If you have spent much time playing free online poker, then you know that there are some strategies that separate those at the top of the game from the rest of the playing community. Some people attribute this difference to a sense of instinct, while others attribute it to the benefit of years of playing the game. However, you do not have to have a special “sixth sense” or years in the game to improve your free poker play and build your winnings. Take a look at five steps you can use to upgrade your own play.

Make your decisions easier

It doesn’t matter if you play for real cash or if you only engage in free poker action, there are times when the game gets overwhelming, because you just have too much information flowing in at the same time.

When that happens, it’s easy to go with your gut and follow your emotions – and that’s when mistakes can happen. Don’t let the pressure of the clock push you into decisions, and don’t worry about irritating your fellow players. They’re not going to feel sorry for you if you lose, so take the time that you need.

Consider what possible hands you could get in your situation and what the other players might have. After you’ve thought about that, then make the play. Feel confused? Just take a breath, analyze your hands and consider your options. Don’t just bluff to bluff – and don’t just call to see what the other players have. Take the time to think clearly.

Adjust your poker game to your opponents

Different players have different tendencies, and an important part of winning involves taking advantage of the tendencies at your online poker table. How aggressively do they play? How quickly to they get frustrated? What types of hands do they show down? How often do their plays go against what they have shown down? Understanding the answers to these questions will help you in your decision-making. As you pay attention to the hands that your opponents put down and evaluate their pre-flop decisions, you’ll be able to manage your own decisions more effectively.

Choose the right game for you

Here are some good games to start: games where the house does not take a rake; poker games with lots of recreational players who are after some fun; games where players are drinking; games where several players are making a lot of action. All of those choices involve potential openings for you. You might want to up your game by taking on some more advanced players, but while those lessons can be helpful, they generally end up costing your bankroll.

Keep your holdings in disguise

If you watch a player and notice that he only opens pocket tens or better, you can take advantage of that over time.

You don’t want to be predictable, so you can use some strategies to make your own choices more difficult to see beforehand: using similar action post-flop with a lot of your hands; playing some of your strong hands the same way you play your weak ones; keeping cards covered until you have to; raising to the same size with almost all of your hands. If your opponents cannot figure out what you have based on what you do, that’s a big advantage.

Know what you will play

When you play poker for real cash, understanding what hands you will play, on the basis of your position, makes a huge difference with respect to overall success. The closer you sit to the button in free poker, the more you should play your hands. If you take the time to map out which hands you will play ahead of time, based on where you are sitting, then choices become easier in the game.

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