Here I go!!..??

    • Ascension9000
      Ascension9000
      Basic
      Joined: 23.08.2014 Posts: 14
      Alright everyone. I think I am finally ready to tackle online poker. Up until just a couple of days ago, I was a complete novice at the game (probably only playing it once or twice my whole life). I had bounced around the idea of trying to make a living out of poker for a while, but never really took it seriously until a couple of weeks ago. Nevertheless, I have been practicing via an old "Texas Hold Em" game I have, and have read multiple books as well. So although I'm far from being good at the game, I know I've got the basics down, and have at least a semblance of strategy in my game.

      My dilemma that I'm facing today is whether or not I should go ahead and subscribe to an online poker site. I know in my heart I will be essentially throwing away cash at first, but as long as I'm not spending too much (I'm looking at putting in $10-$25 initially), I see it more as an investment rather than a waste. I just want to get the feel for what it is like to face real players, see how the whole process of depositing and withdrawing works, and maybe if I'm lucky, go ahead and start making some cash.

      Basically all I'm asking is based on my limited skill level, would it be wise to try online poker yet, even if I only plan on investing a very small amount of cash at first? If not, when will I know if I am ready to take on real players? Any help is greatly appreciated!
  • 15 replies
    • Harrier88
      Harrier88
      Bronze
      Joined: 01.05.2012 Posts: 1,971
      Hi Ascension9000,

      First of all, online poker is really nothing to be afraid of. Most players at the lowest limits mainly play the game for entertainment and have a very limited skill level themselves. They are certainly not what anyone would call "big dogs".

      In addition to that, there isn't as much risk involved as you might possibly think. The big blind at the lowest cash game limit is only 2 cents, as you probably already know. If you manage your bankroll wisely, it should be nearly impossible to go broke, even if you get hit by a cold streak from time to time.

      I'd also like to point that we actually have some free money offers here at Pokerstrategy that can help you get started with online poker without any risk.

      The only thing I'm not sure about is which sites will even be available to you, since you're from the United States. I don't know the details about the legality of online poker in the US, I think it depends a lot on the state you're living in etc.

      I'd advise you to take a look at our Choosing the right Poker Room for you thread, where an expert will be able to give you some detailed advice on which room would be the best for you, considering your current situation. They should also know enough about the legal stuff.

      If you have any other questions, fire away.
    • Ascension9000
      Ascension9000
      Basic
      Joined: 23.08.2014 Posts: 14
      Thanks for the reply!

      I decided to give online poker a try today. I'm excited by how simple the depositing process was (I just hope withdrawing will be as easy). Needless to say I had a very rough start. I had to invest 50 bucks to start, and lost 30 bucks throughout the course of the night. I realize I have a lot left to learn, but it is nice to see what it looks like.
    • Harrier88
      Harrier88
      Bronze
      Joined: 01.05.2012 Posts: 1,971
      Hi Ascension,

      There is one thing I forgot to mention. Every poker room I know also offers freeroll tournaments, where you can join for free but still win real money. This could be a good way to get a feel for the game without risking any cash.

      Sorry about your loss. What games did you play?
    • Ascension9000
      Ascension9000
      Basic
      Joined: 23.08.2014 Posts: 14
      That is good to know, I'll be sure to look into that today.

      And the very first game I played was a "low stakes" Texas Hold Em game. I was so excited to play that I didn't even really question that the minimum you had to bet to play was 25 dollars or so. So in one game, in goes half my money. I played really tight at first, but then I had a really good hand, so I started throwing in money. It was just me and a couple other dudes, and I was so confident I would win, I just went with the raises (it was like a straight or flush). Nevertheless, I lost the hand, but kept playing, and I'm guessing I was playing against guys who were pretty decent because I wasn't really winning.. At all.. Lol

      So then I did a little more searching and found games where there was no minimum investment. I would put in a dollar or so and actually won a couple of games. I had read that the "higher stake" games typically have better players, but I assumed since I clicked the tab that was "low stakes/micro stakes", the 25 dollar game applied as well.

