How to Start Playing Online Poker and Win Real Money Without Ever Depositing

Monday, October 29 2012         No Comments

By Allen McDaniel

FullTilt Poker You'll find the FullTilt freerolls in the playmoney section, under the Tournament tab, the All tab. They run every few hours and usually have several thousand people in them. Some of the freerolls pay Tournament Dollars, T$, which can be used to buy-in to any tournament, but not to buy-in to a cash game.

Now that you're registered for every site, start signing up for their freerolls. You should be logged in to every site playing every freeroll that's available. The more tables you play at a time, the more money you'll make per hour on your computer. Since you'll likely be playing more than 1 table at a time, you may want to increase your screen resolution so the tables will fit on your screen with less overlapping. One thing that advanced players will do is have multiple monitors on a single computer so they can play 8+ tables at a single time without having any of the tables overlap. Once you've signed up for all the sites and have started playing freerolls, it's time to work on improving your game. The sooner you become a winning player, the sooner you'll be winning freerolls, and the sooner you'll be playing cash games for big bucks.

Step 2: Learn Optimal All-in Strategy For simplicity, I'm going to divide the stages of the tournament into 2 stages. The first stage I consider "early", and the second stage is "late". "Early" would be any time your stack size is 20 times the big blind. "Late" would be any time your stack size is less than 15 times the big blind. If the tournament has just started and the blinds are 15/30, and you start with 1500 chips, then your stack size is 1500 divided by the 30 big blind, or 50 times the big blind. If the tournament has been running for a while and the blinds are 50/100 and you are down to 1000 in chips, then you have 1000 divided by the 100 big blind, or 10 times the big blind, and you are in the "late" stages of the tournament. In the early stages of a tournament, or when you have more than 20 times the big blind, you will want to play according to the strategy guide found here that you'll find later in this article.

The blinds in most freerolls rise fairly quick. This means you don't have a very large stack in relation to the size of the blinds for very long. Most of the play in a freeroll will be when you're stack size is about 10 times the size of the big blind. At that level, even the minimum raise preflop will have you putting in 20% of your entire stack. If someone raises and you have to fold, you've practically thrown away 20% of your chances of winning. Even if someone just calls, you still have to hit at least a pair on the flop to be able to bet or call. A better option is to wait for a premium hand and push all-in. An all-in push is less likely to get called than a small raise, and at this level you don't want to be called. If everyone folds and you win the blinds, you've just increased your stack by 15%, without even having to see a showdown. On the rare occasion you do get called, you will likely have a better hand than your opponent and will double your stack more than half the time. This may seem like a wild/maniac strategy, but it is very hard to counter, because anyone that might want to play back at you will have to risk a lot of chips to do it, and they won't be able to bluff you off you're hand because you are simply all-in.

This type of play is often referred to as "Pushbotting" and there have been charts made that show close to optimal play. One such chart is linked as a .pdf file here at ProPoker Pushbot Chart. Read that chart cover to cover. Read it slowly. Read it again. Make sure you understand how to use it. Familiarize yourself with common hands and common situations so you don't need to look at it for every decision. Print it out and keep a copy nearby so you can quickly reference it when a situation comes up you aren't sure on. If you don't have time to look up the correct play before it's your turn to act, save the hand history and look it up later so you'll know what to do next time the situation arises.

Step 3: Read the Early Stage Tournament Guide The Early Stage Tournament Strategy Guide will give you enough of a foundation to start playing a few hands earlier in the tournament, before the blinds get so large that you are in push or fold territory. Poker is a very complex game though and there is no single guide that can tell you how to play from start to finish, so it is important that you keep learning.

Step 4: Read the 2+2 forums Go to the tournament forums and read the MTT FAQ sticky at the top of the page. After you are done reading that, read every post on the first 5 pages. After you are done doing that, register and post replies. Ask questions about hands you don't understand. Post your thoughts on how hands should have been played. Post hands that you have played and are confused about. This may seem like a lot of work for little reward since at this point, even if you win a freeroll after doing all this work, it will probably be less than $15. But, what you are learning now will stay with you forever. When you start playing real money games and move up in limits, it will be much easier and you will experience much less headaches if you not only learned how to play correctly, but learned how to learn how to play correctly. Practice good study habits early and often.

Step 5: Learn How to Analyze Hands On Your Own You won't always have someone there that can give you correct advice. It's important to be able to look at a hand you've played and analyze it on your own and determine the correct play. A good way to do this is to use the REM method described in Ed Miller's book. REM stands for Range, Equity, Maximize. Equity is simply the chance you have of winning. You can figure out correct play of almost any poker hand by putting your opponent on a Range of hands, determining your Equity against that range, and Maximizing your expected winnings based off of those. Being able to put people on a range of hands is a skill best learned by playing. Pay attention to how people play. Is you've played 50 hands with someone and they've never raised before the flop, then when they do raise, you can expect them to have a premium hand. You can narrow their range down to maybe AA-JJ, or AK-AJ. If someone has pushed all-in every hand for 6 hands in a row, you can narrow their range down to any 2 cards :). Either way, once you determine their range, you can put that range into a software program that will run simulations and tell you how much equity your hand has against their range. One such software program that is available for free is Download this program and learn how to use it. You can also visit They have web-based simulators that you don't have to download. They also work for holdem, along with other poker games, like omaha and stud.

