Online poker is a game played over the Internet in which players wager real money. It is popular for many of the same reasons that live poker is. It is a fun, intellectual game that rewards actual skill unlike gambling games like slots. And it can be played for any stakes from the comfort of home.
In the past there was a sharp divide between live and online poker players. Some pros belonged to the former group and scoffed at those in the latter, believing that online poker was not real. However, today there is a great deal of overlap and many top players play both live and online.
To play online poker you need a computer with an internet connection and a reliable software program. Most major online poker sites have free downloads available for players to use. Once you have downloaded the software you can create a player account by entering your personal information, deposit money and then enter a game. There are a few additional steps involved, such as verifying your identity, but these should not take long.
Most online poker sites categorize their games by type such as cash games, tournaments and Sit & Go’s. You can also usually find a “Beginner” tab which will automatically seat you with other players that classify themselves as beginners. This is a great feature for new players because it levels the playing field and eliminates the advantage of more experienced opponents.
There are also a number of online poker learning resources available to players. These can be as simple as a site’s own tracker which saves and sorts all your hand histories to help you improve your game. More advanced tools include programs that scan active tables for known players and display previous statistics from hands with those players next to their name (known as a heads up display or HUD). These can be very helpful for learning to read the game, especially if you are playing against a particularly skilled opponent.
The most important aspect of any strategy is bankroll management. A basic rule is to always bet at least 3-times the amount of your total stack. This will prevent you from running bad and losing all your chips in a short period of time. When you do run bad, don’t be afraid to drop down the stakes for a while and grind it back up to where you were before. It is better to lose a small amount for a short time than to blow all your money in one session!
There are some concerns about rigged online poker but most reputable sites do not engage in this behavior. They realize that they are part of a billion dollar industry and must maintain a solid reputation in order to remain successful. They also know that if they are caught cheating the reputation of the entire poker industry could be at risk. As such, most reputable sites have rigorous anti-cheating protocols in place and are regularly reviewed by independent organizations.