How to

So that's the basics covered. We recommend that you play for free on the play tables for a few hours to get the hang of it.

There are a few vital rules that will really help your chances of success. Here are my top tips in order of merit:

Your hand

Until you get very good at bluffing, stick to playing just a few fixed hands. If you don't get the cards shown below, then fold. It can make the game a little slow at times, but use this time to watch and make notes on the other players. More on this later.

The cards you can play are listed below:

The Strongest Starting Hands:

Ace & suited high card - AK(s), AQ(s), AJ(s), A10(s)

(s) here means of the same suit. E.g. AK(s) might be the Ace of clubs and the King of clubs.

Medium Strength Starting Hands: Face ten suited - K10(S), Q10(S), J10(S) Medium pairs - 99, 88, 77

Two high cards - AQ, AJ, A10 (ace king ranks higher, above), KQ down to J10 Ace & medium suited - A9(S), A8(S), A7(S) Medium suited connectors - 109(S), 98(S), 87(S)

There are other starting hands, but for now, only play if you get one of the hands above. Just this single rule alone will mean you are well on the way to winning. Starting with the hands above gives you a head start and means you are more likely to win.

Table selection

This is very important. You want to find a table where the average pot size (winnings per game) is big. This usually means that players are 'loose' with their money and/or there are a few novice players on the table. You need to find these novice players and take their money! If you click on the pot size column in the poker table list, it will sort the tables by pot size. You may have to wait a few minutes for a table. You can wait for several tables at once and then just take the first that comes up. You want to find the tables with the novices, this is where you are going to make your money.

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Your position

Where you are seated relative to the dealer is very important too. So much so that it determines your initial bidding. The general rule is that if you can play weaker hands the closer you are to the right of the dealer. Let me say that again in a different way. You want to see what's happening in the game before you decide to fold / call / bet / raise etc. If you are the last player to do this (i.e. the dealer) you have the advantage as you know how many other players are still in the pot and exactly what has been bet. The closer you are to the dealer's right the more advantageous it is. If you are the dealer, then this is the best position. On the other hand (excuse the pun), the further you are away from the dealer's right, the less information you have when betting and so this makes it a weaker position.

Assessing your opponents

Whilst waiting for one of the strong hands above, you will get a chance to assess your opponents play. Get a pen and paper and make notes on each players play. Do they frequency see the flop, do they always fold when raised? Make notes as the play goes on. You will be amazed at how much information about each player you will pick up.

In the next section we are going to talk about money, which is why we are all here. Luckily, we'll show you how to get a head start in building up your cash flow.

Pot odds

If there is hardly any money in the pot, you will need a stronger hand. Even if you end up with a good hand, if you are playing for a small pot it's sometimes not worth the cost of loosing against someone with an even better hand. When the pot is larger, it is often worth risking that chance of a straight or flush, when otherwise you would have folded. Always think about the pot size when betting.

Raise

Raising is an essential part of poker. If you have a good hand and/or there are few players left in the game it often plays to raise or re-raise. In many cases, folding or raising are the good choices and calling is the worst.

Get FREE CASH - Building Up your Poker Bankroll

This is probably one of the most important aspects of online play. You will loose some hands and if these are one after the other, the money you have available can go down rapidly. As long as you only play good starting hands and play tight, the general trend will be to win, but it will take time.

Perhaps the best feature of online Poker is the wealth of free money that Poker hosting websites offer to get you to sign up. Make the most of this!

Here a list of the best ones. Just click on the link to claim your free cash.

Party Poker

Party Poker is the best place to start. There are hundreds of novice players on this site that have no idea how to play. They make very easy picking once you have mastered the basics. Click on the image below to go to their site. If you use these links, you can claim up to $100 when you make your first deposit.

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Pacific poker

Another great site also offering a 100% deposit match bonus. Just click here to sign up and claim the bonus or click on the link below.

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Play money is ok, but it's not real poker

As you may imagine, playing with play money is nothing like playing with real money. Everyone bets, calls and raises with no cares or qualms. When real money is involved it's a totally different game, and much more interesting ©

The easiest ways to get practice with real money are:

  • Play on low limit tables. Most of the online poker rooms have $0.5 tables or lower, so you won't break the bank if you have a losing streak. Remember to stick to ONLY PLAYING STRONG STARTING HANDS until you get more experience. I can't over emphasize this enough. If you have a strong starting hand, the odds of winning are so much higher. If you get bored waiting for good hands, play two or even three tables at once.
  • The second way of gaining experience with real money games is by playing tournaments. This is a fantastic way to play for about an hour with real money and it only costs around £3 or around $6. If you play really tight (i.e. fold unless you have a strong starting hand) you are pretty much guaranteed to finished in the top 5. If you are placed in the top 3 you win a proportion of the staked money. Look out for the 'Sit and go' tournaments. On the PacificPoker (click here) site select the Sit & Go Tournament list on the main poker tables screen. This really is an excellent cheap way of gaining lots of real money experience and it won't break the bank.

Software you won't want to be without

There is one program that can really help your play. This software 'watches' you playing and tells you how to bet. It really is amazing! All the odds are calculated for now so there's no need to look at tables or charts. You can even tell it how to play (tight, average or loose pre and post flop). Click here to download and start trying it out.

See other players statistics - find the fish!

You can now find all the bad players very easily. Imagine being able to choose tables based on how many bad players there are! Now this is possible! You can even find out exactly how many hands the other players at your table have played, together will a whole host of other statistics about your opponents.

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When I heard about this I was amazed! It's now possible to see other players statistics whilst you watch or play at partypoker. What's even more amazing, is that you can choose which table to play at based on the number of fish (bad players that are easy to win from). Here's an example of what you'll see. The players shown in green are 'loose' and will be easier to win money from The fish are shown with fish symbols, and the people that always call (called calling stations) are shown a telephones! Avoid the rocks and the sharks, they usually have a good hand!

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