For much of the twentieth century, the main place for poker-playing was someone’s home. There were only a few places that had legal public cardrooms, such as Nevada, and certain California localities. All that changed with the big expansion of Indian gaming near the end of the century. Still, poker was a game where you were face to face with your opponents in the same physical location.
Now, in the twenty-first century, there are far more poker games on the internet then any other kind. We have the opportunity to play with opponents from around the world in all the comforts of home. There are plusses and minuses to poker-playing in this new medium.
On the minus side, much of the social camaraderie connected with being among friends and acquaintances is absent. Also, you do not get access to information conveyed by watching someone in your physical presence. On the internet, we likely will not know the age, sex, or anything else about our opponent. There will always be a need for live poker games using the same physical table.
But the plus side of playing internet poker cannot be denied. Here are just a few of the benefits:
- You can enter or quit a game whenever you please.
- There is a much greater variety of choices regarding poker forms, stakes, tournament types, and so forth.
- You can play in more than one game at the same time.
Here is some information about playing poker on the internet. There are over two hundred internet sites from which to pick. To play on a particular site, you need to be registered, so signing up is your first step. There is a lot of competition between sites for the business of you, the poker player and customer. See what benefits go with being a player on the site you choose. You can play on more than one site, but must be registered on each site you play.
You have the option of playing just for fun (using “play money”) or for stakes. For fun, you can either play casually at a table or enter one of the many poker “freeroll tournaments” available. A freeroll means you put up nothing to enter, but can win something. Poker sites offer this opportunity of something for nothing to attract new players, as part of their advertising. If you do play for money, there is an immense range of stakes, from pennies to thousands of dollars, that you can choose. It is very important that you treat poker as you would any other form of entertainment, making sure that your activity is within your budget, both in terms of time and money. Even the best players sometimes go through losing streaks, so even though a skilful player gets good long-term results, there is a lot of variance in the short term.
Once you are registered to play on a site, here is how you get into action. You need to be able to use the interface. For Check n Raise Poker.com (the sponsor of this information), you can simply go to the website and start playing. Most sites require that you download their interface and put it into your computer. In either case, you go to the site and open the lobby window. This will give you access to lists where there is a choice of what you want to play. The broad divisions are between tournament poker and a regular game, and for fun or for money.
There are two general types of tournaments. The first is a “sit n go” event, a single table (sometimes two tables) where the aim is to have an event lasting only a short period of time, such as an hour or so. Note that the more starting tables you have, the longer it will take to run the tournament. The length of time will also be determined by things such as the amount of starting chips for the player, the initial stakes, and how often the stakes are raised. Such tournaments are started whenever there is enough players entered to fill the table, as opposed to having a set starting time.
The second type of tournament is the regular multi-table tournament. Quite often, more events are scheduled by a site than are actually held, as a certain number of people signed up is needed before the event is a go. Of course, player entry money is refunded if the event is unable to be held. There is a wide range for the entry fee charged (which can be zero if it is a freeroll), from a dollar to hundreds of dollars or more. Once again, we remind you to stay within your budget. One of the reasons tournament play is so popular is you know how much money is placed at risk. But even here, the amount will be unclear if a “rebuy” is allowed, meaning if you are eliminated early you can re-enter the event by buying in again. A rebuy tournament also will normally allow an add-on, meaning even if you have not been eliminated, you can buy more chips during the time period where rebuys are allowed.
For entering non-tournament games, look at the list of games that are going and select the one (or more) that interests you. If the game is not full, you can enter it by simply going to the table and clicking on the seat that you want.
You will be asked how much you would like to buy in for, and as soon as you select the amount, you will have a seat in the game. Each game has a minimum buy-in to enter. You can elect to buy-in for more than the minimum. Some games such as no-limit hold’em restrict the amount of the buy-in to a set maximum. (At no-limit, the potential win or loss size depends in great measure on the amount of chips each player has in his stack, whereas at limit poker, the total number of chips in play has little effect.) You are restricted in the amount you can buy in for by the sum you have on deposit. This information is always available to you by going to the cashier cage.
Your next choice is when to get dealt in. If the game is played with blinds, as is hold’em, you will need to put up the amount of the big blind to get started. You may do this in either the regular rotation when your seat is due for the big blind, or at some other point. If you wish to come in when your seat is due for the big blind, you select “wait for big blind” when prompted with a menu. If you wish to get a hand right away, you can put up the amount of the big blind immediately. We suggest you either come in on your big blind or put it up when on the immediate right of the dealer button. That way, you maximize the number of hands you will get for your money.
You have a range of options to exercise the poker decisions of fold, check, bet, or raise. You can choose your action before it is your turn by pre-selecting your decision on the menu. Or you can wait until your turn comes by not selecting anything ahead of time, then clicking on the appropriate pop-up button when your turn comes. The other players cannot see whether you have selected your action ahead of time.
You have a set amount of time to act on your hand. If you exceed that time, you will either be folded or have time taken out of a “time bank.” The time bank is a fixed amount of extra time allowed as a whole, without being allocated for a particular hand. If you use up your supply of time in the time bank, you are then automatically folded. You do not want time taken from your time bank when you are away from the table. This both hurts you and is annoying to other players in the game. When leaving your computer for more than a few seconds, it is prudent and courteous to use the button that asks to be dealt out. Be sure to ask to be dealt in by pushing the same button when you return and are ready to play again.
Naturally, you cannot exercise any options when you are disconnected from the site. The other players are notified when you are disconnected. You have to get back online quickly, or you will be folded for exceeding the time limit. Some sites will have a disconnected player declared “all-in” for the amount of money put into the pot before getting disconnected (Check n Raise Poker.com does not do this). All-in means you cannot participate in further betting, but can win the amount you have in the pot from each other player. As it can be advantageous for a player to be all-in (which means disadvantageous to the opponents), all sites that allow disconnected players to be all-in put a limit on the number of times this will be allowed. They do not want players to deliberately disconnect simply to get all-in on a hand.
In poker forms such as no-limit hold’em, where you decide how much to bet, the amount is selected by using a “slider,” a device that allows you to pick your wager size. All wagers must follow the poker rule that says a raise must be at least twice the amount of the last bet unless you are going all-in. At no-limit hold’em, an all-in bet must be at least double the size of the last bet or raise to reopen the betting to a player who has already acted on that round. (At limit poker, it must be at least half the size to reopen the betting.)
We suggest you get some practice playing poker on the internet for play money before you actually play for real money, even if you are experienced in a non-internet poker game. There is a separate skill in using the mouse and graphic interface for poker.