Real or cyberpoker?

Dec 23, 2003 3:27 AM

The poker boom is now. Fueled by cable TV coverage on ESPN and the Travel Channel, poker has found new life across the country and around the world.

Poker players ”” the veterans and the newbies, the old and the young, the good and the bad ”” are pouring into casinos, card clubs, kitchen tables and board rooms.

The game seems to be everywhere ”” new television shows are popping up to feed the viewing appetite and book sales are mounting in record numbers with new volumes hitting the shelves weekly.

A huge part of this success is the phenomenon called cyberpoker, or playing poker on the Internet.

Why play on the net?

There are myriad of reasons to try online poker. Obviously, playing online might be the only venue for people who are homebound or located too far from a walk-in casino or cardroom.

Moreover, beginners benefit from Internet poker because the environment offers the opportunity to play practice games, or very low limit games, that are unavailable at card clubs and casinos.

The Internet could be the great training ground for future casino champions. Just take a look at last spring’s winner in the prestigious World Series of Poker at Binion’s Horseshoe in Las Vegas. The overall champ, Chris Moneymaker, qualified by winning an online tournament that cost him less than $100!

Playing online is virtually the same as playing in a card room. The rules are identical, the protocols are the same, a flush still beats a straight, but on the Internet you can teach yourself to read flops, anticipate your turn, manage your money, and win pots from the familiar comfort of home.

In the card clubs, a "one-man per hand" rule is strictly enforced, while on the net it is not considered cheating to have a more experienced player giving over-the-shoulder advice. Also, casino play can be fast ”” especially when players are paying time charges.

The Internet culture allows for a player to take more time while making decisions during a hand, yet Internet poker play is faster because more hands are dealt per hour.

Actually, experienced players use Internet poker to practice new games. Perhaps Omaha is unfamiliar or 7-Stud hi-lo is a mystery. Players can test new concepts on the lower limit games: check-raising more often, semi-bluffing, throwing away questionable hands, all the while recording the results.

Internet poker is particularly well suited to heads-up play, virtually unknown in casino play, and the outstanding results of Internet players in the high profile tournament world of casinos and television testify to the value of that experience.

Expert poker players know they must be playing on the Internet, because their expert competition is. Top players never get "left behind." While eliminating certain subtleties of face-to-face combat does remove an element of an expert’s advantage, it also accentuates other skills that the world’s best poker players constantly need to cultivate.

Experts (beginners and experienced players, too) benefit because they can easily play short sessions, when it would be inconvenient to visit a card room.

How to Play

Due to the nature of Internet gaming, it’s important to understand any legal restrictions that might apply in the players’ jurisdiction.

The player should also familiarize himself with online publications that rate and follow the poker rooms to ensure the cyber casino has a respectable track record.

For instance, one of the better Internet card rooms is Pokertropolis, which can be found at www.pokertropolis.com.

Pokertropolis belongs to the Horizon20 group, one of the most respected names in online gaming. Another member of the group eHorse, has become one of the most trusted race books on the net and the only race book that ESPN allows to advertise on its web site.

Another member of the group, Las Palmas sportsbook and casino, has been in business paying all winners for four years. The Horizon20 group has an unblemished record, not to mention a high rate of customer satisfaction.

Anyone with access to the Internet can play a Pokertropolis. The site will guide you through the process of downloading the software, which takes about one minute on a normal DSL or cable modem connection.

Players can be on the practice tables within minutes, playing against real competition. When ready to play with real money, the player must make a deposit into the Pokertropolis Bank. Pokertropolis offers a number of ways to do this, including credit cards, Neteller, prepaid ATMs, Firepay, Western Union or Bankwire.

A customer service representative is available to help with questions about depositing or withdrawing money. Be sure to ask for the 25% deposit bonus.

The poker games start at a wallet-friendly 25¡-50¡ and grow incrementally to a rather freewheeling $30-60 table. Beginning players gravitate towards all limits, so skilled and patient players””as in any poker game””tend to be very successful at Pokertropolis. Collusion detection software keeps the games honest and customers loyal.

Internet poker is more than a fact of life””it’s a user-friendly introduction to the game, a useful playing field for training future champions, and a tool every successful poker player can use to hone his or her skills.

Who knows how many more Chris Moneymakers there are lurking in cyberspace.