Play Poker - A Guide

So you've decided to join millions of others in the wonderful world of online poker? Well good for you! In this section, I'll provide a few good pointers on what you need to know before you start to play online poker. The dos and dont's for newbies! Assuming you have a decent Internet connection and a somewhat modern computer that can handle online poker software, we'll move on to more important things.

If you are looking for information on how to play a specific poker game, be it Teaxas Hold'Em, Omaha, Stud Poker, Heads Up or other online poker game, I can thoroughly recommend the 32Red Poker School. There is little point in me simply regurgitating what they have written up so well, so head on over and take a look.

Find an online poker room that suits you

This is pretty easy. Just snoop around the poker rooms on this site, have a look at the screenshots and read the review which explains the games on offer, tournaments, software, banking options and support response for over 20 of the best and most popular online poker rooms. If you like what you see, download the software in question and browse that particular poker room until you have formed an opinion. Remember, you don't have to pick the first place you see, there's lots of decent [poker sites] to choose between and if you prefer to play in your browser or while you travel, the flash poker room section will prove useful.

If you want to skip the whole research thing and are happy to take my word for it, then the most popular online poker sites with experienced players include PokerStars, Titan Poker and [Full Tilt Poker]. Click one of those links to go download the online poker software and get started.

Finance and funding your online poker hobby

I could write page after page on this topic, it's the most important issue when deciding whether or not to pursue the possibility of earning some extra money playing online poker. There are many veterans, heck even professional players, who don't practice proper bankroll management and will go broke before they even get a taste of winning. When online poker players mention the word 'bankroll' it's exactly what it sounds like, the total amount of money you have to play with in your online poker account. Not your household money and not your life savings but the money you have set aside purely to play online poker. First off, you have to ask yourself these crucial questions:

Can you afford to do this? If you are already on a tight budget and can't stand to lose any money at all, online poker is not for you. You will need to set aside funds to play with, money that can (and in the beginning, probably will) be lost and most importantly, money that wasn't supposed to go towards other things, like eating and drinking!

How much do you have to spare? So you have a few extra bucks in your pocket? Fine, but exactly how much are you willing to spend on playing online poker? This is a fast and unforgiving game, even the best players can lose a fair wedge within seconds. The $20 you decided to have fun with may be gone before you know it and that's exactly why money lost when you play online poker shouldn't affect your other personal finances or everyday needs.

Money management! Ok, so it's decided you have a bit of money to play poker with, let's say $100 ($1.00 = 50pence or €0.70 approx) for arguments' sake. Let's find us a $100 game then, right? WRONG! If your total bankroll is $100, you should look for the tables with the lowest possible buy-in amounts - maybe 1cent/2cent (this refers to the "blind" and "big blind" amounts which are explained later) - for exactly the reasons stated in the previous paragraph. Especially when you're a beginner, you want to strech the money while getting a feel for the game and not see it gone in 60 seconds. Online poker is a game of fundamentals, much like chess, easily learned but so very hard to master. Should things go against you, there's always a chance to bounce back providing you haven't used your whole bankroll in one sitting. The rule of thumb is: a maximum of 5-10% of your total funds should be used for any given event, that's to say a cash game or tournament. Stick to this and thank me later when you've figured out what I'm preaching here.

What's Your Game?

What type of online poker game should you play? Clearly an important question. There are many forms of online poker with "No Limit Hold'Em" (NLHE), the game you see played on TV, the most common, especially in the major poker tournaments. As a beginner I suggest trying out this first and leave the others for later, what you pick up here may be useful in the future when switching to other games such as "Stud" and "Omaha" but that's another chapter. So we've decided to play "No Limit" online poker for now, what's our next step? Figuring out the proper stakes/limits for our bankroll of course. Let's look at our bankroll again, how much do we have? Again, we'll use $100 as an example simply because it's a nice, round number. We should only use 10% of this 100 at a time, that leaves us with $10 for now. With a mere $10, we have no other choice than to head for the lowest limit tables and that's exactly where we should go. A nice 9 or 10-seat table with blinds of, let's say one or two cents is the perfect place to start your poker career.

If you have followed these simple steps to the teeth, you'll notice things feels right even before the game has even begun. This is because we've taken proper precautions to prevent disaster. We have found a table where everyone, just like yourself, is a beginner. We've only used a fraction of our bankroll in case things doesn't go our way. In other words, there's zero chance of going belly up on our first ever visit to an online poker table. If you want to try some poker against other players for free before you get started, check out the ESPN Poker Club run in association with Bluff magazine.

With this said, we're almost ready to start playing. Almost...Continue to "Poker Tips" »

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