Poker, formally thought of as an American pastime, has exploded in popularity worldwide. Poker, in its many forms and fashions is now undoubtedly the most popular gambling game.
The newest craze in online gambling is live-action poker played against other real players. New poker sites appear every day making it easier and easier to get started.
Playing online poker can be a great way to get experience without having to travel to Las Vegas, Atlantic City or the nearest Indian reservation casino. It’s much less expensive, and players can play more hands per hour because the dealing is automated. Play goes fast, too, because the software puts a time limit on the action.
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Online poker has taken off like wildfire and become very popular with poker players and those looking to become involved with the game. When it comes to poker there are many reasons why players choose to take their gaming onto the Internet. When you decide to look for a new poker site to join you want to know that the decision you make is one that will prove to be in your best interest. This site will give you the information you need in order to play at an online poker room that matches your wants and needs. You have found a great resource that you can use to help you to enjoy all of the rewards that come with playing poker online.
Below you’ll find reviews of the most popular online poker rooms where you can play against other people for real money. We list information on the payment options each poker room accepts, how each site’s software works, variety of games, promotions, and customer support.
Choosing a Poker Site – Things to Consider
For those new to online poker or even professional players looking to opening an account at an online poker room, finding the right poker site could be a little confusing. As the Internet is flooded with a myriad of online poker rooms, it becomes tough to decide which one of them is the right one for you. In order to find a reliable poker site that caters to your needs, you should consider the following –
Also, player traffic helps determine whether the online poker room is well visited by players. If there is a good amount of player traffic, which is generally calculated according to peak hours, then you must know that the poker site is quite popular among players. The more players there are; the better will be the prize pools.
Many new players don’t realize just how much of an important role the software plays in how much they will get out of their games. By reading through the reviews offered here you will quickly learn just how important the software really is. You will also learn about the software that runs the online poker rooms reviewed and be educated on what it is that makes the software different.
One way of identifying a good poker room is by the features offered by the poker client. Another is the smoothness of game play, meaning that the games should be fast to load and run flawlessly without any interference whatsoever.
The software interface is an important part of your experience at an online poker room and so it is necessary to check out the client. An ease of use in way of navigation, the design and composition of the lobby, graphics and tools offered to enhance game play are some of the major considerations when deciding on a signing up at a poker site.
Bonuses & Promotions
Promotions are extremely common at online poker sites. Most large poker sites offer an initial deposit bonus, which matches your deposit up to a certain dollar amount (100% up to $500 for example). Poker bonuses are usually released in increments based on the stakes and number of hands you play. Other promotions to look for include bad beat jackpots, loyalty programs, rakeback, and giveaways to major tournaments like the WSOP.
Variety of Cash Games & Tournaments
Checking out the cash games and tournament varieties is also a good idea, as many poker sites do not offer a very large choice. Since enjoying good competition and playing great poker games will be your reason for joining an online poker room, you want to know all about the games and competition that an online poker room offers. Some players are happy playing small buy-in tourneys and low stakes cash games, while others may want the best high stakes poker games they can find.
Deposit Options & Security
Another very important factor is the payment options and the security of the online poker room. Everyone is genuinely concerned about their personal information being shared on the Internet with third party entities. To ensure that the online poker room is trustworthy, it is wise to check out the security precautions taken by the poker site. Generally, all leading and respectable online poker rooms will be using SSL encryption, firewalls and other trusted security software to protect client data and banking details.
Once you have ensured that the site is reliable, you must check out the payment options to make sure that the methods offered are suitable for you. Some options may not allow a withdrawal, so it is essential to check for both deposit and withdrawal methods. Don’t forget to check out the customer care support, as you do not want to be running from post to pillar trying to find someone to help you with a query. See the response time and the types of contact methods offered. Live chat is almost the best option if you are in a hurry to get an answer, but if the other methods are fast enough, it wouldn’t matter a great deal.
Now that you are equipped with all the information that you would need to help you find a reputable online poker room, it is time for you to hit the Internet and start your search. Although you may feel that there are too many facts to keep in mind when selecting a poker site, it won’t take you long to find one. It may seem tedious, but it is not all that of a huge task after all.
How to Play Poker
In this poker guide you’ll learn exactly how to play poker for real money. Here’s what we’ll cover:
- The Basics of Poker – Rules and information that applies to all poker games.
- Individual Poker Lessons – Articles that teach fundamental poker concepts more in-depth.
- Recommended Poker Resources – Recommendations of the best poker books, websites, and articles designed to take you game to the next level.
