Transitioning to Real Money Poker Online


A large majority of articles and videos concerning real money poker seems to address those players who already have experience with the game. It is hard to say if this is because the growing popularity of poker has convinced us that there are practically no inexperienced players or if there is another reason for it.

However, the reality is that everyone has to start somewhere and even in the era where we are surrounded with poker on the Internet and TV, there are still those players looking to get their feet wet and not sure where they should start. This article is for them.

The facts on real-money poker

In this article, I am going to assume that you have never played poker for real money but that you are acquainted with the game through friendly home games or any number of free-to-play online variations like Zynga.

Even if you played a few sit and go tournaments with your buddies paying $5 each, you can’t really say that you’ve played real money poker. Of course, the money was real, but the atmosphere was probably not the one you will encounter in a real money room, whether in your local casino or online from the United States.

Some of the stiffest competition on the planet

What you need to understand about real money poker is that it’s a very competitive environment. There is a big number of players out there who made it their primary or secondary source of income, which means they take the game very seriously.

For them, it is not about having fun at the tables; it’s about taking your money as fast as they can.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that real money poker can’t be fun. On the contrary, as long as you go into it with the right mindset, every session can be an enjoyable experience.

Just keep in mind that many of players at your real or virtual table will have years of experience under their belts and as a newcomer, you will be at a disadvantage.

Why do you want to play real-money poker?

Before you walk into a casino or deposit your money online, figure out what is the primary reason you want to join the ranks of real money poker players.

Are you also looking to make some extra money and perhaps pay for this year’s vacation or are you just looking for some excitement that just isn’t there when there is nothing at stake.

If you are just looking for an adrenaline fix and money is not an issue, then you can just jump straight into the games and test your luck. You are not giving yourself the best odds to win, but if playing is more important than winning to you, then there is no reason to wait.

You will learn as you go; just be warned that these lessons might be costly.

If I had to guess, I’d say that there is probably less than 5% of all poker players who purely belong to this first group. Most of us also want to make some money while at it. And for that, you need to prepare.


Before your first real money poker game

I can still remember the first time I went into a serious real money poker game. Up to that point I’ve played in some home games and some online freerolls, learned some basic strategy, and pretty much believed I was ready to become the next world champion.

It wasn’t anything big, just a local $50 tournament, but sitting there surrounded by people some of whom been gambling longer than I was breathing was quite intimidating. They weren’t particularly good players at all, but they were just so much more confident and relaxed.

Needless to say, I was bust within the first hour. I played tight, got myself to a super short stack, jammed it in with AK and got called in four places. Good game.

Overcoming nerves in at a live table

So, if you are planning for your first real money poker game to be in a brick and mortar casino, you will need to be mentally prepared.

Even if you’ve read all the books on strategy there are, there is an element of discomfort that you will just need to overcome. It might block your logical abilities and prevent you from playing your best despite knowing what the right moves should be.

If you happen to run into a nice crowd, they will probably be happy to help you along, but don’t count on it. As I said, most of them are there for the money, and they will gladly take yours.

The most important thing is to go in without too high expectations. There is a period of adjustment you will need to get through and if your results are not stellar during that period, so be it. It won’t be long before you start feeling like one of the regulars.

Opting to start with online poker

On the other hand, these days you can easily test real money poker waters online, from the comfort of your home. If this is your plan, then I suggest that you really get some solid strategy knowledge before you get into it.

Online games are generally speaking much tougher than their live counterparts, so to be a winner you will need to play some solid poker. Even former wild online poker sites have gotten tighter.

There are a lot of free poker strategy resources out there, so if you are serious about it, you will find more than you need to get you prepared. Take some time to study and think about what you read.

Of course, there is no substitution for real play experience, but going into it armed with some solid fundamentals will significantly increase your odds of winning.


Final real-money poker tips

Regardless of what stage you pick for your first real money poker experience, keep in mind that old saying that every beginning is difficult.

What you are about to face will significantly differ from your friendly home games, and it will be much, much different from free online tables where people just click buttons.

There are few activities that feel more rewarding to conquer

That said, playing real money poker can be a really thrilling and rewarding experience if you apply yourself to studying the game and enjoying its intricacies. With every hand that you get involved in, you will learn something new.

These little bits and pieces will gather in your head and, if you put some time in studying when not playing, they will slowly start to come together.

The best advice I can give you before your first real money poker game is to prepare as much as you can but don’t go into it with too high expectations.

Just relax, enjoy the ride and see how it feels. Most people quickly fall in love with the game, not just because of money but because of the incredible complexity of the game that always flows and changes.

More on moving your poker game online

Although online poker may be a different beast than it was during my early days in 2003 I was once a live poker player that adapted to online games. I believe I can pass on that experience to help other "normal" poker players tackle that pesky online thing.