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Should you think on Multiple Levels when participating in Online Poker?

By: Staff

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Novice poker players tend to play in a very simple way. They see their own poker hand and play it as they see it and that is their entire poker strategy. This is the first step in their education because it is important to be able to identify in online poker when you have a good hand or not.

However having a “good hand” is much more multi-layered than what is in your own hand. You also need to know what is in your opponents hand also.

For example would you rather have Jc-10c on a Qd-10h-4s board or 9c-8c on a 10s-6h-3d board? The answer is not straight forward because you can bet your middle pair and be raised from the hand with a player that is on a straight draw and you will be forced to fold the best hand.

However in the second example then you could be the one doing the bluff-raising or you could bet out if first to speak and take the pot that way.

Once you begin to look beyond your own poker hand then this is when you are starting to think on the second level. This is almost like thinking on a second dimension and now you are seeing your own hand and also what your opponents are likely to hold.

This second level thinking in online poker is now pretty standard practice unlike a few years ago where perhaps only the strong professionals and semi-professionals were thinking on this level.

However what is required to be really successful in online poker and especially no limit Texas hold’em is to be able to think on the third level at the very least. If your opponents are watching you closely then you need to be aware of that.

For example if you raise from under the gun in a full ring no limit hold’em ring game then your opponents are going to be putting you onto a big hand. So if you can learn to step outside of yourself and almost look at how you are playing from a different perspective then the game of online poker suddenly looks a whole lot different.

We have already looked at how you need to understand how your opponents are viewing you. This applies to whether we are talking about one single poker hand or your play in general. When you become aware of how your opponents are viewing your play and your actions then you are moving to a third level thinking process!

At the lower end of the online poker spectrum then you can be well ahead of many of your opponents when you think on this level.

Remember that poker is a psychological game and a mental game once you start to move up through the levels. This means that your opponents will no longer be making silly mistakes against you and passing you their money. This then follows on to how you make your money.

Tilting and making poor poker decisions based on a negative state of mind or allowing your opponents to read your game too easily will not be conducive to you being able to make money within the modern world of online poker.

Carl Sampson is a professional poker player who plays online at 888poker.

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