Online Poker Basics

by Mario Alfonsi  |  Published on May 23, 2017  |  Updated on May 23, 2017

The first time I set out to play online poker a poker forum was offering free seats in a poker tournament, all you had to do was download a poker site onto your desktop, sign up for a new account with the room, find the tournament, and register for it.

Sounded easy enough at the time. I’m a pretty computer savvy type of person. Easy is exactly what it was not. So let’s get set up on an online poker site, and then we’ll discuss some of the options there.

First thing you want to know is that the most popular marketing method of online poker sites is to offer a free bonus. When I first signed up, I didn’t trust sites like this one, so I avoided those bonus offers, figuring they must be a scam. Don’t make my mistake, 9 years later, I’m still kicking myself for missing out on those bonuses.

With that in mind, we’re going to start out with a site that offers a very lucrative bonus offer, that’s also really easy to navigate.

Downloading PokerStars and Claiming Your Bonus

If you’re from the United States, you won’t be able to play at PokerStars, so the setup instructions will vary a bit, but the basics will be the same. For United States Poker sites, look for the US flag in our list of reputable online poker sites.

  1. Press ctrl D on your keyboard and bookmark this page so we don’t lose each other
  2. Click HERE and download the PokerStars installation file on your computer
  3. Follow the directions for installing the program on your computer, shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.
  4. Open the poker site, if you can’t find it, look in your start menu for PokerStars
  5. Inside, click Register for a New Account
  6. Get all signed up, and verify your email address
  7. Now let’s click the cashier button
  8. Make your first deposit of up to $600, and you’ll get that amount free in bonus money

Online Poker Bonuses, What’s the Catch?

There is a catch when it comes to bonus money, so if you’re thinking it’s to good to be true, it is. The poker site gives you that money to get you to play at their site. They also decide what you have to do to get the money released into your players account. So when you’re done making the deposit you won’t see it. But as you play games on the site, you’ll start seeing the money show up in your account, there will be a little pop-up that lets you know anytime you get $5 cleared.

There are entire articles written on how to clear your bonus at every particular poker site, so I’m just going to give you this one tip. Bonuses aren’t cleared in tournaments for the most part, they’re cleared at cash poker game tables. They’re also not going to clear very well at the penny tables, however, at a nice $0.25 table, you’ll get some or all of your bonus money cleared as long as you don’t play like a maniac and lose all of your cash in the first few minutes of play.

Each online poker rooms is its own entity. So once you’ve learned to clear bonuses, and probably not before, you can check out more rooms on this site, and start using those bonus offers toward building a pretty massive online poker bankroll. You don’t really want to burn up all of these bonus offers however if you haven’t figured out how to clear them.

New players definitely have the advantage and they can come out ahead right off the bat by selecting a room with all of the bells and whistles. This includes one with great promotions. Take advantage of as many of the new player bonuses and promotions as possible, these can really help out.

Online Poker Options – Looking at PokerStars Lobby

For now though, let’s open up PokerStars and in the lobby, find the ring games, or cash games. To do this Click the word “Holdem” in the lobby. Then you’ll be presented with a few choices:

  • Fixed Limit
  • No Limit
  • Play Money

Limit means that there’s a limit on how much each player can be during a betting round. So in a .25/.50 limit game, players can bet .25 before and on the flop, and .50 thereafter.

No limit means just that, as long as you bet as much as the big blind, the skies the limit. Online poker players can bet as much money as they have brought to the table with them.

Play Money Poker Online

PokerStars gives each person play money that gives them a chance to try out the poker sites software without taking any risk. In fact, if you’re not ready to play for real money online, you can just enjoy the play money games, practice your game, and work your way toward the cash game tables later.

When it comes to playing online poker, players will want to make sure they are familiar with how the games work; this is why some new players experiment on the free games first. Once a player decides it is time to jump into playing the real money games, they will want to choose a table with an amount of players they are more comfortable with at first. They should start slow until they know more of what they are doing and have a full understanding of how the online cash games work. They don’t want to get in over their head and try learning everything at once, plus have a lot of money on the line.

To join any table, just double click the table in the list of games available. The table will open up. As you get used to reading the lobby options, you’ll learn how to find out how many hands per hour are played at each table, how much the average pot size is, and how many people are actually playing, this will help you to choose games that actually have seats available.

To narrow things down a bit more though, you can choose whether you want to play high stakes games, low, or micro, which is where you’ll find the quarter games.