To get you playing online poker, the first step is to establish an account on one or several Web sites. This chapter will explain the process one goes through to set up an online ac- count. By the end of this chapter, you will know how to
✦ Go to a poker Web site and download and then install the client software to run the program.
✦ Install the software and get it ready for use.
✦ Differentiate among the different sites as to the bonuses and other benefits they
offer their players.
✦ Access options one may use in transferring funds to play with in “real money” games.
✦ Request that your winnings be sent to you.
Once through the minor drudgery of establishing the account is complete, you’ll be able to move on the main part of the book—actually playing poker!
Basic System Requirements
Poker sites operate under the same constraints as other software applications develop- ers in that they are motivated to provide the best, most functional, and most aesthetically pleasing sites for their players within the bounds of what their typical customer will have under their computer’s hood. Because of this, the newest computers will have horsepow- er to spare, while the older ones will have the hamster or squirrel in the computer’s guts, running flat out to handle the software client’s demands. As of this book’s writing, here is what UltimateBet.com recommended as its minimum hardware configuration:
✦ Operating System: Windows 95 or newer or Macintosh OS 9 with the Microsoft
Virtual PC Windows emulator
✦ Processor Speed: Windows: Pentium 200MMX, Macintosh: 500MHz G3 or G4
✦ Memory: Windows: 32MB, Macintosh: 192MB
✦ Free Hard Drive Space: Windows: 20MB, Macintosh: 2GB (to accommodate the Microsoft Virtual PC)
✦ Modem: 28.8Kbps
As you can see, most computers are readily able to handle the software’s required work- load. If you don’t have a computer that meets these specifications, it may be best to buy one first. It used to be that $1,500 or so was the minimum price for a decent computer. As of October 2004, computers for $500 and less are commonplace in the U.S.
Selecting a Site and Installing the Software
Armed with a sufficiently burly computer, you are now ready to head out on the Internet and find one or several poker rooms in which to play. The question now becomes, Where should I play? One way to decide is to follow the crowd and get on the most popular site.
A quick visit to www.pokerpulse.com established that the most popular online room at the moment these words were written was PartyPoker. But there are other well-established rooms: PokerStars, Paradise Poker, and UltimateBet make strong showings. We aren’t sponsored by any poker rooms and don’t recommend one over another, but for this ex- ample let’s be followers and go to www.partypoker.com to download the software. Here’s a screenshot of the main page. Can you find something to click on to get the program on your computer?
Pretty obvious, isn’t it? The entire raison d’être of the Web page is to get you to download the software and start playing. Once you’ve done that, there’s no reason to go back to
the page if all you do is play cards. All, or nearly all, functionality is handled by the client software on your machine.
After clicking the Download link, follow the instructions to install the software. To con- serve space for more actual poker play discussion in later chapters, we’ll assume you know how to install software. If you haven’t done it before, you should be able to simply follow the prompts until you get to the magic Finish button. Do be aware that at some point in the process you will be required to accept a user’s agreement of some sort. Read it carefully if you are concerned about what, if any, spyware and/or marketing permis- sions you’re granting the company. If you can live with the conditions, hit Accept and move on. If not, you won’t be able to install the software, but you will have preserved your privacy. Call or e-mail the company with any questions you may have, and don’t in- stall the software until you’re satisfied with the answers they give you.
When you establish your account, you will be required to provide your real name and oth- er information, including a valid e-mail address and your current mailing address. This is used to send you your winnings. You will also be asked to establish a screen name. Some try to be funny (Hugh_Jass still makes us laugh), while others try to intimidate (Cap_It). What you do is up to you.