This page will teach you all you need to know to begin an enjoyable, profitable and rewarding online poker journey. You’re about to learn:
- The benefits of pursuing an online poker journey
- The 5 steps to start with bonuses and rakeback
- What software is a MUST for better performance and studies
- How it’s possible to make $$$ everyday with online poker
- The simplest ways to study your online poker hands
- And so much more…
I’ll build this page through the months of November & December 2020 with 6 podcast episodes and loads of YouTube videos. Listen to each episode below as you follow along with the transcripts.
And of course, take action with what you learn because…
Action is the greatest teacher.
5 Reasons Why You MUST Take Your Poker Journey Online
Listen to podcast #315 as you follow along below:
There are 5 great reasons to play online and these are what make online poker the best way to improve your skills along your poker journey. Online is how you’re going to become the player you want to be.
#1: Play Anytime and Anywhere
All you need is a computer and an internet connection, and everybody’s got those. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a covid lockdown, at a hotel in Baton Rouge for a family reunion, it’s 3am and you can’t sleep or if you’ve got only 30 minutes until your next Zoom class meeting. No matter where you are or what time it is, you can find an online game.
#2: Cheap Learning
You need $40 or more for most LIVE poker. If you want a full buy-in at the cheapest no limit tables, you’ll need $200 for $1/$2 no limit games. But online, the cheapest games are 1¢/2¢, so 100 big blinds is only $2. Everyone has 2 bucks they could put on a game.
And, not only can you play as low as $2 games, you can go as high as $1,000 or $10,000 games. The cheap cost of playing means it’s less costly to learn poker. Maybe you want to improve your 3bet bluffing skills. An experimental 9bb 3bet bluff in a 2¢ game only costs you 18¢. But in a $2 game, it costs you $18.
#3: Multiple Game Formats
Online, you can easily jump into a cash game, a sit and go, or a multi-table tournament. And, if you don’t want to play no limit hold ’em? No worries. Play some PLO or Stud or possibly mixed games (if your site has them). With so many game options to choose from, an online poker journey will never be boring.
The biggest drawback of LIVE poker for me is that I’m dealt only one hand at a time. At a full-ring game, you only get to see maybe 20 hands an hour. Online, you can easily play 20 hands in 3 minutes if you’re on multiple tables. Playing more hands = more experience >>> greater improvement. And, less boredom of course.
Now the goal isn’t to play as many hands as possible, but if you’re a winning player with a positive win rate of 4bb/100 hands, the more hands you play, the more profits you make per 100 hands and per hour.
PokerTracker 4 records every hand you play which allows you to study and improve. It’s a pain in the butt for LIVE players to write down details of the hands they play if they want to study them later. Online players don’t have to worry about that 😄. Plus, with software you can use a HUD to get more detailed information on your opponents.
How to Begin an Online Poker Journey
You only need 3 things for online poker: a computer, an internet connection a way to deposit money into your poker account. Heck, you don’t even need the cash. You can just play free money poker, but I don’t recommend free money if your goal is to become a better player. You want money on the line so you and your opponents take it seriously.
Here are the 5 steps you need to go through to begin an exciting, profitable and rewarding online poker journey.
Step 1: Research Available Sites – they must accept PokerTracker 4!
You need to know what sites are available to you. You can do some Google searching to figure this out, but here my top 3 recommendations for US players:
- Americas Cardroom. This is where I mostly play.
- Ignition. I haven’t played here because they’re anonymous tables, but I hear good things about it.
- BetOnline. Never played here either, but I hear good things.
If you’re outside of the US, there are tons of options like PokerStars, Party Poker, 888 Poker and more.
But before you choose your site, you must make sure PokerTracker 4 (get a free 14-day trial) can be used with it. Americas Cardroom absolutely works with PT4. With Ignition and BetOnline, you need a separate card catcher (like the PT4 Hand Grabber or the one from AcePokerSolutions). PT4 also works with PS, 888 and Party.
Lastly, before you choose a site to play on, make sure it has rakeback…
Step 2: Look for Rakeback
Rakeback is a discount on the cost of poker. For example, if you play on Americas Cardroom using my offer code SPSPOD when you sign-up, you can have 27% rakeback. Depending on how much you play, this could be a substantial amount of savings.
