Online Poker – This is war and wars require strategy
Just like war games, poker needs a carefully thought out plan or strategy to out-maneouvre and destroy your opponent. Though the end goal in poker is somewhat different, i.e. you are not about to shoot your opponents down, as your only goal is to take their cash. The means and methods to achieve your goal require a high level of strategy; just as a general might plan an assault on his enemy, you must plan your assault on your opponents before you start gambling away your money.
Definitions of strategy
Stratagem: a. an artifice or trick in war for deceiving and outwitting the enemy (opponent) b. a cleverly contrived trick or scheme for gaining an end; skill in ruses or trickery
Strategy: a. A careful plan or method: a clever stratagem b. the art of devising or employing plans or stratagems toward a goal
Loose calls, clever plays and river cards will all be a wasted if a player does not have the correct strategy. The thrill of cracking aces etc, is wasted if you are not a winning player at the end of the day. If you play only for the excitement of poker, you may be happy to take the 12 to 1 long shot when the pot is only giving you odds of 4 to 1. Are you winning, losing, or breaking even? Only you can answer that question.
Strategy is of utmost importance in any sport or game but is especially important in poker. The development of a winning strategy begins long before you post your first blind. It begins the moment you decide to go online and find a game in which to invest your time and money. Pre-play analysis is essential before you take a seat. A good pre-determined strategy based on the current table and group of players will usually guarantee a winning session more often than not. Control your desire to take the first seat available and instead plan your stratagem.
Firstly, check the information available such as the percentage of players seeing the flop, size of the pots and hands held per hour. Usually between 31- 49 percent seeing the flop is a good start; any lower and the game is too tight, any higher, too loose. Of course you will soon learn by your personal preference and standard deviation, and if you are an advanced, serious poker player, you know your standard deviation and can already make decisions based on that information as part of your winning strategy.
Secondly, consider the size of the pot, which is usually but, not always, directly related to the number of players seeing the flop. Consider the relationship between the number of players seeing the flop and pot size. For example, if the flop percentage is relatively low and the average pot size is relatively high, it could imply that there are a few aggressive players who are pushing too hard with less than premium hands. An ideal circumstance would be to find a few players raising, with weak hands out of position, who attempt the bluff raise on the turn or bet the river with a busted hand.
An average pot size should be about 4 1/2 to 6 times the big blind. A higher pot size is usually not sustainable, but can be lucrative given the right set of circumstances. You will be able to take advantage of any situation after you have devised a stratagem for the session. After you take a seat, the play will continue to change as players move in and out. Develop a strategy before putting your money on the table.
Hands dealt per hour define the pace of the game. If it is slow, players may be playing multiple tables, which weaken the pool. The same players on multiple tables will usually display the same style of play and therefore be fairly predictable. In most instances, predictability in a player is desirable but if you have several players on multiple tables, games become weak...unless, of course, they are "action junkies". In higher limit games, multiple table players are usually, but not always, solid players. Too many solid players on multiple tables affect the stability of the game. The weaker players will soon lose to the solid players and the table will become short. If there are two or more tables at the same limits, with nine players, with five players duplicated, look for a different site perhaps.
Create a strategy using information previously recorded about the players and any new observations during preparation. Sites that use Boss Media software (such as Juega Poker Ya) allow you to store players profiles and this is an added advantage. Take the time to review the players on the table before you take a seat even if you lose your place in line; this is one of the most important aspects of preparation. Record the players on the current table using your profile list of notes for the site along with any players waiting or watching the game. Keep the table view updated by adding more notes and changing out players as they come and go. Continually monitor and change notes on players and be prepared to alter your perception of their play as you get more information. Once you understand the texture of the game and it agrees with your playing style; put your name on the wait list. While waiting in line, watch the table and work with your notes. You are now armed and ready to enter the fray and come out a winner.
People play poker for many reasons. However, if your true goal is to make money you must develop and execute a plan of attack, a well-developed strategy for the current circumstances.
Of course there will always be plenty of players who do not plan a strategy and will continue to be a source of revenue for those who do. The goal, with pre-game analysis and planning, is to locate them and help them with their unwitting desire to be separated from their money. Just like in the game of war… seek and destroy your enemy!
About the Author: Written for Juega Poker Ya, part of the IPN Poker network. Poker online in various international languages.