The online poker boom has been astounding. At the end of 2004, at any given moment, more than 10,000 players were competing on over 150 poker sites. On any given day, combined bets totaled more than $130 million. And the numbers keep going up.
And not surprisingly, not all the new attendees play poker well. Sure, you have to watch out for some sharks, hustlers, and poker savants; but the misfits, slackers, and the terminally distracted greatly idnpoker outnumber the dangerous players. In online play in general, and especially at the lower-limit tables, you have the potential to make a lot of money.
In this short article, we talk about the basics of Internet poker, as well as the raw materials you need to play a truly fascinating form of America’s favorite card game (and recently, America’s favorite game, period).
Winning on the Internet
In case you’re confused by the title of the article, we should get one thing clear from the start: Yes, you can win money playing poker on the Internet. Recognizing that, however, doesn’t make it easy. Even if you’ve “mastered” brick-and-mortar play, you can’t simply walk in and take the candy from all the Net brats. You come screen to screen with some pretty tough players. Heck, Net dwellers have won the past two World Series of Poker Main Events in Las Vegas. But coming out on top of your favorite game is certainly possible, and to do that you need to know your poker theory and have money to put on the virtual table.
The most important thing to understand about Internet poker is that you’re still playing poker.
Knowing your poker theory
With very few exceptions, nearly all the poker theory you already know and have gleaned over your life applies in the Internet world. You must deal with nuances and fine points, but poker is poker, no matter the form or forum.
If you’re looking for general poker theory, you can’t find much of it here (with the exception of single-table tournaments on demand, but you can find the info in books like Poker For Dummies (Wiley). If you aren’t familiar with the nuances of poker itself, you should read and study up on general theory first before you play with any hard currency online.
In any betting situation, the basis to making money is being more informed than your opponent. If you ignore reading up on poker theory, the players who aren’t so cavalier will beat you in the long run.
If you’re not completely up on poker theory, don’t let it stop you from getting started. You can always play for free chips.. In fact, you can also play in free-roll tournaments, where you pay nothing and still have a chance to win hard currency.
Just like real money, but faster
Yes, the money you play for online is the real deal. That’s the good news, of course. The bad news is you can lose real money as well.
Because of the speed of computer play, a full Internet table goes through more than twice as many hands per hour than the brick-and-mortar equivalent. That means you can expect your money swings to be twice as big on the Net: If you play a winning strategy, you win twice as fast; if you play a losing strategy, you watch your money walk away at double the speed.
Dealing with the dough
In order to win money, you have to throw in a few bucks yourself. Such is the law of the land when it comes to poker (except for those extra-special free-roll tournaments). So before you can play for hard currency online, you have to get money to your poker site — which can scare some people silly. We first want to tell you: You have safe outlets to get your money online . . . and safe ways get it out again. The most common mechanism for money transfer is through electronic payment services that you connect directly to your bank account. You can write an electronic check as well. You can look for more information about all things green.
If you don’t want to lose a lot of cash while you learn, we recommend free-chip games and free-roll tournaments as tools to get you up to speed. But only play these forms of “poker” to get used to the Internet and to get familiar with a particular game. When you’re comfortable playing at these levels, make sure you move on.
If you play too long with no potential for loss, you’re bound to develop some bad poker habits.