Let’s say in any given week, you pay $100 in rake. At the end of the week, Americas Cardroom automatically credits your account 27% or $27.00. A penny saved is a penny earned in poker. So, if you earned $100 in profit that week, your rakeback bumped your total profit up to $127. Lovely!
To figure out which sites offer rakeback, just do some Google searching. Quick and easy.
Step 3: Create Your Account
Now that you’ve found a site that accepts PT4 and has rakeback, it’s time to create your account.
Quick note: don’t be precious about your choice of poker site. You’re not restricted to one site. If there are 5 sites you want to play on, great. Just choose one to start. As time goes on and you build your bankroll, you can spread it among many different sites. I have a student who plays professionally on over 20 different sites.
Go to your chosen site and download the software. Once you run the software it’ll guide you through the setup process. They’ll ask for name and address and other personal information. Then, you have to choose a screen name. My recommendation: choose a name that you’ll be fine becoming rich and famous for. When PokerNews.com interviews you, John Barry, it might be embarrassing if they call you John “DungSplatter” Barry. So, put a little thought into your screen name.
Also, don’t forget to enter in any offer codes for bonuses or rakeback, like using code SPSPOD on Americas Cardroom.
Step 4: Deposit Money
This is often a part of the account creation process, but it’s worth mentioning as an additional step. Bitcoin is now the easiest and fastest way to deposit and withdraw from sites (and some sites give bigger bonuses for bitcoin deposits).
Credit card used to be the easiest deposit method. But, credit card companies now have many restrictions for use on gambling sites.
I recommend using bitcoin and as a quick example, I withdrew over $1,000 from ACR the other day and it took less than 24 hours to receive it. I then sold the bitcoin and transferred the cash to my checking account. Within one day, I had my money. I used to wait 6 weeks for checks from the sites.
I recommend Coinbase for buying and selling bitcoin. If you purchase $100 in bitcoin from Coinbase through this link, we both get a bonus $10 in bitcoin.
Step 5: Jump on a Table
Now that your account is created and funded, it’s time to play!
I recommend following a 40x buy-in rule for cash game play and a 100x buy-in rule for tournaments.
If you deposit $400:
- That’s 40x $10 buy-ins at the 5¢/10¢ cash games
- Play a combination of $3 to $5 tournaments (averaging 100x $4 buy-ins)
Go to the lobby of your choice, find a table or tournament and double-click it to register. You might feel uncomfortable at first, but you’ll quickly get over this and you’ll just start playing poker.
If you’ve already purchased and setup PokerTracker 4 to work with your site, turn the HUD on and get a feel for using it. More on this next week below.
And lastly… Good luck!
Here’s my challenge to you for this episode: Start your online poker journey today. Follow the 5 steps above and make sure the site you choose works with PokerTracker 4 and has rakeback.
Now it’s your turn to take action and do something positive for your poker game.
Set-up PokerTracker 4 and a HUD for Your Poker Journey
Listen to podcast #316 as you follow along below:
PokerTracker 4 is the #1 tool for any online poker journey. Initially, it’s like any other computer software: go to their webpage, make the purchase, download and install it, then run the program.
You must get PokerTracker 4 ASAP for a fruitful poker journey! Click here to purchase PokerTracker 4 through my affiliate link to support the show. Email me your purchase receipt (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’ll reply with my Smart HUD in appreciation of your support.
Once you have PokerTracker 4 on your computer, setting it up is a simple 4-step process…
Step 1. Ensure Hand Histories are Saved
Each site you play on stores hand histories in its own hand history file as soon as every hand is finished. PokerTracker 4 accesses this file so you can review your hands and for updated HUD numbers. You have to make sure your hands are being saved on your computer by the site you play on.
Go to the Settings tab of your poker site and find the Hand Histories option. It looks like this on ACR:
The software will automatically select a file location, which you can change if you want. Write the file location down so you can use it in the next step.
Step 2. Configure PokerTracker 4
Once PT4 is installed and running, the first thing you’re going to do is click the “Configure” menu at the top and select “Sites & Import Options”.
Select the network you play on (Americas Cardroom is part of the Winning Poker Network). Turn on “Get Hands From Site While Playing” and make sure the correct hand history directory is entered in.
Next, select your preferred seat on all the table configurations: 9, 8, 6, 3 and 2 player tables.
