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Here’s Why You Should Play Online No Limit Holdem Poker


Sky Matsuhashi

on March 21, 2023

I'm sharing the top 3 reasons why I love playing online no limit holdem poker, plus two huge mistakes I made when I began my online journey.

Listen while you follow along below:

I made the transition from LIVE poker to online poker in 2006 and I never looked back. Man, do I love it. Even though it’s the same game, there’s a world of difference between playing in the local cardroom or just playing in my office at home.

There’s a 30-minute or longer leadup to playing LIVE poker for me. I have to tell my wife where I’m going, get dressed, drive there, park and walk in, find an open seat, go buy chips, and sit down before finally being dealt a hand. And if I have to get on a waitlist? Yeessh…

But the leadup for online poker? Roughly 30 seconds. 60 seconds if I want to make a coffee first. Or maybe 5 minutes if I’m going to do a pre-session warm-up.

Nothing can beat the ease and convenience of playing in your own home.

If you haven’t tried online poker yet, I highly recommend it. To help motivate you, I’d like to share the top 3 reasons why I love playing online.


1. Online No Limit Holdem Is Open 24/7

I love that the online realm is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There’s no closing when you’re serving the world, right?

I’m a morning person and sometimes I get a hankering to play poker at 8am after my boys go to school. At the local cardroom there’s at most 2 tables running, full of overnight bleary-eyed players or grizzled old timers who use poker for socializing. Not my scene.

But, firing up the software for any one of the online sites I play on reveals plenty of tables. And not just cash games. Sit ‘N Go’s and Tournaments are always running as well. And if you’re tired of NLHE, PLO games are also available.

You can’t beat the convenience of playing whenever you want from the comfort of your home, for any stake or any style of poker you feel like.

And, all you need to play online poker is a computer. You don’t even have to deposit money if you don’t trust it just yet. There are loads of “free play” sites that allow you to start your online career for free.

Began an account with one of these to see if you enjoy online poker at no financial risk.


This quick video shows my own hardware setup at home:


2. It’s Cheap Practice

Online poker offers stakes from $2 buy-in games ($.01/$.02 blinds) to $1,000 buy-ins ($5/$10 blinds) and beyond. The cheapest LIVE games you’ll find are $200 buy-in NLHE games ($1/$2). With $200 at risk, practicing costly and aggressive plays like 3betting and triple-barrel bluffing can be extremely costly.

I love how you can practice all the aggressive and costly plays you want when the buy-in is only $2 or $5. Do you need to work on 3bet bluffing or other aggressive preflop skills?  Go to town at the $2 or $5 tables for a fraction of the cost of a LIVE $1/2 game.

Do you want to work on your flop and turn cbet bluffing skills? It’s so much easier to increase your aggression and pull the trigger on these chip-committing plays when it only costs you 8 or 20 cents a shot.

Are you tired of all these LIVE game limpers who never fold to your raise? You hold pocket Aces, raise over 3 limpers to $20 and they all call. This leads to yet another crap-shoot, multi-way pot and potentially cracked Aces. You can practice raising to larger sizes online to find the limper’s pain threshold, then apply what you learn to your LIVE game.


3. Poker Tracking Software

I know the existence of poker tracking software is daunting for many LIVE players who are considering a transition to online poker. But for me, I absolutely love poker tracking software. Sure, it helps you spot your opponent’s tendencies and weaknesses with the use of a heads-up display (HUD) that shows you how frequently a player makes certain actions. That can be incredibly useful at times.

However, the main reason I love poker tracking software is that it records every hand I play so I can study them off-the-felt later.

And it doesn’t just record the hands I choose to play. I can fold a hold, put my attention elsewhere, and the software continues recording the actions of the others players so I can review it later during my study sessions. This is where poker tracking software really shines.

I’m all about working hard to be 1% better every day. Having a database of hundreds of thousands of hands allows me to dissect my play and learn from my mistakes and successes. I can review hands where I check-raised, faced a check-raise, re-raised after facing a check-raise, bluff check-raised with a flush draw, or any other situation in between.

On top of poker tracking software and a HUD, there are other software like:

  • Equity calculators – show you how well a hand or range fares against other hands and ranges.
  • GTO solvers – help analyze specific situations to give an idea of profitable ways to approach them.

These programs can be difficult and time-consuming to learn to use.  But the good news: you don’t have to learn to use those. They can be something you incorporate later into your studies to turn you into a better player.


Check out my software setup for online poker:


My Mistakes – Two Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Playing No Limit HE Online Poker

Mistake #1: Playing at the same stakes.

I didn’t take the time to do any research and I treated it just like playing in my local cardroom.

I wish I knew that players are better at lower stakes. Like many players, I incorrectly assumed that a $1/$2 player online had the same skills as a LIVE player at that same stake.  I couldn’t have been more wrong! I blew through my first three $600 deposits in record time.

What a costly lesson to learn. I had to pick-up loads of serving shifts at the steakhouse to make up for that blunder (I was a server for many years).

You'll find players at 25nl ($.10/$.25 no limit games with a $25 buy-in) just as good as LIVE $5/$10 players or even higher.  I recommend new online players start at either 5nl ($5 buy-in) or 10nl ($10 buy-in) games. It might sound like chump change to you, but you’ve got to learn to walk before you can run. If everyone’s weak and you’re taking their chips left and right, great, move up in stakes.


Mistake #2: NOT following bankroll rules.

I recommend using a 40x buy-in rule for cash games (5nl = $5 buy-in x 40 = $200 bankroll).  If we think about my first $600 deposit, 40x buy-ins would be $15 buy-in, 15nl games. There aren’t 15nl games on the sites I play on, so I would just play 10nl now.

Use a 100x buy-in rule for tournaments. This will help you avoid “scared money” play and will keep your online career alive for a long time.

So, give online poker a shot. If you play free games, there's nothing to lose at all. And you can play games as low as $.01/$.02 with a $2 buy-in. If you start your online bankroll with $80, you already have 40 buy-ins at your disposal.


Sky Matsuhashi

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