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Online Poker Strategy – How to Play in South Africa

Poker is a relatively simple game, but there is a difference between knowing how to play online poker and knowing how to be successful. On this page, we give you an in-depth guide to poker strategy In South Africa to help improve your skills. This introduction to online poker strategy is primarily designed for beginners, but even seasoned players will benefit from a refresher. Sharpen up your knowledge and start winning today.

Learn The Rules Of Online Poker

If you’re new to this exciting game, it’s important to know and understand online poker rules before jumping into more complex concepts. Luckily, our experts are here to help. Below, you can find a complete guide to playing online poker in South Africa.

Learn The Rules Of Online Poker

If you’re new to this exciting game, it’s important to know and understand online poker rules before jumping into more complex concepts. Luckily, our experts are here to help. Below, you can find a complete guide to playing online poker in South Africa.

Number of Players in a Poker Game

The number of players in a poker game can vary from two to fourteen, depending on the game variant. Most people consider five to eight players to be the ideal number, however, as too many opponents can affect the success of poker strategy.

When learning how to play online poker, the main point to remember is that you are always playing for yourself. Poker isn’t a team game, nor is it about partnerships. The winner is always the player who has won all the money by the end of the game.

The Aim of an Online Poker Game

In an online poker game, you aim to win all the bets made by other players during the hand. Players place bets if they believe their hand is the best in the game, or to give the impression that it is.

Giving the impression that you have the best hand is called bluffing. A good bluff can cause other players to fold, leaving their money on the table for you to win. The end goal is to be the last player at the table, with all the money.

How to Win an Online Poker Game

Cards in poker are ranked from high to low: King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2. The Ace can either be high or low, depending on where you want to play it. To win a game of online poker, you simply must have the highest-ranking hand.

Poker hands contain five cards, and whilst high-value cards generally win, there is a range of other high-value hands you could possess. Knowing poker hands off by heart is a vital part of poker strategy and so, you can learn more about the value of poker hands later in this guide.

Basic Poker Rules and Moves

Most poker games start with a forced bet which may be an ante or a blind. This ensures that there is some money in the pot to play for. Once the croupier deals the first round of cards, you must act during your turn, moving clockwise around the table. On your turn, you can make four different moves:

  • Check – You can check if no other player has made a bet or if you are the first player to play. Checking passes the action to the next person without increasing the pot. If everyone checks, the round is over.
  • Bet – You can bet if no other player has already made a bet, or if you are the first player to play. As the name suggests, in this move, you put money on the table.
  • Call – If you call, you match the highest bet made so far in the round.
  • Raise – If you raise the bet, you must make a bigger bet than the highest bet made so far in the round. All other players must then match your higher bet.
  • Fold – You can give up your turn by folding. If you fold, you cannot make a move again until the next game is dealt, so you lose any money already wagered.

After each betting round, you may receive more cards, which may change your poker strategy and how you feel about the hands of other players. When the last bet is made, the remaining players must show the hands, to prove who has won the game.

How to Play Poker – A Step-by-Step Guide

Now you know the basics of how to play poker online, let’s run through a game so you know exactly what to do at every step of the game.

  • 1

    Place your initial bets in the pot. This could be an ante or a blind. Antes are for all players, whilst only the player to the left of the dealer must post a ‘small blind’. The player to the left of the small blind posts a ‘big blind’, worth double the small blind.

  • 2

    The croupier now deals the cards. In Texas Hold’em poker, you receive two cards face down.

  • 3

    Once everyone looks at their cards, the game begins.

  • 4

    The player to the left of the big blind (‘Under the Gun’) is first to act. They can call (match the big blind), raise, or fold (discard their hand). Play proceeds clockwise round the table. If there has been no raise, the big blind has the option to ‘check’ and place no more chips in the middle.

  • 5

    Once all bets have been called, three cards are dealt in the middle of the table. This is the flop, and all players can use these cards to help make the best poker hand possible.

  • 6

    There is now a second round of betting, starting with the small blind. They have the option to check or bet. Subsequent players can also check if there has been no action.

  • 7

    Once the betting finishes, a fourth card is dealt into the middle of the table. We call this the ‘turn’. A third round of betting takes place.

  • 8

    Once the third betting round finishes, the dealer adds a fifth card to the community cards in the middle. We call this the ‘river’. A final round of betting takes place.

