The rise of online poker has been one of the major factors behind the game’s explosion in popularity over the past couple of decades, with players able to get involved any time they fancy from wherever they are in the world. The fundamentals are the same as playing at a land-based venue, but the online version of the game does present some different and exciting challenges. Here’s how to play poker online if you’re considering taking the plunge.
You can visit the poker basics section to learn more about how to play if you’re a complete novice. You can also read up on Texas Hold’em (add link) to find out the rules for poker’s biggest and most popular variant.
Texas Hold’em is one of many types of poker offered by online cardrooms, and one of the first steps for online players after signing up is to to find out which options are available. Once you have gotten started by downloading the required software, registering and later making a deposit, it is vital to learn how to use the lobby.
The lobby lists all the games you can play, and the columns will typically display the various types of poker, the stakes, buy-in, number of players at the table and an option to play. There is usually a filter facility to help you decide, so you can look for the games with the lowest stakes or the biggest prize pool depending on what works for you. If you fancy a tournament, you can click on a game for more information about registration, the prize pool or payout structure.
Once you have picked out which table suits you best, you join the game and take your seat as long as you have sufficient funds in your online poker account. Many sites allow you to customise the appearance of the table layout and the cards, as well as pick your own avatar, letting you get the most enjoyment out of the game as you can.
There will be a dealer button on the table to indicate the playing order and it will be made very obvious whose turn it is; for example, their avatar will flash. You will be dealt your cards at the start of each hand and when the action comes to you, you’ll find that you have a number of betting options available. Examine your hand, consider the moves of the players behind you and just press a button to complete the action. That’s all there is to it!
Fans of online poker are spoilt for choice, but working out which one is best can be quite tricky. Factors to consider include the ease of use, the variety of games on offer and the network of players, while you might also want to think about the bonuses or promotions available, the quality of the mobile service or any extra exciting features which stand out from other options. The following sites tick all the right boxes:
Online poker is an extremely popular option as it allows players to get involved at the touch of a button rather than heading off to the nearest cardroom for a scheduled cash game or tournament. Online, there are games available around the clock and it is possible to take part without leaving home, or play to help pass the time during your lunch hour or a long train journey.
Getting started is quick and easy, so you should not have any problems playing poker on smartphones, tablets or on your desktop. As long as you are the minimum age in your jurisdiction, which is 18 years old in the UK, you will be able to sign up and create a user account. There will be verification systems in place to prevent anyone too young from playing, so be ready to upload some documents that act as proof of your age.
Many sites have a limited selection of instant poker games that can be played straight away, but for the full experience you will usually be required to download specific software. This is quicker and easier than you might think, as there is plenty of competition out there and anyone whose service is not up to speed runs the risk of losing valuable traffic.
The software provides more sophisticated features and added security for players, without taking up much room on a computer or tablet. There are a number of trusted software manufacturers on the market, including the popular iPoker network and the Microgaming Poker Network. These are favoured by many of the top sites and provide fast, stable and reliable software, as well as large player bases and stable traffic.
At this point, you’ll want to thoroughly explore the site to check what games can be played, what bonuses are offered and any other aspects you might want to consider. It’s also a good idea to play a few free games if the option is available, because the next step is to put down some money. Visit the deposit and withdrawals section for more information.
When making your first deposit and planning how you will play poker online, it is vital to think about how much you can spend. The bankroll management page will cover in more depth how to look after your finances over a period of time, but you must consider at the start the best strategy for making your money last and keeping poker fun.
You won’t need much money to get started, and at the beginning it is sensible to move slowly and spend less, because otherwise funds can drain away quickly. A deposit of just £20 to £50 can keep you going for a long time if you stick to low-level tournaments and cash games with smaller blinds and buy-ins. As you learn your craft, you can hopefully boost your account balance! The beginner tables are also worth a go because you will be competing against players of similar experience instead of being thrown into the deep end with the sharks.
Tracking your results in the early days of your poker career will allow you to work out what is successful and what isn’t. Even though you’re playing poker in a virtual environment, the money you spend is very real. Keep track of your hand histories so you can work out how well you did over a specific period of time - this will help you identify your strengths and weakness as you start forming a general poker strategy that works for you.
Whether you have experience of offline poker or have not played the game at all, one new aspect for online players will be the lobby, which displays all the games you can play. Just click on a game, sit down at the virtual felt and get going! Here is an example of what a poker lobby looks like:
Navigating a poker lobby can be tricky for beginners, but they are not as confusing as they first appear and it is just a case of picking out the information which is relevant to you before choosing which game to play. Multi-tabling is a great option for online players who have more experience, but if you’re relatively green, it’s best to start at a single table and expand from there. Find out more about how to play poker online at the dedicated page.
Online games work in a similar way to offline poker, but there are one or two subtle differences, including the limited amount of time that is allowed on each hand. Whereas players in bricks-and-mortar poker rooms have a chance to consider their moves carefully, there will be a clock counting down in online games to keep things ticking over and account for the possibility of someone suddenly going away from their computer or mobile. The faster pace of online poker can be hard to get to grips with, but it does mean that more hands are played per hour and therefore there are more chances to win.
Another important aspect in online poker is the ability to play at more than one table at a time. Multi-tabling does require skill and a great deal of concentration, but experienced players who are used to making quick decisions can become very adept at focusing on their good hands and winning more regularly, whilst folding bad hands without worry.
Other advantages to online poker are the regular bonuses, the large amount of freerolls on offer and the lower rake taken by the house. The fact that rules are also enforced automatically, such as players always betting in turn, provides a sense of reassurance to the participants and decreases the likelihood of any conflict.
Playing online also ensures that you don’t have to worry about showing physical tells to anyone else at the table. If you don’t have a great hand but are trying to bluff your way to success, you can squirm and shout at your screen to your heart’s content while your opponents think that you’re secretly holding a monster set. On the other hand, it is tough to detect whether your competitors have good cards or not, although there are still ways to figure out if someone is bluffing without seeing them.
Online poker aims to bring together and enhance all the best elements of the game and make it as enjoyable as possible for players. All you need to do is get familiar with the site you’re using, pick out which games you want to play and deposit some money to get started.
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