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Online Hold ’Em Strategy

The following tips and suggestions can apply to the game of poker at large, but are particularly useful for new online players at low-stakes Hold ’Em tables, whether in cash games or tournaments. Remember that these tips and observations are generally true. Particular game circumstances can change everything in a heartbeat.

Be Wary of the Bluff

Contrary to what a lot of casual observers conclude, bluffing is not that effective or even that common in most poker games. In higher-level big-bet games and professional tournaments, bluffing is an important weapon in every player’s arsenal, but in low-stakes Hold ’Em, its utility is rather dubious. Here’s a rule of thumb that can be safely applied: Use the bluff very sparingly and never use it against more than one opponent.

This is one of the few strategy tips that has a taste of the hard-and-fast about it, and it’s specific to online Hold ’Em played at relatively low stakes. Straight, conservative play tends to be rewarded in the smaller online games. In limit games—and especially in the play-money rooms—bluffing is all but useless. Limit games make calling bluffs less expensive and therefore more likely. In the play-money rooms, half the other players are bluffing half the time, it seems. Which leads nicely into our next item.

2005 Deal Me In! Online Cardrooms, Big Time Tournaments, and The New Poker Book. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed)