The Basics of Playing
There are two ways you can go in terms of actually gambling online, Flash and downloadable software. Flash offers almost immediately playing but downloadable software offers better sound and graphics. Personally I find downloadable software to be much more enjoyable and faster but I respect the opinion of those who prefer Flash. About half of the casinos with downloadable software also offer a free CD version. Once you have the software installed (unless with a Flash based casino) the next step is to open an account. This is sometimes done on the casino web site and sometimes through the software. Then you must put some into your account. The vast majority of the time this is done with a credit (or debit) card. Other options include Western Union and bank wire transfers but both of these necessitate substantial fees, which many online casinos will credit back to your account. Beware that some credit cards will treat deposits to an online casino as a cash advance. If this happens then you may have success in arguing the charge but many credit cards have a flat policy that a purchase of casino chips counts as a cash advance. I recommend using debit cards instead, there is never a cash advance fee and the transactions are posted faster.
Once you have money in your account you may then begin to play. Be sure to check the rules first, many online casinos favor European rules which can be different that U.S. rules. This can be good or bad depending on the particular rule. As you play I would suggest documenting everything you do. Personally I use graph paper to keep a running track of my bankroll and the total amount bet.
If you plan to return in the near future do not cash out, just leave your money in your account. When you do cash out the chips will be converted to cash and credited back to your credit card, up to the amount of the initial purchase. If you have a net win then the winnings will have to be sent another way, usually by check. Most places will send winnings for free but others will subtract a finance charge.