Whether your aim is to play full-time, or just as a side-line to top up your monthly wages, playing poker online is an excellent way to make money!
Although there are still many people out there who simply see it as another form of ‘gambling’, unlike other games poker actually rewards very well those who can master even just a few of its many skills.
The trick is knowing where, when and which games to play – and this little guide will help start you on the road to poker riches!
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Where to play?
When I started out I simply jumped onto PokerStars, as they were, and still are, the biggest site on the net. However, they also have one of the strongest ‘player-pools’ – so it will pay off in the long-term to try out a few of the many other poker sites out there.
Playing on several different sites can actually increase your win-rate considerably – there are soft (easy) games to be had on every site, so don’t restrict yourself to just one based on their name or the fact they have fancy software!
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Naturally, if you can get money for free then you’d be silly not to take up the offer! All the biggest poker sites offer deals to newbies, and many will reward those who play a certain number of hands over a period of time.
Looking randomly at what’s on offer right now, for example, William Hill are giving you the chance to earn 35% rakeback (the site generally takes a cut of each hand played –that’s how they make their money, but hands back a percentage to loyal customers in various ways) and will match your initial deposit up to €1500!
These are the kind of deals which will add to your winnings over time, and there are dozens of extra bonuses available if you shop around! Go through some of the affiliate sites and you’ll get even sweeter deals, with chances to play in monthly ‘rake-races’ – some players make more money from these than they do in profit from the actual tables!
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The Best stakes to play at?
Of course, you have to set yourself a limit as to how much money you want to ‘invest’ in your poker. Playing at $10/$20 cash tables when you have $1000 to your name is an easy way to go broke! The players there are certainly pros, and you only have enough for half a buy-in – so set yourself realistic levels and goals, including your own standard of play. You can be relatively weak at poker an STILL make decent money from it.
For example, if you have $500 to start out with and you are a reasonable poker player, then choose a level where your $500 will allow you about 50 buy-ins. So, something like $0.05/0.10 cash games, or $5-10 tournaments would make sense.
I made the mistake of getting lucky in a few $109 Sit and Go’s a few years ago, ran it up to a few thousand bucks – but I still didn’t have enough at this level to ride out the downswing when it came! I just wasn’t bank-rolled for that level and those stakes, so be clever and stick to what you can afford initially!
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You might see that everyone plays No-Limit Hold’em – and it might well be your own favourite game – but is it your best game? If you can play other variants quite well, such as Pot Limit Omaha, Stud or Chinese poker for example, then you might find the games online easier to win, as they are often populated by players trying out new games without much of a clue even of the rules! Strange but true!
Many of you will have heard of ‘multi-tabling’, where you play several games at the same time – and this is often how players earn extra money; you can play many more hands per hour; it’s less likely that you’ll get bored waiting for decent hands; and if you play well you make more money.
However, don’t do this unless you’re comfortable with a lot of action going on and you can concentrate well. I personally stick to 2, or at most 4 tables. Any more and I can;’t keep track of who is doing what where – and that’s always a bad thing for your poker bank-roll!
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Managing your bankroll?
If you are serious about making money at poker, you need to keep a track of your wins and losses – and limit yourself to how much you can afford to lose when things are going not so well – because it will happen.
There is software available which can help you with this, but as we will see below be careful about paying for software as many sites are cracking down on just what is allowed in the way of help.
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One of the surest ways to blow your hard-earned poker winnings is to go on tilt. This is where you lose your senses after somebody has got very lucky against you, and you start making terrible plays just to try to win back ‘your’ money! Don’t fall into this trap – it’s the easiest way to go broke!
Instead, remember that poker is mostly about skill but with an element of luck involved. If you play well you’ll come out ahead eventually – and somebody who hits their ‘5-percenter’ against you is supposed to win 5% of the time!
Suck it up and move on – if you can get your money in the middle every time with a 95% chance of winning you’ll make a fortune over the course of a year!
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Software and Training Sites
The best way to make more money at poker is to use every bit of help available – and there is masses of it online. However, many sites are cracking down on the use of software (designed to give you all the information on your opponents (and yourself!) you’d ever need to know) so check out what is and what isn’t allowed on the sites you choose to play on.
Training sites and poker forums are a great way to learn more about the game, and as the majority of them are free – and even give you excellent promotional deals just for ‘signing up’ to them, you’d be silly not to take advantage of them.
You can discuss hands, follow the latest poker news and usually find online leagues and ‘races’ which will help boost your bank balance as you play and learn.
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Playing poker online is a great little (or sometimes big!) earner so long as you stick to what you do best, play within your limits and generally take it fairly seriously.
Choose your games wisely, don’t be scared to shop around to find the best deals available, and take advantage of all the useful websites which will help you to become successful!