Of all the games available to online casino players, online poker has become the most popular. The game’s combination of skill and luck appeals to a wide range of players. Many online poker players have carried their success into the professional ranks, both on the computer screens and on the real green felt at casinos around the world. The best players in the world are regularly featured on TV shows, books and instructional DVDs. So how can a new player get into this game? Our Gambling Planet Guide to Online Poker will explore the rich history of the game, as well as the secrets behind its most popular variation: no-limit Texas Holdem.
Although the game of poker dates back centuries, the history of online poker starts in the late 1990s. As the technology progressed, online poker rooms became more sophisticated. Online poker sites began offering a wide range of games, different betting structures and limits starting at 1c/2c and climbing into hundreds of dollars. Soon, high-stakes players learned that they did not have to fly to the world’s most notable gambling destinations to find all the poker action they could crave.
As the old poker saying goes, Texas Holdem takes a minute to learn, but a lifetime to master. Each player receives two cards, face down, and either places a bet or quits the hand. The dealer then deals three cards face up in the middle of the table. Again, players can choose to place a bet or wait for the next hand.
The dealer then places a fourth and fifth card on the table, with a round of betting after each card. The player that makes the best five-card hand with any combination of his two cards and the five “community” cards, wins the pot.
In no-limit Texas Holdem, two factors are the key to ultimate success. The first factor is starting hand selection. Players who start with strong hands win much more often than those who hope to “get lucky”. The other element is bet sizing. Players who bet aggressively can force their opponents into making bad decisions.
The key to calculating odds in no-limit Texas Holdem is to know how many “outs” a player has. “Outs” are cards that will improve a player’s hand. For instance, if a player needs to fill an inside straight (4-5-X-7-8), he had four “outs”, since there are four sixes in the deck.
Once a player knows how many outs he has, he can calculate his odds of filling his hand. With two cards to come, a player can multiply his outs by four to estimate his chances. For example, a player with five outs after the first three community cards has a 20 percent chance to complete his hand (5 x 4 = 20). With only one card to come, the player multiplies his outs by two. A player with six outs and one card to come has a 12 percent chance to make his hand (6 x 2 = 12).
While almost all forms of poker challenge the mind, online Texas Holdem also test the nerves of its players. Players new to the game should try the “play money” tables and get accustomed to the speed and mechanics of poker before trying to play the high-stakes games.
As always, play smart, play safe and have fun!