Let's face it, poker is a game about money. But if you're new to poker, don't feel that you have to rush headlong into playing for real money. Instead, take your time and make sure that you use our play money tables to get a feel for both the game and our software. Also, make sure that you read up on the game in our Pro Player section.

But if you've done all that and are ready for some more serious action, or you're already a more experienced player, here's a quick guide to starting out on the real money trail.

Selecting A Game

Selecting a game in which to play is an important decision. We offer a wide range of games and tables so make sure that you select the one that's right for you.

If you click the table tab you'll be greeted by a long list of available tables. Each table has information listed for the game type, table stakes, the average pot size and the number of players at that table. This information isn't just there for show; each one should play a part when you're deciding which table to play.

Choosing A Game Type

First off, let's look at game type. We currently offer three different forms of Hold'em: Limit, Pot Limit and No Limit. In limit, the maximum you can bet is, well, limited. For example, in a $3/$6 each bet starts at $3 and rises to $6. In a pot limit game, the maximum bet is limited to the size of the pot (i.e., all the money in the middle). And in the most popular form of poker there is, No Limit, you can bet as much as you want.

When selecting a game, bear in mind that the type of game can make a big difference. If you're new to the game, then limit games can often prove the best place to get a feel for poker as your losses are limited; you can't get caught out by huge bets. In both Pot Limit and No Limit, the pots can reach substantial amounts even when playing for very low stakes.

Picking The Table Stakes

The next factor to consider is the table stakes. We offer tables ranging from 5c/10c all the way up to $150/$300. It's essential that you select a table that suits your budget. To take a seat at any given table, you need a minimum of 10 times the lower stake levels in chips (i.e. to sit in a $2/$4 game you must take at least $20). It's likely, however, that just taking the bare minimum to the table will leave you "short-stacked" and in a weakened position. You should really look to take a little more to the table, a good yardstick being 50 times the small bet. So, if you're playing in a $10/$20 game you should look to take about $500 to the table. If that all seems a bit much, keep moving down the tables until the figures look better. For example, 50 times the small bet at a 5c/10c table is only $2.50.

Consider The Pot Size

The final factor to consider is the average pot size, which gives you an indication of how much money goes in the middle during an average hand. Even at low level Pot Limit and No Limit games the pot sizes can be considerable. If you don't feel comfortable playing in a $2/$4 No Limit game where the average pot is $120, then look to move down table levels or consider playing the Limit or Pot Limit versions.

Here's one more piece of advice. If you're not sure about joining a table, open it up and watch the play for a few minutes before taking a seat. You'll get to see how people play, how bankrolls of varying sizes stand up and how much money is bet at various times. It'll give you a good idea of what to expect, and you may even gain a slight edge.

Real Money Tournaments

If you're not sure about jumping straight into ring games, then make sure you check out our range of tournaments. We offer some of the most varied tournament action available anywhere on the web, and they're a great way of getting more poker experience. And because all players buy-in at the start of a tournament to receive equal chips, all players start from a level playing field and your liabilities are limited; that is, you can only lose what the original buy-in fee was. And with plenty of tournaments running with buy-ins below $5 (and lots as low as $0.10, $0.25, $0.40 and $1) you can play for hours without losing as much as ten bucks.

If you're ready to play, download and install Scarlet Poker now!