Poker Basics – Rules That Apply to All Poker Games
Poker players don’t play against the house, they play against each other. This makes poker different from most other casino games. When you play, you’re trying to win the money that accumulates as players raise their bets. This collective money is known as the pot.
Poker offers two ways to win the pot:
- Have the highest hand at the table when all the rounds are completed (also known as the showdown).
- Make everyone else fold by making them believe you have the highest hand at the table.
The next thing we need to cover are the specific actions you take in a game of poker to play your hand.
Poker Game Play – How to Bet in Poker
There are strict rules governing the order of betting in poker, and these rules vary depending on which version you’re playing. Some games require the player to the left of the designated dealer to bet first, which is known as opening. Other games require the person with the highest up card to open, still others require the lowest. Betting first comes with a price. Opening can give your opponents valuable information about your hand. Players betting last have the best advantage, because they get to see how every one of the opponents bets before them. This allows them to make the best decision concerning playing their own hand.
Different poker games have different numbers of betting rounds. For instance, there are five betting rounds in Seven-Card Stud, while there are only four in Hold ‘Em.
Betting moves clockwise around the table during each round. Each player can either check, call, raise, or fold when it is their turn.
Checking means you stay in the game, but don’t wish to make a bet. Checking forfeits your right to raise in the current round, unless your game allows “check and raise.” Once the first bet is made, the other players have the opportunity to call, raise, or fold. Calling means you will be matching the most recent bet.
You must say “Call” and stack the appropriate amount of chips on the table in front of you. Let the dealer count your chips to make sure you’ve put forward the correct amount; don’t throw your chips into the pot!
You can raise if another player has already made a bet. This means you’re matching the previous bet, and adding more money. Indicate you wish to do so by saying “Raise” and placing the correct amount of chips by which you want to raise the bet in front of you. Once you’ve raised, the other players must either match the higher bet or fold. Sometimes the bet may only be three times during a single round of betting.
You also have the option to fold if you don’t think your hand is good enough, or you don’t want to try your hand at bluffing this time around. This takes you out of hand, and you won’t lose any money beyond what you’ve already put in the pot. There may one or more cards dealt between betting rounds, depending on the game.
- The player betting first can either open or check, unless they are required to make a blind bet.
- If nobody bets as the opportunity moves around the table, you can either open or check, but not raise. You cannot raise after you have checked unless the rules permit it, but you can call a bet.
- Once the first bet has been made, the other players may call, raise, or fold. After the first bet, no one may check.
- Calling means you match the previous bet. If the previous bet was called and raised, you must match the higher amount if you wish to call.
- Raising is really calling and raising, and means you’re matching the previous and increasing the bet.
- Once a player raises, every other player must either match the raise to stay in the game, or fold. They may also re-raise if they so wish. Remember, some poker games limit the number of raises allowed per betting round to three.
- When you don’t want to match another player’s raise, you fold.
A showdown occurs at the end of the last betting round if two or more players are still in the hand. This requires that both players show their cards and compare to determine which has the highest rank. Regardless of whether the player knows it or not, if they have the highest-ranking hand, they win the pot. If you make it to the showdown, show your hand. Throwing away your hand at the end of the last betting round could mean you miss out on the pot! If only one player remains at any point, after every other player has folded, they automatically win the pot regardless of what cards they have in their hand.
There are many variations of poker games. Some games deal out seven cards to each player, while others only deal out five. Stud poker is a version in which some cards are dealt face up and some are dealt face down. Two cards are dealt face down to each player in Hold ‘Em, then five cards dealt face up as community cards. Another variation is draw poker, in which all cards are dealt face down. This variation is also known as a closed game. Lowball is another game, in which players try for the lowest hand instead of the highest, as in other versions.
Here is a breakdown of the most popular poker games:
- Texas Hold’em (Limit, No Limit, Pot Limit)
- Seven-Card Stud (High and High/Low)
- Five-Card Draw
- Five-Card Stud
- Omaha (High and High/Low)
- Razz (Seven card stud low only)
- 2 to 7 Triple Draw Lowball
The hierarchy of hands remains the same through all of these games except lowball, which reverses it. It’s most important to know what beats what in poker, so that’s where we’ll start.
Winning Poker Hands in Order
A 52-card deck is the standard used in most poker games. The card ranking, from highest to lowest, is as follows: Ace (A), King (K), Queen (Q), Jack (J), 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2. In lowball, the Ace can also be used as a 1. Aces can also be used as 1s to complete a 5-high straight (A, 2, 3, 4, 5). A flush is made up of five cards of the same suit. Beyond that, there’s no ranking for suits.
