You might have fancied yourself once or twice at a round table on Wednesday poker nights, with a cigar on one hand and a couple of cards in the other, and cleaning out your opponents’ pockets. Sounds great, but such a traditional way of playing poker can be intimidating, or geographically inaccessible, especially for those who are only starting out.
Thank heavens there’s the Internet.
Novice players no longer have to endure playing with scary, grim-faced poker veterans face-to-face. Not only that, but stakes are much lower (as low as 2€) compared to conventional, brick-and-mortar poker rooms. Poker lovers don’t have to travel very far to play, too. In fact, with a computer and an Internet connection, every night could be poker night!
So, how can you get started playing poker online?
Well, first thing to do is to familiarize yourself with basic poker rules and guidelines. Learning terminologies and basic strategies can be greatly beneficial when you’re finally playing. Also, knowing the differences between playing poker traditionally and playing poker online would definitely help you win. For instance, instead of reading facial reactions and body language, you have to observe betting patterns, response time, use of online poker room features like auto plays and checkboxes, and other idiosyncrasies that can’t be seen physically.
Once you’ve got the basics down pat, it’s time to find a site that hosts poker rooms and start the fun! Some well-known poker rooms are PokerStars (http://www.pokerstars.com), iPoker Network (http://www.ipoker.com ), and Full Tilt Poker (http://www.fulltiltpoker.com ). Most online poker websites like these operate through a piece of software that can be downloaded from their site. This software can be cross-platform, which means that it’s compatible with different computer operating systems like Microsoft Windows, Linux, and Mac. Java applets, for example, can run on these operating systems well.
The bad news, though, is a lot of online poker rooms only offer programs compatible with Microsoft Windows. You might need to use compatibility layers, like Wine (a freeware that helps Microsoft programs to run on UNIX), to run these programs.
Once you’ve downloaded the program, all you need to do is to explore the interface and you’re good to go. Some things you might want to take note of are the software’s special features and buttons, which will help your poker gaming experience easier and more enjoyable. For example, some of these programs have auto play features, which will definitely quicken your response time and allow you to play more hands per hour. Some also have the option to save play histories, and these could be used to study an opponent’s playing patterns.
Not content with playing poker every night in front of your computer? You can also use programs from some mobile content providers that allow you to play poker on your mobile phone or PDA. With a poker application in your phone, you can play anytime, anywhere. Well, anywhere where you can get a signal, that is.
Playing poker online does have some disadvantages. An example of such disadvantages is collusion, or the use of multiple accounts by players. Most poker rooms claim to have the ability to detect such activities. In fact, PokerStars disqualified a player, Mark Teltscher, from the 2007 World Championship of online poker. Teltscher allegedly used several accounts under a variety of usernames (like The V0id and Play2Kill) to win.
Another way of cheating online poker players is through “insider cheating”. This happens when someone with an access to the system, usually an employee, uses this privilege to play poker himself and win. The first case of such happened in October of 2007. An online poker site, Absolute Poker (http://www.absolutepoker.com ), admitted that the security of the system has been violated by one of their employees. Players reported and proved the cheating with their saved play histories, which clearly showed that the employee was playing as someone who can see the players’ cards.
Still, these disadvantages are nothing the site managers can’t correct, and the fact remains that playing poker online is much more convenient than playing poker conventionally. So find a poker website, download a poker program to your computer, and let the fun begin!