All The Aces Daily Poker Column

Learning Poker By Lurking

Want to Learn Online Poker? Be a voyeur! In online poker circles it's known as "lurking" or being a "railbird" and it's perfectly acceptable behaviour.

Most of the online poker rooms give you the option to just watch a live game in progress rather than sit down and play.

It's a classic example of how online poker is an advance on physical poker. Try looking over someone's shoulder in the wrong casino Stateside and you'll be swallowing your teeth for a week. Online it's safe and it's legal. Simply double-click on the table you are keen to observe. You'll be directed to the game table screen and given exactly the same view as all the participating players. And because you're only watching, it doesn't matter if the table is full. The only thing you won't see are the down cards. You can't have everything for nothing. For newbies this provides a real time opportunity to become completely familliar with how to play poker before you take part. The chat window is available to you, so you can follow the table talk and most poker rooms will allow you to join in the chatter as long as you don't make a nuisance of yourself, in which case they'll cut you off.

Select a player at the table and follow the game through his or her progress. Begin to anticipate what you would do in their shoes, ahead of that player's actual decisions. This will give you a risk-free run-through of how that game would've worked out had you played with your own cash. Watch which hands tend to win the pot. Note mistakes that are made and the varying characteristics of the people who play: are they aggressive? Efficient? Jokers? Or silent and violent players who say nothing all game and strike like a viper when it counts and you're looking right down their throat?

I think of lurking as spying on the enemy. It's a re-con before you attempt your assault. It's informative in a work-experience kind of way. When you've learned what you need, have some fun and go for it!