Choosing Between Cash Games & Tournaments
Once you've covered the basics of getting started, if you haven't already decided, you'll need to think about what style and type of game you're going to play. It's unlikely you'll win when you first start out playing online poker, but don't think of it as losing, you are just paying a small price for an education on how to become a winning player, and rake back will be very helpful in the early stages of developing your game.
Cash games require a much higher degree of skill in contrast to tournament poker, as blind levels go up, the luck factor rises in sync. Shallow stacked tournament poker is what many like to call, 'crap shoots'. However there are many players and indeed professionals who make good money mainly from playing tournament poker, but the fact remains, cash games require more skill to master. Much of this skill lies in post flop play, of which there is very little in the later stages of tournament poker. Players who mainly play tournaments can often struggle to adapt to cash games, Phil Helmuth is a prime example of one such player
I would advise learning to master cash games before tournaments, learning the intricacies of tournament play will come to you naturally once you're comfortably beating cash games. There's an important consideration to make however, the rake, unless you're going to play 10nl or above, the rake you will pay playing anything below will be very costly, even with the best rake back deals. It's wiser to get better value for your money playing $1-$5 tourneys and SNGs as you pay less rake, grind up your bankroll playing these until your sufficiently rolled for 6 max, full ring or heads up cash games.
Once you're decided, you should learn as much as possible about cash games, the best and fastest way of doing this is with a poker training site. With free trials on offer, you've no good reason not to sign up, they are an invaluable aid for improving your game, if you study hard and can apply the wealth of game theory and strategy at your disposal to your play, it won't be long before you'll be beating the micros. Viewing each instructors training videos will help to illustrate contrasting philosophies and styles of play, don't get too hung up on trying to emulate any one player, play the format and style of poker that you are most comfortable with.
Tight aggressive (not overly tight or aggressive) is the optimal style for most beginners. The biggest mistake beginners make is playing too loose, passively and far too often, out of position with marginal hands, you will bleed chips at the tables playing like this. The old saying 'tight is right' holds true, It's also vital you learn to adapt to different styles you'll be faced with, against a player only going to showdown with a narrow or tight range of hands, you might increase your bluffing frequency as you will often have more fold equity in certain spots against them.
Against an opponent who will showdown weak holdings and play lots of trashy hands, you should be more conservative with your bluffing frequency against this type of villain. Different opponents, table dynamics and situations will all call for varying styles of play and it's all about adjusting and incorporating a mix of styles to formulate an overall game plan or strategy for beating each of your opponents, whichever you decide to play, remember to enjoy yourself! If it ever comes to the point where you're no longer enjoying your time on the tables, it's best to take a short or long term break and then come back fresh.