Learn How to Play Online Poker Free in Three Easy Steps
Online poker offers all the benefits of playing poker in the real world, except you don’t need to deal with flights, hotels, and that strange smelling dude next to you.
It’s an awesome game, full of strategy and fun, plus a little bit of lady luck on the side. It’s easy to learn the basics of poker, and a little tougher to master.
Here’s a benefit that you’ve already figured out: when you learn online poker, you can do it from your couch so no one really needs to know how many charts and manuals you have next to you. And when you play, pants are entirely optional.
Of course, it helps to be playing poker with a legit online casino that has a great reputation. Not only that, but we’ll also explain to you how to play poker in just three steps. There are various types of poker, like Omaha and Omaha Hi/lo, but here we’ll focus on Texas Hold’em, the most popular way to play poker.
Online Poker Basics
To begin with, you’ll need to set up an account – you know, so we can send you updates, bonuses, cash when you win, stuff like that. It takes less than a minute and then you can log in. Downloading the Ignition Poker Software is the next step (it’s free), and you’ll need to make a deposit too, so you can sit down at an online poker table and get some chips to get into a game.
Your first deposit will get you a bonus too, so you have some extra cash on hand to play with.
With those formalities out of the way in just a few minutes, you can jump right in by choosing a table from the poker lobby and getting into a game.
For real beginners, your first job is to understand poker hands and the rules of poker. Just as important is to know the language of online poker – check out our poker glossary to get all the lingo down.
The Texas Hold’em rules are pretty familiar to everyone, as are the different poker hand rankings. The cards are dealt from a standard 52-card deck, with each player getting two cards face down. The dealer then deals three cards, face up, that are known as the community cards – these will be used by every player to complete the best hand possible, in combination with the two face down cards. Betting happens after each deal of the cards, with the first round of bets taking place after each player gets his/her two cards.
Take some time to get to know these basics, including your position at the table, and we’ll spot you some online poker strategy tips below.
Online Poker Strategy
You could spend 10 lifetimes reading about online poker strategy in books and online. We’ll just cover the basics here so you can save a couple of lifetimes.
First, be aggressive. Not only can you have more fun instead of letting others dictate the action, but it’s generally a better way to start winning. Betting or raising puts the pressure on your opponents and they may fold or surrender the pot.
That said, if you’re just starting to play, you should follow the “ABC” online poker strategy. This is not fancy and there are no movie star moves to play, but it means you can build up your poker fundamentals and not lose your shirt by being reckless. The “ABC” part just refers to learning your abc’s before advancing to bigger things.
Some ABC’s of poker strategy to help you while you learn and play online poker:
Bet or raise when you have a solid hand. Check or fold when your cards are weak (in poker lingo, you “have a hand” or you don’t have a hand). This might mean folding more often than you’d like, but it’ll save you in the long run.
Use charts and calculators to decide whether you want to stay in a hand or raise. (Remember – no one can see these charts since they’re on your kitchen table). Use your position to determine how aggressive you should be – a weak position is, well, weak. A strong position means you have more knowledge of how the other players are betting.
“Fancy” play tactics like check-raise and slow play – and especially bluffing – are not ABC-friendly. Save these for later, when you are more seasoned.
Finding the Right Online Poker Table
Just like finding the right motorcycle, you’ll want to find the best “ride” for your money when playing online poker and choosing tournaments or cash games.
Tournaments are a great choice for new players – mainly because you buy in for a specific amount, which means you won’t lose more or lose your head. Plus, depending on the type of tournament, you can often play longer since it’s a matter of which players last the longest before they run out of chips. Prizes are awarded based on the prize pool, which you’ll know the amount of before you even hit the felt. And in general, the competition tends to be a bit less shark-ish, since you’re playing with people more on your level.
There’s a good variety of tournaments too, from really speedy Jackpot Sit & Go tournaments where you can squeeze in a game or two in just a few minutes to big annual blockbusters like Monster Stacks and the Super Millions Poker Open, with potentially hours of poker action to be had.
Cash games are more like the kind of poker you’ll experience in a live casino. You bring your cash to the table and you can win or lose part – or all – of that same cash on every hand. These games are a great test of skill and they give you that real poker feel, and they also don’t involve the same level of time commitment that some tournaments require. You can get up from a cash game at any time and walk right out of that saloon, but with a tournament you might need to stay in for a good chunk of the day to get a crack at your share of the prize pool.
Now that you’re up to speed, you’ve got the tools you need to get into the great game of poker.