Adjusting in online poker tournaments
You probably know the feeling: It’s late at night and live tournaments at physical cardrooms in your area are either over for the day or winding down to the final table. Yet you feel like playing a tournament rather than a cash game.
Remembering what friends have told you about playing easily accessible tournaments online no matter what the time of day, you decide to give it a try.
Clicking into a well-known online poker poker room like Carbon Poker, you complete the registration process, submit your well-thought-out and hopefully deceptive screen name, “NewB Bluff,” and deposit cash into your account.
Are you ready to play your first online tournament?
Unless you want to start off at a considerable disadvantage, you should first understand the major differences between physical and cyberspace tournaments and the relevant adjustments necessary for optimum online tournament play:
Online tournament play is much faster than physical tournament play.
Necessary adjustments: Realize that because Internet play is so much faster than real-world play, online tournament rounds allow you to play more hands than real-world rounds of similar length. This means you can play a somewhat more patient, solid game online, letting more aggressive players knock each other out.
Because you must learn to act quickly, stick to inexpensive one-table events until you’ve gained an edge through note-taking practice, improved concentration, awareness of timing tells and familiarity with the software. In larger or more expensive events you’ll be at a great disadvantage to any regular player who is not only familiar with the software but has extensive notes on many screen names.
Unless you know the real-world player behind a screen name, you’ll have no way to know how he or she plays except through careful observation of action and timing tells beginning with the very first hand.
This is trickier than it may seem. Players used to physical-world tournaments are used to associating faces, voices, speech, physical characteristics and mannerisms with style of play.
Online you’ll have to make an effort to record and remember screen names and any timing tells you can discern. Seat position of players at the virtual table will assist you visually, but only in that particular tournament. If after several tournaments you can’t connect a screen name with that player’s previous action, then you’ve learned nothing about that opponent. It will be as though you’re facing that player for the first time.
The first necessary adjustment is to to take full advantage of the note-taking feature at leading poker sites. If you’re a fast typist, you have a real advantage because you can almost instantly record all useful observations without missing a single moment of action.
In one recent online event, two players went all-in with ace-rag, which led the player behind them to fold. After the showdown, he typed into the chat box, “I folded the best hand. I had A-Q.” On a later round, the player who had folded check-raised all-in from the blind against one of the same loose players, and won a big pot with AA.
Obviously, he was paying attention earlier. But in this sort of situation, you should be paying attention, too, by recording such things as, “folded AQ after raise, used chat box to vent, later check-raised the raiser on the turn from the big blind with AA.”
Develop your own poker shorthand so that you can record info quickly. You can record the above situation as: f aq/r, chat/v, crr/bb/t AA. Remember that only you need to know how to read what you record, so work out a system and stick to it.
Learn to immediately request a hand history if you miss something important in the action. You may have left the room for a few moments or somehow failed to register the order of bets and raises because the action was so fast. Even if you don’t have time to look at the info right now, the knowledge you gain by reviewing the hand may serve you well in a future tournament when you encounter the same players. And of course you should add any such knowledge to your permanent notes for that site.
Another necessary adjustment is to train yourself to observe differently than you would at a physical table. You won’t be able to spot physical tells, but timing tells are prevalent online.
For example, a player who habitually takes a long time to act is either playing in another game, allowing himself to be extremely distracted by something else he’s doing, or playing like a newbie. Any of these reasons means you may be able to bluff more easily against him. Unless he has a real hand, he’ll probably fold when you bet or raise. Naturally, you must pick your moments — the poker strategy works best when you are in late position and the laggard is behind you or in one of the blinds.
Another example: A series of rapid clicks after a ragged flop means it’s probable that nobody has much. You should bet if you’re on the button, but give it up if you’re check-raised unless you know the opponent to be capable of a check-raise bluff. (And how would you know that? Why, from your meticulous notes, of course.)
One last tip on timing tells: if you are in the blind and the flop is rapidly checked around (generally through the use of pre-action buttons), try betting out on the turn if it brings another nondescript low card — especially if it’s one that could complete a low straight or conceivably give a blind hand two pairs. Chances are you’ll take the pot.
One online poker offering plenty of tournament in all poker variations is PokerStars. They have more games and poker variants than at any other online poker room.
When you register, you can use bonus code PSP8181 to get a 100% up to $600 sign-up bonus. You will be automatically enrolled in their Club VIP offering more perks, cash back bonuses and gifts.