If you play poker then you've probably had poker nights with your friends, where you and the gang sit around the dinner table and pretended you're professional card sharks, playing for high stakes. But suppose you think your poker stills are good enough to compete with real professional poker players? Well, then you log on to the Poker Stars web-site and set up an account in order to try your playing expertise.
Pocker Stars is the world's largest online poker site, where you can play ten variants of the game, including Texas Hold'Em, Five Card Draw and Omaha. You can hone your skills at the free play-only site before logging in to the main site, where you play for real money. Pocker Stars hosts weekly tournaments, which attract thousands of online players and are open to everyone as long as they can afford the buy-in. Pocker Stars also hosts the World Championship of Online Poker, the largest online poker competition on the planet.
But before you set your sights that high, you need to develop a strategy. What is the best strategy for winning at online poker?
One problem with playing online poker is that you can not see your opponents' faces. Poker is as much about bluffing as it is who has the best hand and that, being able to read the other players' expressions and body language is a vital part of a winning strategy. But you can not do this in an online game, so you have to rely on other clues, or "tells", as to how strong or weak your opponent's hand is. One way you can do this is to use "betting tells" or reading how your opponent bets.
There are three types of such tells: how long your opponent takes to make his bet, how much he bets, and his use of the 'in-turn' box (used by players playing more than one game at a time). For example, if he pauses before he makes his bet, he may possess a weak hand. If you play with particular opponents long enough, you can detect patterns in their tells that you can exploit.
The most significant of these tells is said to be the use of the 'in-turn' box. There are three boxes he can pick: the check box, the check / fold box or the check / call box. Which of these boxes he uses reveals information about him which you can exploit. Your opponent also discloses information through his insta-bets and insta-raises when he is not in the blinds (forced bets placed in the pot to begin bidding).
Of course, experienced players are aware of this and will try to manipulate you by giving false tells, so you should also be wary. Study each player's style carefully and historically idiosyncrasies in their playing styles will emerge that will alert you if an opponent is trying to trick you.
Learning how to read tells online may be one of the most important tools in your strategy box apart from mastering pot odds. Perfecting the skill of reading tells is a big step towards guaranteeing that you will do well in online poker games and tournaments like those on the Pocker Stars site.