So, you’ve seen the high stakes pros on television and fancy giving it a go yourself in the comfort of your own living room. Online poker is an exciting and convenient way of playing the game that has taken the world by storm over the last ten years. However, before you rush in and start throwing your money around, here are a few pointers that could help set you on road to fame and fortune!
First and foremost, you need to choose where to play. No doubt you’ve seen poker sites advertised on television and in magazines, so you’ll know there are many to choose from. Some sites are bigger than others and, generally, the more players the wider variety of games to choose from. However, size isn’t everything. Many sites offer a sign up bonus – a cash sum depending on the size of your first deposit – and loyalty schemes, so you should probably shop around to see which is offering the best.
Once you’ve made your decision, it’s wise to just spend some time exploring the site to understand its layout, features and where to find the various games. Poker encompasses a number of variants but by far the most popular is No Limit Texas Hold’em. It`s the format popularised by the biggest tournament on the planet – the World Series of Poker Main Event – and the game of choice for the majority of online players. Most of sites will also offer Omaha, Stud or Draw, so don’t worry if Hold’em isn’t for you.
If you’ve been drawn to online poker by the lure of the World Series of Poker, you’ll probably be looking to play multi-table tournaments. MTTs get going at a specific time and can conceivably include several thousand players. You just pay your entry fee and away you go. However, the blinds – forced bets at the start of a hand – increase at regular intervals to ensure the tournament ends within a reasonable time. And you don`t have to break the bank to play – most sites will offer tournaments for as little as $1 to enter for beginners. Sit and go tournaments follow a similar pattern in that the blinds increase at intervals, but have a limit on player entries and won’t start until that number is reached.
In cash games – also known as ring games – you play for real money. Whatever stakes you choose, blinds remain the same and you are limited to the amount of money you can bring to table, although you can top up should you happen to lose a big hand! Once again, beginners with modest bankrolls need not worry, the majority of sites offer ‘micro’ stakes games, with blinds as low as 1c/2c so you can learn the game without risking huge sums.
Of course, before you get sat down and play for money, you should ensure you have at least a basic grasp of the rules, such as the ranking of poker hands.