Step 6: Continue Reading Twoplustwo and Other Poker Forums There are many poker forums and resources out there available for free:

As you move out of tournaments and into other games, any book from twoplustwo publishing is worth more than it's weight in gold. I hope you've learned a thing or two and I hope you have as much success as I have at the tables. Shuffle up and Deal!

Join them all and absorb every bit of information you can get your hand on. There is enough information out there for free that you can become a big winner at the small stakes games without ever spending a dime on your poker career. There will come a time however when you have exausted every resource the internet has to offer you and you would be handicapping yourself by not spending a few bucks on some books or training sites. Step 7: Begin Building a Poker Library If I were going to focus on tournament poker to make serious money, here is a list of the 4 most important books I would read, in the order I would read them. Theory of Poker by David Sklansky Tournament Poker for Advanced Players by David Sklansky FullTilt Poker Strategy Guide: Tournament Edition by FullTilt Pro's Harrington on Hold'em Vol 1 & 2

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Poker Bankroll Building - Tips You Can Use Today

Thursday, August 30 2012         No Comments

By Brandon Edgar

Poker bankroll building is essential for anyone playing online poker. This article focuses on the newer poker player but it can also be used by the experienced player who is looking to take their bankroll to the next level. If you have hit a plateau with your poker bankroll building then use these strategies to help you break that plateau.

Strategy 1: Get Rakeback - This is the best advice anyone could give you for Poker bankroll building. First you need to understand what Rakeback is. The online poker room makes money by taking a very small percentage of each pot, something like 3%. It's such a small amount that it's never really noticed. This percentage is called the "rake". So "rakeback" could also be called a "rake rebate" since it's basically a rebate back to you a certain percentage of the money the casino has earned from your play. For some people this can add up to a few hundred to even a few thousand dollars a month. There is even a term known as "Rakeback Pro". This is someone who plays breakeven poker but they make enough money from the rakeback to be able to live on.

Strategy 2: Sign up Bonus - For the brand new who is focusing on Poker bankroll building, sign up bonuses are a MUST. This is basically free money given away by the poker rooms to entice you to start playing with them. This is how sign up bonuses work, usually the online casino's offer 100% match up to $1100 for some poker rooms on your very first deposit. This can give you a huge boost to your bankroll. This basically is free money and when you are focusing on Poker bankroll building you want all the free money you can get.

Strategy 3: Affiliate Bonus - These are easy to find but not often discussed or explained. Affiliate bonuses are extra incentives to sign up for poker rooms on top of the "Sign up Bonus". Not all affiliate bonuses are the same so you will want to look around for the best deal. A lot of affiliate bonuses are points or poker software. I recommend you look for affiliate incentives that are cash. Many affiliates that offer points will allow you to redeem those points for all types of goodies but when looking to build your poker bankroll look for affiliates that allow you to redeem for cash. I know of at least one affiliate that will allow this.

Strategy 4: Dollar Cost Averaging - Now this is something that I have almost never seen anywhere else and I'm not sure why. When poker bankroll building, you are looking at your poker bankroll as an investment. As with any investment, dollar cost averaging (investing a small amount each month) just makes sense. When you can get 100% return on your money with a sign up bonus and upwards of 30% on rakeback there are no traditional investments that can give you that kind of return. So why not invest in yourself, invest in something you can control. Of course this holds true if you are a breakeven players and many players are breakeven players.

Strategy 5: Poker Coaching - If you are not a breakeven player at least or if you have hit a plateau while Poker bankroll building. Then I would highly recommend getting some poker coaching. You can find tons of coaches online and coaching websites like Pokersavvy. Two things to keep in mind when looking for a coach. You want to find someone who has succeeded at the level of play you are looking to master. You also want to get references from previous students he/she has had success coaching. If you are on a limited budget then I would look for coaching websites for a modest monthly subscription you can access tons of videos and articles on various aspects of poker. This should help you become a winning player and you can get one on one coaching later as your bankroll grows.

In conclusion, poker bankroll building is what poker is all about. Our bankroll is a little like our scoreboard with how well we are doing and at what levels we can afford to play at. Sometimes building a poker bankroll can be frustrating, for those of us that are impatient. However, it can also be very exciting and exhilarating at the same time! Remember when poker bankroll building just have fun!

Brandon Edgar is an avid online poker player who has a passion for helping new players get started. If you are building a poker bankroll then you can get a FREE strategy guide that helps you to quickly grow your bankroll from $100 to $1000 at

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Poker Players Rake It In!

Saturday, August 25 2012         No Comments

By Jack Custard

The recent explosion of online poker has seen poker companies listing on the stock exchange and everybody trying to get a piece of the action. There are now hundreds of poker sites on the web to choose from but at the end of the day they all offer exactly the same thing - the chance to gamble some of our hard earned money against faceless opponents, sitting miles away in some other part of the globe. In our underwear if we so wish.

The adrenalin rush of sweating it out on the turn of a card with a small fortune at stake is now reachable without having to leave the house. We don't have to travel, go out into the cold, worry about dress code or a taxi home. We can play any time of the day or night - there's no closing time. We don't have to miss Corry or Enders. As long as there is money in our poker account we can play till our hearts content.

But that's the problem isn't it - how do we keep money in our account. The first few times of playing we're feeling our way in, learning the rules. But it seems so fast and furious. We're always being told to hurry up by the computer - "Hang on I'm thinking! He's probably got an ace but I'm really not sure. Give me a second to think! Oh I fold then."

But as time goes by, and we start to worry about how many Neteller transfers we seem to be making, we gradually get the hang of it. We win a few hands; we start to work out our opponents; we actually come off a table in profit!

We're hooked.

We up our stakes, we start playing the bigger tables - no limit even. We enter a tourney or two - even get to the final table. Can't quite win though. But we're not feed for the sharks anymore. We haven't made a deposit for days now and we're still playing!

But this is all dependent on winning - at least now and then. Poker is all well and good when we win, but when we have to keep clicking that 'Deposit Funds' button it becomes rather tiresome. If only there was some way to guarantee that funds are deposited into our account without the credit card taking the hit.

Well actually there is and it's amazing how many people are currently playing poker (right at this very second even) who do not know about Rakeback. It appears to be a little known fact that many of the poker companies, who are desperately vying for our business, actually offer money back just for playing.

Well it's time to spread the good news.

The profit that the poker companies make is called 'The Rake'. They take a percentage of the pot of every game that is played. We don't even notice it's gone. But it builds up into quite a little pile of profit for said company. The term Rakeback actually comes from the method used in casinos where the dealer would use his chip rake to drag a few chips into a bucket...just to cover their costs. And make the odd million.

Online poker companies do the same thing, albeit electronically. And as an incentive for us to sign up with their site, they offer referral incentives, in the form of Rakeback, through various online Rakeback sites. This is exactly what it says on the tin - we get a bit of 'The Rake' given back to us. Thus, for every single hand that we play, the poker site takes their share and gives us a little back through the affiliated Rakeback site. If you play enough poker this can add up to a tidy little sum and come the end of the month, our poker account receives a nice little injection of cash.

It doesn't matter whether we've won or lost - we've played. And that's all we need to do to get our Rakeback. If we play enough it can fund our poker for the whole month. We can even lose and still not be out of pocket. Imagine that.

All we have to do is ask Uncle Google to find us some "Rakeback Deals", sign up to our new poker site through the affiliated Rakeback site, and hit the tables. Now all our winnings are inflated by the Rakeback we generate whilst playing. Lovely Jubbly!

Me and my friends used affiliate Rakeback sites such as and who offer Rakeback deals with many of the popular poker sites, but a quick search on Google for "Rakeback Deals" will throw up plenty of choice.

Now go forth and spread the word...

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No More Online Poker? What Now?

Monday, August 20 2012         No Comments

By Thomas E Kemper

On April 15, 2011, the FBI shocked the online poker world by seizing the domain names of the most popular poker sites on the web. Effectively, US players can no longer place a bet on such well-known sites as,, Even the grand-daddy of them all,, felt the wrath of the FBI's strict enforcement of the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA), which forbid internet money transfers from financial institutions to online gaming sites.

What does this sudden federal action mean to the online poker playing community? In short, it means that millions of poker players will have to find their poker action elsewhere. Two likely venues pop to mind: brick and mortar Casinos will get an immediate influx of new business, and traditional home games will once again proliferate over time.

Will poker players accustomed to the anonymity of online play adapt to sitting at a poker table and looking their opponents in the eye? They better, because they really do not have an alternative since Congress does not seem to be in the mood to change the law any time soon. There has been a push to introduce legislation, which would legalize (and regulate) online poker in the States. Most notably, the Poker Players Alliance has been advocating for the rights of US poker players to play online. The PPA has two noteworthy congressional champions of their cause in Alfonse D'Amato (former Senator from NY) and Barney Frank (D-Mass). So far, their efforts have not been fruitful, but they continue to try.

Some folks may wonder why poker players insist on playing for real money online; after all, why not play with 'play money'? Most experienced poker players will agree it is impossible to play real poker with fake money. If it costs you nothing, why fold to your opponent's bet? The calculation as to whether to call a bet, or not, is much different if you are risking 25 real dollars, versus 25 dollars of play money. Forcing an opponent to fold his hand because he is unwilling to risk real money, is an integral part of the game.

Can casinos adequately fill the void of online play? In many cases, 'yes' they can. Thirty-four states offer casino poker rooms of some kind. Players within a reasonable driving distance of, say 50 miles, can simply take a short ride and find plenty of action. But this is not the case for everyone. Sixteen states do not offer poker games in a casino environment. If you are fortunate enough to live near a casino poker room, you will have to adjust your game a bit:

- Do you have a good poker face? Can you pull off a well-timed bluff without giving yourself away? Can you contain your excitement while holding the nuts? If not, you better learn quickly!

