Poker Sites
Since the establishment of the first real money online poker game on January 1, 1998, the rise of online poker sites became an inevitability. A number of catalysts sparked enormous growth spurts along the way, but the fact remains; people all over the world enjoy playing poker games, and online poker sites facilitate the convenience to participate anytime, day or night.

Online poker sites take the classic brick-and-mortar poker room to a whole new level. Bringing together poker enthusiasts from around the globe, poker sites allow players to compete against opponents they otherwise never would have had the opportunity to meet. The virtual dealers at online poker sites also provide much faster game play than live poker rooms, as well as the option to play multiple tables at once.

How Poker Sites Work
To play at an online poker site, it is first necessary to determine which poker site to play at. Poker sites are quite diverse, and some poker sites will be more appealing to certain players than others. Some online poker sites offer huge bonuses, while others provide an extensive tournament schedule. Selecting the best online poker site will depend upon the needs and preferences of the player.

Once a poker site has been chosen, it is time to download the software. Most online poker sites furnish no-download, instant-play poker games, which are great for players who are not able to download the software for any reason. However, for the best poker site experience, it is recommended to install the native poker client developed by the poker site if at all possible. The download version generally provides a more stable and reliable gaming experience.

Next, one will need to register an account. This is done by opening the freshly installed poker client, or clicking the instant-play link at the online poker site. Select "register new account" and fill in the required information. Financial information is typically not necessary at this point, but an email verification usually is.

In order to play poker for real money, one must first deposit funds into their poker site account. Poker sites offer a number of methods by which players can transfer money to their real money poker account. Credit and debit cards are often listed as options, but credit card company may or may not refuse to facilitate the transaction. eChecks, are fast and don't incur any fees, similar to using a debit card. Prepaid cards are also a fast, no-fee way of making a deposit into a poker site account, and without having to supply any banking or credit card information. Other deposit options may include eWallets (like PayPal or NETeller), and person-to-person money transfers (such as MoneyGram).

With money deposited into the player's account, all that is left to do is find a poker game. Online poker sites may offer cash games, Sit and Gos (SNGs), multi-table tournaments (MTTs), freerolls, satellites, and any number of other poker game styles. The game selection will also vary from one poker site to the next, with some poker sites focused primarily on Texas Hold'em and Omaha, while others additionally provide Stud games such as 7 Card Stud and Razz. Some poker sites even furnish mixed games, 5 Card Draw, or the hard-to-find Badugi.

Withdrawing money from one's player account is handled much the same as making a deposit. Go to the poker site's "cashier" link, and select the "cash out" or "withdraw" option. Payout options may vary from one poker site to the next, however, deposits made by eWallets can be withdrawn using the same method. Most poker sites offer to pay out by check or wire transfer as well.

Improving Results at Poker Sites
A common mistake among new poker players is not taking the time to learn the rules of a poker variant before joining a ring game at a poker site. It is important to make sure that one is familiar with the hand ranking system associated with a particular form before wagering real money. Always read about the rules of a game first. Practicing the variant at the poker site's play money tables can help reinforce game play before risking real money.

It is also important to learn the betting structures, limit types, and game styles. Cash games are played very differently than tournaments, and SNGs are a very different situation from MTTs. The betting structure of any tournament-style game can break a player who doesn't understand it. New players would be well advised to read about these aspects of poker; or at the very least, choose one to study and learn - such as small stakes Limit Hold'em cash games - before moving on to the next structure.

Another issue that plagues some novice poker players is the notion that poker is merely a game of chance, and winning is dependent solely upon luck. This belief can quickly result in a player busting their first deposit by following gut feelings instead of reading the cards on the table. Many novices would be surprised just how dramatically their results at online poker sites can improve just by understanding some very basic poker strategies and odds.

Poker software - utilities that poker players can use to analyze their performance, correct bad habits, calculate a number of poker-related odds, and more - is available for those who are truly serious about strengthening their poker playing skills. Simple poker software is available for free, with more complex and advanced poker tools generally priced in accordance with the sophistication and depth of their features.

Perhaps the most important thing one can do to improve their poker site results is to truly study the games through total immersion. Academic reading is very useful, but until it is put to the test, one cannot be certain of its value. Poker sites offer a number of options for playing poker at one's convenience, and many provide new players with a ticket to an introductory freeroll. Freerolls are poker tournaments that typically do not require an entry fee, and expose new players to a variety of opponents and playing styles.
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