Cards are not assigned point values and added together like they are in blackjack or baccarat. The hierarchy determines the ranking of each five card hand, starting at the extremely rare royal flush and ending in the incredibly common pair. Here’s a table listing poker hand rankings:
|Poker Hands Hierarchy|
|Royal Flush||A, K, Q, J, 10 in same suit|
|Straight Flush||Five cards in any sequence, all of the same suit|
|Four of a Kind||Four cards of the same rank, one in each suit, plus an additional card that doesn’t count.|
|Full House||Three cards of one rank, and a pair of another rank|
|Flush||Five cards of the same suit in any order|
|Straight||Any five cards in order|
|Three of a Kind||Three cards of the same rank, plus two more cards|
|Two Pair||Two cards of one rank and two cards of another rank, plus one more card|
|One Pair||Two cards of the same rank and three more cards|
|No Pair||All five cards of different ranks and not all of one suit|
Ties in Poker
The hierarchy of poker hands decides a showdown between two or more players. The highest hand always wins. If two players have the same hand, the next step to deciding the winner is to look at individual cards.
Full House versus Another Full House
Let’s go over a full house versus a full house first. In this situation, the three-of-a-kind cards from both hands are compared, with highest rank determining the winner. If the two players have the same three-of-a-kind, such as can happen in a game with community cards, the pairs are compared instead.
Flush versus Another Flush
The highest card used in the hand determines the winner if both players have flushes. If the highest cards tie, the comparison continues to the next-highest card. If two flushes happen to tie for every card, the pot is split equally among the players. This only occurs when every card in both flushes match rank for rank.
Straight versus Another Straight
Straights are determined by the high end of the straight, for example: a 6-high straight (6, 5, 4, 3, 2) beats a 5-high straight (5, 4, 3, 2, A). The pot is split if the high end of both straights is equal.
Three-of-a-kind versus Another Three-of-a-kind
If two players have three-of-a-kind hands, the ranks are compared to determine the winner. If both three-of-a-kinds are equal, the highest singleton is compared. If those are equal as well, the fifth card is compared.
Two Pair versus Another Two Pair
Two hands with two pair are compared using the higher-ranking pair. The second pairs will be used if both high ranking pairs are the same. The winner is decided by comparing the fifth card of each hand if both pairs happen to be equal.
One Pair versus Another One Pair
The rank of the single pair is compared when two players have only a pair in their hands. If the pairs match, the comparison moves down to the highest singleton. If those are equal, too, then the next-highest singletons are compared. If that still doesn’t determine the winner, because the second-highest singletons are the same rank, it moves down to the fifth card.
What happens when no one has a pair, flush, or straight?
To determine the winner between two hands that don’t have pairs, flushes, or straights, you must compare them card for card, starting at the highest singleton, and working lower until a winner can be decided.
Poker never uses a sixth card to determine the winner of a hand. This is true even of poker games that require players to make hands from more than five cards. If the two five-card hands are equal, the pot is always split.
Poker Betting Limits
The name of the game will posted above or alongside the table when you play in casinos or card rooms. Games usually have two-tiered betting limits, such as: $1-$4, $2-$4, or $5-$10. Most often the second figure is double the first, though some games may offer an even larger spread. In a fixed-limit, or structured game, the first amount listed is what you can bet in early rounds, with second showing what you can bet later. Spread-limit games are different; any bet between the two amounts is allowed during any round.
Poker Rake – How Poker Rooms Make Money
Players don’t bet against the house in poker games. Instead, they bet against each other. This begs one question: how does the casino make any money to pay the employees or cover the table operating costs? The rake is the answer.
The rake is a percentage of each pot held back by the house, usually between 2 and 10 percent. Some casinos set a limit on the dollar amount they take no matter how high the pot grows, while others only keep a flat fee rather than a percentage. Sometimes the big blind is the rake in a game of Hold ‘Em. No matter how it’s calculated, the house takes the rake.
If you’ve come this far, you should be well on your way to becoming a knowledgeable and confident poker player. As with most things, the more involved you get with poker, the more you’ll enjoy it. Below are resources that are meant to help improve the way you think about poker, learn more about it, and get involved with the large community of poker players.
Recommended Reading – List of the Best Poker Books
More Poker Articles You May Like
- History of Poker – A look at how poker began and how it has evolved over the last couple of centuries.