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Five Tips for Optimizing Your First PA Online Poker Sessions


When the first legal and regulated online poker games kick off in Pennsylvania, it’s going to be important for most players to get back to basics right out of the gate.

It has clearly been a while since most have played online poker regularly. While it’s a lot like riding a bike, that means players will enjoy a return to the virtual felt much more by sticking to the basics from the start. Keeping things simple means not falling off the online poker bike in the first few minutes.

It also means things like multi-tabling should probably be left for long after you first get your feet wet again. In the meantime, here are five more tips for optimizing your first PA online poker sessions:

5. Play within your means

If you haven’t played online poker in a long while, you don’t have a bankroll. Don’t overextend yourself trying to create one.

One of the best things about online poker is you can play small stakes until you build up a bankroll, then take shots in bigger games and more lucrative tournaments.

Depositing $215 and spending it all on one Sunday major tournament may seem like a good idea until variance rears its ugly head and you go broke. Instead, why not start small, play satellites, and build what is an affordable deposit to you, into something really substantial?

You don’t always have to stick to standard bankroll management rules of never having more than five percent of your bankroll in play at any time. However, you also don’t want to be losing money you can’t really afford chasing an unrealistic online poker dream.

Play within your means, only take shots when you can afford to, and you’ll enjoy the PA online poker experience that much more.

4. Use a basic tight-aggressive strategy

Ask any professional poker player about the biggest mistakes amateurs make and they’ll almost always mention one of two things. Most amateurs either make the mistake of playing too many hands or playing hands far too passively.

What they’re saying is that most players would clearly benefit from following a very simple tight-aggressive strategy.

The tight part means being a lot more selective with your starting hands. Pros call that narrowing your range. You’ve got to play more than just aces, but you don’t have to go to war with garbage. Play only premium hands in early positions and loosen up only slightly in later ones and you’ll have the tight part down in no time.

The aggressive side of the strategy can be a little trickier. You’ve got to find a way to both push the envelope with big hands and curb that aggression in the times when you’re obviously beat. It’s a delicate balance, but when you find it, you’ll win big pots when you make big hands and avoid big trouble at the same time.

Using a basic tight-aggressive strategy will have you winning more often than not and truly enjoying your PA online poker experience because of it. It works at PA’s live poker rooms and it’ll work online too.

3. Wait until your big blind to sit out

Online poker edges are smaller than you think and you need to be paying attention to almost everything to make sure you don’t miss any value at the table.

Once you’ve paid the big and small blinds, you get to see the rest of the hands in that orbit for free. Don’t miss out on that value. Never say no to anything that’s free.

Wait until the big blind comes back around to sit out, change tables, or hang it up for the day.

You may end up folding seven or eight straight hands, but you’ll find a lot of value in following this tip over the long haul. Even if it doesn’t seem like it right away.

2. Avoid tilt

Whoever said you can’t win ’em all had to be talking about poker. You simply can’t win ’em all, and in this game, you have to find a way to make sure the losses don’t rattle you.

All outs are real, long shots sometimes come in, and until you’ve got someone drawing dead in poker, nothing is a sure thing.

Accepting that goes a long way to avoiding letting a bad beat get to you. Because if you do let it get to you, you can easily turn losing one pot into a losing session.

Breathe. Take a break. Do whatever it takes to stay off tilt and avoid spewing money off after a bad beat. Not only will you enjoy the PA online poker experience a lot more, but your bankroll also will.

1. Test drive everything

You can’t lose when you’re playing with the house’s money. Therefore, the top way to optimize your first PA online poker sessions is to do just that.

When the first legal and regulated PA online poker sites launch, they’re going to be competing hard for new players. That means a variety of free cash bonuses available to anyone willing to sign up and play.

There’s no reason not to take advantage of everything every site is offering. Sign up for them all. Get the bonus and play with the house’s money for a while. Get to know the ins and outs of each site’s software. Familiarize yourself with the kinds of players on there.

Turn nothing into something on any site and you’ll probably stick with it.

However, even if you don’t, you’ll leave armed with some valuable knowledge. Including which PA online poker site is the best fit for you. Plus, you’ll have done it without much risk at all.


Martin Derbyshire has more than ten years of experience reporting on the poker, online gambling, and land-based casino industries for a variety of publications including Bluff Magazine, PokerNews, and PokerListings. He has traveled extensively, attending tournaments and interviewing major players in the gambling world.