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Real Money Poker: An Expert Guide

Posted by Kevin King on
Last updated:

Perhaps the most popular casino card game in the world, it’s become just as popular for people to play poker online for real money. In our guide to online poker, we’ll cover:

  • The best online poker sites for US players
  • Online poker game variations
  • Different types of online poker tournaments & games
  • Winning poker hands
  • Online poker FAQs

Where to Play Poker Online

If you’re a US player looking to play real money poker online, here are our favorite sites:

Other Online Poker Variations

  • Razz Poker – rather than playing for the usual high hands, players attempt to get a hand from Ace to 5
  • Omaha Hi/Lo Poker – Like Omaha, but with the pot split between the best high hand and the best low hand
  • HORSE Poker – a variant that combines different variations of gameplay
  • Pai Gow Poker – play against the dealer with multiple hands in this variant

 

Recommended Strategy for Real Money Poker

an open book with a check mark on one page and an x on the other

Know the Rules & Stick to What You Know

Online poker’s many variations can get complicated – stick to the variations that you understand you get some experience.

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Stay Calm, Cool & Collected

In most variations of online poker, you’re wagering against real people. Maintain your composure, stick to your strategy, and don’t get baited into betting on a hand you don’t like.

a hand returning two playing cards

Don’t be Afraid to Fold

Folding is not the same as losing. Great online poker players aren’t afraid to walk away from a hand if they feel they’re beaten. Live to fight another day.

Online Poker Game Types

Note: these game types are not the same as the game variations we listed above. Game types refer to the gameplay type itself, rather than differences in rules. At a good online poker room, you’ll be able to find different game types for each of the variations that we listed above.

With that said, there are five main types of real money poker that US players will find online:

Winning Poker Hands

Nearly all variations of online poker are played with the standard 52-card deck. The value ranking of each card goes in descending order (Ace >King > Queen > Jack > 10 > 9, etc.)

It is important to note that in most game variants, Ace can be used as either high or low in straights (e.g. you could have a five-card straight that runs A-2-3-4-5, or 10-J-Q-K-A.)

The following table will show common poker hand variations, ranked from best to worst:

Poker Hand Name Cards Example Hand
Royal Flush A, K, Q, J, 10 – same suit royal flush
Straight Flush Five sequential cards – same suit straight flush
Four of a Kind Four cards of the same value, one of each suit – fifth card doesn’t matter four of a kind
Full House Three cards of the same value, and a pair of an additional value full house
Flush Five cards of the same suit – any order flush
Straight Five sequential cards – any suit straight
Three of a Kind Three cards of the same value – other two cards don’t matter cards-three-of-kind
Two Pair Two cards of the same value and two cards of a different value – fifth card doesn’t matter cards-two-pair
One Pair Two cards of the same value – other three cards don’t matter cards-one-pair
No Pair All five cards of different values and not all the same suit

Featured US Online Poker Site

How to Choose an Online Poker Site

Regardless of your experience level, finding a great online poker room can be challenging. It gets even more difficult when you want to play poker for real money, as you need to factor in deposit methods, safety and security, etc.

If safety is your biggest concern, we have our list of safest online poker sites, but for everyone else, here’s what to look for when choosing an online poker site for real money play.

Player Traffic

Player traffic is a fancy way of saying how many players typically visit a poker site. If there is a high amount of player traffic, that site must be popular among players, and typically a site is popular for a reason. The more players there are, the better the prize pools will be.

Game Software

New players often don’t realize just how important a role the software plays in enjoyment of online poker. By reading through our reviews, you’ll quickly learn just how valuable a good software provider can be.

A great way of separating a good poker room from a bad one is by the features offered by the client. Another is the smoothness of the gameplay – online poker games should be fast to load and run flawlessly without any interference. Keep in mind, Gamble Online has done this work for you, but if you’re skeptical and want to truly do your homework, we would recommend looking into the software provider at your site of choice. Good navigation, design, graphics, features, and tools offered play a bigger role than you might think.

Bonuses and Promotions

We’re going to come right out and say it: you shouldn’t play at an online poker site that doesn’t offer bonuses. Promotions are increasingly common at the best online poker sites, with the majority of solid brands offering an initial deposit bonus, matching your initial deposit up to a certain amount – for example, if you deposit $100, the site will give you $100 to play with.

Beyond the welcome bonus, 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. Be sure to do you homework on bonuses before signing up for a new online casino account.

Variety of Games and Tournaments

We also recommend checking out the cash game and tournament varieties at a prospective site, as some real money poker sites don’t offer a very large choice. Since enjoying competition and playing great poker are presumably your main reason for joining an online poker room, make sure you know about the different competitions offered – whether that’s high stakes, small buy-in, or something in between – before you deposit.

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