- 'Live' play in a casino is likely to be much slower than what the online player is use to, so you will have to throttle back your impatience, and learn to enjoy the more relaxed pace of casino play.

- The online player will be expected to learn table etiquette in order to keep the game enjoyable for everyone. Example: cell phone use at most tables is prohibited.

- Finally, online players will learn they are expected to tip the dealers if you win the pot in a cash game, or if you make the final table and finish 'in the money' of a tournament.

Casinos typically take a 'rake' (or share) from every poker game they host. 10% house rake is not uncommon for cash games (usually with a reasonable maximum amount per pot), and 20% is common for larger tournaments. In either case, the winner(s) are still expected to tip the dealers in addition to the house rake. If the casino's take is too much for you to swallow, you will prefer to play in home games where the rake is likely to be non-existent (and possibly illegal in your area).

Home games have been enjoyed by poker players for generations, and remain popular today. Before you agree to play in a home game, you should familiarize yourself with the local law governing such games in your area. Be sure any home game you play in is structured in such a way as to be legal. Assuming you are able to structure a legal home game, a group of friends can assemble to share a common interest in poker, and have a great evening with many social benefits. The social benefits of a home poker game should not be overlooked. Many friendships and business relationships have developed while playing poker.

The flavor of home poker games can vary widely from loose and casual, to very competitive. Be sure you find a game to suit your personality and style. If you are a high-stakes player, you will not enjoy playing 'dealer choice' games for nickels and dimes. Likewise, if you just want a fun social evening of playing cards, you should avoid high stake games such as Pot Limit Omaha. The great thing about poker is that there is a game for everyone.

If a group of friends can pool a few dollars each, they can invest in the items that make their game more enjoyable and professional. Such an investment should include a quality poker table, with cup holders and a felt surface. Next, a case (or two) of quality poker chips will make the game seem like you are playing in a Vegas casino. Finally and perhaps most importantly, a few decks of 100% plastic playing cards will make all of the difference in the world, and are considered an absolute must for a good home game.

So while many online poker players are lamenting the recent FBI crackdown, in the long run, most players are likely to find a nearby casino or home game that will fill the void. With that final comment, let' go play, it's time to 'shuffle up and deal'!

Tom Kemper is the webmaster for Playing Cards and More, and The Bridge Source, both sites are premiere suppliers of quality playing cards and other home game supplies.

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A Beginners Guide to Online Poker - Start with Sit and Gos Part 1

Sunday, August 05 2012         No Comments

By Carl Carlson

So you're new to online poker and you are a little overwhelmed, what should you do? Expanding off of my first article A Beginners Guide to Online Poker: Introduction, I suggest you start with Sit and Go tournaments. But before I explain why, let me explain what a sit and go tournament is.

If you're interested in poker by seeing it on television, you have probably seen a tournament. However, it is not a sit & go, it is a multi-table tournament. Basically, a multi-table tournament is a very large sit and go tournament. Here is how a sit and go tournament is usually ran:

Players buy-in for a certain amount and start with the same number of chips, with the blinds at a low point compared to stack. These chips are tournament value chips, not actual dollars. So if you buy into a specific tournament for $10 or $100, it doesn't matter. These tournaments usually start with 9-10 players, and in order to make money you must finish in the top 3. The payout is usually 50%, 30%, 20%. While playing, the blinds (and eventually antes) will go up based on a set amount of time. If you lose your chips, you are out and can not reload like you can at a cash game. The tournament is over when a player accumulates all of the chips in play.

Sounds simple enough, so why Sit & Gos? I prefer new players start with them for a few reasons:

It's basic. The last thing a new player needs to do is overload him or herself with more knowledge, terms, and jargon than they can remember. Once you get use to basic strategy, sit and gos can become almost robotic.

The reason they are basic is because for the most part, here is my basic sit and go strategy: fold, fold, fold, fold, fold, fold, fold, fold, fold, fold, fold, fold, fold, fold, raise. It is amazing just sitting back and watching people knock each other out, while you just sit back and wait for your moment. And here is the great part; they don't notice you just sitting back. You can fold the first 20 hands, then when you raise with AA, "that guy" will think his AT is good and put you all-in. I have smiled and hit the call button more times than I can remember.

It's a preflop game. A house is built with a good foundation, and a poker game is no different. You must learn the cards you should play, and that starts with preflop. Learning a solid preflop game is necessary, like a solid foundation is for a house. For the most part, sit and go tournaments focus on learning good preflop strategy. This is because once the blinds start to rise, which are generally fast, your stack will be small compared to them. During most of the tournament, you will usually be around 10-30x the big blind. This is quite different than a cash game, where most of the time you will have 100x the big blind or more. The more chips you have, the more your game should be focused on postflop. Your play should be much different, and focused on towards preflop hand selection, when you have fewer chips. Here is an example why:

Let's say you have a 1,300 chip stack and the blinds are 75/150. You are dealt AK suited UTG. This is a very good hand, and you have probably been waiting for it. You are first to act preflop, what should you do? First, let's look at your stack. You have less than 10x the big blind, which means you are getting very short. If this were a cash game, and the blinds were the same, you would have a stack of 150,000; quite larger than 1,300. Now let's say you choose make a standard 3x raise, to 450. By doing this are you already committing over 1/3 of your stack and will only have 850 left. Now, it folds to the big blind, who calls. The flop comes 2 7 T, none of which the suit you have. The big blind bets 600, what do you do? You feel like have to call, or go all-in, because so much of your chips are already in, but you know you are probably beat. You caused yourself this agony because you did not just go all-in preflop with such a low amount of chips.

