Choosing the right poker site to play on

Oct 11 / TheWakko
Reading time 3-4 minutes
In our previous blog post on how to become a more successful poker player, I showed you the importance of thinking about your strategy, both at the tables as well as of the tables.

Choosing the right site to play on is no different. We want to pick the site, or sites, that are most in line with our current goals. If that is to make as much money as possible tomorrow, the quality of the games might be the most important thing to take into account.

However, as I am going to show you, there are a lot of things to take into consideration choosing which site is best for you.


Choosing a site
So, now that we know the areas of poker success, it is time to pick where you are going to play. In the end, poker players make money by playing versus players who are worse than they are, and they do it for as much money as they can afford to lose.

At higher stakes, most play on multiple sites to get more and better action. When the stakes go up, there are fewer games to choose from. However, at lower stakes often one online poker site has plenty of tables running at the same time.

For example, I just opened PokerStars and saw close to 40x 25NL tables and 30x 50NL tables. “But Mr. Wakko, these games aren’t that juicy”.

You can look for better games compared to your skill level, or you focus on getting better yourself. The same game can start to look better and better once your skill level goes up. It is never just the game; it is your skill level compared to the other players at the table that makes a game good or bad to play in.

In my opinion, you should just pick one site to play on if you are playing 100NL or lower. Depending on how big the site is you could even consider 200NL or lower.

Playing multiple sites may increase your direct hourly because the average table you are playing on has more whales. However, it does distract you from playing quality volume in which you become a better player.

Again, does the site and grind I choose to help me getting closer to my goals? That’s the main thing to look for in choosing a poker site.


Traffic and stakes
Traffic is pretty straightforward. If there is no traffic at the times and limits you want to play, you are simply wasting your time on that site.

Remember that we are not looking to play 12 tables at the same time. Find a site where traffic is good enough to play between 4 and 6 tables, whereas I think that’s generally the sweet spot for most players.


Rake
Rake is the piece of the pot that goes directly to the casino. This is how the online poker sites make money from the games. The higher the rake and the cap, the higher your win rate will have to be to beat the games.

Let’s say you’re winning at 3bb/100. If the site decides to increase the rake with for example 3bb/100, you’ve just become a breakeven player.

And not only that, but it also means that recreational players will have less money to lose to you.

I found this site where you can compare rake on all sites and stakes to make a better decision where to play on. The less rake and the lower the cap, the better the choice.


Quality of the games (aka level of opposition)
You have probably gotten the advice to find soft games to play in. While this helps, it should not be your main concern. On a level of 1 to 5, with 5 being the softest game, you should probably settle for 3 or higher.

Especially in lower stakes, you have so many games to choose from. It simply would not make much sense for you to battle on the hardest games available on your limit.
“But shouldn’t we play versus better players to become better ourselves”?

You need a certain challenge, a necessity to improve, and tougher games can do that.
By default, we tend to do more to beat the games. In other words, the harder the games, the more we will do to beat it.

However, on every table you play, there are at least 1 or 2 guys that are decent players. Playing against them you will still be sufficiently challenged, which helps you focus and increases the necessity to improve.

Another big part of becoming a good poker player is being able to extract most money versus recreational players.

One of the common mistakes that players often make is to zone out (consciously or unconsciously) when they play against a recreational. Simply because they know that they will make money of them regardless.

While this is true, your objective shouldn’t be to just win. It should be to take the absolute maximum you can versus every opponent. Because it is not about beating the current game you are in. It is about becoming better, so you can beat games at higher limits and versus tougher opposition.

Every game and hand you play should be approached with that goal in mind.


Tracking software
One of the biggest advantages that online players have over live players is that they can track all their played hands in a database.

This data can be made visual by using a HUD, which transforms player actions in statistics so we can get a better idea of how someone is playing.

Check out our other blog post, in which I explain the software programs that I use.
We can use this software to evaluate our own game and plug leaks, so you know what to improve to increase your win rate and move up to the next level.

Playing on a site where you can track your data and analyze your database is the most important one on this list. The value of someone being able to go through your HUD stats and/or compare win rates outperforms all the value these other points can give you.


Rakeback and bonusses
“Mr. Wakko, my site has high rake, but does have good rake-back and bonuses”.
Rake-back is literally what it says: you get a piece of the rake that you’ve paid back.

Basically, the higher your rake-back deal, the lower your net rake is going to be.
So, you should take the rake you pay on the site and deduct the % of the rake you are getting back as a bonus. This way you know the actual rake you are going to be paying.

Bonuses and leaderboard challenges are a little bit different. If a site offers you a good deposit bonus where you for example deposit a 100$ and get a 100$ free that is great! Free money.

However, when a part of your rake-back comes from leaderboard challenges, the site incentives you to grind more tables. Make more hours to increase your hourly.

The same thing can be said for the rake-back. Don’t stare yourself blind on rake-back possible on higher statuses. What happens is that the quality of your play goes down, you will have less time to evaluate your hands and properly prepare for sessions.

Before you know it, all your volume becomes quantity volume and you’re no longer concerned about getting better, but only fixated on reaching your volume goals. All to get that higher rake-back, bonus, or win a leaderboard.

Sure, if you are already a very good player and when you’re further in your career and play higher stakes, this can be a good option for you if you think the EV is good enough. Just be aware that it should not be your biggest focus point, especially not early on in your career.

Don’t lose sight of the long-term objective by staring blindly at grinding volume for the sake of bonuses, leaderboards, and rake-back!

You are putting your hourly in the hands of something that is out of your control. In case the site decides to cut the deals in half by tomorrow, your hourly is gone.

Whereas if you are focused on becoming a better player, you are less dependent on external factors to make a good living.

This all being said, it’s a no-brainer to find a good deal for the site you are going to play on. Like I said before: it’s free money.

We can help you find the best deal for the site you think meets the criteria we discussed.

Fill in this form and we will come up with the best deal for you.

Cheers,

Rene 'TheWakko' Kuhlman


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