To get started when one is brand new to the game, getting the basics down so you're up and running is the first priority. You'll need to learn the rules of the game, hand rankings (what beats what), and how the betting works. A simple google search will lead you to many resources to learn the rules and other basics, but a great place to start is the PokerStars School poker courses. Not only will the PokerStars School lesson plans take you through the basics, with everything you'll need to know in detail, but they will also prepare you for and take you straight into the basic strategies of the game.
So what are the essentials to start with? Let's take a look at a few now:
-Starting hands. Recommendations for what starting hands to play and in what positions are a great place to begin. As you gain more knowledge and experience, you will learn when you can profitably deviate from these basic guidelines. But while you are new and gaining that experience, a good starting hands strategy will help keep you out of trouble. If you view your poker game as a house, the starting hands fundamentals would be the foundation. Once you have the necessary skills and experience to adjust your starting hand ranges, you may do so, but every house needs a strong foundation. And if you're not familiar with basic starting hand recommendations, you won't know how or when to deviate from them.
-Position. It's much more advantageous to act after other players, because you get the benefit of seeing what their action will be before you make your decision. The player who acts first does not have this luxury.
-Odds. While math can be a scary topic to some, there's nothing to get worried about here. Basic poker odds and math are an important component to your poker growth, but all the math involved is easy to use and things like pot odds, drawing odds, etc. can be memorized.
Now that we've talked a bit about the starting points for learning, let's also talk briefly about some things you can expect as a new player that will help you be ready at the tables.
-Mistakes will be made. As a new player to the game you will make mistakes and poor plays. A lot of them. Don't fret, this is normal and as you learn more and gain more experience, they frequency of mistakes will get lower.
-Complaints. You will no doubt find opponents who either complain about your play (only when you get lucky to beat them) or even attack you in chat for it. Let this roll off your back like water on a duck. It's okay to not even respond, or if you wish, to use the software to block their chat. Many players lack emotional control, and this manifests in poor behavior when they lose a hand they perceive they should have won had their opponent "played right". Don't get caught up in the fray. And remember, they were new once too and made all those same mistakes themselves. It's the reality of the game.
-Luck factor. While poker is a game of skill, there is an inherent luck element as well. You use your skill to make the best decisions possible, but you cannot control your opponent's decisions, or the next card of the deck. If you get all your chips in with the opponent having only 1 out (only 1 card they can catch to win the hand), that's a great result… but 1 out is vastly different from zero outs, and once in a while they will hit that miracle card. It's important to try and not lose emotional control (also called going on tilt) when this happens. During your poker playing you will experience measures of both good and bad luck, and often groups of one or the other strung together. Try and remember this is part of the game. No one complains when they hit their 1 outter, but everyone complains when their opponent hits theirs.
Learning poker is a process. Embrace it and enjoy it. Part of that process includes playing, both to gain experience, and to put into practice new skills and ideas as you're learning them. As a new player to the game, a great place to start is the PokerStars School, that offers a lesson plan directly from a rank beginner level all the way into intermediate skills and concepts. And all free to you, compliments of PokerStars. And remember, when you're running good (experiencing a run of good luck), you're not that good, and when you're running bad, you're not that bad. Keep working, playing, and keep a level head, and you'll progress just fine.