So, you’ve decided to take the plunge into online poker and are ready to find a place to play. It’s normal to feel a little overwhelmed by the sheer number of options out there. With hundreds of potential sites all vying for your attention and promising the best experience, it can be tough to figure out where to even begin.
My purpose with this page is to give you a few recommendations. I’ll start with a quick list of the best beginner poker sites and then explain why I think these are the places newbies should try first. Getting started doesn’t have to be a chore.
What Makes a Poker Site Newbie-Friendly
It may be true that all poker sites offer the same basic product, but not all poker sites are equal when it comes to catering to new players. Some sites are actually much better for beginners than others. There are five key characteristics that make a poker site good for beginners:
- Beginners-Only Tables
- Freeroll Tournaments
- Low Stakes Cash Tables
- Low Stakes Tournaments and SNGs
- Fishy Players
Beginners-only tables serve as a great way to introduce new players to the game without facing competition in the form of experienced players. Poker sites with beginners tables only allow people who have recently signed up for an account take a seat.
Some poker websites have beginner tables that are open only to people who have signed up for an account within the last 90 days. After 90 days have passed, players may no longer join those tables. Likewise, BetVictor Poker is home to weekly €1,000 guaranteed freerolls €500 guaranteed tourneys that are open to new players for their first six weeks.
There’s no way to guarantee that the players at these tables don’t already have experience at other poker sites or in the real world, but the general level of play is clearly lower than what you see at other tables. Most experienced players tend to avoid the beginner tables anyways.
Freeroll tournaments offer two advantages to the new poker player. For one, they cost nothing to enter. If you’re anything like the typical new player, you’re probably not working with a large bankroll. Freeroll tournaments offer a great opportunity to polish up your skills and win a little money without risking anything at all.
The secondary advantage is that freerolls are stocked full of bad players. The level of play in any freeroll is atrocious because most people place no value on the opportunity. You’ll see a lot of wild and loose play in the typical freeroll – especially during the early stages of play.
You should go ahead and prepare yourself to see a lot of wild plays. You’ll experience significant variance due to people making such crazy and unexpected plays. When people are willing to go all-in on the longest of longshot draws over and over again, you’re going to experience the occasional bad beat. Freeroll will definitely teach you the patience required to play winning poker.
Low Stakes Cash Games
One other thing to consider is the availability of low stakes cash games. When putting together the recommendations you see above, I took a peek at the cash game tables to see if each site has games that would likely appeal to newbies.
The mere existence of low stakes games is one thing, but I also want to see people actually playing in those games. The more players there are at the low levels, the better that site is for beginners. The best poker sites for beginners have no-limit games as low as €0.01/€0.02 and fixed limit games as low as €0.02/€0.04.
Low Stakes MTTs and SNGs
Low stakes tournaments are especially useful for beginners because they provide the ability to compete for large prizes without risking much up front. If you’re in the early stages of building a bankroll, multi-table tournaments (MTTs) and sit-n-go tournaments (SNGs) are worth a look.
Fishy players are your best friends. They may make frustrating, boneheaded moves and sometimes even get lucky, but poor poker players are great to have at your table. They chase too many draws, try too hard to catch you bluffing and generally pay off your made hands more often than anyone else.
There are two key metrics you can look at to get a basic idea of how fishy any table may be: the players to the flop percentage and the average pot size. Higher numbers in both metrics indicate fishiness. A high players-to-the-flop percentage means people are playing a high number of starting hands, which in turn means they are playing too many hands and are likely bad players.
The average pot size shows that players are getting too attached to their hands and inflating pots. This is also a good sign. What’s great about these two indicators is that the information is available right there in the lobby.