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Updated Sun, 2008-04-06 13:53

Party Poker - Micro Stakes, Poker Trainer and Poker School for New Players

Party Poker

Deposit Bonus:
100% up to $50 + $50

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Taking good care of their rookie player-base is something that online poker rooms pay an increasing attention to. Getting rookies to sign up is the best thing that can happen to an online poker operation, and chasing them away is something they can no longer afford.

Therefore, you’ll often see poker rooms offering their new players not only juicier tables to play at, like STTs (single table tournaments) with special payout structures, but free tutoring and poker schools too. These guys can turn out to be some pretty decent players provided they gain easy access to some basic information about the game, and thus they can become a great source of revenue for the poker room.

Party Poker too, has features such a “newbie protection” scheme. If you hit their website, you’ll see in the bottom left portion of their homepage they have a “New to poker?” section, in which they direct their new players to sections most relevant for their skill-level.

The micro limit FL (fixed limit) Texas Hold’em tables that Party Poker offers are reasonable choices for the rookies because of the following reasons: these tables feature some extremely small stakes (blinds) and thus the “tuition” players may end up paying here is not likely to crash-land their bankroll. On the other hand, one has to be extremely cautious with these tables because the extremely loose play they promote can prove extremely difficult to beat. The fact that there are loose players in it, would be a positive thing in itself, however, because everyone plays like a maniac at these tables (they can afford it) they’re quite impossible to beat. Use them as training-grounds, don’t expect to make money on them. Adopt a very tight stance (the extremely small blinds ask for this tightness anyway), and commit on the very best of hands.

One of the best ways to earn a basic knowledge of the game while making some money is to participate in micro buy-in STTs or MTTs. These games offer a great return for your tiny investment and they usually have a NL format, which makes it possible for you to learn about using the whole arsenal of strategic subtleties you may have read about in books or internet articles. STTs (Single Table Tournaments) are especially suited to give you good odds and a decent return, while MTTs (Multi Table Tournaments) provide an excellent return but they cut back on your odds a little. In order to register for an MTT or an STT, you’ll need to pay the buy-in plus a tournament fee. This tournament fee represents the share of the poker-room, as there will be no rake taken on individual hands you play in the tourney itself. Play in these tournaments, and boost your bankroll as you learn. Then, you’ll be able to move up to tourneys featuring larger buy-ins and implicitly larger prize pools as you get better and better.

For those who don’t even know the basics about the game, Party Poker offers a poker school. While they too acknowledge that the only way to learn proper poker is to actually play the game and observe it, having a basic understanding of what’s going on at the tables can hasten the learning process greatly. In this respect, Party Poker’s poker school offers sections on basic game rules (as a beginner, you’ll mostly be playing Texas Holdem so focus on that for starters), they cover all the different poker variants on offer at their room, they discuss different betting structures (very important), table stakes and tournament buy-ins.

As far as betting structures go, if you manage to understand the fundamental differences between NL, FL and PL games (No Limit, Fixed Limit and Pot Limit) you’ll save yourself a lot of money in the long run. I know I haven’t been a good student, and I had to learn these things the hard-way: by losing money. Don’t commit the same mistake.

Party Poker also features an interactive tutorial which is a very interesting little tool. As you play, information bubbles pop up at every step of the way to explain what’s what and why this or that or the other thing happens. You will not only learn about the basics of the game this way, you’ll also get familiar with the interface.

In their tips section, Party Poker will teach you some – apparently minor, yet extremely important – things about the nature of the game, and about the factors that make the difference between winning players and losers.

Party Poker’s poker trainer has got to be the niftiest newbie-tool, not only on their site, but probably on the whole web. I’m not a newbie anymore yet I found it extremely interesting to play around with it. It is basically a java powered piece of software that works offline as well as online (you do not play actual people at the training table, and thus the actions of your opponents will be somewhat irrelevant, but you’ll be able to practice on your notebook wherever you go without having to connect to the internet and learn some essential things about poker).

The Trainer is a java version of an actual Party Poker table, which gives you the pot odds on every hand that you play, as well as the likeliness of every hand becoming an eventual winner. It doesn’t give you effective odds, but it does give you the plain ones every step of the way, and that’s almost as good.

As a poker player, you need to know that in order for a hand to be worth a call, its chances of success need to be higher than the pot odds you get. With this tool you’ll be able to assess the strengths of individual hands against the pot odds over and over.

There is more though: in the bottom left section of your training screen there’s a little old fellow who gives you advice (on whether to fold, call or bet) on every hand, based on the pot odds and the above mentioned chances for success. This way, you’ll get a positive feedback after every card that will strengthen the link between pot-odds, chances for success and actions to undertake, in your brain.