Type in your Hero name then select “OK”.
Click here for PT4’s Site Configuration page for additional help.
Step 3. Test PokerTracker 4 on Your Site
In PokerTracker 4, click on the “Play Poker” tab and turn on “Get Hands While Playing”.
Now, sit down at a cash game or tournament table to make sure the program is working. After you’re dealt 1 or 2 hands, the HUD should automatically turn on.
Go back to PokerTracker 4 and visit the “View Stats” tab. Select “Today” for the date and BAM! Your first couple of hand histories should be there and the program is working correctly.
Step 4. Selecting Your HUD
The default PokerTracker 4 HUD should pop up on the table. The default HUD has the most basic stats included with 4 popups. It’s the one I started my online journey with, and it’s not bad at all.
But, take a little time experimenting with each of the pre-installed HUDs:
- Inspired by Harrington
- PT3 Classic
You can switch HUDs by clicking on the little PokerTracker 4 symbol at the top the table. Select “Change Profile” from the drop-down menu and choose another HUD. Try them all out then select one to use for now.
If you purchase PokerTracker 4 through my link and send me your purchase confirmation email (email@example.com), I’ll send you my Smart HUD in thanks of your support. My Smart HUD is better than any of these prebuilt HUDs.
Now that you’ve selected your HUD and it seems to be working fine, the set-up process is complete! Your site is jiving with PokerTracker 4 and you’ve taken your first big step in your online poker journey. Congratulations!
Here’s a bonus step 5 for those new to using a HUD…
Bonus Step 5. Learn to Use a HUD
Let’s imagine you’ve settled on the Default HUD for now. It’s probably just a jumble of numbers and letters to you:
First, get out a piece of paper and write down each of these stats. Just hover your mouse over each and more info pops up. For example, hovering your mouse over “VP 54” shows you:
- Player Name: Villain 1
- Statistic Name: VPIP
- Value: 53.98% (this value comes from the calculation of 183 times VPIP’ed divided by 339 opportunities to VPIP)
- Stats for this session: 55.56% (15/27)
So, now you know this player’s total VPIP over 339 hands is 54% and this session, it’s 56%.
But, what if you don’t know what VPIP stands for?
In PT4, go to the “Configure” tab and select “Statistics”. Now find the VPIP statistic and learn about it.
When you select any stat, it will give you a description and a formula for how it’s calculated.
“Now you know, and knowing’s half the battle.”
The other half of the battle is taking action and using the statistic to help you make good decisions.
So for each session you play, focus on one statistic. If you focus on VPIP tonight, look around the table at everyone’s VPIP stat. What does this stat say about them?
- Player 1: VPIP = 54. They play more than half the hands they’re dealt, indicating a very loose player.
- Player 2: VPIP = 25%. Semi-loose as they play 1 out of every 4 hands dealt.
- Player 3: VPIP = 10%. Very tight because they play only 1 out of every 10 hands dealt.
Your HUD can be an extremely useful tool on your poker journey, but only if you learn to use it effectively. These podcasts episodes will help you do just that:
- #225: Finally Learn to Use a Poker HUD
- #226: HUD Reliability: Number of Hands and Sample Sizes
- #227: Becoming a HUD Master
- #293: Learn Your HUD One Statistic at a Time
- #294: Exploit at the Extremes
Install and configure PokerTracker 4 ASAP and begin using the HUD. Then, become a HUD Master. Focus on one new stat every day. Learn all you can about what the stat tells you (description, definition, high/low numbers, what they mean) and work to utilize your opponent’s percentages against them.
Now it’s your turn to take action do something positive for your poker game!
The Simple and Efficient Way to Study Your Online Poker Hands
One of the best things about your online poker journey is finally having a database of hands to review and learn from.
But, what do you do with this database? How do you learn from the thousands of hands you play every month?
Well, here’s a simple and efficient 4-step process for studying your online poker hands:
- Routinely Record Important Statistics and Win Rates
- Review Hands from ONE Area of Opportunity
- Take Notes on Mistakes Made
- Work to NOT Repeat Those Mistakes Again
Listen to podcast #320 as you follow along below:
Step 1: Routinely Record Important Statistics and Win Rates
PokerTracker 4 saves all of your hands, and by doing that, it also tracks all your actions and calculates statistics based on them. For example, it knows that you 3bet 6.2% of the time, because that’s exactly what you’ve done. It knows you cbet the flop 40% of the time and 66% of the time on the turn.