If you were in the same situation with 150,000+ chips, you would have many more options. By making an incorrect move preflop, you created a situation that many new tournament players face. That is just one example why fewer chips means you have to focus on preflop situations, and I plan on expanding on that in my next article.

You can only lose your buyin.This is a big one for new player's who have not yet learned to cope with tilt. If you buy-in to a sit and go tournament for $5.50, you can only lose $5.50. It doesn't matter if you lost that 7,000 chip pot, it is still only worth $5.50. Also, the previous tournament has no effect on your next. It doesn't matter that their QJ busted your AA, you start completely over with the same amount of chips and the same chance to win. In a sense, sit and gos even the playing field. If you were to play with the best players in the world, you would have a much better chance in a sit and go tournament rather than a cash game.

So to put it simply, you will learn a solid foundation, minimizing risk as much as possible, for your future poker career. It only makes sense to learn the basic before expanding to more advanced play and concepts. In my next article I plan on expanding on "what and why" and talk about "how" giving strategy for playing sit and gos.

So if you want to give it a shot, you might be overwhelmed by the number of rooms you can play at. I recommend viewing the Flop Turn River Full Tilt Bonus Code review. By signing up at Full Tilt Poker through FTR, you will receive a 100% match bonus up to $600 and have access to special promotions and tournaments. Full Tilt has one of the best Sit and Go structures online today. Their software is also top notch, and with an average player base of 50,000+, there is always a tournament running for every limit.

Stay tuned for part 2!

- Carl Carlson (aka give me my leg)

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A Beginners Guide to Online Poker: Introduction

Tuesday, July 31 2012         No Comments

By Carl Carlson

Before you do what nearly every new online player does, which I have come to learn the process as "The Newbie Circle of Death," I have 5 very basic ideas for you to take into consideration. (This article is not for advanced players or people who want to tweak their game. This guide is designed as nothing more than to help new players avoid the mistakes I have made. I do not take credit for all of these ideas, and I have learned them as I went along; but I describe everything in a way that makes the most sense to me.)

1) You don't know what you don't know. This was my biggest problem, I simply just did not know. You may not be in the same position I was, but if I had to guess, I would think you are. You probably have seen poker on television and thought, "wow, if he can be on tv I can too!" or "I crush my home game every week, I want to quit my job and play!" This was my attitude as I was getting started and I came to realize it was my biggest downfall.

It is great to have confidence in your game and to believe you are a winning player. However, belief and facts are two completely different things. Let's take a look at my personal situation. I started to play poker after I watched the 2003 World Series of Poker on ESPN. I saw the bad beats, the big bluffs, and of course, the money. I wanted in. I knew nothing about the game except there was a lot of money on the line. But let's look a little closer.

Do you know why televised poker is so successful? Because they choose what you watch. What most people do not realize, is that one hour poker program you just watched was actually a 10 hour long final table battle. Before that 10 hour long final table, it was a 3 day event of hundreds (sometimes thousands) of people playing for 10-12 hours every day.

Now, after saying that consider this. Remember I said they choose what you watch? Well, they choose to show you the most exciting confrontations. Those big bluffs, the amazing call downs with bottom pair, the one-outers on the river; sure they are a part of the game, but not a very large one. But, if you are anything like I was, I wanted to do just that! I wanted to feel that I pushed someone around, or that I earned a pot. It felt good to me, and when it worked, I was the best. But when it didn't work, "How could he call me with that?!?"

Also, let's look at your home game. Have you ever stopped to evaluate the caliber of your friends play? The people you are playing with are probably so bad to the point where you might think you are good. In my experience, I have played with some people who did not know what blinds were, played every single hand, did not know you could raise preflop, etc. You can notice these things and not be good yourself, just better than the worst. Do not let this go to your head thinking you are a poker God.

Primarily, when people start out playing online poker they start small. All online poker rooms have cash game as low as $.05 - $.10 blinds, and tournaments that you can play for a little as $1. Let me share with you a little secret; you need not be fancy when playing low stakes. I have beaten low and mid stakes no-limit hold'em for years, and I wouldn't even consider myself a top notch player. You just need to have an ABC method of what to do. Learn basic preflop strategy, learn basic postflop strategy, and learn about position. These are 3 very basic principles and in my opinion are the foundation to a solid poker game. I will vaguely touch base with them, but not in detail, that is for a different article. Also, if I went into every possible situation or hand, this would be a very long read.

