Winning at online poker means taking the right action at the right time. A well-timed raise can help you completely demolish the confidence of another player, making them fold their cards and giving you the pot, whether you had better cards or not. On the other hand, checking can help you see turn or river cards for free (if your opponents go along with it). Long term success at Ignition poker tournaments is all based on the actions you take in each game, so in this post about how to play online poker, we’ll cover when to bet, fold, check, and call. 

When to Bet

Betting is an act of aggression in a poker game. Placing bets puts pressure on each other player at the table, and signals strength. The basic message of bets is, “I have decent cards and want this pot to grow, so I’m betting. How do you like them apples?” If you’re playing in Ignition mobile poker tournaments, you’ll need to do some betting if you want to win. 

So, when is betting correct in online poker hands? Well, if you’re in early position, betting can quickly be turned around on you when an opponent raises, so be careful. If you’re in late position and everyone has checked to you, however, betting may be a good way to scoop up a pot due to the weakness of the other players’ hands.

Bet to build pots if others seem somewhat strong. Bet to take down pots if other poker players are communicating weakness. This is the first part of your poker battle strategy.

When to Fold

When you’re figuring out how to play online poker, folding is a crucial way to protect your bankroll, especially in cash games You’ll be doing tons of folding preflop once you have a feel for the rankings of starting hands. Only when you have cards worth playing (in a position worth playing) should you ante up and get into a hand. But what happens after that? When is the action too much and when should you fold? Well, if another poker player is indicating strength with bets and raises, and you don’t have much of a hand (or you’re out of position), it’s time to consider folding. There’s no reason to pay off big hands when bets and raises will be coming in from multiple players, either. Just fold and avoid becoming roadkill. 

If, however, you’re playing online poker tournaments and you think another player doesn’t have much of a hand and has been trying to bully you around all game, you can stay in, especially if you’re in later position than your opponent. The basic idea is: fold when it’s necessary to protect your bankroll from an expensive hand that you aren’t likely to win by 1) pushing opponents out or 2) displaying the best poker hand at a showdown.

When to Check

Checking is chill. When you don’t have much, don’t want to pay to draw more cards, don’t think a bet will scare off another player, or you simply want to see what your opponent will do, you can check. A check is a fairly weak action to take in Ignition poker tournaments and cash games, however, and you should keep in mind that checking will draw out bets and raises from opponents in later position at the poker table. Checking in a poker game can also be used to set a trap when you’re planning check raises, as we’ll see in a section below.

When to Call

Calling is a measured response to a bet in poker. Another player has laid down money, and instead of folding or raising, you simply call to go along with their bet amount. Calling can be the right action to take in online poker tournaments because you’re drawing to a big hand and the pot odds favor a call. It can also be correct to call when your read on your opponent is that they’re over aggressive, playing games, and likely to bet with any cards. You may simply be in late position and be calling because you think that you can bully a betting opponent out when scare cards hit the board (i.e. an ace comes on the turn, so you call a flop bet and then bluff on the turn that the ace paired with one of your hole cards). 

There’s the danger of facing a raise from another player, though. If you merely call, someone behind you in later position may put in a raise and give you a hard decision. Handle that raise very carefully. As you figure out how to play online poker, calling bets will get you to the later rounds of hands where boys become men.

Bonus: When to Check-Raise

“It’s a trap!” This is a great play in Ignition poker tournaments when you have the best hand (aka the “nuts”) or near to it. When you flop a sneaky set (three of a kind) and think another player has top pair, it’s a classic time to check raise. Your opponent will bet, and then you can be fairly sure he or she will call your check raise, fattening your pot. You’re definitely playing games now!

It’s also an incredibly high risk bluff, but it can work in Ignition mobile poker tournaments because it communicates tremendous strength. Just be sure your opponent isn’t also holding a monster hand, because you’re going to run into a brick wall that can’t be moved.

See you at the online poker tables!