Simple Ways to Get Better Results in Online Poker Tournaments

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Poker players in a casino. (Photo by PASCAL PAVANI / ARCHIVES / AFP)

Let’s look at six simple ways to get better results in online poker tournaments. You can practice them at BMR Forum’s $1500 Poker Extravaganza! There are two satellite events left, as of press time. If you finish top 5, you qualify for the “Champions Tournament” on July 23!

1. Online Poker Tournament Selection

There was an old poker saying that said, “If you can’t see the fish. You are it!”

What is a “Poker Fish”? Poker Fish is terminology for what you perceive as one of the weaker, if not the weakest player at the table. The word “fish” means that a player struggles to fold their hands and is always inclined to call rather than folding or raising, hence the player goes “fishing” for cards.

How Do You Deal With the Fish at the Table?

Like all poker, you need to be patient while picking your spots, but ideally, you look to play against the fish in pots to optimize your best chance of increasing your chip stack. To have position, on the fish can become a positive as other players will likely want to play pots with the fish. 

If you do have position against the fish, then it may be beneficial to widen your range of starting hands, should you have them isolated away from the other opponents on the poker table.

If you’re playing on a table where you don’t know who the “fish” are on your table, you’re probably playing in a tournament too high in buy-in for your level.

As I have mentioned in previous tutorials, it is important to work through the levels. You can start at the freeroll stage but if you have been reading these weekly betting tutorials on the BMR Blog, I would hope you’re enjoying at least a $5 or $10 level of tournament buy-ins by now.

2. Image and Self-Awareness

Once you’re playing in the correct buy-in level of online poker tournaments, the key is now to be aware of building an image and how your opponents are interpreting your style and ability.

You don’t want the image of the fish, because this will make your opponents want to play against you.  I like a tight image in the early stages of an online poker tournament while widening my range of starting hands with position or pot odds.

Once you’re deep in an online poker tournament use that image to build your chip stack. I mentioned that I preferred a tight image in the early stages of an online poker tournament so I can make extra moves and increase my chip stack once the blinds become bigger.  

This often means isolating a player in position or going that extra mile to out bet a player, you believe will respect your actions. When in a late position you can isolate opponents and pressure them with aggression but don’t go overboard!

3. Don’t Be Predictable

The moment you become predictable to your opponents they will try and steal more pots against you. As an online poker tournament gets deeper the pressure to keep building your chip stack becomes greater. To counteract this, we find spots where we play our opponents.

E.G.  You may have been constantly folding your big blind to the same player’s raise.  

At some point, you will need to playback, either by calling a raise or indeed, 3-betting. In these spots, unless you have a premium hand, it’s about choosing a spot wisely. For example, suited connectors can be ideal, especially if the flop comes low. This means your opponent could be wary you have hit your range.  In these spots, you have likely hit some sort of draw, if you have, check to the raiser, let him bet, then re-raise him or call.

I say re-raise or call because it can be better to re-raise if your hand is drawing while if you’ve hit your hand, maybe consider calling the flop. Then on the turn, check to raiser or indeed lead out (donk bet), which starts to look like a very strong move with a tight image.

4. Take Notes

For me, it is key to take notes on the other players at the table, online poker providers allow you to make notes as you play in the player’s avatar.  These may not be relevant on the day, it may be some time weeks or months in the future they become useful.

You can also use HUD for information and player notes but not all providers allow the use of HUDs, if they do, though, they can be hugely beneficial.

What is a Poker HUD?

A HUD is a (head-up display) and an app that collects and displays data about your opponents. Not all poker providers allow this. If you are not comfortable using HUD, it would be prudent to play online poker tournaments at sportsbooks that don’t allow them.

5. Take Breaks

Online poker tournaments often have simultaneous synchronized breaks that allow players five minutes to go to the toilet, make a coffee or indeed just stretch their legs.

Make sure you utilize this opportunity, it gives you a few moments to review your tournament position and decide which particular players you may want to play back against, based on your notes.

6. Study

Finally, don’t play online poker tournaments every day. Take days off for family life or indeed just take time to reflect on your poker tournaments and anything you believe you could have done better. This is a process that works well in the ‘cold light of day’ allowing you a stronger more critical perspective.