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Getting Started

So, you’re new to Poker. You either saw Poker on TV or were introduced to it by a friend. Hopefully, this guide will help you get started on Poker.

clueless

1. Choosing the right site to play on
Choosing the right website to play on could have a significant impact on your overall online poker experience. If you are only looking to play recreationally with fake money, you could definitely consider some other options like Zynga Poker on Facebook. But if you are looking towards playing for real money, you should probably consider some other sites.

Here’s a useful link which can give you a better idea about the entire poker industry as a whole.

pokerscout

Online Poker Traffic Report from PokerScout

What should I look out for?

  • Software: Good Software should be stable (doesn’t crash), allows you to play many tables without lagging, have a pleasant-looking graphic user interface
  • Traffic: Traffic is important because everything else is pointless if the games you want to play at are not running. To break it down even further, it helps if the ratio of recreational players to professional players is higher, since recreational players are generally weaker players
  • Rakeback: Hopefully you understand what rake means. Rakeback basically works like cashback. The poker room returns you a fraction of what it took from your winnings. Generally, Rakeback is higher at the smaller poker sites to compensate for their inferiority in other aspects.
  • Game Variants: Less common poker variants tend to only be available at the larger sites
  • Stability: Smaller networks are more vulnerable to cash flow problems and often take much longer to process withdrawal claims
  • Customer Service: Time taken to reply to e-mail, availability of live chat support

    pokerstars

A screenshot of the Pokerstars Lobby

1. Pokerstars – good software, highest traffic 24 hours a day
2. Fulltilt Poker – good software and decent traffic
3. iPoker – decent software, high rakeback, low traffic during off-peak hours
4. Ongame – high rakeback, decent software, softer player pool

Others
Most of the smaller sites are pretty similar with inferior software, higher rakeback deals and weaker player pools

  • Microgaming – high rakeback, ok software, softer player pool
  • Revolution Gaming – decent software, softer player pool, decent rakeback
  • Merge Gaming – decent software, softer player pool, decent rakeback
  • Party Poker – decent software, charged me unfavourable forex rates when I deposited and withdrew, low traffic during off-peak hours
  • 888Poker – Soft player pool, ok software (used to be far worse)
  • Enet – Super soft player pool for high stakes (games might have dried up already), Bad software, Exorbitant rake structure (no rake cap so it’s possible to pay $100 for rake in a single hand in a $2000 pot)

2. Choosing the right game type

A. Tournament or Cash Game

Tournament

In tournaments, you buy in for a fixed entry fee and are given a certain amount of chips to compete for a prize pool. The blinds will continue to rise and will end only after one player has won all the chips. Tournaments tend to be more popular with recreational players because many of them maintain the “lottery” mentality. Tournaments also tend to be of higher variance, which essentially means that luck plays a much larger factor in deciding the winner. This results in two things – Tournaments tend to be softer than cash games because of the greater proportion of recreational players, and professional tournament poker players tend to experience more instability in their earnings. Lastly, winning a huge tournament gives you a shot at fame and glory whereas most cash game players go largely unnoticed.

Cash Game

In cash games, each player can buy in for varying amounts and can only win the amount he currently has on the table. Cash games offer greater flexibility as you can leave the table anytime you feel like stopping.

Difficulty?

Difficulty is determined by two factors: Number of different things to learn, and stack depth

  • Number of things to learn: In tournaments, you need to understand how to play against a varying number of players as each player gets eliminated during the various stages of the tournament. The blinds also tend to increase as the tournament progresses which results in a necessary change in overall strategy
  • Stack Depth: This refers to the amount of chips in each player’s stack, relative to the size of the blinds. The larger the amount of chips left behind, the more complex the decisions could potentially get.

Tournaments require you to learn how to play differently at different stages of the game. However, stack depth for tournament poker is almost always going to be shallower than that of cash games. Overall I feel that cash games tend to be more difficult to learn but offers much more flexibility and stability so that has been my choice from the very beginning.

B. Poker Variant

Types of Poker
Community-card Poker: Any poker variant that uses community cards which are cards dealt face up in the center of the table and shared by all players. In these games, each player is dealt privately an incomplete hand (“hole cards”), which are then combined with the community cards to make a complete hand.
Stud Poker: Any poker variant in which each player receives a mix of face-down and face-up cards dealt in multiple betting rounds.
Draw Poker: Any poker variant in which each player is dealt a complete hand before the first betting round, and then develops the hand for later rounds by replacing, or “drawing”, cards.

The most popular poker variant out there is Texas Hold’em so if you are unfamiliar with poker in general, it’s probably best to start off with Texas Hold’em.

3. Depositing Money online

Now that you have decided on what and where you want to play poker, the next step is to deposit money online. The easiest way to deposit money onto the poker site is via your credit/debit card, though this option is unavailable in certain countries such as Singapore. You could also use an e-wallet to do so, if directly depositing your money via cards is not an option. I use Skrill which is in my opinion, the best e-wallet service provider, with competitive forex rates and good service. I have also used Neteller before but the forex rates are ridiculously expensive so I would avoid that option if possible and stick to Skrill instead.

deposit

4. Addressing some doubts about Online Poker

Is Online Poker a scam? Will the sites eat my money and run away with it?
Absolutely not! Online Poker rooms are legit and function as virtual casinos. They earn their profits through rake amounting in the millions annually and have no incentive to cheat you

Is Online Poker rigged? I feel that the sites intentionally set it up such that players tend to have stronger hands more often so that they will play larger pots.
This is a pretty common point brought up by conspiracy theorists and losers who aren’t willing to come to terms with their own inability as well as the possibility of variance. Just by doing a cost-benefit analysis from the perspective of the poker site, it’s pretty easy to come to the conclusion that it is extremely unlikely for poker sites to rig the system. They risk losing their credibility and reputation if exposed, and they are already able to make so much profit even without collusion/scamming their customers anyway.

I hope you have enjoyed this article. Stay tuned as I should be delving deeper into some beginner strategy for No Limit Texas Hold’em.

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