The popularity of online poker exploded with the proliferation of high-speed internet in the mid-2000s, and it’s easy to see why.
Poker offers a thrilling combination of skill and luck, and with online poker rooms open 24-7 you can play any time anywhere – on a desktop, tablet or your phone.
With the different variations of the game carrying its own set of rules, familiarisation with how each strand of poker works is key.
The rules of each game are generally relatively simple to follow, with poker often being described as a game that is ‘easy to learn but hard to master.’
Like all card games, poker carries an element of luck, but it does also carry a significant tactical and strategical element.
Whilst most people participate in online poker games for enjoyment, there are also plenty of high-stakes online poker games too.
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Below you’ll find the best poker welcome bonus offers, tokens, cashback and free play from our favourite online poker casinos.
Online Poker Games
Here are the most popular online poker games:
By far the most popular variant of online poker, Texas Hold’em sees players attempt to make the best 5-card hand possible with 2 cards they have been dealt and 5 additional cards revealed by the dealer. Bets are then placed between players to decipher who has the best hand.
Seven Card Stud
A slower and more traditional version of online poker that is a little less intimidating than Texas Hold’em. Only 4 of the 7 cards on the table are visible by all players allowing for more strategical play and less bluffing.
Each player is dealt 4 face-down cards when they begin playing Omaha as they attempt to make the best 5-card hand possible. The dealer then presents another 5 cards on the communal table and each player must use at least 2 of their own cards as they look to build the winning hand.
The opposite of Texas Hold’em – trying to make the worst 5-card hand possible.
Five Card Draw
A less skilled version of poker, with players allowed to exchange their cards in pursuit of the best 5-card poker hand.
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How to Play Online Poker
Online poker can be great fun but getting to grips with the rhythm and rules of the game is essential.The ultimate goal of each hand in poker is to create a hand that is of a higher value than all of your competitors at the table.
Here are the best poker hands going from strongest to weakest:
Five cards of consecutive number and of the same suit: the best possible straight flush is a royal flush, which consists of Ace, King, Queen, Jack & 10 of the same suit.
Four of a Kind
Simple, four cards of the same rank (e.g. 4 aces).
Compiling 5 cards through having 3 cards of the same rank and 2 of another (e.g. 3 Kings and 2 Queens).
Having 5 cards of the same suit
Collating 5 cards of consecutive rank (regardless of their suit)
Three of a Kind
Holding 3 cards of the same rank (e.g. 3 Jacks)
Having two numerical card pairings in your hand (e.g. 2 Aces and 2 Queens)
Same as above but only matching one pairing (e.g. 2 Kings)
If a hand contains none of the above combinations, the hand is ranked by its highest card (e.g. a hand with an Ace beats a King-high hand).
Once you have signed up for an online poker account, head into the lobby and choose the right game for your budget.
Playing online poker can be a daunting experience at first but through experiencing the game firsthand, progress can be made quickly.
When sat at the table, the dealer will hand out two cards to each player. You will only be able to see your cards on the screen; everybody else’s cards will not be visible.
At this point you have a choice, to fold, call or raise:
• Fold – To fold is to effectively decide that you want to opt out of this hand.• Call – A call is to match the bet of the player(s) before you, to allow you to progress to the drawing of the next cards.• Raise – Should you be feeling confident in your hand, you can raise the stakes by betting more than the minimum bet required to progress.
Once all players on the table have either folded or called, the game can progress to the next stage.
The dealer will then present three community cards known as the ‘flop’. From here players are looking to matchup their own 2-card hand with the 3 cards on the table to create the best possible 5-card hand.
Betting once again continues to the left of the dealer, with players choosing to fold, call or raise as they see fit.
After that round of betting concludes, the dealer places a fourth community card on the table, which is known as the ‘turn’.
Each player now has 6 cards to work with but remember, only the best 5 cards count towards your hand.
Betting takes place once more as players look to add to the potential prize pot.
The final card is then dealt, which is called the ‘river’.
A final round of betting then ensues before players must reveal their cards to decide who has the highest ranked hand.
At this point the player with the best hand will win the money in the pot, in the event of an exact tie the pot will be shared by the winning players.
The chips will be awarded to the winners, and the game will move on with the dealing duties moving one place left on the table for the next round.
This process is repeated until one player is the last person standing on the table.
Online Poker Strategy & Quick Tips
Like so many games/sports, the majority of the intrigue is based upon varying styles of play.
Each online poker player will adopt their own approach to playing the game and finding a playing style that works for you is key.
Here are some of the tried and tested online poker playing strategies:
- Tight – Unsurprisingly, playing ‘tight’ is a game style perfect for those who are generally risk-averse. Taking caution with each hand, placing value on having strong hands and only playing when the percentages are in your favour is how to play a ‘tight’ game.
- Loose – The exact opposite of tight. Loose is a playing strategy that involves playing lots of hands, regardless of the strength of your cards and looking to gamble on the flop, the turn and the river making things happen for you.
- Aggressive – When you play poker you are not playing against the cards or the dealer, you are competing against other players. Aggressive online poker players look to bully their opponents by placing big bets and often bluffing about the strength of their hand to scare off the opposition.
- Passive – Playing a passive game allows other people to dictate the stakes at play and then pick them off if they are bluffing. It can be an effective ploy if sat on a big hand but playing too passively doesn’t allow players to maximise their winning potential from each hand.
How to Choose the Best Online Poker Site for You
Like any online betting game, choosing the right online poker site for you is crucial.
Here is our list of things to consider when choosing your online poker site:
- Secure and Licensed Poker Room – Ensure that you are playing poker with a licensed online poker company before you make any deposits. All secure and licensed operators will have their details visible on their website.
- Welcome Bonuses – The vast majority of online poker providers offer new customers pretty substantial welcome bonuses. So, seek out the best promotions on the market to top up your playing balance.
- Software Reliability – Inevitably, some poker companies have more advanced operating systems than others. Make sure you can place bets easily; leave the table should you wish and that game play speeds are not affected before you start playing.
- Payment Methods – Having the ability to comfortably deposit or withdraw money is vital. The most reputable online poker providers will offer all of the usual deposit/withdrawal methods to allow you to move your money quickly and without any risks.
Online Poker Real Money vs Free Poker
Whether you choose to play online poker for free or for real money is very much your decision.
Both games are lots of fun and with a real community spirit attached to online poker, you can make new friends online too.
We’ve compiled a list of pros and cons for playing Real Money Online Poker and Free Online Poker:
Real Money Online Poker
- It perhaps goes without saying but you can win real money through playing online poker, from the comfort of your own home.
- Most companies offer great welcome bonuses, allowing you to maximise your potential winnings.
- Playing for hard-earned cash carries higher stakes meaning players tend to be a little more conservative on the real money online poker tables.
- Conversely to potentially winning money, you can also lose money and playing within your budget is essential.
- Online poker companies will offer tables with certain buy-in requirements, meaning options for all levels of online poker players can sometimes be limited.
Free Online Poker
- Playing online poker for free is the perfect environment to practice your poker playing skills.
- In addition, it allows you to become familiar with the rules and enables you to adopt a playing strategy that suits your personality.
- There are plenty of people that love playing online poker just for fun and you can meet new people through online poker communities.
- It perhaps goes without saying but by playing for free, you cannot win any money.
- Most players in the free online poker games tend to play more aggressively with nothing other than pride on the line, making it an occasionally unrealistic game playing experience.