and maybe started to notice signs and how to break and accelerate. If you were driving a stick, most likely your teacher used the gearbox for you, reminding you of when to hit the clutch pedal. While progressing through your lessons you will start to notice more things like signs and more of your surroundings and how the car feels and driving straight and through turns while breaking or accelerating your car becomes more fluid and intuitive to you.
      It is the same with your poker game. With experience and learning more and more nuances and bits of information while playing become an item of your awareness and are influencing your decisions. So choosing the right variant to learn poker for you is crucial. We do not want to drive a car we do not fully control and understand on a road that is very difficult to master. We want it as easy as possible, with a lot of room for improvement.



      Choosing the right variant of poker


      In my introductional article the first sub-aspect I wrote under "strategy" was "choosing the right variant". It is important we make this decision considering all options, parameters and benifits of the currently available variants of poker that get played online for cashgames and tournaments, in order to make the decision that is the best for us. We don't want to wreck the car to go back to the comparison due to it being too hard to drive as a novice driver. So we want a variant we can practice a lot, which is not brutally punishing our mistakes and which let us maybe transition towards other variants that are not as beginner-friendly but where we can take our experience from our beginner variant and transition it towards what we want to get into.

      Let me try to convince you with facts why our game of choice will be No Limit Holdem (short NLH). It is the preferred variant of choice we can play in today's games and it gives us the flexibility to play on every site seeing the most traffic and oppertunities in this variant of poker starting as a microstakes player working your way up.

      It is also not as brutal in variance as its four card brother game Pot-Limit-Omaha (short PLO). While Pot-Limit-Omaha is a fast paced and known as an actiongame it is also especially brutal towards beginners. You pay a lot more rake as the pots are more often going and decided postflop and pots are usually pretty big making a lot of room for possible huge mistakes moneywise and you also forfit the chance at rakefree preflop winnings when you take it down preflop without having to pay rake. This is often disregarded, but in NLH a lot of hands don't make it to the flop and thus there is the chance to get a partial winrate that is not affected by your rakeback situation. Every pot you take down is 100% going to you and will not be raked.

      Also as a PLO player you will have a lot more postflop hands which increases the chances of making bigger mistakes more frequently due to your lack of experience and the way the chances of winning between two hands is way closer when both player hold four cards instead of two cards to make the better hand with the community cards, what will happen is that you have to be quite amazing at using all information presented to you better than your opponent to make the better decisions. While in NLH information is a bit more scarce favoring the untrained mind, in variants like Omaha or especially Stud how you use the additional information from cards known to you is crucial.

      The other main reason for NLH is that you can easier catch up and learn in No-Limit because you simply have much more access to learning materials and a lot more venues to talk strategy and close the gap to established players. While everyone says PLO might be the game with the best stability for the future, the fact is the game of the present is still No Limit Holdem. It has still more players and if you are aspiring to play tournaments it is the only way to go.

      PLO is in its design a more complex game than Holdem that requires a lot more knowledge and experience with advanced strategy content to master and get over the brutally high rake barrier that is pretty much everywhere at microstakes PLO. I told you PLO is more difficult to win at as a beginner, I told you PLO will be hard to beat at the micros due to the rake and the structure of the game leading to more raked postflop spots. Need more convincing still?

      The main reason why NLH is superior for beginners as their starting variant to enter poker can be summarized simply by the following:

      • More games running on any site at any given time than any other variant
      • Rake is more beatable at microstakes with a good deal than any other variant
      • More content to choose for learning and easier accessible without huge investments
      • Much lower mistake potential due to a lot of pots not going postflop or becoming allins
      • Rake free part of winrate from pots where you did not see a flop


      In the past Fixed Limit Holdem was the way to go as a beginner because betting strategy would be fixed and thus easier to learn the basics, while this variant still has its merits in terms of limiting mistake potential over NLH through the betting structure and teaching you basic poker mathematical and strategic concepts, it has just lost so much in popularity that you will struggle to find enough good traffic on various sites and also will struggle to find oppertunities with other "minbetters" (how Fixed Limit Players tend to call themselves) to improve your game. So in the end what will happen is you will transition to NLH anyway at an early point.

      Skipping this step and chosing a game with more strategic depth from the start is one of the compromises you have to do in order to catch up. Fixed Limit has not a good future in online poker, it has already been a dying variant for years and it won't get better.

      Tournament or cashgames

      This is the big one. And it is the decision that you have to make yourself and all I can do is try to deliver arguments towards what choice of variant suits you the best.
      Bare in mind that I am a cashgame player myself, so I will try to do my best to not be biased, which is going to be tough for me. I know my way around micro cashgames and how to beat them, but I lack the experience of how to approach tournament poker as a beginner in today's games. I played them in the past especially SitNGo Tournaments (SNGs), so I got some arguments to differentiate between Multi-Table-Tournaments (MTTs), Single Table Tournaments (STTs), or fast structured multi and single-tabled tournaments which are united in the category of SitNGos.

      But be happy! There is content like this planned to give you a guide to start out as a MTT/STT or SitNGo-player coming up real soon.

