Erik Sagstrom

The baby-faced Swede who rakes in more than $1m a year
online reveals his top tips for instant internet success

Believe it or not, I used to have the problem of quitting too early when I was winning.

The main thing you have to remember with online poker is that it’s three times quicker than real life poker. People are more aggressive and bluff more because they know they don’t have to reveal their faces and feel the shame. Things tend to get a bit crazy so you have to have a lot more self-control. That means waiting for good hands and using your position as much as possible.

I’m so used to playing online, it’s like home ground advantage for me. Judging by the tempo at which someone’s playing, I kind of know when someone is bluffing. I can almost tell by how hard someone is clicking their mouse. Sure, they might just be nipping off to the bathroom but generally you can see from their reaction to your betting, what their game is like. If you can control the speed of the game, you can control the game itself.

The first thing I ever played was limit poker and that’s my game to this very day. I usually play in cash games where the blinds are $150-$300 and pots average about $4,000 or $5,000. Although I play no-limit Hold’em and Omaha, I find that when I play either of those, my limit game starts to suffer. To make money online you have to concentrate and develop in one game – be a specialist.

I find that cash games are the best way to make consistent money as opposed to tournaments, which become crapshoots once the blinds hit a certain level. Sure, tournaments are fun, but they can take hours and hours and unless you get very lucky, you’ll end up with nothing to show for your time. Don’t rely on them as your poker salary.

Personally, I never show my cards. But there are situations where you probably should. For instance, if you feel as though someone’s about to go on tilt, you could reveal your 7-3 off-suit bluff and it’ll probably send them overboard. You definitely shouldn’t do it too much though. If you show your bluffs every time, it doesn’t take a genius to realise that when you don’t show, you have a hand.

I used to go on tilt a lot when I started out, but I realised that you have to be very objective. Evaluate if you’re a ‘steamer’; most people will say they’re not, even if they are, but if you can admit it to yourself, that’s the first step to stopping. Playing for too long when you’re losing is an obvious sign.

Believe it or not, I used to have the problem of quitting too early when I was winning. It was sometimes scary to carry on because popular opinion states you should quit while you’re ahead – but if you’re playing your ‘A’ game, you need to make sure you capitalise by being able to play for many hours in a row. You also need to watch out for when someone is playing badly – don’t leave until they leave. That’s key to success.

One of the inherent problems with online play is that you don’t physically have any chips to handle – it’s all numbers. Taking a break by sitting out a hand or two will allow you to put the sums you’re playing with in perspective. You never know – you may have made enough money in one day to let you live comfortably for a whole year!

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