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Home » online casinos » poker sites » strategy
Peter Addison
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This page will act as your introductory to online poker strategy. Keep reading if you want to swim away from the rest of the poker fishes and join the ranks of the sharks.

Poker is a card game like no other. It’s a game where good players with bad hands will repeatedly beat bad players with good hands. The key to poker success – both online and IRL – is the join the ranks of the good players, and learn how to tell a good hand from a poor one. The best poker strategy is to learn when you are likely in a winning position, and when you’ve no chance of taking the pot.

Basic Poker Strategy – What to do and not do

No matter which version of poker you are playing at your favourite online poker site, the first thing you need to do is learn the value of the hands. This might sound like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised the number of people who going into poker playing not knowing that a flush beats a straight, and that three of a kind beats two pairs.

poker hand ranking

Once you’ve got the above nailed, you should be good to go. Next, come the basics in poker strategy – the things fish do that they shouldn’t do. We’ve gone through all four main variants of poker, and picked out three basic poker strategy tips for all four.

Draw Poker

  • Get to know your opponents – you can tell a lot about the players you are facing by the way they bet, and the number of cards they draw. If a player continually draws three and then folds, it’s a sign they are weak.
  • Play on or near to the button – draw is a tough poker variant as there’s so little information about your opponent’s hands. That’s why it’s best to play mostly when you are on or close to the button as you have the maximum amount of information.
  • Learn how to snow – stay strong with a weak hand to fake strength, then bluff.

Stud Poker

  • Learn the best starting hands – three of a kind, big pairs (AA, KK, QQ, JJ), suited connectors T-A, medium pairs (TT, 99, 88) with a suited connector, big suited connectors with a one-gap (AQJs, for example).
  • Fold if the hand turns – even decent opening hands can be rendered worthless as more cards are dealt. Don’t keeping betting with a hand just because it was once good.
  • Play to learn at first – the key to stud poker is to learn how to read hands. This comes with experience, so start your stud poker career at tables with as low stakes a possible.

Texas Hold’em

  • Learn the best starting hands – good pairs (99 to AA), big suited connectors (AK, KQ, QJ, JT), big suited (AQ, AJ, AT, KJ, KT, QT, A9), decent unsuited (AK, AQ, KQ).
  • Be patient! – the best way to lose when playing Texas Hold’em is to lose patience. You may be dealt garbage over ten hands in a row. Don’t play with garbage just because you are bored.
  • Accept bad beats – you start off with AA and the flop, turn and river don’t help and you end up losing to three deuces. Don’t get sloppy just because Lady Luck gave you the finger.

Omaha (Hi)

  • Learn the best starting hands – AAKK, AAJT, AAQQ, AAJJ, AATT, AA99, JT98, KKQQ, KQJT, KKJJ all double suited.
  • Learn to count your outs – with Omaha you’ll have four hole cards (and will have to pick two) and five community cards. Working out your outs (cards that will improve your hand) is tough, but it’s something you will simply need to do.
  • Learn how to build a pot – getting the ‘nuts’ in Omaha is a rarity, so when you are looking at 20 outs, you’ll want as much in the pot as possible. If you are OOP (out of position) check & raise. If you’re in position raise the pot.

The Art of Bluffing in Advanced Poker Strategies

You’ve probably been told that poker is a game of bluff. The best players can bluff and win a bad hand, no problem. But a lot of bluffing IRL is based on psychological factors – tells, mind games, maintaining that poker face – how can you do all that online?

poker strategy - bluffing

Let’s take a look at some online bluffing techniques that can turn a terrible flop into a winning hand.

The Medium Bluff

A medium or semi bluff is a bet with enough chips that you don’t mind losing. Say your hand is poor but still has outs. A small bluff may be enough to make your opponents fold, or can keep in the hand. If you are raised though, it’s time to fold.

The Pot Overbet

If there are only two or three of you left in the hand and the flop is an obvious dud, then if you are first to action over-betting the pot may fool opponents that your hand has been significantly improved by the flop. They are likely to fold, allowing you to gather what’s already in the pot.

The C-bet

A C-bet or continuation bet is when you raise before the flop and then continue to bet on the flop, especially if you are the first to bet post-flop, even if your hand has not improved. This will create the impression that your hand has improved.

The key to bluffing is knowing when to bluff and when not to bluff. Never bluff because you’ve been dealt garbage for ten consecutive deals and you just want something to do. If you are dealt decent hole cards but the flop has not improved your hand, then this is a decent time to bluff, especially if you will be the first to bet.

Don’t over-bluff and don’t become predictable. Also, don’t keep bluffing if you’ve been ‘found out’ – just fold … no one cares.

