Where To Start With Online Poker
If you are looking to begin playing online poker but don’t where or how to start? Well, we’ve put together some answers to some of the most common questions to set you on your way.
Why online poker?
Unlike other some other forms of gambling like the slots, poker rewards skill. And, while it’s hard to recreate the thrill of a live poker room entirely, the online version can be pretty exciting. Also, the growth of internet casinos has made the game more accessible than ever before.
Playing online is a great way to learn, hone your skills and gain experience (for free or very low stakes) before you ever set foot in a land-based establishment or play in a local home game. And of course, with the with multi-table play and high hand per hour (HPH) rates, online poker rooms offer newcomers and solid players alike greater potential for winning more money faster.
The online environment also offers a level of anonymity that is quite attractive if you are inexperienced and find the idea of live poker quite daunting. The knock-on from this fact is that the vast majority of online poker players are inexperienced and can be easily parted from their bankroll by any experienced player playing a solid game with an understanding of the fundamental differences between online and live poker.
Who can play and what do you need to start?
Online gambling is legal in the UK for anyone over the age of 18 with a mobile phone, PC or any other internet connected device can play online. Legality and age limit may differ in different regions and jurisdictions.
You can get started by opening an account for free (be ready with your username, email address, and a strong password), download and install the software onto your device in a matter of minutes.
If you want to get stuck straight in with real-money money games, you’ll need to need to give a bit more information to open a real-money account. You’ll need to choose your preferred funding method: credit card will give you almost instant funding to your account whereas an e-wallet may take a little more time to set up. The latter option is well worth the bother if you are planning to play regularly and want to switch money instantaneously between poker rooms.
Where can you play?
There are a huge number of online casinos offering a wide variety of games with millions of players. You should look for reputable sites, licensed and regulated by the UK Gambling Commission with 24/7 customer support and quick turn-around on depositing and withdrawals.
Of course, you should search for the sites that offer the games that you want to play but also be on the lookout for the best sign-up bonuses. These usually come in the form of 100% deposit match.
You will have to play some hands to get your bonus released, so try to play as many as possible in the weeks following a sign-up. You will, of course, have to play some hands to get your bonus, so make sure that you keep your games up in the weeks after you join a poker site. And don’t forget that the hands you play will be gaining your Frequent Player Points which can be redeemed for free buy-ins, prizes and even cash.
How do you find a table?
If you are new to online casinos, the lobby may seem a bit daunting. Look for the ‘quick start’ option which will allow you to state what game and stakes you want to play. You’ll find yourself up and running on a table in no time.
It’s likely that whatever site you’re on will have a beginner table which will be running at an easy pace. It is ideal for newcomers and too slow for the sharks.
Most online poker sites have a beginner table of some sort, and we highly recommend these for new players. If you’re on a beginner table, you’ll be limited to just one table, which is not a problem if you are still learning the game. The relatively slow pace of beginner tables keeps the sharks away.
What games are available?
Texas No-Limit Hold’em is the most popular poker game online and a great place to start if you are new to the scene. It’s a good game to start with as it’s fairly simple to learn, but it will take a while to master. For more information on the basics of the game check the Beat that Deal guide here.
In online poker tournaments, you pay your buy-in and play until you have no more chips. The winner is the last many standing with all the chips.
Popularised by televised tournaments such as World Series Poker, World Poker Tour and European Poker Tour, and made accessible by the rise of internet poker, online tournaments can be the cheapest way to win large amounts of money. For a small buy-in, winners could expect to take home six-figure prizes.
Regular tournaments attract 1000s of players weekly, and you’ll find single table Sit & Go events available around the clock.
Check out our post 7 Tips for winning in small stakes online poker tournaments for more information.
Sit & Go’s
Sit & Go’s are single table games that start when enough players are online at the table – you never have to wait long. The time commitment is less onerous for the Sit & Go’s, but the rewards are smaller.
In cash games, you play with real value chips. These games offer more flexibility than the tournaments. Which can be long-haul events, in that you can out at any time playing as many or few games as you like.
When you are feeling confident enough, you can try your hand at playing multiple tables – one of the key advantages that online has over live poker. Start with two tables, set them up side-by-side on your screen, and see how you get on. Essentially you are doubling your chances of a getting a decent hand.
What kind of bankroll do you need?
After you have sharpened your skills on the free money games, you can move onto the real-money games. The size of your bankroll depends on what the stakes are, and you can start out very low. For example, if you play at the lowest stakes tables £50 is going to last you a long time.
Careful bankroll management is very crucial if you want to stay in the game. Remember that the high-speed nature of online poker means that your bankroll can disappear very quickly compared to the live game. Also, you need to plan accordingly: match your bankroll to the stakes.
Learning the basics and working on strategy
If you are starting out as a total novice in poker, you should check out some of our strategy articles and also get to grips with the hand ranks. The beauty of online is that you can keep this screen open on your computer and use it as a resource while you play. Something you wouldn’t dream of doing in a live game. To improve your game, and ultimately win more money more often, it’s also a good idea to track your results. Most poker sites have built-in tracking so that you can keep an eye on your session stats. In particular win rates, the number of showdowns and flops seen. As you progress, you may want to move on to more advanced software.