Beginners Guide to Playing Online Poker




Poker is hundreds of years old, but it’s been brought into the 21st century by online poker sites

Poker is a game that has been enjoyed by millions of people around the world for more than one hundred years. It has its roots in several other European card games, but evolved into the game we know today when European settlers took it to America.


Throughout the first half of the 20th century, it remained a fairly niche game until Las Vegas casinos popularized it in the 1970s onwards.


Today, major tournaments like the World Series of Poker see thousands of people enter each year in the hopes of beating the most talented players in the world. And thanks to the internet, it has never been easier to play and practice your poker skills and even qualify for these tournaments.


So, if you’d like to start playing online poker, but are unsure where to begin, here’s a handy guide to help you get going.


Choosing a Poker Site

There are plenty of online poker sites out there for you to choose from, but there are some things you’ll want to check out before making a decision.


The first is that you find a site you can trust. There are many well-respected poker sites out there, so this shouldn’t be too much trouble. One of these is 888 poker, the company is a global brand that began operating in 1997 and is now traded on the London Stock Exchange.


You can find plenty of reviews online for all the major poker sites, so read up on those to help you get a better understanding of what they offer. The reviews will often review factors like the ease of use of the software, quality of other players, and how quickly pay-outs are processed.


You may also want to check what payment methods are available on the poker sites as they can vary from company to company. You’ll need to find a site that accepts the method you want, however, most will allow you to deposit money with Visa and Mastercard cards, and payment wallets like PayPal and Skrill.


Find Sign Up Bonuses

Once you’re confident that some online poker sites will meet your needs, you can try them out using the signup bonuses that they offer. These bonuses will let you play poker on the site without spending much or any at all.


Some may even offer free games that you can use “play chips” instead of chips bought with real money.


This will help you get a better feel for the software that each online poker site has and allow you to decide which one is best for you.



You can play poker with your computer, smartphone, or tablet

Understand the Basic Rules

Like all games, poker has a set of rules that you need to understand to be able to play proficiently. Thankfully, there are plenty of guides available online that can help you get to grips with how the betting rounds work and the ranking of hands.


The best hands are:

  • A Royal Flush – This is when you have the ace, King, Queen, Jack and 10 cards from the same suit.
  • A Straight Flush – This where you have five sequential cards from the same suit. For example, 9, 8, 7, 6, and 5 of hearts.
  • A Four of a Kind – Where you have all four cards of the same value, for example, four Jacks or four aces.
  • A Full House – This is where you have three cards of the same value and a pair of the same value. For example, three Queens and two 9s.


In most versions of poker, including Texas hold’em, the aim is to get the highest-ranked hand possible. Though there are some variants of the game where the aim is to get the lowest rank. One of these games is Razz, though it is sometimes called 7-card-stud-low.


Learn Poker Strategy

Once you’re up to speed with the basics, you begin to get a better understanding of poker strategies. There isn’t one correct strategy, instead, different players will find a particular one suits them better.


Others may want to learn a few different strategies so that they can alternate them to find one that works best against a particular competitor.


There are plenty of sites online that offer you various guides on different poker strategies, many are written by professional players or those that have been playing as an amateur for some time.


There are also plenty of books that have been written by successful players that give you a better insight into their own poker playing strategies. Learning these strategies can also help you avoid making common poker mistakes.


Watch Professionals

When you’re learning to play poker, you can often learn a lot of great tips, techniques and strategies by watching others compete in games and tournaments.


Many online poker sites will stream coverage from live events that they organise themselves or that sponsor. However, you can also find hours of content on sites like Twitch for free. More than one million people follow the poker category on the site where you’ll find both live tournaments and online games with commentary from poker experts.


Take Part in Freerolls

Poker tournaments can often have very high buy-ins. However, many online poker sites offer free tournaments that don’t cost you a penny. These are called freerolls, and they’re a great way for you to practice your poker playing and try out several different strategies.


All freerolls offer a prize to the winner, which could come in the form of real money or free entry to a tournament. Freerolls often have a lot of amateur players in them, but when free entries are at stake, many more talented players will take part too.

Share this with your horse racing friends
Handicapping tips from


* indicates required

Email Format

About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 19-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 of the NHC twice. A former executive with and a member of the NHC Players’ Committee, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

More in Poker Skill
How I Became a Poker Champion in One Year
How I Became a Poker Champion in One Year

A Game of Skill: Poker One of the world’s best players taught me his unique psychological style of play—and it...