Online poker: a stepping stone to the real thing

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Online poker: a stepping stone to the real thing

It's a game full of twists and turns, tells and bluffs, but to a beginner, the jargon and rules associated with poker can all blur into one. Once mastered, poker is not only a fascinating game to play with friends or pit your wits against strangers, but if you're good enough, it can be a great money spinner too.

The most popular version of the game, Texas holdem poker, is easy to learn but can throw up some traditions and rules that a beginner would only discover by playing the game. Of course sitting down in a casino or playing a big money game are not the ideal destinations to begin your learning curve, so what can people who want to learn the ropes do?

Well that's where online poker comes in handy. Whether you want to practice in time for that poker night with your mates or hone your skills before a big tournament, playing online is the perfect place to make mistakes and prepare that poker face.

Online poker has rapidly become more popular over the last few years as both beginners and seasoned players alike realise the potential it holds for the improvement of their game.

Not only is it a great place to learn from your mistakes, it can also lead to greater things if you work your way up the online ladder. Most online poker sites will offer seats on major tournament tables to the member of the public that wins a specific tournament. Do well online and you could be rolling with the greats of the game in no time.

You may question just how helpful playing online poker is when you're faced with a table of people in the flesh and the pressure is on, but there are things you can learn online that will help your game significantly.

Practice makes perfect and your decision-making will improve the more you play any type of poker. Online poker can be played anywhere and at any time and you will soon learn the hands to play and those you should throw away.

You can also work on your strategies and begin to learn how to spot the strategies of others. You can learn from different betting patterns and use this to inform your decisions.

Although you need to work on the concealment of your body language before trying a table game, there are ways to read your opponents online too. Seeing how quickly a player is to bet or raise is an important indicator online, just as it could be when you play face to face.

Online poker sites often offer tutorials and forums so you can swap tips with likeminded poker enthusiasts. Some even have poker academies where you can learn from professional players and get some advice on how they play specific hands or try and read the tells of their challengers.

If you want to learn the ropes with no pressure at all you can also play free online poker. You don't need to put in any of your own money and you can play online against real people, learning all of the rules and trying to work out your own strategy without the pressure of losing anything.

Once you feel ready you can progress onto small tables that only require buy-ins under 50 pence and gradually work your way up. The more you play the better you'll get.

Whether you consider yourself a poker pro in waiting, or you wouldn't know a flop if it hit you in the face, online poker is the perfect place to improve your skills or learn the game from scratch.

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