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By Charles Hopkins Published 03/13/2006 | Games

Online poker has become a rage in almost all parts of the world, and with more and more enthusiastic players joining online poker rooms every day, the competition is heating up too. Which is all the more reason that a relative newcomer to the virtual world of online poker should keep a few things in mind while playing. So heres a list of useful tools that you need to use to make yourself a better online poker player:

q       Dont play too many hands. Most newbie players assume that the more hands they play the more successful they will be. Trust us -- that is not the case. Most expert players normally play only about 30% of their starting hands. Concentrating on higher value starting hands helps increase your winnings

q       Have the discipline to fold a hand, and dont call too often. Many novices are carried away by the excitement of placing bets and keep betting regardless of the board or what the other players actions are really telling them. If you read testaments from top online poker players, you will learn that its the hands that you fold that hold the key to your success, since folding saves you money in the long run

q       Play less skillful opponents, and at betting limits where you can beat the majority of the players. It is fairly obvious that the expert players know what theyre about and like to play for higher pots

q       Study the other players and watch how they bet, how much they bet and in what position they bet. In online poker, as in any form of poker, the bottom line is that you need to beat your opponents, and observing their betting techniques is a great way to do that

q       The best hand does not always dictate the betting. For instance, you can place a defensive bet at the start of a game to avoid calling a bigger future bet

q       Try and think like your opponents. Also, always ask yourself questions regarding your opponents style of play and their motivations

q       Bluffing at the right times is extremely effective. However, you need to use the tactic wisely. For instance, many novices wonder why pros dont bluff more. The reason is that a bluff is only effective when it is used rarely and there is little risk of the bluff being called

q       You need to change your game constantly to keep your opponents guessing, so make sure you have a few rotational strategies in place. In short, dont let other players work you out.

q       Understand player positions. Not only is it important to play strong hands, it is even more important in what position you play them. Of course, the ideal position is the Dealer, as you are able to see all the action and have all the players betting actions made known to you

q       For online poker, as with live poker, you need to develop more than a couple of strategies and know your strengths and weaknesses

q       Beware of such distractions as online poker chats. The online poker chat board is a useful tool that veterans often use to sidetrack novice players, either making small talk or trying to needle or entice a newbie into making mistakes. Remember, you are in an online poker room, not in a community chat room, and you are here to earn hard bucks. But that doesnt mean you cant use the chat feature yourself to distract others!

q       Also beware of sites that offer you winning online poker software or mathematical formulae to beat the odds. Remember that at all times, the best way to win a game is to follow your strategy and play the hands you feel you have a chance of winning