      Lately there is another variant gaining popularity which are Spin&Gos, I have my own opinion on them, but without enough data and experience playing them, I cannot evaluate if they are even suited for a beginner. Their variance is insane, but they are also filled with players who have no clue about proper three-handed tournament chip-strategy. I will leave this up to the tournament guide to explain and evaluate. Just a notice that they are out there and a lot of people are playing them.

      As stated there will be a parallel guide to this just for you guys who want to become MTT/SNG/Spin&Go players. So while keeping this in mind, let me brief you about the differences of the variants:

      Let us talk about how to make the right choice of variant!
      The choice is made by what you prefer your poker experience to be like, cashgames or tournaments in general. You can become a winner at both formats. Even at the same time. But I would strongly suggest that you stick to either one for the start until you reach a level of strategic mastery that allows you to take your skillset and adapt and apply it to a different format of play. In your near future there will be oppertunities to dive into the other path to get more oppertunities through freeroll-tournaments, or cashgame tickets. But we want to keep our poker car as simple as possible for now and also the road we drive on (our played variant) as easy to learn and drive on as possible!

      The post was edited 9 times, last by wafflecrunch ().

    • The differences and similarities of cashgames and tournaments

      "It was not Bobby's favorite moment in poker. He just lost his stack with aces, got it in good, did the right play, but in the end he held the second best hand at showdown. He reaches into his bag, reloads his stack and looking at the players stack he just lost the hand to, he knows there will be another spot coming up where he will be able to reclaim his losses. He still feels he has the edge, so Bobby keeps playing."

      This small story happens everyday at any given cashgame table. It shows the one big advantage of playing cashgames compared to MTTs. You have power of choice in terms of when to start, pause and end your sessions.You can make those choices based on the evaluation of the game you are playing in. When you start to play an MTT you are committed, if it is not a rebuy-tournament, you lose your stack and you are out. There is no recovery but signing up to another tournament and committing to that one as well, while as a cash player this is all up to you if you reload, leave or continue with a diminished stack.

      In a cashgame where you feel not comfortable with the seat you are in, or the level of play, you can just sit up and leave. When you get a bad table drawn in an MTT you are stuck with the situation and have to make the best out of it. So cash games are giving you more control over what games you play in, while a table draw in a tournament and how you get re-seated is completely out of your control and adds a certain amount of chance just depending on the lineup at your table, which can be a good or a bad thing.
      In a way cashgames are giving you more freedom and control in evaluating the game you are sitting in and a way out if you decide it is not worth it. So where is the downside?

      The downside is that you cannot hit the big score like in an MTT. In a tournament format with hundreds of entries, if you make it to the top you can win a lot compared to you buy-in amount. In a cashgame you can still win a lot, but you can also lose a lot. Remember Bobby from the story, he reloaded, he surrendered another buyin to the game. It could be gone again in the next couple of hands with a bad run of cards. If he would have registered to another tournament he might have a couple of hours of play ahead of him and all he payed was the new entry fee.

      Cashgames are constantly changing the amount of chips on the table due to rebuys and players topping of their stacks and the sum of chips in play are rising everytime a player adds chips to their stacks from their bankroll, while at a tournament the chip amount at the table stays constant as long as there is no player moved or added after someone is busted. So a cashgame can get pretty deep in stacks pretty fast, while a tournament usually plays with shallower stacks due to the constant amount of chips, while the blind-levels are increasing.

      So in general, a cashgame player pays for his or her freedom of choice with the risk of losing multiple buyins fast or winning them in consequence adding money to be won and lost to the table, while a tournament player makes a commitment to a single stack investment (and maybe an addon or rebuy) and either often does not get a lot of return, but in some rare cases makes it to the top and hits it big.

      So who wins more? That question does not have a clear answer because of either choice there are a lot more factors to assess if you can make more for an hour of play in either one. Things like how much better you are than the players in that tournament or game, how long you are able to keep up your best game, if you are able to perform at peak when it counts. A tournament player might need more stamina due to commitment, a cashgame player more awareness and constant evaluation of the game he or she sits in and his play.

      The chance of hitting it big is what attracts a lot of amateur players to tournaments. They have a clear risk limit and can have a nice payday if they make it to the top. At least they have no more risk invested than the initial buyin. So starting of in MTTs you might have a lot more weak players in them at the initial buyin-limits. As you are somewhat limited to know how soft a tournament is, a cash player will always have the ability to scout and tableselect before he sits down. So finding yourself in a tough field in an MTT happens without choice, while a cash player can always be blamed himself for chosing to play too tough of a crowd.

      MTTs can become like a really long treck up the mountain, you see the bright lights in the sky surrounding the peak when you look at 1st place payout, but through the hours you spend playing and effectively climbing towards the peak, you will realize it is at least the same amount of time required to even compete for the top payouts and you have to get there and you are at this point committed, which requires solid strategy for every phase of the tournaments. If you bust out of the money ranks you pretty much wasted a lot of playing time for nothing.

