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Welcome to the exciting world of online poker. Poker, especially Texas Hold 'Em, is the fastest growing game in the world, with thousands of new players joining in daily. Before you jump in feet first, here is a bit of help to get you started out right and learn the games, rules, terminology, and some tips for playing.

Getting Started

Before you can start playing, you have to set up an account with an online poker room. There are literally hundreds of places available, but you may want to stick to one of the best known ones. Here are a few we can recommend: For a more extensive listing, visit our directory of poker rooms.

Of course you will need to get money into your account to start playing. Most sites offer many payment methods including Visa, MasterCard, NETELLER, Western Union, personal check, and a few others. Although using your credit card may be quickest right away, NETELLER is perhaps the best since you can also have your winnings deposited there and you can transfer between your NETELLER account and your checking account or charge card.

Poker Tournaments

Once you feel you are good enough, you will probably want to test your skills in a poker tournament. Tournaments are played by a group of players, all paying a fixed buy-in and fee to a pool that becomes the prize pool shared by the winners. All players receive the same number of chips and play until they've won all the other players chips or until they've lost all their own. Therefore the tournament winner is the one who finishes the game with all the players' chips to themselves! The risk in tournament play is limited to the initial sign-up fee.

Tournaments are played on multiple tables simultaneously, unless the tournament happens to be small in numbers. When players are 'knocked-out' of the tournament, players are then moved to other tables to keep numbers balanced and games more enjoyable. Play continues until only one table remains and it includes the winning player.

A typical table in an online poker room

The Button

The button represents the dealer. In home games, no button is needed, as the cards are passed around the table and each player deals in turn. In the casino and in online poker tables, the dealer is a professional or a computer. Hence, the necessity of a "button". The button moves clockwise around the table after each hand, and the player "on the button" gets his cards last and bets last in each round. Keeping up with the current location of the button is a huge consideration when determining positional strategy.

The Blinds

Texas Holdem has no ante. To force the action without an ante, Holdem uses blind bets. The first 2 players to the left of the button are forced to put in the blind bets. Typically, the first player puts in the small blind, equal to half of the minimum bet, while the second player puts in the big blind, equal to a full minimum bet. For example, in a game of $10/$20 limits, the small blind would be $5 and the big blind would be $10.

The Deal and Betting Rounds

Starting with the first player to the left of the button, each player is dealt 2 cards, face down, called pocket cards. The first two players to the left of the button posts the blinds, and the first round of betting ensues. The first action after the deal is taken by the player to the left of the big blind. He and subsequent players can choose to call the big blinds bet, fold or raise. In most Texas Holdem games, the blinds are live, which means that in the first round of betting, they get a chance to call, check or raise when the action moves around to them. In this sense, the big blind would be the last player to act after the dealing of the pocket cards.

The Flop

The flop is 3 cards laid face up in the center of the table. These cards serve as common cards. Another round of betting ensues, with the first remaining player to the left of the button starting the action.

The Turn

A single card is laid face up, next to the flop, for a total of 4 cards face up. Another betting round occurs, starting with the first player remaining to the left of the button.

The River

A final card is turned face up, bringing the total number of common cards face up on the board to 5. A final round of betting occurs, starting with the first player remaining to the left of the button.

Showdown

After betting is complete and if more than two players remain, a showdown occurs in which the winner is determined by the best five card hand possible using the 5 common cards and each players' pocket cards. It is entirely possible for the best hand to be completely "on the board," in which case the remaining players split the pot. It is also possible to have a "tie" in which the players with the same hand strengths split the pot.

After the showdown, the button moves one person clockwise, and the next hand is dealt.