How online poker works
When playing real poker, you are gambling against the other people in the game. Online poker is no different; the poker site, or software, is merely the platform through which all the players are connected.
Poker sites normally offer ‘play money’ tables to help people get started. It’s a good idea to use these until you’re comfortable with playing poker online.
When playing for real money you should note that a small percentage of the winnings, called the rake, is deducted by the poker site.
Choosing an online poker site
When choosing an online poker site you should take the following into consideration:
Popularity is important, a popular site will have more players online, making it easier to get into a game. Popularity, to a certain degree, also acts as a guarantee that a site is reputable. A site wouldn’t be popular for long if it didn’t pay out. Finally, as popular sites make more money, they are less likely to go bankrupt.
If you have a favourite variety of poker it will be important for you to choose a site that has this variety. Again popular sites are good for offering a wide variety, they have more players and so can afford to offer more choice.
Most sites offer loyalty programs to encourage players to return. These can work in a variety of ways and some are better than others. A good loyalty program can make playing all the more worthwhile.
The software for each site is much the same but some may have different tools that can help you out. For example a tool to keeps notes on different players is popular. Also may find some software easier to use or more graphically appealing. This is a matter of preference.
When you’ve chosen the poker room for you the next step is to sign up. The first thing you need to do is download the software and install it (although some site run on flash, making this unnecessary). Most sites have a big link on the front page saying ‘play now’, ‘download’ or ‘sign up’. This link will probably start the download automatically.
Once you’ve downloaded it, install it like you would any other application. At this point it will probably ask you for your personal details and possibly credit-card details. Once you’ve filled in all the require information you should be ready to go.
There are two types of game, ring games and tournaments. Both of these types can be played for play money or real money. Play money ring games are recommended for new-comers to online poker, until they are confident with playing poker online.
Ring games are basically single, non-tournament, games. A ring game is played on a single table and people can come and go at any time. Ring games are normally labelled as the type of poker that is being played, for example Hold ’em or Omaha.
Tournaments come in many shapes and sizes. They can be single-table or or multi-table, scheduled or unscheduled ‘sit-and-go’ tournaments. The main difference between tournaments and ring games is once you start a tournament you can’t leave until you’ve lost all your chips or won everyone else’s. They are normally clearly labelled as tournaments.