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StarStarting Out in Poker

Getting into poker is not just a case of plunging in with a fistful of cash and emerging victorious with two fistfuls of cash and not a care in the world. Okay, maybe it is for some people, but I think we can all agree that they're in such a minute percentage that you might as well be taking the same approach to your card table as the lottery.

Staring out in poker can seem daunting at first, but believe us, when you take the right approach, it can be one of the most enjoyable games in the world to learn. There are countless rules, tricks and strategies that'll see you coming home with the pig pots, an even bigger smile on your face and a huge holiday on the way. But first off, discard your preconceptions, and go in blind.

Why? Because poker's not one game. There are more variations on the theme of poker than any one player is aware of, and starting with the more complex ones can put someone off before they've even done anything enjoyable.

Texas Hold'em

Texas Hold'em is the simplest, most easily enjoyable form of poker there is, and we recommend that you start right here. Of course, because it's the easiest, it's also by far the most popular - you'll find countless rooms (or "tables", as they're traditionally referred to) full of people ready to play when you log on at PartyPoker.com or whichever site you're planning on registering with. There's a lot of clever tactics at hand, but let's start by prepping your attempt at learning the art of playing online poker.

First, ensure that when you're starting out, you're not playing with real money. Wandering in with a huge chunk of your salary and expecting good things to happen due to luck is incredibly dangerous, and a lot of people have lost considerable investments through irresponsible gambling. Play money is all of the fun of the game, with none of the risk. It may lack that adrenaline rush, but compared to being schooled by poker veterans and wondering where you'll find next month's rent, it's an acceptable trade-off.

Socialising and doing your research

If people are open and chatty, feel free to talk to them about the game and they may just teach you a few things. Sure, no one's going to tell you how to win in a real-money game, but many play-money fans lack the hard-edged competitive attitude that comes with putting your wallet on the line. Asking for tips on forums is also a wise idea, as there are countless message-boards, full of tips that come straight from veterans, and even the odd wealthy pro.

And last but not least - enjoy yourself. This is not a job and you are not James Bond. Grab a bit of play-money, create a fun username, and jump into a few hands or play-money tournaments of Texas Hold'em to see if you enjoy it. If you do, great - experiment with other game types, find your perfect match and start working on those card skills!