Beginner’s Guide to Online Poker

With the game of poker enjoying an explosion in popularity, in part thanks to the success of big-money tournaments like the World Series of Poker and the World Poker Open, online poker is becoming a bigger draw than ever. Millions of people log on to the Internet each day to participate in online poker, playing for points, casino credits, or real money. If you’re interested in playing online poker, how do you get started?

First, you should understand what online poker is not. If you’ve ever been to a land-based casino, you may have seen stand-alone video poker games that appear similar to slot machines. Though many Internet casinos do have video poker games, this is not what online poker is. Also, online poker is not played by yourself or against the “house,” like many other Internet casino games such as blackjack and roulette.

So, what is online poker? Playing online poker is almost like sitting down to a table game at home or in a land-based casino; only your “virtual” opponents are not in the same physical room with you. When you sign on for a game of online poker, you’re playing against real people who are connecting to the online poker room from all over the world. You are betting your money against their money, and there are no “house odds” involved. Other than taking a small percentage of the winning pot (Internet casinos have to make a profit somehow!), the dealer in a game of online poker has no personal stake in the game. Your poker skills actually come into play when you engage in online poker.

There are several components to online poker that beginners should take into consideration. One is the poker web site itself. There are hundreds of web sites offering live online poker, and you should review the rules, promotions, bonuses and choice of games available when choosing one to play in. Another consideration is the poker software you install on your PC that enables you to participate in the game. Playtech or Microgaming develops the most popular versions of poker software, and each offers different graphics and sound to provide you with your online poker experience. Visit Internet poker review web sites to get a sense of the different poker rooms and gaming software available.

Online poker play is often very simple to figure out. You can see all of your cards, but your opponents can only see the face-up cards; likewise, you can see your opponents’ face-up cards, but not their down cards. Poker software provides buttons for betting, folding, and dealing in draw games. If you’re new to online poker, whether you’re a pro at the game or just starting out, you can have fun playing poker online!

How To Play Poker For Beginners Guide To The Basic Rules Of Poker Part 1

In this how to play poker for beginners lesson you will learn the basic rules and game processes of poker. The good news is they’re not as complex as you might have been led to believe.

To start it’s best that you restrict yourself to free online poker multi-table free Texas hold em freeroll tournaments. These games can have anywhere from 20 to 250 players at the start, and, more good news for you, the the quality of the competition you’ll come up against in these games is far from, shall we say, “elevated”; the vast majority of free online poker players exist in a world dominated by relatively average play.

So, to start, you login to your free online poker site and go join a game. As mentioned each of these tournaments will have multiple tables. You can divide the number of players by 10, and you’ll know how many tables are a part of the tournament. You round up to eliminate the decimal point, if any; e.g., 68 players divided by 10, equals 6.8, rounded up, means there are 7 tables in the tournament.

Now the online poker software of the site you play at will seat you at a randomly selected table and seat. On any decent free online poker site games start very regularly, maybe every half-hour; 24-7 so initially, don’t be overly concerned about how successful you are in any one game; there’s always another game that you can enter.

Who Wins and How?

Fundamentally, the winner of any 1 hand will be the player who has the best cards.

The outline of the game process is this: 

  • You get 2 cards dealt to you face down, that only you can see. This is followed by a round of “blind” betting; generally, no more than 3 raises to the original bet are permitted; and this restriction of raises will be true in all future rounds of betting.
  • Next, the Dealer will expose 3 cards on the table. These are called community cards, and can be used by all of the players who are participating in the hand.
  • At this point, another round of betting occurs.
  • Then the Dealer will add another card to the community cards; there are now 4 cards that can be used by all of the players who remain in the hand.
  • This is followed by another round of betting.
  • Last, the Dealer will add a 5th card to the community cards. Again followed by another round of betting 

Now lets look at this in more detail:

Your 2 face down cards are known as “Pocket Cards”. They are dealt out, one at a time, left to right, to everyone at the table. You only see your own pocket cards.

  • The Dealer then exposes 3 “community cards” to all players on the table. This stage is known as “The Flop”.
  • When he exposes the 4th “community card”, it’s known as “The Turn” (or, 4th Street).
  • And, when he exposes the 5th “community card”, it’s known as “The River” (or, 5th Street).
  • All 3 to 5 “community cards” that are exposed on the poker table at any one time are known as “The Board”.

Every player who is participating in the hand through the process of betting (if you “folded”, you’re no longer in the hand), attempts to make the best possible five-card hand. 

  • They can use any 5 of the 7 cards that are available to them; one, both, or none of their pocket cards, together with 3, 4, or 5 of the “community cards”.
  • The player with the best 5 card hand wins all of the money that has been bet (The Pot).

The “Dealer Button” is involved in every hand to be played; one of the game’s participants gets the Dealer Button (DB); the selection of the player who first receives the DB is done by the free online poker software. 

  • At a casino, it’s a round disc, about the size of a hockey puck, and the letter D is usually emblazoned on its flat surfaces.
  • At a paid or free online poker site, the software will automatically place a symbol of sorts on your PC screen to identify the DB.
  • And, the position of the Dealer Button on the poker table is important since the 2 players to the left of the DB are forced to place bets before the cards are even dealt out.