2) Basic Strategy. Learn to fold. Folding is just so boring though isn't it? I folded that 45 and the flop came A23, and I just knew that rookie with AJ would have given me his stack. Now I need to get tricky. I look down at that T4 and I know it isn't a good hand, but it is suited. I could flop two pair or trips, and that guy only doubled the blind. Two people already called and I have heard of something called pot odds, maybe I should call? I call. Oh man, now the button just raised 3x more. Wow, every else called, and there is that pot odds thing even though I don't really know what it is, I guess I will call and only put more chips in if I flop big. Oh wow now what, the flop came T 3 2. I have the top pair but there was a lot of raising preflop. It checks to me, I better check. Wow, the button bet 3/4 of the pot! Every else folded, what do I do? I don't want to let it go, I mean he could be bluffing and I do have top pair, I have to call. The turn is a 5! Wow! Now I have top pair and a straight draw! I'll check again to be fancy. What?! I wasn't expecting him to go allin!! Well, I might be behind but there is just no way I can fold, and remember, he could be bluffing. I call. The river is a 9, well I didn't hit my straight but I have the top pair. OMG! He had AA! I can't believe he got pocket Aces! Whenever I get AA it always gets outdrawn. Whatever, I quit.

Now, to some beginners that may seem a little dramatized, which it is. But there are some people who just can't wait to play online with that mindset. I know this because they are the ones who I absolutely love to have at my table. If you re-look at that situation, everything could have been avoiding by folding preflop.

It is fairly difficult to describe what kind of cards people should play, because with poker a lot of questions can be answered with "it depends." However, let me just run through some really basic examples of some hands beginners have trouble with:

AX - AX means an Ace with a little card, usually 8 or lower. At a 9 person table, this is a very weak hand. You are not going to hit anything worth while, like top pair or two pair enough to play this hand. Even if you do happen to hit your Ace, you have to worry about your kicker, which is your second card. Someone with AK, AQ, or AJ will have you dominated and you won't know what to if the A hits. For beginners, I would just avoid this hand.

QJ - But they're pictures! I could even flop a straight! Well, QJ is one of the hardest hands to play in my opinion. Say for example the flop comes J T 2. Cool you have top pair, but it is fairly weak. The obvious hands you are afraid of are JT, JK, and AJ which all have you in a world of trouble. If you are facing aggression, what now? Hope he has a Jack with a 9 or lower? This is one of the reasons I just don't like to play this hand, and recommend beginners fold it preflop.

KJ - Now surely KJ is good if QJ isn't! However, that usually is not the case. Here is a fact that most people do not know - when you see a flop, the odds that you pair anything is 1/3 or 33%. So if you are playing your KJ after someone raised, you will miss the flop 2/3 times. And even if you hit, what do you do if there is an Ace along with a King? I would not become too attached to hands with big pictures when just starting out.

Big/Little - Big little can be anything from K3 to T4 like in the example, suited or unsuited. These will be your biggest losers by far and will hardly ever connect to win you the pot. Even if they do, it is unlikely you will win anything from the others involved, just pitch 'em.

Trash - Even a bad player knows to fold trash. Just like 94, 32, and the ever popular 72. Just avoid these at all costs.

Like stated earlier, there are times when I will play hands like KJ and QJ, or even AX. Everything in poker is situational. However, if there is a raise in front of me generally I will almost always fold the above hands. If you do not have the initiative, they're simply not worth it.

So, what are you suppose to play? I mentioned some hands that can be tough and should be avoided, now I will mention a few of the hands I love playing:

QQ, KK, AA - These are what you would call monsters. These three pairs are the three biggest winning hands in my lifetime stats since I have started playing, and non-coincidentally they are the three best starting hands in hold'em. There are many ways to play them but let me just give you some basic advice. Don't get fancy, don't get greedy, and don't expect to win all of the time. When you have big pairs, many people get so excited and do not want to scare off other players. For the most part, it is true that you want action but you should almost always raise preflop with them. Don't try to be fancy and limp in; these big hands play well against 1-2 players, but are very dangerous against 3 or more. If you are first to act, raise. If someone raised in front of you, re-raise around 3x the bet depending upon how many players are in the hand. Just on a basic level, play them strong like you would play any normal hand and pray someone re-raises you preflop.

TT, JJ - These two pair hands are still very good, and are lifetime winners for me as well, but are trickier to play. You don't want to become too attached to them just because you have a pair, and there are times where you would fold them preflop if there is very aggressive action. Generally speaking, I will raise if I am first to act, and either call or re-raise (depending on the player) if someone raises in front.

22-99 - These eight pairs can be tough to play, but for the most part when you are just starting out try to live by a rule; set it or forget it. A set is when you have three of a kind, when you hold a pair and one comes on the flop (when you hold 44 and the board is 4 7 Q.) Sets are the money hands in no-limit hold'em, so these pairs can rake in some big bucks if they hit. For the most part, I will limp depending on my table position, and call a raise in front. Like TT and JJ, don't become too attached.

AK and AQ - These can be tricky hands at a cash table because they are not made hands yet. AK and AQ look very good when you are dealt them, but miss the flop just like every other hand 2/3 of the time. I almost always play these hands, and they are winners for me, but it really depends on the table. I always open them for a raise. Some people advocate re-raising them instead of calling a raise because it gives you the initiative to take away the pot if you happen to miss. I tend to switch it up, and can do either or but remember, they are both unmade hands.