PT4 also knows you’re profitable when 3betting with a win rate of +423bb/100 hands. But, when you raise then face a 3bet, your win rate is a disastrous -578bb/100 hands.
These statistics and win rates are great insights into your style of play and how it affects your results. You MUST track important statistics and win rates on a routine basis. I recommend every 5,000 hands or every 2 weeks. If you’re a heavy grinder and you put in 5K hands every 3 days, then record these once per week. Once you get used to it, it’ll take you 5 minutes to record your stats and win rates, then another 5 minutes to analyze the #’s to determine your areas of opportunity.
Here are 3 reasons why you MUST track your stats and win rates:
- “You can only improve what you measure.” As you work to improve your skills, the results can be seen in your statistics and win rates. If you’re studying and playing effectively, you’ll see your statistics and win rates improve. If THEY aren’t improving, YOU aren’t improving and you have more work to do.
- Statistics shine a light on your tendencies. If your opponents use a HUD, they’ll see that you are flop honest or you only 3bet for value or you call too much on the river. Your stats also clue YOU in on YOUR weaknesses so that you can work to strengthen your game.
- Win rates show you where you’re losing money. You want to target your study efforts around highly negative win rates and persistent negative win rates.
Here are the 22 statistics and the 19 win rates you MUST track (with example #’s):
Analyze the Results
Now that you have your stats and win rates recorded, take a few minutes to review them. What stands out to you in the picture above?
- Flop Cbet is too low at 40% >>> you’re a flop honest player and your opponents can exploit this.
- Winning after calling the river is only 49% and your win rate is -500bb/100 hands >>> you’re making too many poor river calls.
- Big losses when 2bet/Call 3bet at -578bb/100 hands >>> you’re calling 3bets with weak hands or OOP or against strong players who exploit you.
- Huge losses when calling Turn and River Cbets >>> you can’t find a fold and you’re giving too much value.
These are your 4 areas of opportunity.
Step 2: Review Hands from ONE Area of Opportunity
Select ONE area of opportunity and target it for one full week. It’s critical that you target preflop areas before post-flop areas. This is because plugging preflop leaks will naturally fix related post-flop leaks.
For example, two areas of opportunity in the stats/win rates above are calling 3bets and calling cbets. Well, if you make better 3bet calls, you’ll be in a better position to defend against cbets. And, working on 3bet calling skills will naturally improve your 2bet calling skills. This will also improve your cbet calling skills.
So, let’s imagine you want to improve your 2bet/Call 3bet skills. The first step is to filter for these hands in PokerTracker 4 so you can review them to find your mistakes. The filter for this has two parts:
Now that you’ve pulled up all the hands within your area of opportunity, it’s time to review 10-20 of them. But which hands do you review? Recommendations:
- Big losing hands
- Big winning hands
- Questionable hand strengths >>> “I called his 3bet with J9s?!”
- A few hands from each position
- Ugly situations >>> called preflop OOP, XC the flop, turn and river with only TPWK
First Review (should take 60 seconds)
Start by replaying the entire hand to see the players involved and their statistics, the board cards, the street by street actions, the bet/stack/pot sizes and your opponent’s final hand. Ask yourself these questions as you review:
- Was this a good preflop hand to play?
- What mistakes did I make?
- Could I have folded sooner?
- What information did I miss?
You might not be able to answer these questions or even catch your mistakes. But, pay attention to your gut. When you see a play that feels wrong, it probably is. When you feel sick to your stomach as the hand progresses, that’s a sign of danger. Your intuition for mistakes will develop over time, as long as you keep reviewing your hands.
Second Review with Flopzilla Pro (2 minutes)
Review the hand a second time, but you MUST use Flopzilla Pro for this (check out How to Use Flopzilla Pro below).
Start by assigning your opponent a preflop range of hands you logically think they would play this way. Use their player type, statistics, position and the action they entered the hand with. A loose-aggressive 3bettor will have a different range in the MP versus the BTN, and it will be different than a Fish’s 3betting range.
