Online poker is a huge phenomenon - for the last few years we've seen poker everywhere, with poker sets, poker TV channels, poker experience days, poker in films, poker lessons, poker by big TV channels such as Sky and even poker holidays on offer, not to mention all the online poker adverts! Many people play to relax, or to have fun. Most online poker rooms let you chat - although serious players often have little time for idle banter; many people play to win! Poker is by no means a good way to get rich quick - but once you understand the game online poker can often pay for itself, or at least be a fairly inexpensive hobby, depending on which tables you play on.
How To Play
The basics of Poker are fairly simple, get a better hand than the other players, and trick them into betting against you, so that when you show your hand you get the most chips from the other players. Of course, you cannot see the other player's hands, and the dealer deals new cards throughout each hand, which may make your hand stronger, but also the hands of your opponents stronger, too. The best way to learn poker is by playing, and many online poker websites offer a free mode where players can play for points without spending cash, freeroll tournaments and beginner's tables where there may be a very low bet, such as 2p. Poker is very tricky to pick up and master from guides alone - it is essential that you play to learn, as it requires reading of the other players, a good memory for the winning hands, on your feet thinking and anticipation of the next cards - as well as real guts to take a risk, or strong willpower to back out when the risks are too high!
How To Bet
In poker, players bet on the blind, then keep betting each time they receive a card until they fold. Some turns will allow players to "check" which means they wait for the next card from the dealer and not bet, or place a bet, or even "raise" the current bet. Rising often will get other players with weaker hands to fold - and help you work out who is your main opponent for that hand! If a player has a really good hand, such as a flush, they may go "All In", which means they will take all their chips available and bet them. This tactic will often get people to fold, or even get them to go All In too - meaning there is a huge amount of prize money on offer. But, beware; going All In and finding the other player has a better hand is a painful experience!
Never let yourself be backed into a corner and going all in just because all the other players are betting high - with that much risk, unless you are utterly certain you have the best hand, it's best to fold. Be aware that in poker most of your hands won't be worth playing, and you will fold or check many times without betting before you have a hand that's worth playing.