      When you look at how often you will run deep the thing is, getting the experience and sharpen your endgame strategy (where you play for the big bucks!) can be somewhat hard to get. To get back to the mountain reference a lot of climbers are yearly reaching Mount Everests basecamp in an effort to reach the peak. A lot less mountaineers and climbers make it closer to the peak and they often are completely dependent on how lucky they get with the weather. In tournaments it is the same, you have to get lucky with cards and run good in order to come close to the peak of the tournament or have a really big stack to leverage with and put pressure on your opponents. And once you are in sight of the peak play becomes much more difficult and competitive and you rarely have the luxury of making a mistake, like you would not have the luxury of making one a couple of hundred feet beneath the summit of Everest. Everest is littered with failed attempts at the peak and so is a poker tournament, they all try to reach the peak, but only a handful of them will make it.

      Probably eight out of ten tournaments you won't make it to the prime echelon of players that are still in to compete for first place. Most tournaments have a top heavy payout structure, so you are always gunning for the top spots, like everyone else. All about reaching the peak, that final table and the summit which is first place.
      So while tournaments are like a trek up a more or less difficult mountain, requiring long commitment and being sharp and lucky when it counts, cash games are like running a treadmill. You can leave if you want, but you might pay hefty during the duration of your stay in order to stay on. You pay a price for the freedom to jump in and out whenever you want to. Never committing to anything you do not like or what exceeds your ability.

      SNGs and Spin&Gos are like an in-between those two opposing variants. They are fast, but you are committed to them, you can somewhat scout what players are already registered for the table or tables you probably will play and you have the luxus of paying the buy-in and in a way do not get the big score, but you also do not have the risk of having to reload multiple times like in a cashgame, so while not making the big score, you also do not run the risk of losing a lot.

      So ask yourself. Are you more the player who wants to invest a certain limited amount in order to have a shot at rarely winning big, or are you the player who wants freedom to make his own choice when to play, when to stop playing and is willing to risk multiple buyins if the lineup in his game is good and he feels to be the superior player even when stacks become deeper? The choice is up to you!

      We also have to talk about rake and variance. The rule of thumb is that SNG/Spin&Gos player pay the most rake of all the three variants of NLH. They enter a lot of tournaments and are raked on the entry buyin which is high between eight and even fifteen and more percent of the buyin depending on the site. So a high volume of registering to them leads to to high amounts of payed rake. So the faster the SNG structure is, with Hyper formats being the fastest (Spin&Gos are effective 3handed hypers with winner takes all), the more rake you are paying in terms of commited time volume.

      Cashgame players also pay a lot of rake due to every hand they are paying postflop being affected by rake. The more hands you are playing in a set amount of time, the more rake you will pay.
      MTT players are paying less rake in comparison for the amount of hours they play. This is just simply to the fact that the amount of tournaments they play run multiple hours and they only pay a rake fee on their entry buyins.

      So an SNG player will be more inclined to have really good rakeback, a cashgame player too, while a MTT player might be more inclined to instead play on the softest sites and disregard rakeback a bit more. Don't get me wrong rakeback is important, it increases your winrate. Even MTT players should look for the best deal. An MTT player will just probably not pay as much rake as a cash or SNG player and that is important to know ahead, because it will matter for rake races and other rake generation targetted promotions on pokersites.
      In terms of variance fast SnGs and large tournaments will have the biggest variance, while cashgames have the lowest in comparison depending on how many players are sitting at the table.


      The post was edited 7 times, last by wafflecrunch ().

    • Choosing the right pokersite


      Believe me there are so many of factors that are influential on chosing the right site. In order to make the right decision, you have to prioritize them. You will never find the site that is the softest, has the best software, offers the best rakeback, has the most traffic for your variant and has no other issues that might deterr you over all the other competitors.
      So let me make it easy:

      • You want the best rakeback deal you can get and that leads to the best winrate after rakeback in comparison
      • You want to be able to play your variant every time you have time for a session
      • If you struggle to find games/tournaments you have to add another site or choose a different one that offers enough to fill your requirements


      Those two arguments trump the rest. You can have the softest site, but there are just so little games/tournaments running you cannot play enough and that is like being on a single leg, not enough to stand on but if supported by another leg you are golden. All you have to figure out is how many legs you can support with your volume and how you have to distribute it in order to get the maximum winrate for your invested time out of it. You can have the best software and awesome support, but you have little to no rakeback and the site is not the softest, you will soon realize the atrocious dent it will put on your post rakeback winrate.

      @onese7en made an excellent post on how to escape the micros fast and efficiently by increasing the amount of winrate that lands in your pocket by chosing the site which offers the best rakeback vs rake. See it this way: The more rake you pay and the less rakeback you get back, the bigger your winrate pre rake must be in order to be a winner. Remember when I talked about PLO not being a good beginner variant. You pay way more rake than in NLH games and this way you have to be a crusher in order to beat the rake if you are not getting enourmous amounts back from rakeback, rake races and bonuses.
      This can make a huge difference in how fast you are able to grow your bankroll.

      Here is a link to his post: How to get out of the micros – 3 tips and recommendations

      It is pretty clear that you can boost your rakeback by participating in promotions like rake races, or getting access to free rolls from your affiliate and not the least by bonusses like a First Deposit Bonus (FDB) which is usually large enough in order to last at least a month to sustain high rakeback and the future prospect of getting Reload Bonus Offers where you get another bonus to your site's account for free or for cashing in more money.