  • 9

    We call this step the ‘showdown’. Here, the remaining players compare hands. The winning player scoops the pot. That said, if you are the only player left, you needn’t show your hand.

Online Poker Hand Rankings

Now you have learnt how to play poker, it’s time to look at which hands are the most valuable. Below, our experts provide you with a full list of poker hands. Depending on the hand you build, you can employ different poker strategy tips.

  • Royal Flush (e.g. 10-J-Q-K-A hearts)
    This is the five highest cards in order, all the same suit.
  • Straight Flush (e.g. 6-7-8-9-10 hearts)
    Any five cards in order, all the same suit.
  • Four of a Kind (e.g. 2-5-5-5-5)
    Four cards of the same value, plus one extra.
  • Full House (e.g. J-J-J-2-2)
    Three cards of the same value, plus a pair of cards of the same value.
  • Flush (e.g. 2-4-6-7-Q)
    Five non-consecutive cards of the same suit.
  • Straight (e.g. 4h-5c-6d-7h-8s)
    Five cards in consecutive order, but of different suits.
  • Two Pair (e.g. 4-4-Q-Q-A)
    Two pairs of matching equal value cards, plus one extra.
  • One Pair (e.g. K-K-A-3-5)
    One pair of matching ranked cards, plus three other cards.
  • High Card (e.g. A-10-8-7-2)
    Five unconnected, non-consecutive cards. The highest card plays.

Online Poker Strategy Tips and Tricks

The idea behind poker strategy is so you can increase your chances of winning. This involves understanding when to call, raise, or fold. To help you out, below you can find basic poker strategy tips.

Count Your Outs

An out is a card remaining in the deck that allows you to make a certain hand. For example, if you have two clubs as your hole cards and two more club cards come on the flop, you need one more club to make a flush. As there are 13 club cards in the deck, there are nine club cards you haven’t seen. Thus, you have nine outs to your flush. Of course, another player at the table could have a club, giving you fewer outs, but you haven’t seen them, so don’t subtract them from the total.

As the dealer lays out more community cards, the number of outs you have may change. For instance, on the turn, you might pick up a straight draw. You now have additional outs to make a straight (assuming you think a straight would also win you the hand). Outs are important to calculate your odds correctly.

Pot Odds

Once you know your odds, you can decide whether to continue playing. To do this, you need to weigh your hand odds up against the pot odds. In online poker strategy, pot odds are the ratio of the current size of the pot, to the cost of a call.

For example, if the pot is at R 450 and your opponent bets R 90, you must bet R 90 to continue. This gives you pot odds of 450:90 or, put simply, 5:1. As your hand odds are roughly 4:1, it’s worth continuing to play.

Calculate Your Odds

To master poker strategy, you must be able to work out the probability of creating a certain hand. To do this, you must figure out how many outs you have compared to the number of cards that won’t help. In the previous example, for instance, you are yet to see 47 cards (52 minus the two cards in your hand, and the three flop card) and you have nine outs. This makes your odds of creating a flush 39:8 (or roughly, 4:1).

Learn to Bluff

When you bluff, you try to convince your opponents that you have a stronger hand than you actually do. You might find bluffing scary but, if you never do it, you will always need a strong hand to win. Besides, other players will learn that you never bluff and will be able to read your hand.

To employ a good bluffing poker strategy, we recommend you do it early. The longer a hand goes on, the higher chance your opponents have of having a good hand and knowing that you don’t. It’s also wise to make a ‘semi-bluff’. This is when you have a hand that could improve, rather than a total lie. You also need to consider the pot odds when bluffing. If you make a big bet compared to the pot, your opponents may guess that you are lying.

Know When to Fold

It’s easy to want to stay in the hand at all times, but not losing money is just as important as winning. To create a good poker strategy, therefore, you need to know when to fold. The most common time to fold is pre-flop. If you receive weak cards pre-flop, bow out of the round. By sticking to the rule of only playing when you have strong starting hands, you save a lot of money.

Pot odds are also a good indicator of when to fold. If your pot odds are better than your hand odds, it’s usually better to give in. Finally, always fold if you are feeling angry or frustrated during the game. Don’t let your emotions or competitiveness get the better of you.

Make A Successful Poker Strategy with Bankroll Management

One of the best and most simple poker strategy tips we can give is to never play in a game you can’t afford. If you have a budget of R 4,000, don’t play at a table with a blind of R 400. You won’t have enough money to see the game out and may be forced to fold early, losing all your money.

