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Poker School - The Basics

So you want to learn how to play Poker? If you're a beginner looking for lessons on how to play, you've come to the right place. This Section will give you the basics of poker to help get you started in this exciting and rapidly growing game.

Remember, you won't become a Pro overnight as a major part of the game comes down to experience but A World of Poker will try and help you in the right direction.


If you think learning poker seems to be a big challenge then you needn't worry because as with most great games the rules are very simple and easy to learn. There are a multitude of possible ways to play the game in terms of strategy and the best way is to familiarise yourself with the basics and develop your own unique playing style.

Most internet poker rooms provide free play tables, where you can learn the basic rules of the game without risking any of your money. Tournament play is probably the best and most effective way to learn as it is both exciting and inexpensive. You will also encounter a great variety of playing styles in tournaments and the action is fast and entertaining.

If the thought of playing is a little bit daunting at first then you should remember that when you play online your identity is anonymous , so even if you think you have made a stupid mistake, there's no need to feel any embarrassment as no one at the table will know who you are!

As you master the rudiments of Poker and begin to understand the subtleties and strategies of the game you will find the game is very rewarding . You will find a plethora of books to cover most variations of poker and will find that in time your own unique style can be developed as you progress at your own pace.

To further assist the poker beginner, all of the online poker rooms provide extensive help, guides, rule-books and tips on how to get started and play poker successfully. The more information you can glean the better and you are forever learning at this game even if you are an experienced pro.

You'll find that most online poker is played in 3 currencies, US dollars, Euros and sterling. Most poker rooms offer 'free' money, usually in the form of sign-up or 'welcome' bonuses. Most, (certainly the ones advertised on this site) are genuine. So take full advantage of them, try out more than one room and find the ones you most enjoy playing at.

If you're wondering how the poker rooms make any money out of it all - they take a small percentage from each pot called the rake. The average rake is 5%, with a maximum of $3 taken, though for small pots the percentage drops and for very small pots (usually pre-flop) there is often no rake at all.

At most tables the stakes are played according to set limits. These can range from as low as 10 cents right up to hundreds of dollars. Pick one to suit your level of competence, confidence and your pocket. Check out the tournamentsas they are great fun and the prizes can be very rewarding even for small stakes. The great thing about most tournament play is that once you have paid the entry fee (and some are free - look out for 'freeroll') thats it and there are no further costs. That way your exposure is strictly limited, so however poorly you play, you can only lose the amount of your initial entry fee.

Some tables run games that have no limits at all and we'd recommend steering clear of these until you have gained some experience and really know what you're doing.

Every game, of course, has its own rules. Make yourself familiar with them before taking a seat a table, especially if you intend playing for real.

Seven Tips for Beginners

  1. BE SELECTIVE ...If you have a poor hand, fold quickly and limit your losses. That way you can continue playing your good hands for as long as possible. Starting hand selection is of paramount importance

  2. MANAGE YOUR BANKROLL...Start small or even better for free. Don't come-on like some big time pro, unless you've got plenty of money to lose. Until you've mastered the game, play at the lower limit tables and play within your budget. Most experts say that you should sit down at a table with at least 50 times the table limit.

  3. PLAY SOLID AGGRESSIVE....Make your winning hands pay. When you're the one holding the unbeatable hand, raise as much as possible and make the other players pay dearly if they want to stay in the game. Learn to read the board so you know when your hand is the nuts...ie. unbeatable

  4. DONT PLAY TOO MANY HANDS... ....Remember that the first 5, (or 7), cards you're dealt will be the foundation of your hand and the odds are against improving on it. Put your weight (and your money) behind the higher value hands, like the top players, who only play about 25% of their starting hands. The hands you lay down can be the key to profitable play. An old poker saying is "its the hands you pass NOT the hands you play that win tournaments"

  5. PLAY YOUR OWN GAME AT YOUR OWN PACE..... Don't let your judgement be impaired by the speed of other players around the table. If you need a bit more time to think about your hand, take it and make the right decision.

  6. STUDY YOUR OPPONENTS AND LEARN .....especially when you're sitting out of a hand. Watch what the other players are doing; try to pick out the stronger players and the weaker ones. See how they bet, how much they bet and in what position they are in when they do bet. Try to work out when players are bluffing (betting on a poor hand) and when they are not. Learning how your opponents' play is key to winning.

  7. READ AS OFTEN AS YOU CAN...this is key to your development and will improve your play at a rate of knots.

So, to sum up: Don't play for more than you can afford, the groceries still have to be paid for! If you can't beat the other hands, fold early and live to play another day. Win big on your good hands, lose small on the poor ones.

Tip number eight Poker is a great game - enjoy it! You will learn more if you are enjoying yourself and not sat there bored.