Internet Poker Room and Game Selection
Internet Poker Room and Game Selection
One of the unique features of the Internet is the tremendous selection of different
sites mid games. This gives an experienced player a great advantage, as you can
evaluate all the games and decide which site and which game has the best action
at the moment.
There are a tremendous amount of poker sites to choose from. Some of them are very large and some very small and they all have different things to offer. Let’s look at some of the criteria you should evaluate in choosing a site.
• Financial Security: The most important criteria in choosing any site is the financial stability of the company. You need to be sure that you will be paid, and in a timely manner. A few sites have gone bankrupt and left their customers out in the cold. Traffic is a good indication in how a site is doing. PokerPulse.com is an excellent site to compare traffic for all of the different poker sites. The smaller sites could be under financial pres sure if they are
having difficulty attracting players to the site.
• Site Security: We discuss cheating and collusion in a later chapter, but it is important that the site does an effective job of monitoring the site for cheating and collusion.
• Software: To enjoy playing, it is nice to play at a site with user-friendly software. Paradise Poker set the standard in the industry in regards to speed of the game. Today, most of the major sites have caught up, although some of the smaller sites still have issues with speed. Look and feel is also important since you will be spending a lot of time looking at the computer. Each site has different color schemes, presentation, and sound effects.
Some sites use 3-D characters, just your name, or provide the ability to post
a picture to represent yourself at the table.
• Games: This book is about Texas Hold’em, but there are many types of games available on the Internet. The most popular games that almost every site offers include: Omaha, Omaha Hi-Lo, 7-card stud, and 7-card stud Hi-Lo, Some sites also offer other games such as 5-card stud. Pineapple. Draw and Razz. Although the sites offer the games, it is sometimes difficult to find active games other than Hold’em, especially at the higher limits.
• Limits: Related to game offerings, you need to choose a site that offers games at the limits you want to play. The most common limits range from $.25-$.50 up to $30-$60, although you can find limits as low as $.01-$.02 and some limits higher than $30-$60. Some players also enjoy pot-limit and no-limit. Again, although the site offers a particular limit, sometimes it is
difficult to find an active game going.
• Traffic/Number of Players: A site can offer a lot of games with a lot of different limits, but if no one is playing them it does not do you any good. The larger sites have a big advantage since it is easier to find the game you are looking for at any time of day.
• Tournaments: Almost all of the sites offer single-table tournaments. Several
of the sites also offer multi-table tournaments, with Poker Stars the current
leader in regards to types of games and number of multi-table tournaments.
• Type of Players/Game: Some sites have games that are typically tight and aggressive, while other sites have loose conservative games. Although a generalization, I typically find that the larger sites have better players than the smaller sites.
• Customer Support: When you have a problem, it is nice to get a quick response from the site. Some sites offer 24-hour online customer support and toll free telephone numbers, while others require that you send an email.
• Promotions: Deposit bonuses are a great way to add to your bankroll and are a good incentive to try new sites. Other types of promotions such as bad beat jackpots and freeroll tournaments can also give you good incentive to play at a particular site.
• Rake: As of the publishing of this book, there still has not been a tremendous push to differentiate in regards to rake, although there are some small differences, especially at the lower limits and for short-handed play.
Choosing a good game to play can dramatically increase your win rate. A popular poker saying is, "You could be the tenth best player in the world, but if you are playing in a game against the best nine, you are in trouble." It only makes sense to play in games with the weaker players. Good poker players are good fishermen. Find the fish, but avoid the sharks!
I generally use three criteria in choosing a game:
• Percentage of players playing the flop
• Average size of the pot
• Knowledge of opponents
One of the easiest ways to spot a good game is by the percentage of players playing the flop. Most sites indicate this percentage in the lobby next to each game. The higher the percentage is, the looser the game. This is usually a good indication of the ovarall quality of the players. The better players tend to play at the higher limits. For example, at Paradise Poker, generally 20% to 30% of the players see the flop at the high limits of $15-$30 and $20-$40. At the lower limits of $2-$4 and $3-$6, you might see between 30% and 40% playing the flop. At the micro limits of $.50- $1, you’ll often see more than 40% playing the flop. The better players tend to play at the higher limits and this is demonstrated in how many hands they play. How do you use this information? If I see a full ring game of $20-$J40 where 35% of the players are playing the flop, ray eyes light up. I should have a tremendous
advantage if I only play about 20% of ray hands. On the other hand, if 22% of the players are playing the flop, my advantage is very slight. I would expect to earn more money in the loose game where 35% of the players play the flop than I would in the tight game. Another indication of the type of action is the average size of the pot.
The size of the pot gives an indication on how aggressive or conservative the game is. If you
see a really high average compared to the other games at the same limit, it might indicate that there is a maniac or two raising with a lot of hands. Finally, after a high level review of the games, I will look to see which players are playing in each game. If I spot a couple of weak players I have played before, I will jump in. On the other hand, I will avoid the game whenever I see a bunch of regulars who I know are consistent winners. I also like playing against unknown players. This might indicate that they are new to the game or are possibly stepping up from lower limits. Maybe they lost a lot of money a year ago and are trying their luck again. Of course, they could be really good players who are new to the site, but it is better playing against opponents who could be weak rather than players you already know play good. If you are unsure about the quality of the players, simply watch the game for a few minutes before sitting down. It is also important to be flexible in the limits you are playing. For example, if you normally play $5-$10 and see that all the games look really tough, it might be better to just drop down to one of the loose games at $3-$6. You might only be able to
manage a $5 earn rate in a tough $5-$10 game, while you might be able to win $8
in a really loose $3-$6 game. One note about jumping up a limit. I generally play $15-$30 and $20-$40, although I occasionally play $30-$60 when the game looks especially good. If I don’t see any weak players in the big game, I will just play my regular game of $15-$30 or $20-
$40 since I probably can earn more. When you want to start moving up limits, do so
gradually and try to choose good times to move up to improve your chances of
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