Contrary to some interpretations, there is no U.S. law that bans online poker play. (A few States do have laws against gambling online.) It is illegal to operate an online poker room or for financial institutions, like banks and credit cards, to use wire transfers for funds gambling related money. So, in this new restricted environment, how can Americans play poker online? Playing is simple. The problem is funding your online poker account. I'm not going to recommend any method for circumventing the law, but any site that still accepts Americans has a deposit and more importantly a withdrawal solution, that works.
First, select your site. Many of the best online poker sites are still available to Americans; Absolute, BoDog, Full Tilt, Poker Stars, and Ultimate Bet. Actually, you should probably download and try several of them. The download is free and you might prefer the interface of one over another. The poker client software can vary significantly. Open an account and test the software on the "Play" money tables. When you've decided which site you prefer, go to the cashier or bank and make a deposit. Each site has a solution for Americans.
If you are a beginner or unskilled player, the internet poker sites give you an excellent opportunity to learn for little or no money. To help you along the way you can get a quick start on the PokerWork's Strategy page. Six articles to pay particular attention to are:
1. Little Decisions vs. Big Decisions in No Limit Hold 'em
2. Basic poker strategy
3. Starting Hands in Tournament NL Hold ‘em
4. Small or middle pocket pairs
5. Suited Connectors in No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em
6. Getting Started In Online Poker
These articles are oriented toward tight play and patience. For the beginner these can be the most important concepts to learn. The biggest mistake made by most novices is playing to many hands. The last article has some great advice for the beginning poker player, online or live. There are other important articles there too, but they can wait until you have a little experience.
Restrict yourself to the "Play" money tables for awhile, until you are comfortable and understand the game and the interface. You should also compete in a few of the available Freeroll poker tournaments. (Free Tournaments that have real money prizes.) The prizes may be small but you could win a little without risking any money of your own. Here is an interesting article about Chris Ferguson's attempt to build a $20,000 poker bankroll from nothing. Now you should be ready for a little reading. For the beginner one of these two books is a good start.
1. "Play Like Johnny Chan" - Johnny Chan
2. "Play Like the Pros" - Phil Helmuth (Be wary of the after the flop play. It really relies on expert reads, few beginners are capable of.)
Finally, if you have won a little in freerolls, make a deposit. It doesn't have to be large, but available first deposit bonuses suggest that it might be substantial. You just don't want risk it all at once. Call it your starting bankroll. You should restrict yourself to low, or even micro-limit games.
A good rule of thumb is to never risk more than you might spend on an evening's entertainment. Check the PokerWorks Strategy page for several more good articles on Bankroll management. Don't be surprised when you find even the micro-limits are significantly different than the "Play" money tables. Just a little bet of risk changes every poker players' style just a bit. Once you're really comfortable and hopefully winning a little, move on to the advanced player reading list.
For skilled players, new to online poker, there are a few books that you should really consider reading. There are many articles on PokerWork's strategy page, but these books should be on the shelf of every online poker player.
1. "Online Ace" - Fischman
2. "Internet Texas Hold ‘em, Tips From an Internet Pro" - Hilger
3. "Killer Poker Online" - Vorhaus
These books won't make you a winning poker player, but they will help you to become a winning online player. Even the most skilled poker player can do poorly online if unaware of some of the idiosyncrasies found in online poker games.
Well hopefully the recent restrictions on Internet gambling will be reversed, but until they are, don't despair. There are still some great profit opportunities out there for the skilled and "determined" player.