      It is pretty much a non-brainer that you have a lot of benifits chosing an affiliate to sign up, with no downsite to you as a player. You have a contact that can interact with the site on behalf of their affiliates, you have priviliged access to promotions, you have other methods of return, for example tokens like here on pokermarket that you can exchange for content.
      The affiliate system in online poker has always worked on win-win-scenarios for all involved parties and it is up to you to decide what deal is the best.

      As a tournament player it might be important to choose more than one site/network to play on. Don't worry, most sites have agreed on synchronized pauses, so you will be able to have a break even if you multi-site. You will get more information in the MTT version of this guide.
      Rakeback becomes less important for an MTT-grinder that only enters long-lasting big pool tournaments because these players will not pay that much rake. But these players will also benefit immensly from freeroll promotions practically offering a free entry to their bread&butter-variant, so even as a MTT grinder you should have a look at the promotional bonusses on the network/site even if you do not pay much rake to begin with.

      Pokermarket's team is trying very hard to make a win-win offer to you guys that is attractive to all variants of players. You can have a look at their offers here: pokermarket.com/deals.php#/sites

      Important: This guide is now effectively continueing for players who choose to become a cashgame specialist, because this is my field of expertise where I am confident to provide you with the right guideline towards success. As previously written a similar guide for MTT and SNG players is in the works and will be published here in the beginner's section as well. Stay tuned

      The post was edited 6 times, last by wafflecrunch ().

    • Choosing the right variant of NLH cashgames



      The three variants of cashgame play in NLH are divided by the numbers of available player seats at the table. Headsup (HU) is played with only two players, Sixmax (6max) is played with more than two and up to six players and Fullring (FR) is the label for tables that support a maximum of seven to ten players depending on the pokersite you are playing on. Keep in mind some sites only offer 5max or 4max tables, I will include those under 6max for the following passages to not confuse you and they fit the best in towards establishing the differences into the 6max category, compared to the other two. For FR you will see anything from 8max to 10max depending on the site, all are considered as FR tables.

      Do you still remember the previous chapter about reducing the number of mistake oppertunities as a beginner until we reach a level of confidence about our level of play?
      This is why I will suggest that you play with as much players at the table as possible and as much FR Poker in NLH as possible as a beginner. The reason is that you only have to pay the blinds a fracture of the amount of times you have to pay it in 6max and especially HU, where you always pay a blind. Playing from the blinds is a big source of error and one the hardest things to master in NLH. So we want to sit in the blinds as a beginner as rarely as possible and want to play with good position as much as possible.
      The other reason to prefer FR over the other two as a beginner is that you can play tighter without losing much value from protitable opening hands. The more players could participate in a single hand possibly the tighter your selection of playable hand combinations will become.
      On some sites you will struggle to find enough Fullring traffic even at No Limit 10 and above. That is why you probably have to also learn to play 6max poker somewhere down the line as well. Remember FL vs NL from the variant-chapter? It is pretty much the same for FR vs 6max, with FR being a dying variation of NL cashgames but more appealing for beginners. The only site that is currently offering enough FR traffic up to No Limit 50 is Pokerstars main site.

      The main difference between 6max and FR is that the two to four added seats in Fullring are merged into the "under the gun" (UTG) position and the middle position seats (MP) are merged into one MP seat. Meaning that even at a Fullring table as soon as everyone folds to the last MP seat also known as the Hijack (HJ) seat the game becomes to a high degree the same as 6max NLH in terms of strategy as the same amount of players are still left to act behind. The difference is when a player from the previous seats has already entered into the hand, than FR plays differently from 6max to a certain degree.

      Now you might suggest that if all players but the Small Blind (SB) are folding it becomes the same as a Headsup table you are completely wrong. While in 6max and FR games the SB position is always out of position (OOP) against all other players, at a Headsup table the SB-player is in position (IP) to the Big Blind (BB). This makes headsup poker at FR,6max strategically different to the point that as a beginner it would be unwise to even attempt it. So don't confuse playing headsup with playing at a headsup table. While the first is meaning there are only two players involved in the hand, the latter means there were two players to begin with and the SB had position.

      It is also important to know that if you start a new 6max or FR table and you are headsup, you will be in position as the small blind player and effectively play from the button. As soon as a third player enters the game the SB will act as OOP to every other position and the format changes to what 6max and Fullring Games are structured like.
      This is why as a beginner you want to avoid creating tables (known as opensitting) and try to find tables that are at least somewhat populated already in order for them to fillup. The more players sit, we sit lesser in the blinds and the tighter we are able to play profitably. It is a huge beginner mistake to opensit or play three to five-handed if it can be avoided!


      For example you can avoid playing less than five-handed if you join a table and simply sit-out until the table filled up. It is somewhat against proper etiquette towards the players already playing, but well you are a beginner and thus deserve a bit of protection on your own interests. If you feel obligated to display proper etiquette it is your choice to wait on joining the table until it filled up enough, but sometimes you will not be fast enough to still catch a seat. So it is up to you. Just don't play three or four-handed disregarding the consequences. You have been warned.




