Internet poker offers many advantages. There's no dealer or cocktail waitress to tip. You can wear whatever you like, or nothing at all. You can play at any hour of the day or night, and you don't have to drive anywhere. You can always find a table that matches your bankroll, unrestrained by the wagering minimums at most brick and mortar casinos. You don't have a hundred strangers shouting bad advice over your shoulder. For that matter, you don't have to sit next to any brash, obnoxious opponents (you just have to turn the "chat" function off).
You can play at multiple tables simultaneously. You can shamelessly surf the net and read books for advice while you're playing. And if you're a bad liar, you don't have to worry about your bad "poker face" giving you away. But my number one favorite reason for playing internet poker is: bonuses bonuses bonuses!
Read our list of Top 10 Bonuses
Internet poker offers welcome bonuses, matching bonuses, holiday bonuses, birthday bonuses, frequent player bonuses, and a whole slew of other creative opportunities for you to make extra money with your money. Take heed, however: you must meet certain wagering requirements before withdrawing these bonuses, and most sites erase your bonus if you try to withdraw too soon. Be sure to read all the Terms & Conditions associated with any bonus; they're not all alike. In fact, read all the Terms & Conditions of any online casino you're considering joining. You don't ever want to be caught unawares.
Possibly the first decision you should make before choosing a site and signing up for an account is what kind of poker you'd like to play: video or multiplayer. Of course you may want to dabble in both, which is great. When checking out sites, however, you may find that one has a nicer video poker room whereas another has better multiplayer tables. You have an abundance of sites to choose from, so don't limit yourself. Shop around. Get a taste of what's out there.
Most internet poker sites allow you to practice for free before depositing any money into their system. This is one way to know if you'll like a certain poker room or not. Additionally, an internet poker novice can take the time to build their confidence before risking any real money.
But even a poker whiz can benefit from familiarizing him or herself with the idiosyncrasies of each site. Different online poker rooms use different software programs, and every website has a different player interface, though all are generally user-friendly. You don't want to bungle a killer hand by accidentally clicking the wrong button.
When playing multiplayer internet poker remember that all the advantages you enjoy, your opponent does as well. You can't see their faces to determine whether or not they're bluffing any more than they can see yours. But you can get to know a player's general betting pattern. You can quickly discern who at the table is "loose" with their chips and who is "tight". Most money to be made in internet poker is from players who heedlessly toss their chips into the pot hand after hand. Patience and self-restraint is invaluable at any poker table, but especially online, where betting is as easy as clicking a button.
My advice if you're playing video poker is simple: use a strategy card. Without the human variable to wrestle with, you can bet the odds and the odds alone. There's no reason not to make the perfect play every hand with strategy cards outlining the precise chances of drawing what you need. I also recommend single-hand video poker rather than multi-hand. Yes, multi-hand may seem more exciting, and you may have four chances rather than one to draw the winning cards each round. But over the long haul, a player's odds are simply less favorable in multi-hand video poker than in single-hand.
So there you have it. Do your homework, find the site or sites that are right for you, and practice, practice, practice until you're feeling lucky. Then make your first deposit, and tell that computer-generated dealer to, "Shuffle up and deal!"
Good luck, and may you never hold the short stack at your Internet poker game!