Five online poker skills to improve in 2021

January 08, 2021inPoker

Five Online Poker Skills to Improve in 2021

With each new year poker players often think about making so-called “poker resolutions.” Anyone who has ever played poker long enough to see the calendar change from one year to the next has probably at least thought about making such resolutions, if not made a few or them. Or a lot.

For many poker players, the past year was unlike any other. With live poker becoming largely unavailable in many places, many players exclusively played online. Some who never played online before opened their first accounts and took to the virtual felt.

Whenever live poker players first try online poker, they often find it necessary to become acclimated to some of the technical aspects of game play. Some especially find it hard to deal with what seem to be a lack of “reads” available, although in truth there are such things as online poker reads or “tells.”

For some the transition can be challenging. But as many have discovered it usually doesn’t take very long to become comfortable with performing various actions, customizing tables and other elements, and getting used to other particulars of online poker like the increased pace of play.

Here are a few online-specific “poker resolutions” players might consider adding to their list for 2021, particularly those for whom online poker has become a kind of default option.

1. Work more on bet-sizing

Online poker affords a great environment for players to experiment with bet sizing when betting or raising.

Work more on bet sizing

Work more on bet-sizing

In particular, having pot sizes and betting amounts instantaneously added up and displayed for you can help you make calculations and understand better how bet sizing affects strategy.

Some players don’t realize that in the PokerStars client you can create shortcuts to help you make specifically-sized bets with the click of a button. In the lobby, go to Settings –> Gameplay –> Bet Slider, then create some shortcut buttons for both preflop bets and postflop bets.

Doing so can help you experiment with (for instance) raising a particular number of big blinds before the flop (e.g., 2x, 2.5x, etc.) or betting a certain percentage of the pot postflop (e.g., 33%, 50%, etc.).

2. Work more on multi-tabling

Playing more than one table at the same time is obviously an online-specific poker skill. It’s also obviously not for everyone, as some players — especially those most comfortable with live poker — will always prefer only to play a single table at a time.

If you are a multi-tabler, though, it might be worth spending some conscious effort analyzing your own results and figuring out exactly how many tables is best for you. Spend time as well with different ways of displaying the tables. On PokerStars you can tile, cascade, or stack them. Some online players don’t even realize they have such options.

When you have multiple tables open, click “Layouts” in the upper right to choose your preferred display. You can save your favorite option under “Manage Layouts,” too.

3. Work more on note-taking

If you’re like most online poker players, you have a favorite game and limit you tend to play the most. As a result, you may likely encounter the same opponents from session to session.

Work more on note-taking

Work more on note-taking

Some players make extensive use of note-taking to help them remember how certain frequently faced opponents play. Clicking on an opponent’s avatar opens the “Notes” tab in the lower left where you can type such notes.

You can also color-code the player according to your own criteria — just click the little square next to the username in the window to see the color choices.

Once you take a note on a player, a small “N” appears on that player’s avatar, with the color-coding also ringing around the image and username — handy for reminding you about your note. The date you created the note will appear as well.

Keep at it, and also learn how to make the notes you take genuinely useful. Don’t use notes just to express frustration. Many players have lots of not-so-helpful notes on players that do nothing more than evoke a painful memory of having once lost a hand to them (“donkey luckboxed one for big pot… terrible player!”)

Check out this article from PokerStars School on “Effective Note Taking.”

4. Work more on discipline and the mental game

Speaking of getting frustrated at the tables, online poker sometimes can press certain players’ “buttons” (pun intended), getting them upset or tilted more quickly or more often than happens to them when playing live.

However, online poker also provides all sorts of very tangible ways to help you improve your discipline and become more mentally sharp.

It is easier to begin and end sessions online, which can help with managing one’s time. Budgeting and bankroll management can be easier than live poker to track as well. Record-keeping, generally speaking, can be more precise online and thus more useful when self-evaluating.

That in turn can help identify more clearly leaks and weaknesses, including those caused by lack of discipline or mental lapses. Use these online-specific tools to help you improve your mental game, generally speaking.

5. Work more on learning other variants

Finally, it goes without saying online poker offers a lot more than just no-limit hold’em. That’s not always the case in a live poker setting. On PokerStars you can try out and learn an incredible variety of non-NLHE variants, all for micro stakes or even play money.

Work more on learning other variants

Work more on learning other variants

Learning different poker variants helps build your analytical skills in numerous ways, all of which helps when you go back to your favorite game. Breaking up your NLHE routine with a half-hour of no-limit Omaha or deuce-to-seven triple draw can be psychologically helpful as well.

You could do worse than to start building into your schedule occasional trips to the Omaha hi/lo, Badugi, or 6+hold’em tables. You might even or try a Grand Tour sprint.

Even just committing to learn one new variant during the year might be a good resolution to adopt. Indeed, just picking one of the five suggestions above to think about and work on could produce positive consequences for you in the new year.

In any case, now that 2020 is officially hindsight… good luck in 2021!

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