See me put ’em on a range and analyze a hand through the streets:
After you build their range, enter your hand to see the preflop equity you hold. Is it good, bad, love it, hate it? This is your first clue as to whether or not you made a good preflop decision to enter the hand.
Now, continue replaying the hand and enter in the flop, turn then river. Look at your hand’s equity versus their range along the way.
Doing this equity analysis with Flopzilla Pro has two major benefits:
- It will train you to always think about your opponent’s range. This will become a habit that will help you make better in-game decisions.
- It will develop your understanding of which hands are worthy of playing against different ranges. It will also build an intuition for equities which will also improve your in-game decisions.
Step 3: Take Notes on Mistakes Made
Use your poker journal (a must for any poker journey) to record the mistakes you made. Noting your mistakes is the first step in NOT repeating them.
Those who don’t learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them.
Maybe you made a mistake by callings a 3bet with ATs versus a tight 3bettor. Great! Write this down and add a line or two about WHY this was a mistake. Was it because you were OOP? The 3bettor had a tight and stronger range? His stack was so small there was no room to maneuver post-flop? Did you call just because you didn’t want to fold?
By noting the things that made it a mistake, you have a better chance to learn from it so that you don’t repeat it.
Step 4: Work to NOT Repeat Those Mistakes Again
Now that you’ve studied 10-20 hands, found and written down your mistakes, it’s your job to NOT repeat them in the future.
I recommend you do a 5-minute warm-up before you next play session where you read your mistake notes. Also, read your notes on the profitable strategies you should be using. It’s your goal this session to make better decisions so that you do not repeat the same mistakes.
Keep your journal open as you play so you can quickly refresh yourself and to keep focused on the task at hand.
Here’s my challenge to you for this episode: Get the 41 Stats and Win Rates Tracker above and then follow the 4 steps I outlined here:
- Record the 41 Statistics and Win Rates
- Review Hands from ONE Area of Opportunity
- Take Notes on Mistakes Made
- Work to NOT Repeat Those Mistakes Again
Spend one full week on one area of opportunity. Do not move on to the next area of opportunity until you see improvements in this one.
Now it’s your turn to take action and do something positive for your poker game.
How To Use Flopzilla Pro – The 4 Basics + 1 Expert Use
Everybody MUST use Flopzilla Pro, regardless of an online or LIVE poker journey. Get Flopzilla Here. It’s incredibly useful for reviewing hands, learning equities and hand reading. The $25 you spend on Flopzilla and the free beta version of Flopzilla Pro will be the best $25 you’ve ever spent.
Listen to podcast #317 as you follow along below:
But just like PokerTracker 4 and a HUD, Flopzilla is only a great tool if you learn how to use it. It’s going to take daily practice for probably weeks or months in order to gain the benefits of this tool. However, it’s absolutely worth putting in 10-15 minutes per day to learn Flopzilla.
Working with Flopzilla on a daily basis will develop your understanding of hand and range equities, and you’ll build an intuition for these equities. As you’re playing, your intuition will kick in and you’ll end up avoiding marginal and losing situations because you’ve seen them a million times before in your Flopzilla studies.
Here are the 4 basic uses of Flopzilla and 1 expert use of it.
I demonstrate the 4 basic uses of Flopzilla Pro in this video:
Basic Use #1: Hand versus Hand Equities
At its heart, Flopzilla is an equity calculator. This means it calculates your equity, or chance of winning the hand, on any street given the parameters you enter into the program.
You can pit one hand versus another and see what the preflop equities are. In this picture, the AcAh faces off against 6c6h:
When the AA has the same suits as the 66 hand, 66 has an 18.9% chance of winning. This is calculated over millions of different flops. So, you can look at the 18.9% equity of 66 here as the chance of beating AA in the long run. Things aren’t looking too good for 66.
But remember, that this is preflop equity. The flop can change everything, especially if a 6 hits the board or if the flop is 457.
What if the 66 hand has two “live” suits:
With two “live” suits of diamonds and spades, the 66 has 20.2% equity now. Two “live” suits gives flush potential and increases 66 chance of winning against AA.
Basic Use #2: Range versus Hand Equities
You enter in a range of hands and pit it against one single hand.
Example: Your opponent is open-raising from the CO and you put him on a 22% range that consists of every pocket pair, every Broadway, every suited Ace and 76s+. It’s folded to you in the BB and you consider calling. Let’s look at your equities against this range with 3 different hands: KQs, 66 and T7s.
