By Stuart Yarnold
Quite apart from being an invaluable information resource, the Internet provides many means of recreation, one of the most popular of which is gambling. This comes in various forms: spread betting, casino games such as blackjack and roulette, stocks and shares, etc. The one we are going to look at here is poker.
Currently, there are four to five hundred poker sites and the first step is to choose one, download and install the software, and then open an account. Making sure you use a reputable poker room is important as some do not play by the rules, i.e. they are not to be trusted. Slow pay-outs, and refusal to answer queries, are typical examples of this. Also, the software provided by some sites is buggy and prone to frequent crashing. As a recommendation, we suggest the following sites:
These are all well established, use efficient and reliable software, and offer good customer support and fast pay-outs. Those of you who want to play purely for fun with little financial risk are advised to use sites like UltimateBet and Ladbrokes, which offer micro-limit tables where you can play for a few cents.
Online poker rooms offer three main games – Texas Hold’em, Omaha, and Seven-Card Stud. Texas Hold’em is the one most commonly played as it is the most straightforward, and thus the easiest to learn. This is the one featured on the TV channels.
Probably the most popular form of online poker is the tournaments. With these, you buy-in for a fixed amount, get a stack of chips, and play until you are either eliminated or win the tournament. Multi-table tournaments offer the chance to win serious sums of money but can take many hours of your time. Plus, you may have several thousand players to beat. Single-table tournaments are quick (usually an hour or less) and are always available (as soon as you’ve finished one, you can start another). To be in the money, you need to finish in the top two or three depending on the initial number of players. Single-tables are the most popular as you ‘know where you are’ in terms of outlay and time. You also have a much higher chance of finishing in the money as you only have a few players to beat.
Be aware that there is a lot more to poker than might be apparent. To play this game successfully demands a good grasp of strategy, experience, plus human qualities such as patience and common sense. If you jump in before you are ready, you will lose.
Observance of the following will get you off to as good a start as possible:
- Learn the rules and strategies thoroughly by buying a good reference book, such as Online Poker in easy steps
- Get a feel for the mechanics of both the game itself, and the software, by playing at the free money tables initially
- Begin at the low-limit tables and don’t be tempted to move up until you can beat them consistently
- Avoid the no-limit form of the game initially. Unlike fixed-limit poker where the sizes of the bets are restricted, in no-limit games, bets can be huge and the inexperienced player can come unstuck very quickly
- Don’t chase your losses – on some days the cards will be completely against you and no matter how well you play, you will lose. Put the cards down and try again another day
About the author
Stuart Yarnold is an electronics engineer who has been working in the industry since leaving college. Originally a marine radio & radar troubleshooter, he now devotes much of his time to playing poker professionally and can usually be found lurking in one of the online poker rooms.
Stuart lives near Cambridge with his wife Pauline and his two staffordshire bull terriers – Jim and George. His hobbies include woodworking and marathon running.