Let’s assume that you know the basics of Poker. Texas hold ‘em. You’ve played with friends face-to-face. You know that a Full House beats trips (three of a kind) but not quads (four of a kind). You know that two aces in your hand are great, and that a 2 and an 8 unsuited aren’t good.
My friend thought that online poker was a form of video poker that you can play on machines in Las Vegas and elsewhere. No. For one, you don’t get long-legged blondes bringing you free drinks every half an hour! Secondly, you are not playing against AI. Online Poker is playing against other people. You are alone at home on your PC, lap-top, tablet or mobile for sure, but you are connected to a server on the internet. You will be playing between 2 and 8-10 people. Real people. Maybe a person up the road from you, or someone from Kyoto, Japan.
The rules of the game are the same. You are trying to beat the other players. You are not playing the dealer, the house or the system as you might be in Black Jack. You don’t make bets with the poker site. You make bets with the other people playing poker. At this point you might be thinking- “how does the site make money then?” That’s not really your concern, but seeing as you asked… The poker site makes money by collecting a small fraction of each pot before awarding it to the winner. The house never gambles at all. This is of course quite different from an “online casino”, where the player and the casino are in competition. With online poker, the house is a neutral third party that takes a small percentage of every pot. Not so much that you’d notice. If you win, you win, but a few per cent is siphoned off to the House.
To begin with, enter online Poker or online casino into your search engine. Then visit at least five, if not ten sites where you can find information about the games hosted by the site, the rules, promotions, upcoming events, and the place from which you download the poker “client”. A good place to check for information is www.cardschat.com. Have a note pad by your PC and write down the deals and the small print. There may be attractive joining offers, but after that, is it more expensive than the others? Are the graphics unappealing? Is it 24/7 play? Does it have other games- slots and Omaha as well as Hold em?
I mentioned the poker client – that means the program you install on your own PC. It has a graphical display of the poker game showing the players and cards and has buttons you use to bet and to fold. When you run it, it connects to the poker game server. Ahh another expression I need to explain-
The poker game server is the central computer that runs the poker games. The game server runs a computer program that acts as a dealer; shuffling and dealing cards and awarding pots, and cashier- taking the percentage from the pot before awarding your winnings. The game server ensures that all rules are followed correctly and is the heart of the machine.
Then there are the players – the people who are playing poker with each other. And you. They are real people. Each person is sitting at their own computer, running their own copy of the poker client, connected to the poker game server via the internet. You can get to know them, text them (not too much, do you chat a lot when playing poker?) and hopefully take their money.
You can play online poker for play money or real money. When you play for play money, you are just playing for “play chips” or “free chips”. When you first sign up you start out with some number of play chips. If you lose them all, you can simply ask for more, though some sites limit how often you can get more play chips. When you play for real money, you are betting real pounds, dollars, euros or whatever. Playing with real money is what Poker is all about of course. Real money stakes range from tiny (in some games you can bet as little as a penny or a cent) to large (in other games the minimum bet could be several hundred pounds, euros or dollars). The sites make their profit by collecting “rake” from the real money pots, but they are happy to host the play money games as a promotional expense to get you roped in and see how the graphics work.
Finally, the question many newbies ask- am I going to get ripped off? Is the site trustworthy? Here it’s a matter of choice, and to some extent luck. But any site that has a track record of over 12 months is likely to be solid. Maybe join a few and play for play money until you find one that you feel comfortable with. Then make your deposit of real money and play. Be reasonable with how much money you spend and visit here if you need information on problem gambling. Good luck and may the cards smile upon you!