Online poker takes everything you love about the game and cranks it up to 11. You can play for free, for the smallest stakes imaginable (literally pennies), for satellite entries into the most spectacular live tournaments around the world, or you can go all in for millions. And you can do it all from your desktop computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone.

Unlike a casino, you don’t have to worry about your money being stolen by criminals because there are strict regulations governing online poker. The best poker sites have secure connections and use encryption to keep your financial information safe. In addition, they make sure to only feature games that are fair and offer a realistic chance of winning. Some states even have laws to protect players from unscrupulous operators.

If you’re new to online poker, be sure to start small and work your way up. Then, as your skills improve, you can move on to higher limits and bigger prize pools. If you jump into a higher level before you’re ready, you could lose a lot of money. So, always be smart about your bankroll and never jump in head first.

Another thing to consider is whether you’re ready for the ups and downs of the game. You’ll experience bad beats, coolers and suckouts, but you need to learn to take it all in stride and remember that it’s the long-term gains that matter. You also need to develop a short memory and not get too emotionally invested in individual hands.

A good online poker site should have software that’s easy to use, mobile-friendly and has a wide selection of games. It should also have promotions and bonuses to lure new players in. Bonuses are a great way to test out a new poker site before making a real-money deposit. But be aware that many poker bonuses have terms and conditions attached to them. For example, they might require a certain amount of hands played before they’re released or they may be subject to a maximum amount of money you can withdraw.

Most poker sites have practice tables where you can play for virtual chips without risking any of your own money. You can use these tables to practice your game, learn the rules and figure out how the software works. In addition, many poker sites offer regular freerolls that give you a chance to win real cash prizes.

Before playing for real money, you should check your state’s laws on online poker. While there is no law that specifically prohibits it, some states have strict regulatory standards and others allow it only through licensed casinos. Some states even regulate live gaming and have age restrictions for players. Beware of offshore sites, which don’t comply with these standards and operate with little or no consumer protections. Also, be aware that most poker sites will ask you to provide documentation to verify your identity before allowing you to play for real money.