AJ, KQ - I thought about putting these in the above section, because they can be tricky hands to play, but they're still playable. The reason AJ/KQ are separated from AK and AQ is because I almost never just flat call a raise with them, and almost always fold. I will however raise if it is folded to me, but AJ can trap you fairly bad if someone opens with AK and the flop comes A 3 4, and the same with KQ if the flop comes K high. Raising and calling are two different things.

There are situations where I will play more hands, but in my opinion, those are the best hands for a new player to start out with. I'm sure you have heard pros say their favorite hands are suited connectors like 76 suited, or hands like QT suited, and they can be fun and profitable to play. However, they can play them properly because of their knowledge and experience.

It is very hard to describe in one article what to do and what to play. My suggestion to you is to learn before you play. Read other poker articles, maybe read a poker book. In my opinion, the best way to learn is from a community of people who are also trying to become better. I joined a poker forum called Flop Turn River (FTR for short) shortly after losing some money online. I found the site out of frustration and it totally turned around my poker career. If you would like to meet me, and many other more successful players with a lot of insight, please visit I highly recommend it!

3) Know your roll. I know this article is already pretty long, but just bear with me here. I am going to share with you something that I think is one of the most important factors for any poker player. This will separate the people who go broke from the people who are successful, the people who hate poker from the people who love it. Are you ready to here it? Bankroll management.

"Huh? I was expecting some sort of strategy of how to always win!?" Yeah, so was I when I started. But there is one thing you will learn rather quickly; you will not always win. It's just impossible. Poker is a long term game.

Bankroll Management is one of the concepts many people do not understand. So many times I have been asked, "Is Poker gambling?" I have heard and gave many answers, but I found the best one to be "I'm not sure, do you exercise proper bankroll management?" And if you do, it isn't gambling. There are so many people who constantly go broke playing poker, even if they are good, and that is probably because they are playing out of their bankroll. What a bankroll is to a poker player, is the money that they use to play with. Players should not be using their bankroll to live off of, or making frequent cash outs, they need it to grow.

I would say the average deposit (for me initially anyway) was $50 here, $100 there, and so on. I kept on having to reload because I kept going broke. If you only have a couple hundred dollars to play online with, and want to become a serious player grinding up the limits, you can not jump right into the high stakes. In fact, with $100 even $.10 - $.20 blinds are too high. There is a recommended rule, depending on what you play, that I have learned to follow:

20-30 buyins for cash games.

15-20 buyins for sit & go tournaments.

50-100 buyins for multi-table tournaments.

Although some people like their bankroll a little tighter, and some looser, following those general guidelines will prevent you from becoming broke as easily. It also really depends on your skill level and experience with poker (again, remember do not over rate yourself.) Just for example, if you start off with a $200 deposit, and want to focus on cash games, you should start at $.05 - $.10 or lower. If you wanted to play sit & gos, the $5.50 or $11 level would be fine. And for multi-table tournaments, you could play in the low $2 - $3 range; with an occasional shot at $5.

Again, this is just a set guideline that I follow. I highly recommend you either follow this, or hear other people's opinion and form your own system. Sometimes players expand the required buyins, and sometimes people take shots at the next highest limit when they reach 10-15 buyins. It's all about perspective. As a general rule, don't bet more than you feel comfortable betting; even if you have the nuts. Having bankroll management won't keep you from going broke if you are a bad player, but it will give you time to plug those leaks and become better through experience; instead of just going broke right away.

4) Rigged!! I am going to switch gears a little bit, but not spend too much time on this next topic. Being a part of online poker communities and just playing online poker in general for years now, I have heard it all. Doomswitches, setups, bad beats; all leading towards people stating "online poker is rigged!!" Let me assure you it is not.

When you are playing live at a 9 person table, it takes time for the dealer to shuffle the cards, the players to act, the dealer to do the flop, etc. If you add in the fact that you play in a home game with distractions and perhaps drinking, this will also delay how fast hands are dealt. In my experience, playing in a home game I will see about 20-30 hands per hour.

Now look at online poker. The cards are automatically shuffled, dealt, and it is your turn even before Uncle Ray noticed it was his turn to shuffle. You don't have to worry about chips and betting, it is all done for you. At a 9 person table online, you will see on average of 60-100 hands per hour. Now compare that to your home game, the play can be over 3 times as fast! That means you will get AA three times as often, and yes, take those bad beats three times as often. Also, with online poker you are allowed to play more than one table at a time. I have personally played up to 18 tables at once! (I highly advise against trying it, however) Do the math on that and you can see how everything happens at a higher rate.

Now if you have your arms crossed because you know you have been unluckier than anyone else in the world, I don't know what else to tell you. I personally know hundreds of very successful people who play online, and have achieved success myself. The rooms make enough money being legit and if you don't believe me, well, don't deposit!