      Choosing the right learning materials



      There are hundreds of articles, books, videos and coaching offers available on the internet. You could spend your entire life just watching coaching videos or reading poker books, articles and poker forums. This is how much content is out there on NLH for cashgames. It is mostly utter garbage, some decent, some overtaken by time and game evolution and very few of it good that is free.

      As a beginner how should you be able to judge what is good and what is bad advice? You can't. So what you probably think would be best is just read and watch and read and watch as much as you can get into your head and when you think you start to get the hang of it you start to think you might be able to weed out the stuff that won't cut it or is just plain wrong.
      What actually will happen is that you get confused at some point over concepts and how to interpret the information and you become a stubborn know-it-all that is not able to be efficient or maxEV. You will start to dismiss content on areas that are weak in your game because you don't feel the content is good because you cannot really understand it and you just do the content that you excel at and which reinforces your strong aspects. You only learn in a comfort-zone that is reinforcing your strong points in your game and you lose all objectivity left to pinpoint the weak points in your game and notice your mistakes.
      I was this guy at the start of my poker learning. I soaked up everything. Somehow I made it here but I spend tons of hours on content that later on turned out bad for my game, because it was bad to begin with or did not suit my style of playing and in the end I come up with a very measely return of study time investment for what really made it into my strategy and quality of play. If I had to put a number on it, I probably had invested over a thousand hours of study work that I never got a return for. That sounds horrible right? Don't make this mistake.

      Correct learning evolves around being able to reflect on your abilities and spot weaknesses and shakyness in your knowledge and implementation of knowledge and your approach to strategy and allocate the most work on them while keeping your strong aspects maintained by coming back to them from time to time. You need to constantly evaluate yourself and know what you need to work on the most.

      There are three major forms of content delivery for online poker:

      • Books and articles like this one about various topics
      • Coaching by and in general interaction with other players and poker communities
      • Video material
      I know a lot of players that prefer to do nothing but watch poker training videos, because it is easy. They turn it on, they sit and watch the coach play a live session, they ask themselves if they would have done the same thing in the hand, pad themselves on the shoulder when they think they would and feel reassured they are doing things right. They finish the video and think "oh I can do this" and then go to the tables and try to play the same way the coach did and get wrecked. Completely. And most times they also start to tilt because of it, they start to become entitled because they just watched a coaching video and the coach did everything like they would and won a lot and they do the same and they lose.

      What ended up happening is they watched an hour of content for their entertainment because they did not question the content at all and just acknowledged similarities to their own play and went to the tables feeling super confident and they missed the simple point that they did not assess and critique the play portrayed in the training video correctly and went ahead thinking that "watching equals implementation". What they are doing is like watching a famous athlete doing what they spend their entire life training for and just going straight to competition and mimique it. The chances of this failing are incredibly high and it would be really unrealistic and reckless to think this is the winning concept of how to learn and improve.

      Live sessions from some coaches can create a false expectation for the tables, because some players will only submit and publish big winning sessions, because they feel the need to show that they are winning, instead of showing the reality of the games they play in.
      So what you get to see is a distorted version of play that only shows the good times. You know what? Even the most horrendous player can win when the cards are going their way.
      If a coach only submits content of the good times, you can be pretty sure they are following an agenda of self promotion and not of trying to show you the reality of play on the stakes they are grinding. Always question that without being disrespectful, because even the worsed coach will probably have more knowledge about strategy and poker theory than you do as a beginner, else you would not start watching their videos.

      Another issue is watching players that play highstakes because they are really well respected in the community and proven crushers. Trying to mimique their game and strategies into much lower stake play and think it will have the same affect.
      A current pretty good example is the 33% potsize continuation-bet(Cbet) on the flop which was made popular by players like Sauce123(Ben Sulsky), one of the best current players in the world. His videos are regarded as top notch quality publically available and his play gets mimiqued a lot by lower stakes guys. For this instance a lot of regulars are incorporating those small sizings without a real good understanding why. Just because Sauce123 thinks it is good and that is enough reasoning and the only reasoning available, because they lack the foundation to grasp the entire strategy.
      So as a beginner watching high stakes content is like for example teaching a language beginner stuff like ten variations of saying "Hi!" instead of focussing on teaching him how to say "Hi!" and instead start out to expand his word treasure to be able to communicate on a basic level. So as a beginner you go to a shop and you have ten variations to say "Hi!" to the owner, but you cannot even ask for the item you want to buy or answer if he asks you politely a question. See what I mean?
      Watching live video content as a beginner, especially from high stakes player, will not be effective for your own play and improvement. Be aware that it is highly advanced content and nothing you have to learn right now in this moment in order to beat your first stake levels.

      Before watching and evaluating live video sessions from coaches you need to learn the basics. Don't start watching live session play if you do not have the right amount of basic understanding of poker fundamentals and strategy of what you are being shown in order to evaluate and take notes on what the coach is doing and that way actually improving on your basics and getting something solid to implement at the tables.
      If you watch a training video from a live session and there is not a single hand you seem that was somewhat disagreeable or you feel the coach missed some information on, you should not have been watching because either you are not advanced enough in your game and strategy knowledge to grasp everything or you watch such a good run session that you get blindsided by the results and don't question the way the hands were played enough. Just because the result of the hand is positive does not in the slightest have a meaning for how good the hand was played.