      I'm considering getting on again now.
    • Harrier88
      Harrier88
      Bronze
      Joined: 01.05.2012 Posts: 1,971
      Originally posted by Ascension9000
      I was so excited to play that I didn't even really question that the minimum you had to bet to play was 25 dollars or so. So in one game, in goes half my money.
      Wait... you mean you played NL25? (small blind: $0.10, big blind: $0,25)

      It is true that these games are still considered micro stakes, but your current bankroll is not even nearly big enough to play in these games.
      You need to manage your bankroll effectively to keep your poker career alive, this is absolutely critical. It is recommended that you have at least 25 full stacks for the limit you are playing, maybe even 30 full stacks if you're playing 6-max. That means that you'd need at least $625 in your account to play NL25.

      With your current bankroll, you should only play NL2 at the moment (small blind: $0.01, big blind: $0,02). Please take a look at this introductory article, which will explain this topic in a little more detail.
    • Ascension9000
      Ascension9000
      Basic
      Joined: 23.08.2014 Posts: 14
      Thanks for showing me that article Harrier88! I have implemented a more tight-aggressive approach to my game and my skill has increased.

      As far as bankroll management, I think my main problem is that I just don't know when to call it quits. I have gone into some games making some really good decisions here and there, and I feel like I'm on a roll, so I just keep going. Then some hot shot comes in and takes all my money away. I don't know when to let up. I've got two kings and another king comes on the flop and one guy decides to bet and I'm like:

      "Yeah, he could have a flush, but I'm not going to back down. I mean.. 3 kings.. This guy is bluffing, trying to play on my lack of experience"

      Typically, when I don't have enough money to really make risky decisions, I pounce at the opportunity to bet when I have a good hand. So if I only have 40 cents or so and the guy next to me decides to raise 40 cents (which is nothing to him because he has 2 bucks), I'm put in a really uncomfortable position. Do I get out with dead money or risk losing it all?

      Then there is the other scenario, when I'm actually on top. Thing is, at this point I get over confident, too aggressive. I'm not saying I play stupid hands (at least not anymore), but when I've got a good hand, I certainly am not backing down when I'm in the lead. And then when I lose I may not have all my money gone, but I'm exactly back where I started, except an hour or so of grinding has essentially been wasted. So naturally.. I try to get my money back.

      So I guess my question is, when do you call it quits when playing a table? Say you start out with 2 dollars. What is a good amount to shoot for before saying:
      "okay this is enough". And on the other side of the spectrum, when do you know you have lost enough to realize you are playing against sharks or just having a bad day? I know this depends on a lot of factors, but any information helps a novice like me. Thanks.
    • Harrier88
      Harrier88
      Bronze
      Joined: 01.05.2012 Posts: 1,971
      Well, theoretically, the only reason to quit would be when you feel like you can no longer play profitably due to fatigue, tilt, or any other reason, or whenever you decide that you have something else to do and want to end the session. Unlike in casino games, where the house always wins in the long run, you are actually making a long term profit playing poker as long as you have an edge on the other players, so there is no reason to quit to protect your winnings.

      That being said, in can be tough to play with a deep stack (150 BB or higher) at times. Deep stacked play is a relatively complex subject and you need a fair bit of experience for it, so it might be a good decision for now to just leave when your stack grows considerably higher than 150 BB and resume playing at another table. In the long run, you should learn how to play deep stacked effectively, but for now, it's okay to just leave at this stage.

      Similarly, losing a certain amount of money is not really a reason to end your session, unless you feel like you're not in the correct mindset anymore. Another reason to leave would be if you believe that the other players at the table are consistently outplaying you, in which case you could just look for a fishier table instead.

      It is also recommended that you always have a full stack at your table. Every poker room I know has an option to enable auto top-ups somewhere, you should make use of that in order to avoid situations where you see yourself forced to push your $0.40 stack. There is no need to worry about losing too much money as long as stick to correct bankroll management.

