Often, recreational poker players assume that all of the major online poker rooms are the same. They believe that all of the poker rooms have the same types of players, similar software, identical bonuses, etc… And this is true to a certain extent. Especially for new players, it doesn’t really matter where they cut their teeth. The important thing is that they choose one of the major rooms with plenty of players so that their first online poker experience isn’t at a table full of sharks.
Once a player has gained some experience at the tables and has developed a style of play, then choosing the right online poker room becomes much more important. Pacific Poker is probably not your best choice if you’re a loose aggressive player. You’ll have an entire table of passive calling stations matching your raises all the way to the river every hand, and will soon lose your entire poker bankroll. Alternatively, Absolute Poker would not be the best choice for a tight-weak player. They would be folding so often that they’d simply bleed their bankroll away. A tight-weak player would be better off at a room like Pacific where they’d at least be paid off for their premium hands. If a tight-weak player who’s been folding every hand for the last 30 minutes suddenly wakes up and starts raising at a place like Absolute or Full Tilt, then the entire table will fold leaving the player with nothing for their premium hand.
So what type of player are you? Be honest. Are you really tight-aggressive? Take a long hard examination at your Poker Tracker hand histories and put a label on your play style. If you find that you are in fact a tight-weak player, then that’s ok for now. You can work on fixing that as you play. But while improving your game, find a site that gives you the optimal conditions to do just that. You want to make it as easy for yourself as possible to advance your game. Sitting with a bunch of rocks at a table when you find yourself repeatedly slipping into tight-weak mode is neither optimal nor conducive to improving one’s game.
Poker Tracker defines the classic fish as LP-P (loose passive preflop, and passive after the flop). An LP-P is a calling station. Hopefully you don’t fit into this category. If you do, please go read our low limit poker strategy guide immediately. Some of the other types of players you’ll encounter are the TP-P (tight passive preflop, passive after the flop) the “classic rock,” the LA-A (loose aggressive, aggressive) the “maniac,” and the classification every player should aspire to be, (insert dramatic music here) the TA-A. The TA-A is tight aggressive pre-flop, and aggressive after the flop. Tight aggressive players have better win rates than any other player type. If you fit into this category then congratulations, you can quit reading this article as you’ll win virtually anywhere and anytime you choose to play poker online. If you’re like the rest of us then you probably fit somewhere in between these categories. You may even fluctuate between the various player types depending on the table environment and your mood.
Now that you’ve honestly analyzed your play style, (did you?) you’re ready to choose an online poker room that will either optimize your winnings or at least slow down the bleeding while you improve your game. Basically, players leaning towards the tight weak side should stick to the looser online poker rooms such as Party Poker, Pacific Poker, Poker.com, etc. You want tables full of loose passive calling stations so that when you do hit your premium hand you’ll be paid off for it. While playing at these tables you should work on your aggression. When you have the best of it don’t be afraid to raise. Don’t be afraid to raise drawing hands if you have the correct pot odds to do so. Work on becoming a tight aggressive player.
If your play style tends to swing towards the looser side of the pendulum, then choose one of the tighter online poker rooms where your raises will receive more respect. You want to play at tables full of tight-weak players that you can run over. Be careful though as tricky players will often trap you if you’re not alert. If this is your play style then Absolute Poker or Full Tilt Poker are excellent choices. Both rooms are stock full of tight weak players at all limits.
While (hopefully) relieving these tight-weak players of their money, you should work on tightening up and gaining better control over your emotions. Looser aggressive players often have problems with becoming committed to their hands. You should start looking for reasons to fold rather than to stay in a hand. This can be particularly true when playing heads up. Many loose aggressive players simply will not back down when heads up. When the pot is small be more willing to fold mediocre hands unless you’re certain you have the best of it. It’s often not worth risking several large bets when the reward is small. The size of the pot should always be considered when faced with a decision.