An Introduction to the Wonderful World of Online Poker

You’ve probably already seen some advertising for online poker. In the last decade or so, it’s taken the online world by storm. Millions of participants have played, enjoyed, and won. But that doesn’t mean there’s no room for newcomers. Poker sites across the internet are always looking for new customers, and offer a variety of benefits and solutions to suit their needs.
 

You can Play Many Variants, but Texas Hold’em is King

 If you’ve grown up playing poker for small change around you kitchen table, chances are that you’re used to playing some form of draw poker. In the current poker world, draw is a very niche game and played by only a handful of competitors. The great thing about online poker is that it unites players all over the world. This means that even for such a niche game that you probably wouldn’t find in a land based casino, you can still get your fix online.
 
However, the massive tournaments and nose-bleed stakes are normally focused on Texas Hold’em. If you haven’t played Hold’em before, it’s known as the Cadillac of poker and provides unparalleled excitement. The sheer scale of it shouldn’t daunt potential newcomers, as it’s actually very easy to learn.
 
Second in popularity to Texas Hold’em is Omaha. Both variants play quite similarly but have a few key differences. Although games such as Stud might have been one of the most popular types of poker throughout the games’ history, they now have a much smaller following and are mostly only played by the old guard.
 

How Does Texas Hold’em Work?

online poker

Photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ceslava/3576952698/

 In Texas Hold’em a player is dealt two “private” hole cards that nobody else can see. A round of betting ensues (with rotating circulating blinds acting as antes, in order to encourage action). All remaining players then see the “flop”, which is where 3 community cards are dealt in the middle of the table. Players can use any combination of their hole cards and the community cards to make the best five-card hand.
 
After another round of betting, a further fourth community card is dealt, known as the turn. Another round of betting then occurs, before the final river card is dealt. Any players still remaining in the hand after a final round of betting have to show their cards and the best hand takes the pot. Of course, many hands don’t even make it to the river, with players folding in prior rounds. You don’t even need the best hand to win, as the size of your bets might make other people think that they are beaten, causing them to fold. This is known as bluffing.
 

Online Poker Tournaments

 One of the most exciting innovations of the online poker world is the ease and availability of poker tournaments. Most online poker sites offer hundreds of tournaments every day, catering to all skill levels and bankrolls.
 
In a poker tournament, you pay an entry fee and this is generally all you are liable for. You can therefore see how much you are likely to lose before you even play a hand. Players actually compete with virtual chips rather than real money. The aim of the game is to last as long as possible. When your opponents get eliminated, you move closer to winning a prize as the top few places pay out relatively large amounts of money. Normally the top 10% of the field will be “in the money”, with the largest prize going to first place.
 
If you’ve seen people playing in the World Series of Poker on TV, online poker tournaments follow the same principle. Although thankfully it’s much faster online which means a tournament might take a few hours rather than a few days. You might think that the mouth-wateringly big prizes are reserved for live tournaments, but this isn’t the case. You can win hundreds of thousands of dollars in online tournaments. You could even win a seat in the WSOP via an online satellite (qualifying tournament).
 
Whilst most of the best tournaments cost something to enter, new players can learn tournament play through freeroll tournaments. A freeroll offers real cash prizes yet costs nothing to enter.
 
Another innovation is the Single Table Tournament. This is where 9 or 10 players compete on a single table, with the top 3 winning a prize. Although formats can vary slightly, the pot is normally shared out so that the winner gets 50%, 2nd place 30% and 3rd get 20%. STTs are very popular amongst the new generation as they offer a sample of tournament play whilst only taking up to an hour (compared to a few hours needed for a normal tournament win).
 

Cash Games

 The main alternative to tournament poker is the cash game. This is where you sit at the table with real money, rather than virtual chips. Your stack is a portion of your bankroll and every time you stake it’s with an amount of real money.
 
This might sound daunting but there are a wide range of levels available depending on your needs. Although most tournaments are of the No Limit variety, cash games can also be played with fixed limits. This means that you can’t lose your whole stack at once and can only stake fixed amounts.
 
Most online poker professionals play cash games to make their income. This is because the variance and fluctuations are much lower than in tournaments. It’s realistic for a good player to set a target of winning a respectable hourly wage.
Amazing Bonuses are Available
 
Many sites offer some outstanding bonuses and promotional offers to entice new customers. This means that as a newcomer, you have the advantage in that you can almost get paid to play! Some bonuses will match the amount you deposit, meaning you could double your bankroll before you’ve even started!
 
There are also a number of other offers available to new players like special promotional tournaments and rakeback promotions. Some sites will even give you free gifts. There are a multitude of promotional options available to any new player.

The huge growth of online poker has provided many new players with both enjoyment and cash for almost a decade now. It’s not too late to start and many new players begin learning the game every day. Poker might be the game for you.

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