      My advice for absolute beginners: Buy a book and study it before even trying to get into videos.
      If you do not have the money to invest, maybe you are playing on a starter bankroll and have no money behind to invest into yourself at the moment, find article collections on the basics.
      There are a lot of pages that host article and strategy post libraries for free, I feel this one offers a good balance of presentation, crispness and comprehendability, while talking about pretty much everything beginner strategy like this for example: cardschat.com/poker-strategy.php
      There are others, just research with the favorite search engine of choice and you will find a lot of alternatives if you do not like the format and way to present information from the link I provided. Show some initiative!

      There is also a lot of guides and advice for beginner strategy posted in forums too, the biggest one being twoplustwo(2+2/2p2) has a huge archive for you to read from for free:

      forumserver.twoplustwo.com/35/…cro-limit-library-799833/

      Use pokermarket as a ressource, don't shy away from asking questions in the beginner's section, it is made for that! There are a lot of advanced players who will help you out if you ask nicely for help and show effort! This guide is a pro-active way for myself to give back to beginners, but don't expect to get a lot of information spoonfed to you in poker. You have to show effort in order to attract player's to invest their time to help you out!
    • Book suggestions

      If you have some money though I would suggest buying a book! The advantage is you have everything condensed into one study material, a lot of other people have read it so you can go to a forum and ask questions and you have a progression set for you through the content. For beginners I would buy this one:



      Dan Harrington & Bill Robertie : Harrington on Online Cashg Games; 6-Max No-Limit Hold'em twoplustwo.com/books/poker/har…h-games-no-limit-hold-em/

      -> Buy on amazon

      This book gives you the fundamentals. Even though it is a pretty old one it still has the same basic principles that apply towards beating microstakes online sixmax and fullring games.



      Before diving into intermediate and advance content levels, I would like to give you somewhat checklist of what you have to know in order to advance to more in depth strategy and what we call "game planning":

      • Fundamental Understanding of what hands to play how in what position (tight agressive preflop style = TAG style)
      • Poker Math: Odds and Outs, Calculating Equity and Pot Odds, Autoprofit-Calculation
      • Playing Out of Position and In Position and the value of position and initiative
      • Spotting opponent tendencies and get to know these categories: Nit, Regulars, passive and agressive Recreational Players
      • Exploiting of weak players
      • Learning how to properly 3Bet and playing against 3Bets
      • Stealing and Blind Defense
      • Value-Betting according to Handstrength
      • Semi-Bluffing
      This list is not perfect, nore complete. It is just an "at least" type of list that should enable you to digest and comprehend more advanced strategy after completing it.


      To get to some more advanced written content:


      Optional: If you are still playing a lot of Fullring, you can incorporate this book: pokermarket.com/marketplace.php#/literature/50

      I still think this book will enable you to beat up to NL25 Fullring on most sites even being a little dated. I read it some years ago and it improved my game a lot. For 8 bucks it is a steal.


      To develop further as a player and to get more aquainted to advanced concepts that are still the center of today's cutting edge strategy evolution, there is no way around these two books:

      • Matthew Janda - Applications of No Limit Holdem -> Buy on amazon
        This book is my personal holy grail to advanced poker strategy. It is somewhat dated, but it gives you a solid grasp of thinking in ranges, advanced range mathematics, advanced postflop and preflop range construction and opens up the theoretical knowledge to work with the state of the art equity and range-construction tools that you might have already read about. The book gets discussed and cited a ton in discussions and if there is a must-have, this book is it.
      • Bill Chen & Jerrod Ankenmann - The mathematics of poker
        This book focusses on poker math. The complete and in-depth version of it, but if you want to know how to calculate everything, well, this is the book to read. The book is discussed here: forumserver.twoplustwo.com/33/…s-poker-bill-chen-318098/ Trust me you need a lot of interaction and answering of questions to understand and comprehend it



      Video material suggestions



      Beginner video content

      As I said I would suggest you read a book or articles to learn about basic concepts. A lot of affiliated training sites also host beginner content. I cannot judge how good it is, a book I read I can judge and recommend, something dynamic and undergoing changes like training site beginner material I cannot do with integrity without keeping up and studying it everytime something is changed or added, that is why I shy away from recommending it in this guide. That does not mean there isn't a lot of good video content for beginners out there. I just do not have the time to keep up with that and also restructure my guide here when I feel the stuff has changed and is not so good anymore.


      Intermediate and advanced video content on pokermarket

      I have watched some more advanced material hosted here on pokermarket that you can buy with the tokens from your rakeback if you signed up up to a pokersite with them as your affiliate that I can feature here. Remember there is more content available and I will only recommend what I watched and found to be good recommendable material or are coaches that I respect for their game and strategic knowledge.

      I can confidently suggest the following content creators for english intermediate and advanced videos here on pokermarket: @Internet , @bigfiszh , @duddinho

      There is a treasure of material available for people understanding german language, to see the list of featured material please go to my post in the german beginner section. As this post is for english only speakers, I will not mention other language content here. There is so some content in other languages available, for example in portuguese or russian.

