Originally Posted by PokRok
Where is the best place to learn? Online? Playing with friends face to face? Casinos?
These playing environments are all so radically different one from another that I would have to answer "yes", "yes", and "yes"!
Online is the most convenient way to acquire the basic "how to" skills of poker. You learn the mechanics of the game, the blinds and betting structures. You can play anytime you like, at any limit you like, in your own home. You get to see many, many more hands due to the increased speed of play, which can only hasten your development. And you get to make mistakes in relative anonymity without the fear of public embarrassment.
Playing with friends allows you to take that a step further by actually handling the cards and chips, shuffling & dealing the deck, and learning how the dealer-in-turn manages the table. All of these things are done for you online, so you must get off the computer to sharpen your live chops. You also get to enjoy the camaraderie of friendly play, which is one of poker's greatest virtues. Flesh & blood faces take the place of avatars, giving you the chance to start developing your "reading" skills.
Finally, the casino is where you combine the basics you learned online with the table skills you picked up from the home games. It's not nearly as intimidating an arena to step into if you've laid a good foundation for yourself with online play and neighborhood rings. After a few hands, you'll be able to relax and concentrate on your cards, not what you're supposed to be doing next.
The best place to learn? In my opinion, you've got to have all three under your belt to be a complete player who's comfortable in any setting, ready to go to war and win.