Poker is enjoying a resurgence in popularity, due in part to widespread media coverage and the rock star images of high stakes tournament winners. In addition to a spike in casual pick-up games and casino table play, the poker hobby is exploding on a new frontier. Online poker has captured the fascination of poker traditionalists, and a new breed of technology oriented players.
Is it the Same?
For players transitioning from live games to Internet poker, the learning curve is short. Online games are built around the same familiar sets of features that define live games, and even playing strategies are similar in both types of poker.
Texas Hold ‘Em, for example, has caught fire among players who are new to poker. The brisk style of play and easy to understand betting protocols are identical in-person and online. And now, virtual games are linked to the highest-stakes in-person tournaments, by online qualifying opportunities that send winning players to the main events of poker, like World Series of Poker and World Poker Tour.
Online poker providers offer free-play poker, to help emerging players remove the mystery from Internet poker. By testing your mettle in real-life free games, it is easy to get a handle on the nuances of the game without gambling away your bankroll. When you are ready to get some skin in the game, buy some chips and move to the cash tables.
The first order of business is to find a comfortable place to play your favorite games. The online poker business is competitive, so you will find many providers that are eager to capture your business. Spending some time on each site helps illuminate the pros and cons of each provider, and brings your path to poker success into focus.
Your precise needs weigh heavily on which poker rooms you’ll choose, so take a moment to zero in on what you need from a good site. What games do you want to play? And for what stakes? Are the tables open during the times you anticipate gambling? These and other considerations dial in your online poker search – and the good news is that you don’t need to settle on a single room. Playing accounts at multiple sites gives you greater flexibility and exposure to a variety of opponents.
Features of Good Poker Sites
Everyone’s needs are a little different, so site preferences develop quickly. Some features stand out among good online poker providers, so look for things like:
Welcome Bonuses – Competitive sites are generous to new players. VIP programs and other incentives are appealing features too, but as a new player, your sites should be set on maximizing welcome bonus benefits.
Good Software – Most sites are equipped with solid poker platforms, and glitch free play is essential. Poker providers are quick to identify the software they use, so make sure it is up to industry standards.
Free Play – Reputable poker sites commonly allow players to participate in free games. The function is twofold: To expose players to the poker software being used, and to support the learning curve for inexperienced players who need some time at the tables before they start contributing to the pot. Seek free-play options that are identical to real-cash games.
Security – Privacy and security are important concerns, so sites should be vetted properly before sensitive information is shared.
Good Traffic – Your success at the tables is contingent on having robust games to play in. High traffic during the times you play is essential to building pots and logging wins. Whenever possible, access traffic data from providers, who should be able to steer you toward peak times.
Once you’ve landed on a site that piques your interest sufficiently, you’ll need to provide basic information to establish an account. Name, address and email are common requests from poker vendors, who also need age confirmation that proves you are of legal gambling age. The provider may also confirm your submitted email address by sending a verification.
Proprietary software is used to facilitate online poker play, so new players are required to download a poker ‘client’ from each site they use. Once your client is on board, security measures are put in place to protect your individual account. Your user name and password are then required to initiate future play from the account. An avatar or other identification is chosen to represent your online poker persona – this is the character that other players actually see at the virtual tables.
Make a Deposit
Many poker providers offer unlimited free play, so take advantage of the service at your discretion. There is no penalty for practicing, but each player has a unique approach. If you are inclined to wager real money straightaway, it is as simple as making a deposit.
Credit cards and other funding methods are accepted for payment, but there are specific restrictions that must be taken into account. Western Union and MoneyGram are also used for funding online poker bankrolls, as well as prepaid debit cards. In the end, your personal preference dictates how you pay, but rest assured, online poker providers furnish multiple payment options.
Welcome bonuses, or sign-up bonuses, are used to attract new players. Competitive online poker sites engage in one-upmanship that leads to generous deals for players that are just getting started. Each provider takes a unique approach with welcome bonuses. in general, the funds are credited to your account after a certain play threshold is met. For example, you may be required to gamble $50 worth of real money, to land your $5 welcome bonus.
However you slice it, it’s free money that can only be tapped one time. It pays to maximize your bankroll while you can, because newbie status is fleeting and welcome bonuses are not offered to returning players. Sign-up bonuses are expressed as percentages or dollar amounts, but are usually limited by a cap. Some aggressive online poker vendors advertise sign-up bonuses that exceed 100% of a player’s initial deposit. If a bonus sounds too good to be true, study the terms of the offer for inconsistencies and impossible-to-meet bonus requirements.
Choosing your game is purely subjective. Some players tread traditional waters by playing Seven-Card Stud or Five Card Draw. Others jump on the latest craze, which is currently Texas Hold ‘Em. One-trick players always stick to the same game, while others mix it up by playing a variety of poker styles. And online sites format competition in a variety of ways too. Tournaments, multi-table showdowns and single cash games start at scheduled and random times, depending on who’s available to play.