      Other Sources


      Galvin "mbml" Bay has made an excellent course about preflop range construction focussing and explaining in great detail the mathematical concepts and showing the calculated ranges in practical play: galvinbay.net/preflop-perfection/

      The post was edited 1 time, last by wafflecrunch ().

    • Training Sites

      As mentioned I can only recommend what I have used and evaluated myself. In the past I had subscriptions to pretty much every major training site and having evolved past beginner status you might want to consider at least one site to keep up with content and game evolution. The current choice for me would be a Run it Once (RIO) essential subscription and later on if affordable "elite".

      In my opinion it has the best interactive content, the level of content is good and the community is great and helpful. Other training sites have good content and huge libraries you get pretty much what you want but they somewhat lack size and quality of interaction from a community or content creator standpoint and for me the possibility of discussion and asking questions and getting fast responses is key to get the most out of training videos:

      Training Sites with huge libraries:
      The problem with all the sites is that they are not able to compete with RIOs coach selection, the amount of new content released and the community. In terms of amount of content they can easily rival or trump RIO but at the moment RIO is the best interactive one. This could change, so this recommendation is only valid for a the next monthes after this guide gets posted.

      Twitch and Youtube

      Disclaimer: I think watching Youtube and Twitch streams and recordings for strategic purposes is a waste of time. What those sources offer you is a complete picture of the grind at certain stakes and how a regular approaches them. The amount of long term winners and didactic sound players that also interact with chat and are offering a high quality of play is very low percentage of content available. Plus the twitch-streams are happening with a long delay to keep the streamer save from people trying to see his holecards by watching the stream during a hand. So interactiveness happens 3-5 minutes delayed and can become quite frustrating.

      Currently I would only suggest one NLH cash game streamer on twitch that is streaming regularly from some of the toughest player pools and that is Adrian Fenix: twitch.tv/adrianfenixx
      He is doing his best to answer questions in chat, is a well established and respected 2p2-forums-moderator and while trying to entertain, he also has a sharp pokermind and does not shy away from live analysis. BUT, he won't show his HUD, so strategic advice is somewhat limited and this should be known if you watch him. You won't be able to adapt his level of play that is tailored towards competing with strong players in the Zoom200 pool on PokerStars. If you want to rail someone at some of the toughest cashgames currently played at upper lowstakes, tune in. He offers Video on Demand service for his subscribers and responds to questions via PM on twitch or his 2p2 thread: forumserver.twoplustwo.com/244…kappa-1529976/index1.html


      He also has one of the most popular playlists he constantly grows with viewer feedback for his grinding sessions: open.spotify.com/user/adrianfe…st/5hHio2yAOTy9Y5q6kh6kne
    • Coaching and poker communities and exchange with other players

      Getting coached and coaching is important. For the player doing the coaching it forces the coach to vocalize concepts and correct mistakes and through the didactic process reaffirms the comprehensional level and easily shows weaknesses and gaps to be worked on. Making someone understand something by teaching them is the final step of learning.
      For the player receiving the coaching it can be like a bridge offered over bumpy or sketchy terrain that he would otherwise need hours of his own work and try&error to overcome. Private coaching is the most effective way of shortcutting the learning process.
      A coach will always leave an imprint on the student, so chosing the right coach is a skill of its own in order to obtain maximum knowledge and skill from the process. You have to "click" with your coach.

      This is why at this point I won't suggest specific coaches. You have to do your own research. Use material the coach has made, or look at posts and feedback and hit them up on Skype and have a chat. See if you can work with the player and make a coaching arrangement you are comfortable with.

      You should only pay for coaching when the player coaching you is not benefiting from teaching you through didactic reaffirmation. For example a coach that is doing professional coaching has a lot of students, he is explaining the same concepts over and over again and has no value of adding another student for reaffirmation of didactic processes, he will be needed to be reimbursted via either a staking arrangement or flat up paying the player for the time spend teaching you.
      It is normal that the coach will demand a rate that is close or equal to his hourly if he/she played instead at their current stakes and it is also measured through the content in terms of stake you are on.

      You will pay more if you want coaching on NL100 than on NL10, this should be obvious, but I see a lot of beginners pay NL100 rates for NL10 coaching because the coach is making the point that this would be the hourly when playing at current stake level and that is just not a favorable deal for you. You should instead search for a coach that offers an NL10 rate and maybe return to the coach that is demanding NL100 prices when they play at that stake level.

      The process is pretty much the same if you want to exchange yourself with players who are equal in knowledge and play the same stakes. The players won't come to you, you have to approach them and see if you can create a win-win situation that makes you want to work together. Don't get discouraged, this is difficult to achieve as players often have established learning circles and these relations rarely stick out through your whole development, they are always evaluated from both sides if they feel they get enough out of it. Once the point is reached where one hand no longer washes the other business stops. This can become quite problematic if you also befriended the player in the process and there are just clear do´s&don'ts in terms of reliability and how to communicate that you have to find out yourself in order to achieve a working learning and studying partnership without payments involved.

