There are few more exciting card games than poker, which is played in clubs, bars and casinos throughout the world. Since the early 1990s, attempts have been made to develop the game for internet-based players, but it is only in the last decade that online poker has exploded in popularity. Provided below is a guide for those new to the online version of the game.
Program and Software
Online casino and bingo players might expect poker to be played via a web browser, but all of the leading sites provide software for their members. This helps to ensure the security and privacy of players. New members are typically invited to register on a website before downloading and installing the necessary online casino software.
Beginners ought to resist the temptation to dive in at the deep end before they learn the basics. Most online poker sites are teeming with sharks, so minnows can do themselves a huge favour by practising on free-to-play tables.
Usually playing with free chips or credits that are replenished at the end of each day (if free money were unlimited, beginners would never learn how to control their stacks), beginners can use free-to-play tables to get a feel for a particular poker site (or program). They can also use this time wisely to learn the basics of the game.
All players should know the basics before they compete for real-cash pots. Beginners will soon discover through practice that Texas No Limit Hold`em, the most popular version of poker, features several rounds of betting: pre-flop, flop, turn and river.
Players are dealt two hole cards at the start of each game (before the flop). These cards are not exposed to other players at this stage. A round of betting (players can fold, check, call, bet or raise) is completed before the flop, which occurs when three community cards are drawn for all to see. Another betting round passes before the turn, when a single community card is dealt. The process is repeated on the river, at which point all final bets are taken. The player with the strongest hand wins the pot (the sum of all bets made in the game less any portion reserved for the house).
Poker is primarily a game of chance, but strategy and mathematics are important ingredients for success. Without understanding the concept of implied odds (also called pot odds), beginners will struggle against professionals on high-stakes, real-cash tables. Implied odds can be researched online.
Understanding odds requires knowledge of the relative strength of hands. In poker, the strongest hand is the royal flush, which consists of A-K-Q-J-10 of the same suit. The second strongest hand is the straight flush, which is different from the royal flush in so far as it features any five-card sequence of the same suit other than A-K-Q-J-10; thus, K-Q-J-10-9 of hearts would be a straight flush because it does not include the ace.
In descending order of strength or rank, the other hands include: four of a kind, full house, flush, straight, three of a kind, two pair, pair and high card (where ace is the highest and deuce is the lowest). Once these hands are understood, beginners can play for huge cash pots on PokerStars and other award-winning sites.