Getting Started in Online Poker When You Know Nothing about the Game

// Published by Luke

For whatever reason you have decided you want to play online poker; maybe it just seems interesting, your friends or playing or something else is motivating you. Poker is a game that anybody can play and your reasons are your own. So what if you don’t know the first thing about poker? How do you get started?

Choosing a Game

There are a lot of poker variations you can choose from. Some of the most popular include Texas Hold’em, Omaha and 7-card stud and there are others. Every player has their own particular favourite but for a beginner the best choice is Texas Hold’em. It isn’t necessarily a better game but you can pretty much find a Hold’em game anywhere and there are plenty of low-stakes offerings online.

(Photo by Keenan Constance on Unsplash)

Learning the Basics

If you know absolutely nothing about Texas Hold’em, you can find numerous guides online but reading a bunch of guides may not be a lot of fun. Another option is to learn the basics on free poker apps. A free poker app is a good and entertaining way to pick up how game-play works in Texas Hold’em without having to risk any money. You will learn what hands beat what and learn a little about the ins and outs of the game such as betting, checking, raising etc.

You won’t want to spend too much time on an app if you are serious about learning the game. The fact is people play differently when real money isn’t involved so if you intend to play for money then you will want to move on from the app once you have the basics down. Incidentally, many real money poker sites have software that includes a free money section which is essentially the same as playing on a free poker app.

First Real Money Games

Once you are ready to play for real money you just need to select an online poker site. There are poker sites with instant no deposit bonus which enable players to get started without depositing any funds initially. Just make sure to check the terms and conditions of the bonus first. The other thing to check for is if the site offers the games you want. What you will be looking for are Texas Hold’em full-ring micro stakes games.

Ring games are cash games where the chips have a real money value unlike tournament games where you play for a prize pool. Full ring refers to a full table of 9 players. There are fewer choices to be made sitting at a table of 9 players than at a table of 6 or less so for beginners this is definitely preferable. Micro stakes games have blinds as small as $0.01/$0.02 which means the average buy-in will be around $1. Not only are the stakes small, but you will also most likely be playing against others with a similar skill level. Keep in mind that while you do have a degree of anonymity you are playing against real people and should conduct yourself accordingly to avoid getting kicked off the poker site.

Aside from micro stakes ring games there are also some tournaments that newer players can participate in without a lot of risk.

  • Micro Stakes Sit and Go’s: Sit and Go’s are tournaments that usually begin with 6 or 9 players and that start as soon as the last seat at the table is filled. They are generally finished in an hour or less with the last player remaining capturing the biggest part of the prize pool. Buy-ins will range from $1 to $5.
  • Micro Stakes Multi-Table Tournaments: Micro stakes MTTs have a small buy-in ($1 to $5) but generally have fairly large field of players, often running into the thousands. If you play in MTTs you have to be willing to put in more time as tournaments can take several hours to complete. Still they are a good way to pick up experience with a small investment and with a good potential return.

Once you become comfortable with micro stakes games you can consider playing for higher stakes. Some people just enjoy playing for fun and never progress beyond this point and there is nothing wrong with that. For others it may just be a starting point on their path to The World Series of Poker. Poker is a game of skill and how far you advance will depend on how much time and effort you put into it.