      Once you reached a certain level of strategic knowledge you can put your skills to the test and take on players beneath your stake level and see how you like to coach them and how it helps you with the reaffirmation of your own thoughtprocess and concepts and if you can pinpoint gaps. You can also see if you like coaching and would later on try out to offer professional coaching for money or as a staking. It is the only way to make a solid income in poker without variance affecting it when you get payed for teaching. That is why some professional player are also professional coaches.
    • Choosing the right amount of tables to play

      Most novice poker players make the mistake of prioritizing volume over quality of play and table quality. This is the demise of many of them. They think "oh I have this bonus to clear!" or "Oh! I have to get a higher spot in this rake race or a higher status to get more rakeback!" and they rack up thousands of hands and the graph result is at best breakeven or even losing pre rakeback. This is just a horrible decision.

      The truth is they are blindsiding themselves becoming a donkey chasing a carrot on a stick that is "more volume in the same time playing = more winnings". They think if they just grind enough hands they get an insured better reward in just hitting certain volume goals by reaching higher rakeback tiers or positions in races, in the meanwhile completely destroying their winrate at the tables by not paying enough attention, making mistakes and playing tables they have no business of sitting at, while missing out the juicy ones because they cannot pay attention to the lobby. Just because they play too many tables for their attention and skill level.

      As a beginner, you start with one table. One. This is the proper way to start out, even if it become quickly boring. Use the time you are not involved in a hand to get reads on your opponents, even while not playing actively in a hand you can learn a lot about your opponents from their actions against each other.
      When in a hand you will think about every decision before clicking any buttons. If you are unsure about the hand mark it in your tracking software or if you do not use a tracker write it up on a piece of paper for review. Only click a bet or fold button after thinking about the decision, even if you feel like you cannot decide what is better. If it is between raising and calling, call, if it is between calling and folding, fold. If it is between betting and checking, check. This will eliminate a lot of harder decisions for you as a beginner in bigger pots. It is a way to reduce the amount of a mistake as a beginner.

      Only and only when you start to get more decisive in your choices, feel that you "get the hang of it", at least having no problem with preflop decisions, you can start adding a second table. Now evaluate how good you are handling the increased volume of play, not when you fold preflop on both and feel bored, but when you play postflop on both tables and are in spots where you feel uncertain about the best choice of action. A telltale-sign of excessive demand is always to see if you ever start dipping into timebank on any table just because you are focussed on a decision on the other table. This is a warning sign that you are playing too much tables in order to pay attention to the needed information and make good decisions based on all available parameters.

      As a beginner I would strongly suggest not using fast fold formats that pressure you even more by restricting your time to act and your time bank. Next to the most likely tougher player pool than encountered at regular tables, the much harsher timebank and time to act restriction is really bad for you as a beginner.
      When I see beginners playing four tables of fast fold poker and quickfolding(fold a hand before it is your time to act) hands that are playable just to keep up and afterwards going to the forums to complain about variance and how bad they run and yadayada, it is infuriating and obsert and will lead to their demise as an online poker players. Whiners with a tendency to prefer comfort of fast fold over maximising their winnings are never going to develop into crushers. Do not make this mistake! You have been warned.


      Choosing the right amount of play and study

      If you are a tournament player you have to be careful with how many tournaments you have open and how many you are adding. You might have it easier in the early game when you are folding a ton of obvious folding hands and much rarer are involved in a pot, but in the later stages you will struggle to keep up with a lot of tables and later added tournament can stretch your session length.
      As a cashgame player you will most likely have the power to end or pause your sessions if you not have the most generous player at the table that is throwing stack after stack at you.

      You have to train your brain in order to play your best poker for longer periods of time. Like you would train your muscles at the gym, you train your brain to respond perfect to poker for longer timeframes. Like muscle memory for physical tasks that is also achieved by rewiring neurons in the brain, getting mind memory on poker decisions will take time to remap your brain accordingly.
      I would suggest in playing short sessions of 20-30 minutes and then take a break and evaluate your state. Just take a five minute breather and return to the felt. It allows your brain to relax and then refocus on the task at hand. To get your brain warmed up you can look at a hand history and think about it so your brain is already processing poker information and tapping into your strategic knowledge.

      But you also need to balance the work on your foundational pillars with your actual play time. It is different from player to player how much time they spend playing hands and working on their poker game. You have to understand that the experience from playing translates into the effort you put into your poker game by learning from the good plays and mistakes you made. And understanding them and then by implementing the improvements you are concious about into live play and conciously recognizing them in the review you do afterwards on your play, that is what makes you get better and recognize it.

      So you need to give both aspects - the play at the table and working on your circle of success - enough time so you see an implementation of improvement in your play. If you overdo playing or studying you will hinder your progress because you lack implementation, or you lack the chance to implement from avoiding the off the table work.

      As a novice player I would focus on a single subject for each of my foundational pillars and go around the circle. Then play with concious awareness of what you learned and try to implement it as spots come up or decisions have to be made, then evaluate what worked and where you missed or made implementations of improvements to your game you wanted to focus on and what you still felt unsure and unfamiliar about and re-iterate it through your circle of sucess again until you feel like you made progress. That way you sharpen your game. Once you feel like you made progress on the topic of choice enough that another topic becomes more important to improvement, focus on that instead.

      Become a winning player at online poker - Part 2 - Mindset

      Click here to read the next article!