5) Where do I start? One of the first things you must do is become a student. You are not as good as you think you are, you are as good as you prove you are (over a long sample size, mind you.) Books are a very good way to learn the game; however, most books today are advanced concepts and assume you already know the basics. I strongly suggest the website I mentioned earlier, and joining loyal community of poker players who would be very willing to help you, Flop Turn River. I learned so much from that website, and best of all, it was free!

Next, you may have seen the commercials, the television shows, or have been to one of the hundreds of online poker rooms, and just don't know where you should play. There are literally hundreds of online rooms, and many are good, but others are not. In my opinion, you want to find a site that is very well known, populated, and has a very good track record. There are a few that fit this mold, but if I had to narrow it down to one, it would be Full Tilt Poker. You can view the review written about Full Tilt at FTR by visiting the Full Tilt Bonus Code page. In addition to the review of the site, you will find a great deposit bonus through FTR! If you sign up through that page, Full Tilt will match your deposit and give you a bonus, up to $600. (Click on the link for details.) This will give you extra money to play with, which is a great deal.

Overall, a lot of what I had mentioned here is fairly basic. It does not guarantee that you will be on your way to riches. Poker is a game that takes a few minutes to learn, and a life time to master. But if you indulge yourself and become a great student, you can become successful. Good luck to you and see you at the tables!

- Carl Carlson (aka give me my leg)

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Is Playing Poker Online Right For You?

Monday, July 16 2012         No Comments

By Jeff Dragt

Playing poker is a wonderful hobby and an engaging form of entertainment. Although many times in the past you may have found that you wanted to play poker but were not close enough to a casino to just hop in your car and run on in to take a seat at the poker table. This is where online poker gaming comes into the picture. Online poker is an increasingly popular way of playing poker from within the confines and comfort of your own home. As you are able to play many different types of poker games at casino establishments, online poker websites also make this type of variety with regard to poker games available to its poker players. Playing poker online via an online poker website is different in a few ways from playing in a physical casino environment. It is important to focus on those differences thereby enabling yourself to make the decision of whether or not playing poker card games online is the right option for you.

One way in which playing poker online and playing poker within a casino differs, relates to the betting limits which are imposed on the poker players. When playing poker online by way of an online poker website, the online poker player may not be required to put up as much money for an ante as the poker player that is playing this type of card game within the casino limits. This is one of the many advantages of playing poker in an online setting. Many individuals just want to play poker for fun or to make a little spending cash perhaps and are wary of risking large amounts of money in the process. The various online poker websites will allow the prospective online poker player to bet smaller amounts of money than the casinos will at times. This is an attractive feature of the online poker websites. If you are looking to spend small amounts of money, this might be the type of gaming situation for you. If money is no object, then maybe you will prefer to go to a physical casino. However, keep in mind that certain online poker websites will host higher betting limits.

Another way in which playing poker on an online poker website differs from the casino atmosphere is the lack of other players in your physical vicinity. Casinos can make a person become a bit claustrophobic after awhile and if you are the type of individual that likes his or her own space, then online poker gambling on a poker gaming website might just be the answer. When you are playing poker online you are playing against other individuals; however, the upside to this is that you are not crowded in a small, stuffy area with those other players breathing down your neck, trying to get you to hurry up and make a move. Not only can this type of player behavior on the part of your peers be obnoxious but it can also make you decide to play in a way which you would not have done had you been given the time and space to think the move through. This is a definite plus to playing poker online as opposed to in a casino. If you are keen on the idea as well, then again, maybe online poker playing is your cup of tea.

A third way in which an online poker website may be right for you is if you enjoy excitement and would like to play more than one game at one time. By playing the poker game in an online setting, you are able to play more than one game at one time. This is not possible in a physical casino setting since the only way an individual could be playing at more than one table at one time would be if that person had really long arms, which is highly unlikely. Therefore, by utilizing online poker websites you are able to play two or three games at once. The choice is up to you. If you have the concentration skills to pull this off, then this would be another attractive detail that might pull you into playing in an online poker game setting.

A final way in which playing poker games via an online poker website might be right for you is if you want the convenience of not having to leave your home in order to enjoy some gaming entertainment. Online poker websites are extremely convenient for a number of reasons. First of all, you do not have to drive anywhere in order to play poker. You simply log on to the internet via your internet provider, connect with a specific online poker website and get down to business. A second reason why online poker websites are extremely convenient is that they allow you to jump right into a game without ever having to wait for a seat to open up. Lastly, online poker websites are extremely convenient options for the avid poker player in that they enable you to pay money and collect money via a few quick touches of the keypad. Payment systems companies that act as a go between from online poker player to online poker website enable money to be transmitted quickly and efficiently from online poker player to online poker website thereby ensuring that either or both individual(s) are paid in a swift manner.

Online poker websites are a wonderful alternative to the casino businesses of the past. Not to say that casinos are out of date, this is just to provide an alternative to poker players that may be interested in checking out this different type of gaming avenue. If any of the aforementioned items seem of great interest to you, then maybe online poker playing is something that you should take a look at. It never hurts to give it a try. It may just be something that you are happy to have discovered and will change your impression of gambling forever.

Jeff Dragt is an avid online poker player who has been working in the poker industry for years. If your new to poker and want to find out more then please visit my website.

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