Tips of the Trade

If you want to play winning poker follow the three step plan of betting guru, John Vorhaus

if you’ll just prop your laptop on your belly and keep this series of articles within handy reach I’ll equip you with the weapons to crush the online game

First, the bad news: You just tore your anterior cruciate ligament in a nasty stairwell spill. Not sure of the details, but I understand that alcohol was involved.

Now the good news: For the next two weeks, you’re under strict doctor’s orders not to drag your raggedy arse off the sofa. Which is fine, as that’s where your raggedy arse prefers to be. But there’s a problem: There are hot poker games going on all over town and you’re missing out. Not to worry, there are hot poker games going on all over cyberspace, too, and if you’ll just prop your laptop on your belly and keep this series of articles within handy reach, I’ll equip you with the weapons to dominate and crush the online game. So refresh your icepack, turn off the telly and let’s get started with my three point plan for success in the virtual poker room. After all, the loose money out there won’t last forever.


What many players love about online play is the ability to play more than one game at once. They even justify this by saying that their hourly win rate goes up by seeing more hands. This may be true for some, but not for most. You should think long and hard before deciding that it’s true for you. Making simultaneous decisions in multiple situations against different line-ups when time is of the essence can only lead to lapses in judgment, illconsidered actions and mistakes.

Most people who double-dip say they’re doing it to maximise their profit. They’re really just doing it because they’re action junkies who have found that one game – or two, or three, or four – simply won’t quench their thirst for action. Ask yourself: Isn’t 100 hands-an-hour action enough for you? And wouldn’t you be better off playing one game perfectly than two or more games carelessly?,/p>


The same need for action that leads to double dipping also leads many players to short-handed play, where the wait between hands is brief – or, in the case of heads-up play – non-existent. Trouble is, sharks abound in these shallow waters. If a superior foe has you in his sights and has you in a short-handed situation, you’re asking for trouble.

There are a few things you can do to solve this problem. One is to shore up your short-handed skills so that you can hold your own (and, in fact, be the predator) in this situation. The other is to keep good written records (we call this a book) on all your foes so that you’ll know if you’re facing a shark short-handed. Above all, if you find yourself out-classed, out-gunned or out-thought, don’t let pride or ego keep you in the game. Get out before the situation spirals out of control, because a short-handed game against superior foes will gut your bankroll like a fire at a chemicals factory.


When playing online it’s easier to lose fast than to win fast – and it’s easy to see why. To score a big, quick win online you have to be in just the right game at just the right time against just the right opponents. You have to play correctly against very bad players, get lucky and then get out. That sort of harmonic convergence doesn’t come along very often, and hence why explosive big wins are rare.

Explosive big losses, on the other hand, require only a ‘moronic convergence’ of your own bad focus, bad discipline or bad attitude. In cardrooms, the languid pace of play slows down everything, including your tilt or flawed judgment. The online pace of play can rip open a tiny leak in your game and turn it into a torrent in an instant. Internet poker, then, requires that you always be self-aware enough and disciplined enough to get out of your own way! If you can’t do these things, you will be punished and months of painstaking profit will be swept away in a few horrific hours of play.

I don’t want to scare you – really, I don’t. Online poker is not all hell and damnation and explosive bankroll decompression. It can be a wonderful way to pass the time of day and be profitable if you do it right.

But like the man said, ‘It’s a powerful force that can only be used for good… or for evil.’ So take the game seriously, treat it responsibly, play with precision and eradicate self-indulgence. Do these things and online poker will be a boon in your life – at least for as long as you’re laid up on the couch.

John Vorhaus is author of the KILLER POKER book series and news ambassador for

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