Calculating Odds and Outs

Uh-ho, here come the numbers. Like it or not, poker is a game of mathematics. If your hand has a 66 percent chance of winning, then you’re in a good position if the next best hand has a 16 percent chance of winning. The question is … how do you get those numbers? The answer is you do maths in your head to calculate your odds and outs. Thankfully, there is a shortcut.

Calculating Your Outs

The more you play poker, the more you will get accustomed to instinctively know your outs. Below you will find a table outlining the most common hand improvements, and the number of outs needed to complete:

Your Hand Your Target Outs
Pocket Pair Three of a Kind 2
Single High Card High Pair 3
Inside Straight Straight 4
Two Pairs Full House 4
Pocket Pair Two Pair/Three of a Kind 5
Garbage Pair 6
Two High Cards High Pair 6
Three of a Kind Full House/Four of a Kind 7
Open Ended Straight Straight 8
Part Flush Flush 9
Inside Straight with Two High Cards Straight/High Pair 10
Inside Straight and Flush Straight/Flush 12
Open Straight and Flush Straight/Flush 15

Of course, knowing how many outs you have is not the sole aspect of a hand you need to consider. There is no point getting excited about having six outs to turn garbage into a pair if the flop has three spades, or connectors. Again, balancing your hand against your opponent’s potential hands only comes with experience.

Calculating Your Odds

There are plenty of precise ways of turning outs into odds, but here’s a neat trick you can learn that acts as a shortcut.

  • Flop to Turn – multiple your outs by 2.1 to get your odds of winning
  • Turn to River – multiple your outs by 2.2 to get your odds of winning
  • Flop to River – multiple your outs by 4.2 if you have less than ten outs, and 3,3 if you have more than ten.

Okay, so that deserves an explanation. Post-flop, you have an open-ended straight with eight outs. That means you have around a 16.8 percent (actually, 17 percent to be precise, but we’re talking about an easy way to estimate here) of completing your straight on the turn, and around a 33.6 percent chance of competing your straight on the turn and river.

Calculating Pots Odds

So, now you know the probability of completing your hand, how do you know whether to stay in the deal or not? The answer is by calculating pot odds.

Calculating pot odds, you’ll be pleased to hear, is easier than calculating outs. Say the pot is currently £100, and you need to call £10 to stay in the hand. That would make the pot £110, so we need to pay £10 to potentially win £110. That’s 10/110 = 0.09, or 9 percent (to convert a decimal to a percentage, just multiply it by 100).

So, if you have a 16.8 percent chance of making your winning hand, and it will only cost you 9 percent to remain in the hand, you call. You could, in this situation, raise £10 as a payment of £20 will only rise the pot odds to 20/120 = 16.6 percent.

Of course, if the pot was £100 and you had been raised £50, then your pot odds would now be 50/150 = 33.3 percent, then it’s time to fold.

Positional Play – Maximise your Table Position

Poker is a game of unknown information, so the more information you have about a hand, the better. You play best when you have as much information about a hand as possible, and that can depend upon your table position.

In all betting rounds, it is the players who are the last to act that hold the advantage. Depending on what has happened so far – whether the other players have bet, folded or checked – you can decide what you want to do with more information than if you were the first to act.

poker positions

Therefore, if you are among the last to act, and depending upon what others have done before you, you can afford to be a little looser when in this position, and it’s always a good idea to bluff if it’s only been checks and low raises so far, but not consistently.

Strategies for Successful Poker Play

There are different types of poker (we are not talking variants here) which means different ways of playing. Here are a few tips for cash/ring games, sit and go’s, heads up and MTTS.

Cash Game Mastery

Cash games, or ring games, are where most poker players start. You sit at a table, play and wager depending up the limits with your own money, and you can step away from the table whenever you wish. Here are three top tips that will empower your poker cash game strategy.

  • Don’t get too enamoured with medium hands – a ‘medium’ hand is something that looks strong, but might not be because of the community cards. An example might be a pair of Js with three clubs on the flop. Jacks is a decent hand, but there is a high chance of another player completing a flush. Fold if the betting gets hot.
  • Get the most value from premium hole cards – premium hands (AA, KK, QQ, AJ, suited connectors) don’t come around too often, so you need to get the most out of them. Nothing is worse than being dealt a premium hand and only getting the blinds as a reward. You have to hope that someone raises, as which point you re-raise.
  • Walk away when you’re losing – the best thing about cash games is that you can walk away whenever you wish. If the cards just aren’t falling for you, or you hit bad beat after bad beat, then get up and go do something else. It’s just not your day.

Heads-up Poker Strategy

It’s the ultimate poker battle – you against one other remaining player. The best poker players win more HUs then they lose, so how do you join the star HU player ranks? Here are three top HU tips.

