Railbirding – How to Effectively Learn from Watching Online Poker Tournament Pros Play

Watching The Expert Online Tournament Players In Action Can Do Wonders For Your Game.

Online Poker Tournament success favors those who never stop learning. Joining the next WPT Bootcamp or one of the many excellent online poker training video websites would be great… but many players poker bankrolls do not stretch this far.

Railing – or watching Online Tournament Professionals play in real time can be a valuable source of information for any aspiring MTT player. However this needs to be approached in a structured way to maximize your return from the time spent. This article will look at the basics of getting the most from railing the tournament pros, looking at the questions of who to rail and how to best unravel the wealth of information available.

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Learning By Watching Pros Online - Who Are The Right Poker Tournament Professionals to Rail?

The ‘household name’ players – made famous from TV and the World Series – may not be the best people to watch. Think of it this way, Jamie Gold might have won the World Series but does his playing style online merit your attention? Quite probably no, there are better targets playing mid-level online MTTs with great success – these players are beating the game you are learning to play and should be your primary railing candidates. So how do you identify likely MTT Professionals to rail? Our suggestion here is to check out ranking sites and popular forums - many of which will feature tournament leader-board type lists of the top players.

Tournament Leaderboards

These leaderboards track online tournament professionals by recent results and give you a handy list of winners on a monthly and yearly basis. Sure it is possible for someone to have a ‘lucky run’ of a few tournaments and jump up the rankings – however over the course of a year luck will even out and those at the top of the leaderboard will be the players with a winning online poker strategy.

Here Are A few suggestions To Get You Started (this article is a few years old now, and to be honest the people to follow change so often that it is hard to keep up here! Suggest you check out the leaderboards at Pocket5's and work out who the current stars are from there... since they give up online poker so fast, I will stop listing them here!!)

  • Shaundeeb –True Grinder With Wins Each Week At A Wide Range Of Stakes
  • Moorman1 – Solid MTTer From The UK With Some Impressive Online Results
  • GBoro780 – A constant feature at the top of the pocket fives leaderboards

How To Get the most from Time Spent Railing?


So you have chosen your railing target and are watching them in real time in an online Multi table tournament. What should you look out for that will help you improve your own online poker play?

We will start with individual hands and then look at general situations. The first thing to mention is that showdowns are your ideal scenario here. These will allow you to see the cards of the players in the hand and then to work backwards through the betting to give you insight into the thought process involved.


It is the ability to work backwards in a logical manner that will give you the most information from any one hand. The best starting point is not the first betting in the hand but the stack sizes and table position of the players involved – as well as those not involved.

You should be constantly asking questions. Why did Annette_15 raise to 2000 with a stack of 15000 given the action ahead, table position and stack sizes of both those in the hand and those yet to act? After the flop and opponent bet of 3000 chips what range of hands did She put her opponent on and why did She think flat calling was the best play?

By critically asking questions of each hand you will start to understand the thought processes behind them. When similar situations arise in your own games you will then be armed with some of the key factors to think about when making your own decisions.

Since poker decisions are dependant on so many situational and opponent specific factors it is the approach or thinking process you are looking for – rather than seeing railing as a way to answer specific questions, try see it as a way of improving your logical thinking processes!

Of course not every hand will result in a showdown. However the astute railer can still learn from their chosen online tournament pro without this. The keys here are to look for gear changes’ in online poker tournament play.

There will always be points, due to rising blinds, dangerous stack sizes or the approach of the bubble where a change in strategy is required. If you see a player raising every hand, or conversely going from loose to tight, you can analyze the situation and stack sizes and ask yourself why this is now the correct play. The insights gained from situational factors can be just as beneficial to learning as the hands shown down!

Further Reading For Online Poker Tournament Fans

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