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Playing The Game
Knowing the (Virtual) Territory

While it's always important in poker to know your opponents, in Internet poker it's just as important - if not more so - to know the virtual territory. If you don't know how to quickly and without confusion replenish your chip stack, ask for a hand history or your games statistics, observe a game you're waiting for while playing in another, take notes on-site that remain in your hard drive, adjust audio and visual options, or monitor the lobby to spot more desirable games, you'll be at a disadvantage to those who can.

Therefore, before playing at a site, explore all options available to you on both the individual games screen and the lobby screen. This will be much easier if you've already oriented yourself to the site's programming and features in play-money games. If you take a seat in a cash games and you're new to the site, at least sit out a round or two before playing to make sure you know how everything works. What you don't know can cost you money.
Clicking on the dealer's tray at some sites brings up an option screen whereby you can do such things as replenish your stack by buying more chips, request a four-color deck, make adjustments in sound or graphics, ask for one or more hand histories, ask to have your all-in allotment reset, or request further assistance.
If clicking on the dealer's tray doesn't bring up an option command list - or if you're at a site where the table looks more like a home games table lacking a dealer box - just look around the games screen for a link labeled "Options" or the equivalent. If you don't see such a link, click back to the lobby and look for it there. Then examine each command on the link's pull-down list to see what it does.
At some sites, even if there's an "Options" link on the games screen, many other important options, such as games sounds and chat features, the decision to always muck losing hands without showing them, or to add or remove various types of animation, are available from the lobby screen rather than from the virtual table screen.

In short, explore! And don't forget those innocuous-looking little symbols tucked away in the corners: Clicking that small "%" symbol in the upper left-hand corner of the games screen may yield valuable games statistics. Also, try right-clicking rather than left-clicking, especially above opponents: Right-clicking on an opponent's oval, picture, or avatar may bring up a note-taking screen, for example. You won't know if you don't explore. While you should read as much as you can about the features before playing - and all sites have a "Help" link to an online manual explaining everything about features and procedures - there's just no substitute for hands-on experience.

Tip: Graphics and features - not to mention all-in rules, betting limits and structures, games selection, and ease of play - differ widely from site to site. If you're trying out several online casinos, take time to familiarize yourself with the nuances of each one before risking your money.

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