Plus, as you’ll come to learn later, after you read the “Building a Bankroll” series of articles, the DB position is the best seat at the table. Additionally, at the end of every hand, the Dealer Button (DB) moves one position to the left; thus, everyone acts as the “virtual dealer” in an Internet game, and, everyone is forced to place “blind” bets.

Blind Bets? What are they?

  • This is how the game starts.
  • The player to the immediate left of the Dealer Button (DB) is compelled to put up the Small Blind (SB).
  • The player to the immediate left of the Small Blind (SB) is compelled to put up the Big Blind (BB).
  • These “blind bets” are placed in the pot, in front of the dealer. This essentially kickstarts the betting, and, it”s all done before anyone has gotten any cards!

This, for the lack of any other rational reason, means that the winner of the hand that’s about to be played, will, at a minimum, collect the small amount of money that has been “forced” into the pot by the blind bets.

In a multi-table freeroll, or any No Limit free online poker tournament game, the size of the Small Blind (SB) and the size of the Big Blind (BB) are very low at the start of the game. And, every player in the game begins the game with the same amount of free online poker faux-money; or, for practical purposes, poker chips.

Usually, in 15 minute intervals, the size of the “blinds” increase.

  • As an example, if the beginning “blinds” were $10 (SB) and $20 (BB), within 15 minutes the “blinds” would change to $20 (SB) and $40 (BB).
  • And, thereafter, as the game progresses, the “blinds” continue to go up every 15 minutes.
  • In the end, at the final table in a tournament (the last remaining 10 players), the “blinds” could easily reach the point of being $2,000 (SB) and $4,000 (BB).

Now don’t be alarmed, the dollar amounts tied to the Small Blinds (SB) and Big Blinds (BB) in the preceding paragraph, during all freeroll games played on free online poker sites are “fictional” amounts of money. It’s not real money. It’s merely a “tournament representation” of money; it’s free online poker faux-money, they’re poker chips, not real dollars.

This is one reason why it is a very good idea to learn to play poker as a beginner on free poker sites, it can get very expensive very quickly if you start on a real money site!

Winning and Money

The good news with a poker tournament is that the 1st place player doesn’t take all the money. Yes, the absolute winner does get a lions share but other players do get a cut too. How many players and how much is determined by the number of players who enter and the size of the pot. You an find out this information before the game starts.

As the game progresses players are knocked out and tables amalgamate. At some point only those who will share the money are left. If you are still in at this stage then you are now “in the money” or “in the bubble” as it is also commonly called.

When just 10 players are left you will be on the “Final Table”, typically to win any decent amount you need to be here even in very large poker tournament though places lower than this can often at least pay back your cost of joining the game if it is a buy in game.

Right at the end with just 2 players left you will be “head to head”…but that is a story for another day!

Summing up How To Play Poker For Beginners Part 1

In this stage we looked at basic game processes. In part 2 we’ll get into more detail on the stages described and look at what you actually physically do and consider some essential basic free online poker strategy.

A Quick and Easy Texas Holdem Poker Lesson for Beginners

The great thing about Texas Holdem Poker is that it is easy to learn. Even a beginner can quickly develop into a winning player. By following a sound strategy and playing the best starting hands a Texas Holdem Poker newbie can dramatically shorten the learning curve. So what are the best hands that a beginner should play?

The best hands for a beginner to play are Ace-Ace, King-King, Queen-Queen, Jack-Jack, Ace-King suited (example – Ace of clubs & King of clubs).

I strongly recommend that you only play these starting hands as a beginner. In other words, if you are dealt a hand other than one of the above then fold!

Folding is one of the most difficult decisions for a Texas Holdem Poker beginner to do. The mindset of most Texas Holdem Poker beginners is to hang around and see the flop in the hopes of hitting it just right and improving a hand.

While a beginner will hit the flop and improve their hand occasionally, more often than not they will miss it. The Texas Holdem Poker beginner player that plays poor starting hands will end up throwing more money away than they will win.

When you are dealt one of the best starting hands I recommend raising the pot which will serve two purposes. First, it will force players with weak hands to fold instead of allowing them to stay in the game and see the flop for free.

Secondly, by seeing who raises and calls you get to see who feels that they have a good hand and who may be trying to hang in for the flop.

When the flop is dealt you should look carefully to see if you have improved your hand. Even if you have not improved your hand, because you started out with one of the better hands you may still have the best hand. This is especially true if your starting hand was a pair of aces or kings.

If your opponents raise back this can be a strong signal that they may have a powerful hand. Ask yourself, “What could my opponent have?” “Could they have improved their hand?”

Ask yourself these questions after each round of cards are dealt and try to “read” your opponents hand.

If you have a high pair a raise after the flop can help you assess whether your opponents feel if they have a strong hand or not.

If you think you are beaten there is no shame in folding at this point.

When the turn card has been revealed, if you think that you may still have the best hand I would raise the pot so that I could obtain information about my opponents’ hands.

I would follow this same strategy on the river card.

To summarize this basic Texas Holdem Poker beginner strategy:

– stick to playing the best starting hands

– fold the bad hands

– use the power of the raise to knock out weak players and to assess the strength of your opponents hands

By following this Texas Holdem Poker beginner strategy you will start out winning more hands than you lose. You will start out winning more money than you will lose.