re: Poker & Live or Online?
Come on guys, we have to answer the lads question.
Truth is, I started playing Hold'em seriously/competitively when I was around 15-16 years old. I opened my first online account at age 17 and it was fraudulent, using my girlfriend (18yrs) to set up the whole thing and spinning $50 up to $1000. If this younger member is interested in playing poker it is going to happen no matter what and we should make him feel like he has come to the right place, to learn and share and get some wisdom from the poker community.
Mick - there are a lot of pitfalls in gambling, you can not afford to slip and ruin your life with an addiction such as drugs or alcohol or gambling. Neither do you want to put yourself into any danger with the law or with rough customers in any shady gambling business.
If you want to get better and have a lot of fun with poker, start your own home game. This will be the "underground" live game you speak of. You can choose who to invite. You will find a lot of people in your network of friends, school, work, etc. who have an interest in cards and they will want to play. They will bring their money to your game. I bought an awesome set of poker chips, they have basically paid for themselves with all my winnings from home games. Keep it small and friendly at first until you have a regular game going and if there are members in the crowd who want to play higher stakes do it on a different night.
Stay out of the casinos until you feel really confident and well-versed in poker. There is truly a lot to learn and much better experienced players there, we will chew up and spit out your bankroll for fun. You need to study and practice (and save up money!) before you attempt that level of play because it is very deceptive and players will fool you by looking weak when they are hard as chuck.