Poker has been played in smoke-filled rooms from time immemorial. Many gamers play poker at land-based casinos and many play online. At a land-based casino you can play video poker or you can sit down and play poker with real people. The first thing you must understand about live poker is that your opponents will try to bluff you. Online, you can play live poker against real opponents in a “poker room”. Any poker player who ventures into a poker room or sits down to play with real people at a land-based casino must be aware that their opponents may be pros who thrive on less experienced players. On the other hand, many poker players go to poker rooms online just to have fun!
Not Every Poker Player Likes Bluffing
Another way to play poker online is to play a “casino poker” game. There are many such games featured at the topmost casinos. In these games, you’ll play against the dealer but there is no bluffing. You simply match hands to determine a winner. The final form of online poker is video poker where the dealer doesn’t have a hand; you play to get at least the minimum hand for that specific variation and, if you do, you win!
Dreams of WSOP Glory
Many a poker player dreams of someday participating in the World Series of Poker (WSOP). Everyone who gets to play WSOP poker had to start somewhere. The real test for aspiring WSOP players is real live poker but before you get there you can tune up playing either casino poker or video poker. These games are especially helpful when played online because you can play with a strategy card. In this way, you can learn far more than the rules of poker; you get deeply involved in strategy and the “feel” of a hand.
The Lay of the Hands
The most basic rule of poker is the rank of hands. From highest to lowest they are:
- Royal Flush—Ace to ten of the same suit.
- Straight flush—five consecutive cards of the same suit.
- Four of a kind
- Full house—three of a kind and a pair at the same time
- Flush—Five cards of the same suit but not consecutive.
- Straight—five consecutive cards but unsuited.
- Three of a kind
- Two pair
- One pair
- High card—this hand has no pair. The hierarchy of cards is Ace, King and so on.
You can also play poker with wild cards. In these games you can have five of a kind or even higher.
Playing Your Hand Correctly
While it is always possible to win a hand without so much as a pair, it isn’t likely so, at some point, you’ll get out of a hand without a pair. Many low pairs are also bad hands and players fold them. In fact, in tournaments most players fold most of their hands before they make any bets at all!
We have some advice for new poker players.
- The best online poker sites are those that let you play for free without placing your bankroll at risk.
- As a new player, always start out at low stakes games. It will take you some time to learn the terminology of each game, to understand concepts like pot odds, and to be able to “see” cards that are actually hidden.
- At low stakes games, you’ll be up against live poker players who are also just starting out. It’s a good first test to determine if you have the instincts to get into higher stakes games.
- Remember one very important point: poker is fun and you can enjoy it even if you only play in low stakes games.
Start Out with Non-Bluffing Poker
Most online poker players play video poker. Here you don’t need to know such esoteric poker terms as pot odds; flop, turn, and river; big blind and small blind; expected value; and value bet. The two great advantages of video poker is that the game is fast so you get to see and learn from many hands and at online casinos the payout rates for online video poker are usually around 99%!
Table poker offers even better chances to learn from experience because you can play many variations. In these games you compete against the dealer but it’s a straight up comparison of hands.
Real live poker is of course the most potentially lucrative and also the most dangerous form of poker.
Everything Else Being Equal Go for the Bonuses
Many online casinos offer a special poker bonus to enlarge new players’ bankrolls. A poker bonus of this type may be offered to all players who “sit down” at the poker table. Another poker bonus is the Welcome Bonus that the best online casinos offer new players.
Another poker bonus is the large number of hands some online casinos allow poker payers to play. At a land-based casino, you play poker at the one table you’re sitting at. Online you can go from table to table without changing your seat! There are so many variations of poker that you’ll always find a game that is interesting to play. Whilst Texas Hold-em remains the most popular game online, in land-based casinos, and in wsop poker, there are poker variants that are reasonably close to Hold’em and are more interesting to some players.
Online poker rooms have far more lucrative poker tournaments than land-based casinos. This is because online tournaments receive players from all over the world who can participate from hundreds or even thousands of different locations around the globe. Land-based tournaments are rooted in a single place.
Land-based tournaments, by the nature of the costs incurred by the casino merely to stage the tournament, mean that buy-in rates are quite high. Online costs of staging a tournament are so negligible that players can play for just a few pennies per hand. In so doing, you participate in a tournament at the same rate that you play with your mates come Friday night.
Before Starting Out: Study
It is incumbent upon all players thoroughly to learn the rules of any variation of poker they may wish to play. Many online casinos give good tutorials but self-study is always best. Find a site with superior tutorials or buy a couple of books if need be. The point is that we learn from experience but we ought to start from a point of knowledge rather than from a point of ignorance.
It is fun to play poker and most players find their particular “area of comfort”. We hope that all of you find the poker niche you like the most be it online or at a land-based casino and be it live poker, online table poker or video poker.