It was several months ago that I was introduced to playing Texas Hold ‘Em online, and I am hooked. I had never played before and didn’t have a clue as to how to play this beloved card game. I must admit it was a little daunting to know that my son and his friends were playing for real money, and I was completely clueless. However, once I signed on at a site my husband found called Full Tilt Poker, I was able to learn it and have fun playing it in no time.
There are several sites in which to play such as pokerstars.net and partypoker.com, but I find that Full Tilt Poker.net and Gamepoker88.com is by far the easiest one to figure out and the visuals are the easiest to see. This site is completely free and only uses play money. They also offer another site at Full Tilt Poker.com where you can play for free or for real money, but let’s discuss playing for fun first. Once you download your favorite poker site you will then create an account by picking a screen name and either choosing an avatar or adding a personal picture depending on what the site offers. At Full Tilt Poker you choose an avatar and screen name and off you play.
The first thing you’ll want to do is to practice if you don’t have much experience and the best way to do that is to get into enter the Hold ‘Em rooms and pick a table to play at which choices will depend on the site. You will start out with a small bank of chips, probably 1,000, which will allow you to enter a 5/10 room. That means that the blinds will be 5 for small and 10 for big. The person who is sitting to the left of the dealer is the small blind and the person to left of the small blind is the big blind. Your chips will automatically be thrown into the pot when you are the blind so you don’t need to worry about when it is your turn.
If you are the small blind and no one on the table raises, when it comes back to you, you would need to throw in just another 5 chips to play. The big blind would then just check as they already have their 10 chips in, unless they choose to raise and it goes around the table again. You are given two cards in your hand and those are what you decide to stay or fold with for starters. If you stay in the game then the “flop” is thrown onto the table which would be three cards face up for everyone to see. The betting begins again and the goal is to build the best five cards out of the two in your hand and the five which will be on the table. After the flop, if you decide to stay, the next round will give you the “turn” which is one more card face up on the table. The final card is called the “river” and is also face up on the table. The worst winning hand would be when no one has even a pair and the winner is whoever has the highest card, called the “kicker” after the river is thrown. For instance, say you are holding a 2 and a 9 in your hand and no one is holding a card higher than your nine, you would win the pot. Next you have a pair (two of the same numbered cards), two pair (two sets of matching numbered cards such as two 5’s and two 8’s) three of a kind (three of the same numbered cards), straight (any sequence of running numbers such as 6,7,8,9,10), flush (five cards with the same suit), full house (which is a three of a kind and a two of a kind in one hand), four of a kind (yes, you guessed it, four of the same numbered cards) and a straight flush (all the same suit in a running sequence of numbers).
Once you have practiced enough you have the opportunity to move to bigger rooms for bigger chip pots. The great thing about free poker is that if, while learning, you keep losing your chips, you can always re-up and try again. The chips you can earn are endless as long as you keep winning. You can also enter tournaments and sometimes they have free-roll where it doesn’t cost any of your chips to enter. For instance, right now on Full Tilt Poker you can play a Sit and Go tournament which, if you win the first and second rounds, you enter a final round in January for a chance at a seat in a real live poker game for real money that doesn’t come out of your pocket. The other poker sites have similar tournaments that have different winning possibilities.
The only downside I’ve encountered playing for free on-line is that sometimes people take it way too seriously. You can chat while playing a game and sometimes people get real nasty with their comments, but that only means you found a sore loser or someone who thinks they know so much that they have to comment on your bad choices. Seems to me those people should be playing for real money then if they know so much. These free chip sites should be played for fun and for practice so that one day you too can possibly be sitting at a real stakes table in Vegas. Good luck to all those who try to get that seat next to me!