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by: Glenn McDonald.
The cold hard fact at the core of playing poker for money is that it is, finally, an act of gambling. Yes, poker is also a game of skill, and yes, a superior player can expect to best lesser players over a sustained period of time. But good players also go broke regularly, and the (literal) luck of the draw can and will empty your pockets occasionally.
 Any honest assessment of playing poker for money must concede that it is indeed a form of gambling.

This fact brings to the game some practical and legal implications. On a practical level, as a potential player, you must ask yourself some common-sense questions:

?    Is it sensible for me to risk my money to experience real-money poker online ?
?    Is the game just as fun or valuable to me in the play-money rooms?
?    If I do choose to wager real money, how much should I budget as my bankroll?
?    What limits do I want to set, and am I willing to stick to them regardless of what happens?

Ail other practical consideration is whether you feel comfortable using the existing mechanisms for establishing a real-money account with an online cardroom. As you shall see, buying virtual chips is not as straightforward as getting your chips in a casino. In fact, it's something of a hassle. (A justified hassle, though, because the extensive security processes are there to prevent fraud and cheating.) Is it worth the aggravation and the possible transaction fees to set up a real-money online account?

The legal questions, of course, are a bit more complex. Is it expressly legal (or illegal) to gamble online in your Jurisdiction? We'll cover this more thoroughly later in this chapter. The situation is somewhat murky and in flux, but the bottom line is that it is up to you as the player to determine whether there are legal prohibitions against playing poker online where you live.

(© 2006 Deal Me In! Online Cardrooms, Big Time Tournaments, and The New Poker Book. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed)

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