Bridge Base Online (BBO)
I play bridge online with the Madison Bridge Meetup. Below are some notes on using Bridge Base Online (click that link to go to the bridge website). It's free, no download is required (you play right on the website), the option exists to play using an app on your phone, and registration is easy. It's slightly preferred to use lower case for your username.
After you login to BBO, click on "Casual", then "Relaxed Bridge Club"... that's where we'll be. My username is "weak_twos". You'll likely be invited if we have your username. If we have more people than can fit at one table we usually take turns (kibitzing lets you watch other people play and shows you ALL the hands; watching all the hands is a great way to learn!).
If you have a chance, you might want to play on BBO beforehand to get the feel of it. You can use the "Solitaire" or "Practice" rooms.
Connect: You can "friend" players to make it easier to find them. Click on their name and pull down the word "Neutral" (under "Relationship") to "Follow". When both players follow each other, you're "friends". Once you're in the "Casual" room, click on "People" on the right-hand side to see if they're online and where they are.
Review: There are a couple of ways to review recent things:
Bidding: To review the bidding, click on the current bid icon.
Last hand: To review the last hand, click on the "History" tab on the right-hand side.
Scoring points: International Match Points (IMPs) are used for scoring. IMPs are computed by comparing how well you did with how well other people did playing the same hand. For example, if you bid 4H and make it when most others didn't make it, you'll get more IMPs! But if you bid 4H and many other tables bid 5H or higher and made it, your IMPs will decrease, even though you made your bid. Click on the IMPs icon to see your score and how many IMPs you earned/lost. Then click on "Other Tables" to see how people at the other tables did; it's sorted from best to worst.
Undo: Try to avoid requesting an undo... it's hard to get people to do it. But if you need it, click on the hamburger (three horizontal lines) icon and select "Undo". You might also want to chat the table that you would like an undo.
Text chat: You can chat with the table by using the little text box. People use abbreviations in chat, like WDP and WDO, which stands for Well Done Partner/Opponents. Here are other abbreviations: https://www.bridgebase.com/help/v2help/common_abbreviations.html . The Madison Bridge Meetup uses video chat instead; see below for more info.
Bidding style: There are two ways of expressing your bidding style: in your profile and in your convention card.
Profile: Most players rely on what's in your profile. To set this, click on the "Account" tab on the right. Type your bidding style into the "Other" field (right below your name). We're all playing Standard American Yellow Card (SAYC), so start with that. Mine is: SAYC: 5M, Take-out X (short/long), Weak 2's, 2C strong, 1NT 15-17 (occasionally 18), Stayman, Transfers (to H, S, or C), Blackwood (4NT) when in a suit, Gerber (4C) when in NT. Click on someone's name to view their profile and bidding style.
Convention card: I honestly don't know how these are used in the level of bridge that we're playing (tournaments require that you post this). But here's a video and here's info on it if you're curious: https://www.bridgebase.com/help/v2help/convention_card.html
Robots: Robots fill in when someone leaves a table mid-game. Here is how the robot bids and plays: https://www.bridgebase.com/doc/gib_system_notes.php
Table setup: Setting up a table on BBO is easy. The only trick is to set it up in such a way to avoid people getting booted off if they're not playing as fast as BBO thinks they should. Simply select "Permission required to play".
If you want to participate in a video chat during bridge, here's how using Skype. You can Skype using the Skype app (on computer or phone) or use it through the web. If you are already familiar with using the Skype app, you don't need these instructions; just go to the web address given to you.
Otherwise, point your web browser at the web address given to you.
If you see a "Join as guest", click it. Enter your name on the blank line and click "Join". At some point, you'll be asked about access to your microphone and camera; you should allow these. Make sure your audio is turned on (video is optional; see below) and then click the green "Join Call" button. That's it!
If you see "Download Skype", you can download it and install it, but if you're intimidated about computer stuff, it's easier to use Chrome for your browser (download Chrome if you don't already have it), and then follow the instructions above. If you download Skype, you can use it without an account or create an account (it's a Microsoft account since they own Skype). Once it's all installed the rest of the process is similar to the instructions above.
In either case, video is optional; disable it if you don't have the bandwidth, want to use less battery, or if there are lags in communication.
Thanks for reading; please let me know if it was helpful!