There is a wide variety of poker games played today; both online and live, in casinos and home games. They all have two things in common:
- a poker hand always consists of exactly five cards
Mostly, (for example in Texas Hold’em) the best five cards win, but in variants like Razz (seven card stud low) the worst five cards take the money. In some games, such as my favourite cash game omaha8 the pot may be divided into two with the best and worst hands competing separately for each half.
I seldom go to live games, but I have been regularly playing and consistently winning at various online sites since 2004. This site is aimed at new and improving players who want to learn how to beat the small stakes online poker games.
Rules and Hand Rankings
There are masses of websites which explain the procedures to be followed when playing poker and the way the winning hands are decided so I haven’t repeated them here. When you are playing online, the software will prompt you when it is your turn to act. It won’t let you play out of turn or otherwise break the rules.
One point worth making however, is that there is no Governing Body for poker (like FIFA with football) which lays down universal rules for all poker games. Whilst there are conventions which are generally followed, the organiser of a game is free to set any rules he wishes.
You can find small differences in the rules applied by the different software developers:
For example, suppose a small stack at a table goes all-in with an amount larger than the number of chips needed to call but not enough to constitute a full sized raise. Some sites count this as a call and some as a raise. When there is also a third person in the pot the original bettor will get a chance to reraise in the second case but not the first.
You don’t need to play poker for money although I personally don’t think it is a very good game when only your pride is at stake.
This site assumes that you want to be a winning player and are prepared to take the game seriously even though the amount of money involved is modest to begin with.
Phil Ivey didn’t start out playing the big game at the Bellagio. All the top players started in small games and worked their way up as their skills and bankroll developed.
The great thing about internet poker is that sites can offer their customers the chance to start playing with far less cash than traditional bricks and mortar casinos. Without dealers’ salaries, even games played for pennies are profitable for them. You don’t need to deposit a fortune in order to play and there is the convenience of playing whenever you want to.
I am often asked how much money you need to start playing online poker. In part two we go on to discuss funding your initial bankroll and how to manage it effectively to avoid going broke.