Playing at the right table for your budget also helps you to avoid making risky moves out of fear. If losing the money on the table is detrimental for you, you’re more likely to continue in the game even when you know you won’t win. To find a table suitable for your budget, look for those with buy-in prices of around 1% of your bankroll. For example, if you have R 4,000 to play with, the buy-in price should be R 40.

Play Poker Tournaments or Poker Cash Games

Now you know a few poker strategy tips, it’s time to decide whether to play in cash games or tournaments. Cash games have a maximum buy-in and the blinds never increase. Tournaments can take anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours to complete. Let’s compare and contrast the two.

How to Play Poker Cash Games

  • Choose a Range of Buy-Ins – You can pick cash games based on their blind levels. Online cash games may start from R0.14/R0.28, but it’s common to have full tables at R140/R280. The maximum buy-in to sit down might be worth 50-100x the big blind. You can even play cash games for free at practice play tables.
  • Pick from a Dozen Disciplines – No Limit Texas Hold’em cash games are the most popular online variants. The best poker sites will also have Limit Hold’em and Pot Limit Hold’em, as well as Stud, Omaha, and Razz cash tables.
  • The Blinds Never Go Up – Unlike a tournament, once you sit down at a cash game, the blinds will never increase. This is important to consider when deciding your poker strategy.
  • The Games Never End – As long as you have cash at the table and there are other players seated, you can keep on playing. If you run out of money, you will have the option to re-buy and replenish your stack by visiting the online cashier.
  • Earn Rakeback at the Poker Site – In many cash games, you must pay a fee to the poker site. This is called the rake. Regular players can earn ‘rakeback’ by racking up enough hands or even join a rake race promotion to win prize money.

How to Play Poker Tournaments

  • Choose Your Buy-In LevelOnline poker tournaments have a range of buy-ins to suit all budgets. Look out for games that offer re-buys or add-ons. These are additional fees that allow busted players to buy back in.
  • Choose a Tournament that Suits You – Freezeout tournaments play down to a winner, with a percentage of the top finishers sharing the prize money. Good poker rooms will also offer single table ‘Sit ‘n Gos’ which begin when every seat is filled. Knockout tournaments, meanwhile, award bounties when you eliminate players.
  • Tournament Blinds Increase – Unlike cash games, tournament blinds increase regularly to help bring the event to a natural close. The poker lobby will display the blind schedule. This gives you an idea of whether a tournament is too fast or too slow for your poker strategy.
  • Win Money in Freerolls – Most of the best poker websites in South Africa offer freerolls. These are free-to-enter tournaments that give away a small amount of prize money to the players. Freerolls are great for helping to develop poker skills.
  • Win a Slice of the Guaranteed Prize pool – Get a package to a big tournament overseas like the WPT or WSOP.

Practice Your Poker Strategy Skills

As in anything in life, you will not master poker strategy right away. It takes practice to figure out the mechanics and the rhythms of the game. As you learn how to play poker, win or lose, you will figure out what moves work and what moves don’t.

To practice your poker skills today, register with one of our recommended poker sites. Not only are these sites safe, but they also allow you to play for free or real money. This means you can put your strategy to the test, no matter your budget.

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To win online poker games, you first need to learn the rules of the game. Then you can employ basic poker strategy tips. This includes considering the probability of you achieving a high-ranking hand, knowing when to bluff and when to fold, and practicing good bankroll management. Master these aspects, and you’re well on your way to winning a game.

To play poker for beginners, we recommend finding an online site that offers free games. All beginners need to practice their skills before they take them to cash games or land-based casinos. Luckily, most of the best poker sites and online casinos in South Africa offer free play games and tournaments.

Yes, you can play poker online with your friends for free or for real money. At most poker sites, you can simply join the same table as your friends. Alternatively, you can set up a private game and invite your friends to join. This ensures that no one else can join the table, and you can set your buy-in prices.

Texas Hold’em is the easiest poker variant to learn, and the most popular. The game runs with basic rules, and you’re probably familiar with the hand rankings already. What’s more, you can use most poker strategy tips with Hold’em to increase your chances of winning.

Poker is definitely a game of skill, although there is an element of luck too. If you’re lucky enough to receive good cards consistently, for example, you won’t find it hard to win. The skill, however, is to make good decisions even when you don’t have great cards. This involves weighing up your odds and knowing when to bluff or fold. Some poker players say the game is 100% skill and 50% luck.

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