  • Get aggressive if you are first to act – you’ll win more HU if you are the first to act. Bet (it doesn’t have to be a big raise) if you are first to act unless you have trash (and if you do, why are you still in the hand). If you are raised, consider the community cards and the likelihood of your opponent having a better hand than you.
  • Don’t play the small blind limply – if you are in a low-number game then you’re going to be playing the small blind often. Never limp the small blind. You fold, or your raise – them the’s rules.
  • Sound out aggressive players – you’ll meet many aggressive players when playing HU – it seems something of an ego thing. If someone tries to out-muscle you when you have a very good hand, play slow. They will think you are deliberating, and may even go all-in. You can then flash the nuts and leave them feeling betrayed by their own incompetence.
  • Be aggressive with draws – flush and straight draws are the best in HU. They allow you to play aggressively no matter if you make your draw or not. A inside straight or four to the flush on the flop is powerful, no matter what your opponent is holding.

Our Tips for Sit & Go Poker

Sit and go games are instant tournaments where survival is the key. The longer you survive, the more you will win. Here are our top tips for sit & go poker.

  • Play conservatively at first – many players will try and build an early lead by playing aggressively. This is a risky strategy that works only infrequently. It’s better to play conservatively at first – don’t bluff and don’t play medium hands such as KQ or QJ, especially when you are out of position.
  • Don’t go all in with AK – lots of players think that AK is the nuts and go all-in. Well, guess what – there are six cards in the deck that will give you a strong pair, and 44 that will leave you with A-high. Who wants to go all-in and lose to a pair of deuces?
  • Keep going with pre-flop raises – if you bet with suited connectors and the flop didn’t improve your hand, bet as if it did, especially if a number of players remain. You can bluff out those that also did not approve, and you can fold without much loss if someone gets aggressive.

How to Play MTTs and End up in the Money

MTTs can be the yellow brick road to wealth, but they are also a gruelling battlefield. Getting onto the leaderboard can be tricky, but it can be done with the right skills and attitude. Here are our top MTT poker strategy tips.

  • Your chips are not real money – your chip stack is just a means of playing. It’s not the cost of your entry. It can be had to dis-associate the two, but you need to do so if you’re going to be successful.
  • Play more loose at first, especially if you are in position – MTTs attract a lot of weak players, so sound them out and add their chips to your own stack. Many players only bet when they absolutely have to (because they want to remain in play), so scare them off with re-raises. Pretty soon, they’ll have nothing left.
  • Defend your blinds – MTT antes get high, real quick. If you put in the BB (and sometimes even the SB) defend it by raising two to two-and-a-half big blinds which should be enough to scare your opponents off.

Omaha Poker Strategy

You may have noticed that the majority of our poker strategy tips have been for Texas Hold’em. This is because (a) Texas Hold’em is by far the most popular form of online poker and (b) many of the tips for Hold’em can easily be applied to other poker variants.

But what about Omaha? Do we have any specific tips for this variant? Of course we do, and here they are:

  • Learn which hands you can play with – this is the most important aspect – you get four hole cards and you have to use exactly two of them when making up your hand. If you come from Hold’em, this is a whole new ball game. Learn which hands you can play with, and which you can’t.
  • Call less – Omaha is not a game of limping. Players either raise, or they fold. Checking is fine, but as soon as a bet comes in if you feel you can only afford to call it’s better to fold as you’ll be throwing away chips otherwise.
  • Aces aren’t so ace – Newbs from Hold’em tend to get excited when pocket aces appear in their hands, but they are not so valuable in Omaha. Because of the number of available cards (up to nine) straights and flushes are much more likely to occur. Even a trio of aces is likely to be beaten.

Wrap Up

Online poker strategy is a complicated beast, but we hope this page has helped you in defining the best poker strategy for you. Basic poker strategy is easy to learn but advanced poker strategy can be as complex as chess. This page serves as an introduction to poker tournament strategy, heads up poker strategy and has poker sit and go strategy, but it’s only an introduction. If you really want to become a poker shark, you’re going to have to dig a little deeper.

Good luck on the tables, and we hope you are soon gobbling up those poker fish!


What is the best poker preflop strategy?

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Peter Addison

A vastly experienced sports betting specialist, Peter joined SafeBettingSites in 2021 as a sports editor. Peter has been focusing on the iGaming realm since 2013, and had written millions of words on all aspects of online casino play and sports betting since then. His articles have been featured in numerous high-profile online publications. When not writing, Peter can be found playing his electric guitar. He is such a talented guitarist that his next-door neighbours often join in, adding percussion by banging loudly on the walls.

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