There was a time in the not too distant past when live poker players would largely separate themselves from online poker players and some even complained that “online poker wasn’t real poker”. Today, however, this distinction is much less stark. Most top players play both live and online. However, the two games require a slightly different set of skills, with online poker players relying less on reading physical ‘tells’ and more on monitoring their opponents betting tendencies to make decisions.
The online poker world is huge and constantly changing with new sites popping up all the time. The majority of these are licensed in jurisdictions where online gambling is legal and most accept a wide range of payment methods which can be used to deposit funds into the player’s account. Many of these sites also offer free play-money tables so that new players can get a feel for the game without risking any money.
Once a player has selected a site they will need to create an account which includes an email address and password. Once this is complete they will be ready to start playing. Many of the best online poker sites also feature a help section which can answer most basic questions. Some sites will allow you to download the poker software and play directly from their website, while others will have instant-play options which can be launched in a browser or on mobile devices.
Most of the major online poker rooms will have a variety of games available and they will be grouped into categories such as cash games, tournaments, Sit & Go’s and whatever special format games the site runs. A search box can often be found near the top of the lobby which allows a user to quickly find the games they want to play. Alternatively, most sites will have a quick-start option which can be accessed by clicking on a game in the lobby and then selecting the stakes they wish to play at.
When beginning to play poker online it is a good idea to begin at the lowest possible stakes as this will give the most amount of action for your bankroll. Many sites also have ‘beginner’ tables where new players are automatically seated with other players who classify themselves as beginners. This will dramatically level the playing field and can make the learning process a lot easier.
It is also a good idea to learn the terminology before beginning to play. This will make the transition to real money poker a much smoother process. Some important terms include ‘call’ which means to raise your bet by the minimum amount, ‘fold’ which is to discard your hand face down and ‘check’ which means to pass on betting.
Aside from understanding the terminology it is a good idea to learn some basic strategies. The online world has a wealth of tutorials and guides to assist with this and there are plenty of books which can be used as reference material. One of the most comprehensive is Matt Janda’s ‘Poker Math and Application’ which takes an in-depth look at balance, frequencies and ranges.