      I don't know on which site you're playing, but have you tried playing Speed Poker before? You can play a lot more hands in this variant to gain some experience, and table selection is not an issue either.

      If you want some more infos on cash games, check out our overview of NL lessons.
    • jaeden23
      jaeden23
      Bronze
      Joined: 24.06.2012 Posts: 59
      I would definitely play nl2 online if I was you, if you play tight and safe, and can fold good hands when you know you are beat you will find it very very hard to lose a $20 bankroll.
    • MiddlePair
      MiddlePair
      Basic
      Joined: 06.09.2014 Posts: 5
      Originally posted by jaeden23
      I would definitely play nl2 online if I was you, if you play tight and safe, and can fold good hands when you know you are beat you will find it very very hard to lose a $20 bankroll.
      Like Jaeden23 suggests, start at 2NL / micro stake SNGs ($.11 - $1.10). You'll notice that the level of play is not much different than a play money site like Zynga haha
    • Ascension9000
      Ascension9000
      Basic
      Joined: 23.08.2014 Posts: 14
      Harrier, I've never heard of speedpoker. I think the closest thing that I've done to how it sounds are turbo freeroll tournaments. The blinds go up like once every 2 rounds or so, but I don't know if that is the same. I did a quick google search and it seems like I'm already playing speedpoker, because the site I play on only gives you about ten seconds to make a move. BTW I had a quick look at that article you suggested. I'm going to have to look over that more thoroughly sometime. It's incredible how much information about poker there is. I think I'm beginning to find just as much value from the intellectual stimulation and strategy formulation as I do from the potential monetary rewards. It's still all about the money for me, but I am really starting to like this game.

      Jaeden23 and MiddlePair, Yeah I think I'm considerably better than where I was just a couple of weeks ago, but I'm still not quite where I want to be to start betting money again (even if it is just a couple of cents). I'm not sure when to gauge when I'm ready though. I guess that's just something I'll have to figure out. It's cool though. As of today it has still been less than a month I have played poker.
    • jaeden23
      jaeden23
      Bronze
      Joined: 24.06.2012 Posts: 59
      Originally posted by Ascension9000

      Jaeden23 and MiddlePair, Yeah I think I'm considerably better than where I was just a couple of weeks ago, but I'm still not quite where I want to be to start betting money again (even if it is just a couple of cents). I'm not sure when to gauge when I'm ready though. I guess that's just something I'll have to figure out. It's cool though. As of today it has still been less than a month I have played poker.
      If you anything like me then I never felt ready to play for money when I started, I just made myself try it, I knew I spent more in the pub on one night than what I would lose trying the money play out so... and I was so frightened of losing money because I'm not a gambler at heart that I played really tight and even after going on tilt sometimes I still managed to break even. I think you will do fine.

      The main thing I had trouble with in mircos is getting drawn out on all the time and not being able to see it, EVERYONE in micros wants to trap you. So I play tight and super aggressive with only good hands, if I get any resistance i give up straight away.
      This way the draws and loose players don't even try to trap or bluff you and when they play back at you, you know 100% your beat and it makes an easy fold.
    • Harrier88
      Harrier88
      Bronze
      Joined: 01.05.2012 Posts: 1,971
      Speed Poker (also known as Fast Fold poker) is a variant of traditional cash games where you immediately get dealt a new hand once you fold. So instead of joining a table with 9 or 6 players, you're joining a pool of hundreds of players. You're seated at a table with random opponents from this player pool, and every time you fold, you get immediately seated with different opponents without having to watch the hand unfold.

      This variant has many different names depending on the poker room. It is known as Zoom on Pokerstars, Rush on Full Tilt Poker, Snap on 888 and Blaze on MPN for example.

      I think this format would be a great way to get acquainted with cash games, since you are playing a lot more hands in a shorter time, and you don't have to worry about table dynamics or anything like that.