KQs has 50.9% equity preflop versus the 22% range.
66 has about the same equity as KQs with 50.1% preflop equity. So, given millions of boards, these two hands can expect to win a little over half the time versus this range.
The T7s has a piddly 37% preflop equity versus the 22% range. Lots of players call with hands like this from the BB versus the CO. If you make this call, you’re giving your opponent a Bread & Butter situation. They’re IP against you as the preflop raiser with a mathematical advantage. T7s is not a winning, +EV call.
Basic Use #3: Range versus Range Equities
Example #1: Your BB calling range is 22%. The CO opens at 22% and it’s folded to you:
Your 22% calling range has preflop equity against the CO of 46%, not too bad and you can justify calling with this entire range.
Example #2: Your BB calling range is 22%, but this time you’re facing an EP raising range of just 10%:
Now your preflop equity is just 38% versus this tighter 10% open-raising range. You can see through this example how the tighter a range is, the more preflop equity it has against calling ranges.
Basic Use #4: Range and Board Interaction
When you enter any range into Flopzilla, it shows you how frequently it hits various strength hands over millions of different flops:
The 22% open-raising range from the CO hits TP+ 27.3% (just add up the %’s) and OESD & FD 7.7%. In total, this range “hits” flops 34% of the time.
How well does the smaller and stronger 10% open-raising range interact with the average flop?
The 10% open-raising range from the EP hits TP+ 35.6% and OESD & FD 5.8%. In total, this range “hits” flops 40.3%.
Flopzilla has showed us that tighter ranges hold more equity preflop because they hit the strongest hands more frequently than wider ranges do.
Expert Use: Hand Reading
The #1 skill in poker is hand reading and Flopzilla is the perfect software to help you develop this skill.
Hand reading is the art of assigning your opponent a preflop range of hands based on how they entered the pot, then narrowing that range through the streets based on further actions. Hand reading is what’s going to improve your skills more than any other on your poker journey.
I’m not diving deep into hand reading right now as you’re probably just starting with Flopzilla on your poker journey. But when you’re ready, this is my #1 resource for hand reading instruction. It’s a 3,700-word page with 3 podcast episodes, 4 videos and 4 challenges that teach you how to hand read.
Here’s my challenge to you for this episode: Practice with Flopzilla for 10 minutes per day to improve your range and hand equity understanding. And for God’s sake, learn to hand read ASAP!!!
Now it’s your turn to take action and do something positive for your poker journey.
Support the Show
Tom Cella picked up PokerTracker 4 (get it here to support the show), the best poker tracking software. I love it and use it everyday! In appreciation, I sent him a copy of my Smart HUD for PT4. With an ever-growing database of hands to study and all the helpful features, PT4 is the go-to software for serious poker players.
Randy Noel, Craig Evans, Roger, allrat and James Purdie bought the Smart HUD with a 1.5 hour webinar for PokerTracker 4. It’s the best online poker HUD in the business with every critical stat in the HUD and the 7 custom popups. This is what every online journey needs for maximum player exploitation.
Post-flop Online Poker is now available in PDF, Kindle, Paperback and Audio! Thanks to Byron Hernandez for picking it up!
Coinbase makes buying and selling bitcoin super easy, and bitcoin is the best way to deposit and withdraw from online poker sites. Thanks to Luke S. for using my Coinbase Friend Referral Link to get a $10 bonus when he purchased his first $100 of bitcoin through Coinbase. Thanks for the support!
The Poker Study Boot Camp Course was purchased by some kaizen-minded (striving for constant improvement) listeners named Murry Thurman and Winny Morel. They’ve got their work cut out for them with this 29-day course, so good luck!
David Chen picked up the Poker Mathematics Webinar ($5 off). This was held in conjunction with Mark Warner of ExceptionalPoker.com. We taught you all you need to know about preflop math, post-flop math and Expected Value. Plus, we through in loads of off- and on-the-felt action steps to help ingrain your newfound knowledge into your skillset.
- Strategies and Action Steps from the Quick Wins Poker Course - November 24, 2020
- How to Quickly Understand Online Tournament Players – Podcast #318 - November 18, 2020
- How to Start Playing Online Poker – Your New Journey - October 29, 2020