In my experience with poker of all kinds, be it simple free online poker or a more serious cash game, with its ups and downs, and what appears to be many ups and downs, I know that the most important thing you can learn is patience.
Even the blind rats find cheese, and no matter how unlucky you think you are , how many chips you have, or how many people are left in your tournament, the most important thing is that you are patient with yourself.
Sometimes you get tired of seeing terrible cards and your chip stack starts to drain enough that you give up, and start calling with an off-suit J5, or any other hand with the same idea. I can tell you that I have been there many times, and it has been my death more than it has helped.
Another key in patience is not just pre-flop, but throughout the rest of the hand as well. Let me show you an example, you draw K(c) Q(d), and you call with 2 other people in hand. Failure to exit K(h) A(h) 8(h). This is definitely a very dangerous hand, and many times I just fold it off the bat. But for those who are desperate, sometimes I’ll get the wrong source of trust in my hands, and 85% of the time I’ll get burned, despite having only the other two in hand.
Patience is one of the many traits that are clearly essential to poker success. Some people get carried away sometimes, and it’s important to be consistent in your poker game. Try to find a baseline on what you call pre-flop and what doesn’t.
Obviously free online poker is a much different game than live games, because online play is much faster and life is deeper and slower. Despite the many complaints from my colleagues, I like to take every second out of my time limit on every decision. I recommend this to any competitive and casual online poker player, as there can be a difference between a bad beat and a good fold.
Often times in free online poker games you will meet, what we call “Donks”. Most of the time they will have a much larger chip stack, and will win using strength and bluff. It’s important not to intimidate him, and play it slow. If you get a good flop, let him make mistakes. Classic raises work well, but if you move too early, your chances are lost for cash. Donks can be a great source of chips, if you are patient and do it right.
We’re all going to get bad beats, it’s inevitable. It happens to the best of us, and there’s nothing we can do about it. All we can do is play smart, take our time, and, again, be patient.
These are all very important, no matter who you play with or how long you play, which brings me to my final point. You can read lots of poker articles, magazines and books, but nothing compares to experience, so go out there and play online poker for free at first to build your skills and understanding of the game and develop that important habit of patience.