Poker is unlike any other game in the casino. There’s certainly luck involved but there’s also a high degree of skill. There’s a fairly steep ‘learning curve’ to go from a bigger to a successful player simply because many of the essential components of poker can only be gained through experience. To some extent, this is true for other gambling disciplines as well. The primary reason for that, however, is that you must first ‘unlearn’ bad habits before you can teach someone the ‘right’ way to play. This fact notwithstanding, if you’ve got a reasonably bright person with no pre-established ‘bad habits’ you can teach them how to successfully play games like casino and blackjack in a very short amount of time.

This isn’t the case in poker. The old cliche is that poker–particularly Texas Hold’em–takes ‘minutes to learn and a lifetime to master’. There’s a lot of truth to this though serious students of poker would suggest that you never do really ‘master’ this difficult and frustrating game. There’s really no substitute for playing poker. It’s important to read articles about poker strategy and books about poker theory but you have to play the game to put all of this into context.


Poker players are fortunate in that they can play ‘live’ games in a casino or card room and also play other players of varying skill levels online. The online poker environment can be intimidating for the beginner and if he doesn’t watch it he’ll have his bankroll lost before he can get his bearings. This is why we’ve compiled this ‘crash course in online poker’ that will give you some important tips for ‘getting into the game’ when you’re first starting out:


If you want to play poker seriously you have to have a bankroll. The bankroll is the ‘tool of your trade’–you can’t play the game no matter how good you are without it. It’s also important to protect and respect your bankroll. Most importantly, you have to play in games commensurate with the size of your bankroll. The general rule of thumb is to have no more than 5% of your bankroll on the table at one time. This is a ‘high water mark’. Most serious players err on the side of caution and put only 1 or 2% of their bankroll in play at one time.


If you want to become an accomplished poker player you need to treat the game with respect. Don’t play ‘real money’ games out of boredom, when drunk, when sleepy, etc. In ‘real money’ gambling every decision you make has significance. The more ‘right decisions’ you make and the fewer ‘wrong decisions’ you make will help you build your bankroll. Take the game seriously and treat the learning process with respect.


This is why a proper bankroll is so important–you can’t play poker properly if you’re worried about paying rent or the electricity bill. In fact, you shouldn’t watch your bankroll at all while you’re playing. Sure, you should have a general idea but in no circumstance should you be watching your ‘nut’ go up and down with every hand. This causes you to lose focus and to worry more about ‘catching up’ when you should be prioritizing playing the game correctly.


This is a corolllary to ‘treating the game with respect’ above. You need to make sure that you’re in a good frame of mind mentally and comfortable physically. You need a good screen, a comfortable chair and room and shouldn’t play if you’re hungry, sleepy, drunk or depressed. Taking care of the ‘mental game’ of poker means that you always need to be at your best. You can’t do that unless you prioritize your personal needs.