Best Poker Sites for Beginners
Playing poker with friends and family around your kitchen table is always fun. You might even make a few extra bucks and earn some bragging rights around the neighborhood. For some of you who are crushing your home games, you’re ready for the next challenge.
While you could go to your closest card room, that can sometimes be intimidating or logistically too far away.
Online poker has stepped in as the perfect next step for beginners to start playing with players from all over the world.
If you’re already convinced you’re ready to give it a go, we’ve put together a list of the best online poker sites for beginners. These sites are great for all skill levels, but cater specifically to players who are new to the game or the online realm.
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These sites are the best the web has to offer and are a perfect place for you to get your feet wet with online poker. These sites are trustworthy and have been fully vetted and reviewed by our expert staff.
It’s important to point out that we won’t allow any poker site to pay us for a better review or a higher recommendation. We only recommend sites that we truly know are the best the web has to offer.
What Makes a Great Site for a Beginner
You may be asking yourself what criteria we look at when deciding if an online poker site is good for beginners or not. First and foremost, we make sure the site is safe, secure, trustworthy, and pays out quickly.
These criteria are the same for any site we recommend, whether it be a poker site for beginners, a poker site for high stakes, a sportsbook, or a casino. On these criteria, we refuse to waiver or cut a site any breaks; they’re too important.
Once we verify all of this, we begin looking at the criteria specific to a great online poker site for beginners.
Below, you’ll find some of the criteria that we feel is important.
Easy to Navigate Interface
If you’re new to online gaming, the entire process can seem overwhelming. You have to learn about how to use new software, how to make deposits, and how to create accounts. While this all will be new to you, it shouldn’t be difficult. A good online poker site will have this process streamlined.
When you first go to the site, it won’t be a challenge to find where to sign up. The sign-up process will be user-friendly and won’t take hours of your day to figure out.
After getting your account created, it should be a no-brainer to figure out how to deposit. The site should also have several different deposit options in case you have any issues with the first one you try.
After all of this, the actual gameplay interface should be aesthetically pleasing and easy to use. Online poker is supposed to be about convenience. If it takes a rocket scientist to figure out how to raise or fold, then the site is not user-friendly. While some professional players can learn to manage with sites that aren’t great, as a beginner, you shouldn’t have to.
Specially Catered Games and Stakes
The majority of online poker sites will allow any player to play at any stake level. This usually is not a big deal, because the beginners typically start at the lower stakes and the better and more experienced players will move up to the higher-stake games.
Some sites, though, think that the beginner players should have their own tables that they can choose to play at to get accustomed to the games. They feel that beginners should be shielded from the stronger players who have more experience.
In our opinion, this may or may not be something that you enjoy. If you’re looking to test your skills and get better at the game, it might not help if you are only allowed to play with other novices.
If you are brand new to the game, though, this may be perfect. The sites typically let you play at these beginner tables until you achieve a certain winning level. Each site will have its own criteria for what constitutes a beginner, but they basically will let you play until you are better than the other players at the shielded tables. Again, this may or may not be something you enjoy.
Exceptional Customer Support
As a beginner, it’s inevitable that you’re going to have some questions. We’ve all been there before, and we had a lot of questions ourselves. To accommodate this, you need to be playing poker at a site with exceptional customer service.
You need to have quick access to trained agents that can help you out with any issues that might arise.
Without this top-notch support, your experience with playing poker online might be subpar. Specifically, we are looking for sites that have 24/7 support and at least a phone or live chat option.
We also insist that the site have support personnel who are capable of helping with problems. Sometimes online poker sites will skimp on the customer service, and it’s very evident and can have a nasty effect on the overall user experience.
Tips for Beginners Playing Online Poker
Making the switch from your friendly home game to playing poker online with random people from around the world can be a little scary at first. It can also be exciting.
You have the opportunity to make a lot of money and move up the ranks in the online poker world. Many of today’s top pros started at the micro stakes online and built themselves up to where they are today.
To help you on your journey, we’ve put together a few tips for beginners. These are not poker strategy tips, but rather tips on how to maximize your online poker experience. While they aren’t classified under the strategy tag, they will still be instrumental in your ability to climb the ranks of online poker play.
Play Money vs. Real Money
When you first join an online poker site, you have the option of playing for play money or for real money. Play money chips have no cash value. If you win with them, you get no real money. If you lose with them, you don’t lose any money.
We highly recommend that you spend at least a few minutes at a play money table while you figure out the button controls. We recommend this to high stakes players going to a new site as well.
Make your mistakes and misclicks when it doesn’t cost you any money. Learn how to raise and how to enter bet amounts properly. Each poker site will have slightly different buttons and controls, so it’s important that you do this with every site you play on.
Once you’re comfortable with how to use everything, you’re ready to give real money a shot. We don’t recommend staying on play money past the time that you figure out how to use the controls. Why?
Play money does not give you an adequate representation of how people actually play poker. If you’ve ever played with people when nothing is on the line, you’ll notice that they play wild and crazy and do things they never would if there were money involved.
If you practice against these kinds of players, you will be completely lost when you make the switch to real money. In fact, you’ll probably be worse off than when you first came to the site. If your follow-up question is about how you can practice without losing a lot of money, check out our next tip.
There’s no reason to jump into the higher-stakes games on day one. The great thing about online poker is that it’s not going anywhere for a long time. This means you can take all the time you want to move up the stakes. You can learn at your own pace and only move up the ladder when you’re ready to.
As we mentioned earlier, the play money tables are actually bad for your poker game. They’ll train you to react to things that real money players will never do. If you’re looking for some cheap practice, start at the lowest limit tables offered.
Most online poker rooms are going to offer games as low as $.01/$.02. The buy-in for that game is usually $2. For some reason, poker players instantly start taking things seriously when there is money on the line. It doesn’t seem to matter how much money, either.
Yes, you are going to get people doing some crazy things at the lower stakes, but it will be much less than at the play money tables where every other player is being a clown.
Online poker is better than live brick-and-mortar poker because they have a lot more intervals that allow you to move up the ranks at a much slower and more controlled pace.
The last tip we want to cover for beginners playing online poker for the first time is bankroll management. While this is last on our list, it is certainly not the least important. In fact, it may be the most important.
Don’t play higher stakes than your bankroll is equipped to handle. You need to have adequate money in your bankroll to withstand game swings. Poker, as you may know, is a game where skill will prevail in the long run, but may suffer in the short run.
The worst player can win in the short run by catching a lucky card. If you have all of your money on the table and you run into a cold deck, you’re going to be done playing right away.
But if you only have a small portion of your money on the table at a time, you can weather these unlucky moments and still have money to win back your losses in the long run. The best player will always prevail as long as they have the money to make it through the variance.
While bankroll requirements will vary greatly depending on the type of game you are playing and how risk-averse you are, a decent rule of thumb is somewhere between 30 and 40 times the buy-in for the games you are playing.
This means that if you are playing those $.01/$.02 games with the $2 buy-in we mentioned earlier, you should have $60-$80 in your bankroll. Don’t go up in stakes until you have the right amount of money in your bankroll to fulfill 30 to 40 times that game’s buy-in.
If you’re ready to get started, there’s no time like the present. Check out one of the sites from our recommended site list at the top of the page, and start your journey to the top! Remember, the game is not going anywhere anytime soon, so take your time.
Keeping that mindset at the forefront of your planning will ensure that you grow correctly as a player and hopefully find yourself at the top one day!