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Few things are as easy these days as learning to play poker. Online poker rooms are only to happy to help you get a handle on the rules of the game, and offer tutorials and practice rooms where you can master the basics of poker. Don't be to quick to start throwing your money around though. Playing poker is fun, but all the more so if you are a winning player. Don't put your hard earned cash on the line before you are truly ready to swim with the sharks. Below we've listed 6 steps that should help you learn to play online poker in a responsible way.


Step 1: Learn the various hands
Learning to Play: Step 1
First of all you will need to learn which combination of cards represents which value in the game of poker. You may already know most of these combinations, but just to be absolutely clear we have compiled a list of the various hands and ranked them according to their value. These card combinations are valid in popular poker variations like Texas Hold'em (by far the most popular poker variation), Omaha, Draw and Stud. If you are completely new to poker it might be a good idea to keep the page below open in the background during your first few games, just in case your memory needs a bit of jogging.
Relevant links:
Poker Hand Rankings


Step 2: Complete an online tutorial
Learning to Play: Step 2
You can go about leaning the basics of poker the old fashioned way, by reading an explanation of the rules. But these days there are more enjoyable ways of getting to grips with the basic structure of the game, like the interactive tutorial over at Pacific Poker. You'll learn how the cards are dealt, when it's your turn to bet (or fold), and everything else a novice poker player needs to know.
Relevant links:
Pacific Poker Tutorial


Step 3: Play money tables
Learning to Play: Step 3
After you've mastered the basics, it's time to move on to the next step in the process of learning to play poker: taking on real opponents. The best place to do that for the first time are the 'play money' tables every poker rooms runs for the benefit of beginning players and those players who do not want to play for real money. One of the largest poker communities can be found at Party Poker. If you are looking for a smaller but more friendly place to start, try Carbon Poker, where there is the added benefit of a forum on which you can discuss your experiences with other poker players.
Relevant links:
Party Poker (large community)
Carbon Poker (friendly atmosphere)


Step 4: Improve your game
Learning to Play: Step 4
Now that you've learned how and when to bet, and have some experience taking on real opponents, it's time to learn when it is actually a good idea to bet, so that you can move beyond randomly throwing money around. In Poker, your ability to make the correct decisions will determine your success at the table. Reading up on strategy is a must for any serious poker player. Buying a few good poker books is an investment that is sure to pay dividends.
Relevant links:
Books to help improve your game


Step 5: Free Poker Tournaments
Learning to Play: Step 5
The drawback with playing at play money tables is that there is no incentive for players to take the game seriously. This leads to silly play, like people going "all-in" on every hand. That's why you should quickly move on to the next phase of the learning process: taking part in freeroll tournaments. These are free to enter, but feature real cash prices. Because there is money to be won, players tend to take the game much more seriously than at play money tables. There might be some silly play early on, but as the tourneys progress you'll increasingly be faced with serious opponents.
Relevant links:
Free Poker Tournaments


Step 6: Learn to play for money
Learning to Play: Step 6
When you start to see results in free tournaments, it might be time to complete the learning process by moving on to the real money tables. No online poker room will put you under any sort of obligation to play for real cash, but for most players the chance of winning some money is an integral part of the fun of playing poker.
Relevant links:
Pacific Poker
Party Poker
Carbon Poker (US players welcome)
Bovada Poker (US players welcome)
Titan Poker



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