Starting out in online poker step by step
Starting out in online poker is very easy and doesn't take much time at all. Let's take a look at the different steps you have to go through to be able to play online poker for free:
Choose your first online poker room
You need to make a choice from the dozens (hundreds?) of online poker rooms which offer their games on the internet nowadays. Ideally you would want to pick a room that is safe and reliable and offers the games that you like to play most. There are some other things that can determine what would be the best poker room for you to play at as is described in the article dedicated to choosing a first poker room.
If you don't want to read all that and just want to get going, than you can't go wrong by choosing the largest poker room on the internet which is PokerStars. Other rooms that are reviewed on this site are all safe and reliable in my experience, unless explicitly stated otherwise (rooms on the Ongame network and MicroGaming network for example I wouldn't advice you to play at).
Open an account for free
Once you have picked the right room for you to play at you can download their software and open an account for free. Most of the poker rooms offer step-by-step instructions on how to do this so that that won't be a problem. You will most likely have to register your name, think of a screen name and password and validate your e-mail address. This will probably take you a couple of minutes and that's it! You will then be able to play free online poker games at the 'play money tables' as well as participate in freerolls (free tournaments with a real money prize pool).
Starting out with real money games
If you wish to start playing real money games at your poker room of choice then there are some other things you will have to do as well.
Open a real money account
Opening a real money account is also very easy and will take only a couple of minutes. You will have to provide the poker room some additional personal information if you haven't already done so when opening your free account (address for example). Once you have done this you will be able to fund your account.
Choose a funding method
To fund your account you can choose from a number of different deposit options. Some of these options are very quick such as paying with a credit card or via iDeal. Other funding methods take some time to set up, such as e-wallets. Although e-wallets take some time to set up before you can use them, they are very practical if you want to regularly move money to and from poker rooms. American players won't be able to use e-wallets because of the UIGEA. A very good option for them would be to use eChecks or credit and debit cards (for more information you could visit PokerDepositOptions.com which has an extensive section about US poker funding methods)
Make a deposit and start playing for real money
Once you have determined your preferred deposit method that is also supported by your poker room, you can make a deposit. Most online poker rooms employ a minimum deposit amount of around $10 or $20. Depending on the funding method you used, your funds could be available at your poker account instantaneously (which I know is true for e-wallet deposits) and you can start playing real money games.
Playing online poker will be very safe as long as you use strong passwords and protect them well. Preferably use a combination of numbers, symbols, lowercase and uppercase letters for your passwords, don't save them anywhere on your computer and be careful to not download anything on your poker computer that is infected with viruses, keyloggers etc.
To see how all the above works for specifically PokerStars you can follow a step-by-step guide that consists of three articles (see below). By following this guide you'll be playing any poker game you like at the biggest and most reliable online poker room in a heartbeat.
Guide to playing online at PokerStars:
[back to top]