The cliché is that you need to know when to hold ’em, fold ’em, walk away and run (which I suppose in the case of online poker means logging off the site,) but the reason that clichés are propagated is because they often reveal an element of truth, and in poker, it’s more than just an element of truth. When it comes to betting and using your bankroll effectively, it’s the game itself. Lets go over a few very basic strategies that you can use in the game and how you apply them.
When only you and the blinds remain in a hand after the first round, don’t be afraid to raise. Many players engage the felt from the blinds simply because they feel they have money in the pot anyway, so why not keep playing, but an aggressive raise when you’re holding decent-but-not-great cards can push them out of the hand and give you a chance to quickly throw some extra money into your chip stack. This is something that’s especially effective in higher-stakes games, where the blinds alone can push up a short stack effectively.
Check raising is a strategy in which a player that has a good hand will check when they’re early in a betting round to feel out what the other players have. This will be done, for instance, when a player believes that an opponent has a weaker hand but won’t call a direct bet but may attempting to bluff, giving the first player a chance to win more money by getting them involved in a pot.
This common technique is used by players that like to bluff. When the person who has to act first raises this forces the other players at the table call two bets at once. This can be viewed as a backwards version of a steal/raise situation, where you are limiting the players in the hand, letting you bet for information and get an idea of how they may be performing in the future. This is done best when there are fewer opponents in on the hand after the first round of betting.
It’s important to have a good working knowledge of what goes on before the flop before you even begin to think about betting seriously. Factors involved in pre-flop strategy include the number of players, your bankroll, your position, and the player types you are facing. For instance, if the table is full and there are ten players involved in a hand, it’s likely that someone else has a strong hand in their pocket cards versus a short-handed game, where fewer cards are in play immediately. Players in later positions have more power over the board because they have more information available about others’ holdings.
Take some time observing how others play and when you’re using an online poker site; take advantage of their software’s notes function. You’ll learn that some players have patterns — they’ll raise pre-flop from a late position almost every time, for example — and others may just be very competent at the game and bear watching in general.