Online Poker - Where Patience & Skill Yield Big Money
Online Poker is quite different from other types of Internet gaming. Unlike casino and sports betting web sites, virtual poker rooms have no house advantage. Players win from or lose to each other, not the dealer. In this sense, online poker is the fairest of all types of gambling available on the Internet. Those who have skill and patience can consistently pull down big winnings. Luck is less a factor here than in any other Internet gaming activity.
Today, there are well over 480 places to play poker on the Internet in English. Most of them offer free tutorials and risk-free "play money" games to help newcomers get started. They are willing to be extremely helpful to new players because the organizers of the online poker rooms know that the secret to increasing their revenues is to increase the volume of play on their sites. They earn their income strictly from the fees they charge for tournament entries and a small, limited portion taken from each cash game pot - a fee called the rake.
Games to Play
When choosing an online poker site, traffic is important. More players typically indicate more levels of skill represented. It usually means more games available, greater variety in stakes and betting limits, and increased ease of finding a profitable table, too. Small sites with fewer members have difficulty filling tournaments, so always check the posted statistics for number of players online and tables in play before signing on.
Every poker site on the Internet offers some form of the world's most popular poker game, Texas Hold'em. Most provide fixed limit, pot limit, and no limit versions of the game, too. The game most often requires a software download, although a few sites have Instant Play or Flash mode software. The biggest and most popular applications are supplied by Cake Gaming, Cyber Arts, Microgaming, Yatahay, Playtech, iGaming Software, and Everleaf Gaming.
The next two most popular games are Omaha (sometimes called Omaha Hi) and the split-pot game known as Omaha Hi/Lo (or Omaha 8). It is rare for a site not to include these two games in its mix, but not unheard of, so be sure to scan the list of games before joining up if Omaha is one of your games of choice.
Players who enjoy party-style poker will probably want even more variety. The most common games to look for are 5-Card Draw, 5-Card Stud, and 7-Card Stud. A low-ball version of stud poker called Razz is also widely available and should be considered a must by serious tournament players, as it is a key component of HORSE - Hold'em, Omaha Hi, Razz, 7-Card Stud, and Omaha 8.
The three most common forms of play on Internet poker sites are cash games (aka ring games), Sit & Go's, and scheduled tournaments. Cash games begin any time two or more players join a table and end when only one player remains. Sit & Go tournaments start whenever a predetermined number of players have paid the fee to join in and end when a single winner remains or a time limit is reached.
The scheduled tournaments are always listed on the web site, indicating the start time and the fee for joining. They begin at a fixed time and latecomers may forfeit their entry fee. Such tournaments include both single-table and multi-table formats. There may also be four-player head-on events scheduled, or games called bounty or survivor, with special rules for how players are eliminated or paid. Satellites are tournaments that serve as qualifiers for bigger events.
Things to look for when choosing a poker room online include table limits, amounts of the blinds, number of players per table, number of tables available, average pot value, and the rake structure. The more a site charges in fees, the more expensive it is to play no matter how good you are. Beginners should look for sites with lots of freeroll events and points buy-in tournaments to minimize risk.
Those who enjoy a leisurely social game will appreciate that most online poker rooms have chat functions. It is possible to joke around, flirt with other players, hold a conversation, or just brag about a hand. Chat can be muted by those who prefer to ignore all the side talk.
Bonuses to Claim
Almost all poker sites offer a cash bonus to new players. The most common welcome incentive is a 100% cash match of the newcomer's initial deposit up to £400, £600, or even £1000. A number of restrictions will apply to how this bonus can be accessed. Typically, a player must earn a certain number of "loyalty points" within a fixed time period to qualify for the full amount. Always be sure to read the terms and conditions prior to signing up.
Loyalty points are usually awarded in one of two ways. For tournaments, points are based upon the cost of the entry fee. For cash games, points are earned in proportion to the player's contribution to each rake. Points can be accumulated and redeemed for extra cash bonuses to purchase tournament entries. Some sites have their own Poker Store, where points can be exchanged for branded merchandise and even poker tables.