      Originally posted by Ascension9000
      I think I'm beginning to find just as much value from the intellectual stimulation and strategy formulation as I do from the potential monetary rewards.
      This is actually a very healthy attitude to have. If you keep reminding yourself that you're playing with real money, for example if you keep thinking about what you could have bought with the money you bet, you're in danger of playing scared, going on tilt or just using your chips in a less than optimal way. Of course, it is still important to be responsible with your money, but that's what bankroll management is for. Seeing the game as something like a competition and looking at it from a strategic perspective is a good way to put yourself in the right mindset.

      If you feel a little overwhelmed by all the information that is out there, I'd suggest reading the basic articles on pre-flop and post-flop play, assuming you're already familiar with the introductory article I showed you earlier. Once you have read and understood these articles, you should know everything you need to know to get started at the lowest cash game stakes. There's still a lot more to learn, of course, but you should do well enough for now to play around and gain some experience.
    • Ascension9000
      Ascension9000
      Basic
      Joined: 23.08.2014 Posts: 14
      All this information is helping out immensely. Today, I made it to the final table in a freeroll tournament, earning $1 for ultimately placing tenth. I couldn't believe it was happening, especially considering I was multitasking with other tournaments. I couldn't tell if I was just getting lucky or genuinely getting better. I think the most gratifying thing was that I never opted to rebuy because well.. I had no cash to spend.

      I got a glimpse of what it was like to be in the finals. I felt like a fly on the wall, or just a little fish swimming with a bunch of sharks, so I reasoned in spite of everything, I might as well go out with a bang instead of a whimper. So I pushed with a pair of 3s, the flop came, and another 3 came. I felt like I had the nuts but I didn't want to bet, but my opponent did. I analyzed his best potential hand and reasoned he couldn't beat me so I called him. In goes all my money. Well, the turn and the river come down and he beats me with a flush or a straight... >_>'

      I'm not mad though. I'm confident I will continue to get better, especially with all the resources available on this site. I know I've probably said it a hundred times already, but I really appreciate all the help I've been given so far.
    • Harrier88
      Harrier88
      Bronze
      Joined: 01.05.2012 Posts: 1,971
      Reaching a final table is always a special moment, no matter if it's a freeroll or a high rollers tournament. This is what makes MTTs so exciting.

      From what you described, it seems like you played your hand perfectly fine as well, you just got unlucky and your opponent outdrew you. That's where the variance comes in, which is quite huge in MTTs.

      There is actually a bunch of material on final table play alone, since the difference in prize money is so big between each of the individual finishing positions. The biggest challenge, however, is getting there in the first place, and I think you should focus on that for now.

      And if you have come to the decision that poker is your thing and you want to stick around, how about you start your own blog in our blogs section? That way, you could keep us updated about your progress and receive some valuable info along the way.
    • Ascension9000
      Ascension9000
      Basic
      Joined: 23.08.2014 Posts: 14
      Originally posted by Harrier88

      And if you have come to the decision that poker is your thing and you want to stick around, how about you start your own blog in our blogs section? That way, you could keep us updated about your progress and receive some valuable info along the way.
      That sounds like a great idea. I've definitely decided poker is awesome. I just made it to 9th place this time in a tournament, except instead of a $25 tournament, it was $200 tournament (still freeroll), so I made 6 dollars this time. Still not "making bank", but I feel like I am improving every day.

      I alternated my strategy according to the table I was in, the players I was facing, the position I was in, and of course, the hands I was dealt. I faced many tough decisions along the way, and basically went in with the mentality that if I was going in, I was going all the way, though I never went "all in", I merely prepared myself for the worst.

      I also observed the strategies of the players with the most chips and attempted to make a note of it. All of the players were aggressive. Some were tight, some were loose. I knew whenever I tangled with these guys they were going to push, and if I wasn't willing to push back, I was just going to keep getting pushed around.

      Yeah, I'm definitely going to look into blogging. I'll be excited to write about when I finally win a tournament, whenever that day will come.