How to Win on PokerStars

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Poker has become an increasingly popular game in the past few years, and consequently, online poker rooms have increased in number exponentially. PokerStars is the world's largest online poker room, and therefore, it offers perhaps the best opportunity for the skilled player to make a profit, since there are so many players of lesser ability to beat. Developing the level of ability needed to become a consistent winner in poker requires years of practice and study, but regardless of your current level of skill, you can greatly increase your chances of being a winner by understanding certain aspects of the game.

How to Win on PokerStars

  • Claim your bonuses. PokerStars offers a generous bonus program which matches deposits up to 100 percent in some cases. And the bigger the stake you have to play with, the better your chances of making a profit.

  • Select your table carefully. Before playing at a table, it's a good idea to watch it in action for a while and observe the skill level of your opponents. If they're too good, pass on that table and find another one. There is never a shortage of tables to select at PokerStars, so be patient. If you're a passive player--meaning that you mostly call bets rather than raise--try to play at full or mostly full tables, so you can be dealt the maximum number of hands per investment of blinds. A blind is a forced bet like an ante, except that only two players per hand are required to make it, on a rotating basis.

  • Keep notes. PokerStars makes it easy for you to keep track of your opponents' playing styles. Simply right-click on the player's username and you'll see a menu that includes the "Note" option. Click on that, and you'll get a blank box where the chat box normally appears. Type your notes about that player into the box. Anytime you play that opponent again, you'll see a red "N" displayed in a little box at the bottom of the circle at that player's position. Click on the "Notes" tab and see what you've written. You will get a better idea of how good this player is, and how to play him. And the chat feature can also help you get a feel for a player's skill if you're attentive.

  • Stay focused. Some players play online while doing other tasks, and some will play at two or three tables at once. Neither is a good idea until you become really secure in your ability.

  • Diversify. There are many varieties of poker available on PokerStars, including Texas Holdem, Omaha and Stud. PokerStars is also one of the few online rooms to offer Badugi, a relatively new variation of poker. It's a good idea to focus on learning one game at first, but once you feel confident in that game, you'll find that many of the same principles apply to other games as well. Don't limit yourself--you may discover that your true forte is a different game from what you assumed.

  • Bet at a suitable level. At first you should play only limit poker, in which there are typically four rounds of betting, with the last two rounds having a bet twice the amount of the first two (for example, $2 then $4). Stick with this until you become expert enough to progress to pot limit (in which you may bet any amount up to the size of the pot at that point) or no limit. And remember that as a rule, the bigger the bets at a given table, the stiffer the competition. Start small, then work your way up. It is recommended that you have a stake equal to at least 300 times the big bet. So if you have a stake of $300, you should not bet more than the tables having a 50 cent minimum bet and a $1 maximum bet. Then, once you've accumulated $600, you can move to the $1 to $2 tables. However, if your stake falls to 300 you should move down again (or it may be wise to move down even sooner if you're losing). PokerStars offers limit tables with bets as small as 2 cents, so you should be able to find tables to suit your budget, whatever game you play.

Tips & Warnings

  • Read as much as you can on the subject. There are plenty of good poker books on the market, including several that specifically address playing online. A successful poker player never stops learning.
  • Play only for real money as a rule. PokerStars does offer play money tables, and they're OK for learning a game you've never tried before, or getting used to how the site works. But players play very differently when no actual money is at stake. They are much wilder and it is easier for a careful player to beat them. But the longer you play against them, the greater the chance that you'll pick up some undesirable and potentially very costly habits.

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