There are three main forms of poker game:
1. Home Games
As the name suggests, played at home, usually amongst friends, acquaintances and work colleagues. Stakes are usually low and, commonly, the style of poker played changes regularly. One round of Texas Hold ‘Em might be played, followed by a Hi/Lo game, then perhaps a mad variation with wild cards. A favourite form is "Dealer’s Choice" – where the dealer decides on a different form to be played on each deal.
However, recently, players have come to realize that Texas Hold ‘Em is the most exciting form of the game and many home games have switched to playing this form exclusively.
At the end of the 1990s very little poker was played online. Now, more poker is being played online around the world than in homes and casinos. It is a massive business, hugely popular, and growing month by month. The advantages are many: there is privacy, convenience (you can play two hands and then change your mind and leave the table again), anonymity, huge choice of games and stakes.
The disadvantages are there too, however: you lose the human, social element, which diminishes many of the psychological elements, such as reading other players’ body language and reactions. It is also possible, without the support of others, to lose too much and to become utterly addicted to the adrenalin rush of gambling for high stakes. Like or loathe it, online poker is here to stay .
You can qualify for the World Series of Poker (WSOP) _ the World Championships for poker – over the Internet, starting with an entry fee of just $2 and you can give up work and become an online poker pro – as some have – earning a good living from the comfort of your own home.
3. Clubs and Casinos
Beware, the standard of play at poker clubs and casinos will be a lot higher than in your home game or online. You get the atmosphere, the equipment, often a dealer, and the reassurance of high security when you play. You are very unlikely to get cheated in a reputable casino or poker club. However, you’ll pay an hourly fee, or the house will take a rake (a small percentage) from each pot, to pay for all the facilities. Playing for mid or high stakes, that’s fine, but those fees eat into your bankroll as a low-stakes player and may harm your bottom line. Frankly, steer clear of club and casino poker until you are experienced and competent, or you may lose your shirt.
Whatever game you play, there is always the buy-in. You exchange cash for chips and you place them on the table in front of you. Traditionally, you do not take chips off the table and put them in your pocket: any that you win are available to be lost until you stand up and cash-in (change your chips back into cash).
There is usually a minimum, and sometimes a maximum, buy-in. In clubs and casinos and online this is posted at the table. In a home game, it will be be mutual arrangement.
Buy-in for an amount which will hurt just a little if you lose and which will please you mightily if you manage to double. Do not buy-in for money you cannot afford. Sometimes the poker gods are in a black mood and you could play perfect poker and lose the lot.