If you’re a fan of some of the other iGaming activities I’ve mentioned before on this blog, you may be curious about the globally popular vertical of online poker. If so, read on!
The development of online poker
Nowadays, online poker runs the gamut from free-to-play basic games right the way through to international professional tournaments, with huge prize pools and some of the best players in the world vying for a spot at the virtual tables.
But it wasn’t always this way. In fact, at the start of the 21st century it was actually seen as a bit of a novelty – a niche market, if you will – that probably wouldn’t hit the mainstream. But hit the mainstream it did, and now this game is enjoyed in its various incarnations by poker fans all over the world.
There are even online qualifiers for prestigious events like the World Series of Poker, and gaming platforms have risen in popularity to the point where they don’t just run their own poker tournaments, they also host and sponsor major sporting and entertainment events on an international scale.
How to play online poker
Getting started with playing online poker is actually pretty straightforward; you find a gaming platform or mobile app that you like the look of, sign-up for a user account with the operator, deposit some money into your account, choose a game and get going. There are some platforms that offer free games, so in these instances, you won’t even have to make a deposit before you can start to play – just don’t expect to bank any of your winnings at the end of it!
As always with straightforward processes, however, there are numerous things that you need to take into consideration when playing poker online. After all, this is a real money gaming activity and you’ll be parting with your cash to play it so you want to ensure that all your important personal and financial details will be kept safe and secure. You also want to make sure that you’re playing games that are sustainable and actually offer a chance of winning now and again.
Ok, so what’s the best way to play online poker?
Now you’re asking the right questions!
First and foremost you need to ensure the legitimacy of the gaming platform you intend to use. There’s a plethora of online poker platforms and websites these days, not to mention all those poker apps that fill up the gaming section of the Google Play store, but you can immediately spot the legit ones by the licenses that they hold.
There are a number of gaming authorities that oversee and licence iGaming activities within their territorial borders and internationally, including bodies like the UK Gambling Commission, Malta Gaming Authority, Gibraltar Gambling Commission, and Isle of Man Supervisory Committee. Don’t even think of typing your details into a platform that hasn’t been licenced by a body like this, or one that doesn’t display said licences clearly on its webpage.
Another way to suss out the reputable platforms is to get online and do a quick search. Online poker players are pretty vocal when it comes to the quality of the platforms they play at, so if you spot a brand that’s doing well with plenty of positive reviews it’s likely to be a good one. Obviously the big gaming brand names will operate the most secure platforms, but you can find some reliable indie platforms too if you do some research.
Hitting the virtual tables
Now that you’re all signed up with a legit platform, here comes the exciting part – choosing the game! Just as there are many poker variants played in real life cash games, there’s a diverse selection online too. Maybe you fancy sticking with classics like Texas Hold’em or Omaha, or maybe you’ll try something new in the form of Badugi or Draw Poker. You can even play Virtual Reality poker – if you’ve got the suitable gear for it, take part in fast-fold poker competitions, or just practice your strategy with play money games. The sky’s the limit…well, actually your bankroll is but I’ll get to that in a minute.
Always keep in mind that even though you can’t physically see your opponents in an online poker game, you’re still playing against real people. The logistics of playing online poker may differ from those of live games, but many of the “dos and don’ts” of poker still apply. For example, don’t trash talk your fellow players in the online chat function, and make sure you follow the rules of the chat when you do use it. Just behave as you would if you were in a real life casino or poker room; don’t be that one idiot who suddenly forgets common courtesy just because they’re playing from behind a screen.
And now comes the responsible gaming part. Yes, you as a player have a responsibility to yourself to only play within your limits, and spend the money that you can afford to lose. This is a very simple form of bankroll management – set an amount that you’re prepared to lose and don’t go over that when you’re making wagers in the game. Even when you do start making some winnings, don’t see that as money to put back into the game, leave it alone and let it build up.
And remember to take regular breaks; if you find yourself heading into the dreaded Tilt zone (believe some of the greatest poker players out there when they say it happens to everyone), fold, log out, log off and leave the virtual gaming for another day or week. We’re smack bang in the middle of the digital era, gaming platforms won’t be going anywhere anytime soon!