ONLINE POKER STRATEGY: Advice from PokerStars Streamer and Series Host Lex Veldhuis

The “Lex Not Live” tournament series continues through the weekend at PokerStars with buy-ins ranging from $11 to $55. The series is hosted by site ambassador Lex Veldhuis and stresses a community aspect seen on Twitch streams.

One of the most popular Twitch Poker streamers, Veldhuis has almost $700,000 in live tournament winnings and more online. A poker pro for 16 years, he’s been streaming his action for the last five years. He spends about $60,000 a month competing in online tournaments.

As Lex Not Live continues, the PokerStars ambassador spoke with PokerScout this week to offer some strategy advice for online players.

♠♠♠ For a complete preview and schedule of the Lex Not Live series, click here. ♠♠♠

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Transitioning to online poker

Online poker exploded over the last year and a half. That has included new players jumping in the game. What are some concepts new and intermediate players should keep in mind when adjusting to online poker?

Veldhuis says live poker is an information game and the same is true for online poker. But the online version features a different sense of information.

“You don’t see people and you don’t have the social aspects,” he says. “In online poker, you try to look much more for betting patterns, for instance, or how quickly somebody acts. So it’s a little bit more of a ‘numbers information’ stream.”

Online poker players can get in the action with PokerStars streamer Lex Veldhuis in the “Lex Not Live” series from May 18-23.

Online poker also features much more action than live poker. Hands move faster and some live players may get caught out of their comfort zone. It’s important not to take on more than a player can handle.

“I think that live players can sometimes be caught out in online poker as they can play too many tables when they play online,” Veldhuis says, “because they get super excited and then all of a sudden they’re playing six tournaments, and they’re not playing their best on all of them. So, I think that’s something they should take into account.”

Avoiding common bankroll mistakes

As players go online, some may be tempted to play bigger buy-in events hoping for a large score. Veldhuis recommends avoiding this pitfall. Stay within your bankroll to gradually move up as a player finds success.

“I think that a lot of people jump in a bit too high because you can play more games and can play games at the same time,” he says. “It’s easier to play a little bit lower and better.

“If you go to a live tournament, you may normally play a $200 tournament. You travel to a live tournament so that’s worth it, right. But if you play online and play a similar buy-in, you don’t get that whole trip for it and you can play multiple ones at the same time for that buy-in.”

Players who may be accustomed to playing $200 events in a live setting may not be at the same level online. Multiple buy-ins at that level may sink a bankroll because the action moves so quickly. A few quick eliminations can deplete those poker funds.

“It’s a new beast that you’re trying to approach, so if I was a new player online, I would definitely step down a few levels,” he says. “See what it’s like, play a few tournaments at the same time and not too many. Online and live are two different games, and I think it’s good to approach that with care.”

Lex Veldhuis battling it out at the live tables of the European Poker Tour.

Strategy advice for playing new games

Lex Not Live features some unique games many players may not have played, such as Fusion and 6+ Hold’em. How should players who have never played them before approach these games?

Veldhuis says many players jumping in these events during Lex Note Live will actually be in the same boat.

“The good thing about these games and these tournaments specifically is that a lot of the players that are playing will be community players that watch Twitch a lot and that go to Lex Live,” he says. “So that means that you’re not going to play against people that grind Six-Card PLO or play Fusion a lot.

“There’s a lot of people in these tournaments that are discovering the game for the first time, so that makes it a little bit more of a level playing field.”

For those completely new, Veldhuis suggests reading through the rules thoroughly. Consider some possible strategies as you adjust to the new format.

“Don’t play too many tables and just play and pay attention to what happens on the table,” he says. “See how other people do and what their strategies are, and see if you can pick up something interesting from that.”

Lex Not Live also features lower buy-in levels with most events priced at $11. This offers players a chance to try something new without breaking the bank.

“Also, new games give you a pretty cool perspective on a different way a poker game can be played,” Veldhuis says, “which sometimes gives you also some inspiration for a No Limit Hold’em game, for instance.”

Moving from No Limit Hold’em to PLO

A few events in Veldhuis’s series feature Pot Limit Omaha (PLO). The game continues to grow in popularity and he offered some advice for Hold’em players looking to play. 

“It’s a completely different game, a lot of people go into PLO with a No Limit Hold’em mindset,” he says. “They check to the raiser a lot or to the person who bet the previous street. But PLO’s a very dynamic game. The board changes a lot. The board favors different players throughout the whole hand.

“A four-card hand in PLO from the big blind covers completely the lower part of the board, so there’s a lot of possibilities there to lead at a pot on the turn or the river if straights get to the board. That’s just a specific example where you normally would check to a raiser in No Limit Hold’em.”

In PLO, bet sizes should also be a lot bigger, he says. Hands have a higher percentage to beat another PLO hand than a random Hold’em hand against a random Hold’em hand. 

“You’re almost never drawing dead,” Veldhuis says. “You have a big percentage to win hands. That also means that when you have a good hand you have to protect those hands. Try to look at the game not with a Hold’em mindset but be open minded.

“Again, look at what you see around you. A lot of times when you’re discovering a new game, if someone does something super annoying to you, that means that you can also try to employ that strategy.”

For example, a player may bet the pot every time there’s a straight on the board on the turn. You continue to fold two pairs in spots like this. That’s something to consider doing yourself.

Veldhuis stresses to play with an open mind and don’t think too much with a No Limit Hold’em brain.

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Advantages of playing online and watching Twitch streams

Obviously Veldhuis is a fan of online poker. Those new to the game have a chance to get more experience at a quicker pace.

Players can see more hands, and it’s simpler to just sit down and play immediately. There’s also no need or cost to travel.

Twitch viewers can also learn while watching others play. Watching a stream like Veldhuis’s offers players some new perspectives on the game. Many of the more popular streamers are winning players with experience and have a lot to offer.

“One thing that I think will teach you a lot more when you watch is to try and look at a hand and think to yourself, ‘what would I do here before the streamer explains it?’” Veldhuisa says. “You see a turn card, ‘what would I do? Would I bet here?’

“And be honest to yourself. I think if the Twitch streamer is talking and you’re just listening to the words and you’re like, ‘well, yeah, super logical to bet this turn,’ even though you wouldn’t really be able to form an opinion about that on your own or to come up with a strategy.”

The process can be very interactive. Players should be amenable to new perspectives and strategies, Veldhuis says.

“I think one of the most important things in poker learning is keeping an open mind and not trying to put a label on something immediately if you think something’s good or bad just because you’re not familiar with it,” Veldhuis says. “From an educational point of view, I think that’s a really important thing to keep in mind.”

He believes that advice includes being open to new games. Seeing some strategies and some games may inspire a player to branch out with new ideas in other games.

“If you like to explore new things in poker, going back to No Limit Hold’em after that will kind of reignite your passion for it and your interest in it,” he says. “It’s just fun because there are so many different forms of poker.

“You know the basic rules, you know the hand strengths, and there’s more than one game, and I think it’s important to keep discovering that. And that’s fun with smaller tournament series as well.”

*** Photos courtesy PokerStars/Neil Stoddart

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