Online Poker for Real Money
Enjoy Online Real Money Poker Games with this Comprehensive Guide
This page takes you through everything you need to get started with real money online poker games. You can enjoy poker with real cash at sites from the US and around the world. Not only will you get to pit your skills against other players – you can win significant amounts from these games.
You will find information on the different real money poker formats available, the sites, deposit methods and rewards below. There is also clarification on the legal status of real money poker – plus that important safety and security aspects.
Below you’ll find our top recommendations real money online poker casinos.
Best Online Real Money Poker Sites 2020
GambleOnline.co’s Real Money Poker Informational Quick Menu:
- Real Money vs Practice Play: What are the differences when you first hit the real money games?
- How Much Money is Needed?: The different stakes of real money poker explained, and how the buy-ins compare to those found in live casinos.
- Types of Real Money Poker: An overview of the 5 main poker formats, and different poker games within these.
- Is Real Money Online Poker Legal?: A special section for US readers which explains the confusing laws.
- Safety and Security: Here I look at how to make sure you are playing at a legitimate and trusted site, and that your deposit is secure.
- Bonuses and Rewards: Real money poker players enjoy a lot of incentives. This section shows what to look for.
- How to Deposit and Withdraw: You’ll need to make and receive payments if you win in the real money poker games – this section shows you how.
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 real-money 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.
Comparing Online Real Money Poker vs Practice Play
There is a world of difference between real money poker games (even at the smallest stakes) and practice or play-money poker. When cash is at stake, people take the game seriously – employing strategy and skill to try and win the money.
In a typical play money game, folding is the exception. Anyone with a shot at winning a hand will play to the river, regardless of the odds.
With real money, you find a few players like this. If you don’t understand simple strategy concepts like pot-odds and position, it will be very difficult to win even at the smallest stakes. As you move up to stakes as low as $10 or $25 cash game buy-ins (5c / 10c or 10c / 25c blinds), anyone playing the loose/passive style typical in play-money poker will be quickly relieved of their entire bankroll!
Simply playing fewer hands is a great start. You will find some strategy guides here at GambleOnline.co which will help you avoid common pitfalls of playing real money Texas Hold’em poker for the first time:
- Poker Starting Hands
- Pot Odds and Implied Odds Guide
- Guide to Bluffing in Poker Games
- How to Avoid Preflop Mistakes
- Poker Bankroll Management
How Much Money is Needed to Enjoy Real Money Poker?
You can buy-in at many real money internet poker sites for as little as $20. This should get you a matched bonus and some extra benefits like tournament entry tickets.
With small deposit poker sites, you’ll be able to play the micro-stakes. This is games with 1c / 2c blinds and tournaments with buy-ins of $1 and under. These games are soft enough that your transition from practice play should be reasonably smooth. It is important to make sure you beat these games before you move up levels. The natural variance in the game can quickly wipe out your bankroll if you are unwary!
As you move up the buy-in levels, you will find a lot more ‘pro grinders’. These are players who sit for many hours playing multiple tables – putting together a decent hourly profit.
- Micro Stakes:up to 2c / 5c ($5 max buy-in) cash games and $3 tournaments. Expect plenty of wild and loose play here, though you will need to adjust (tighten up) from play-money standards to have any chance.
- Small Stakes:up to 10c / 25c ($25 max buy-in) cash games and $10 tournaments. People experienced in play-money games need to avoid even small stakes poker until they have both experience at the real money tables and solid strategy knowledge.
- Mid-Stakes:50c / $1 ($100 max buy-in) cash games and $30+ tournaments. Even someone with live casino poker experience will be crushed online at these levels. Here you will find a lot of multi-tabling pros able to spot and exploit any new players almost instantly.
Many players who are today’s winners started off with kitchen table poker or play-money sites. While it is possible for anyone to make it in the poker for real money world, dedication is needed. You need to start at the smallest buy-ins, work on your strategy and plug your own leaks. When you have built a big enough bankroll – you can move up to the next level and new challenges.
Types of Online Real Money Poker Games: The 5 Game Formats
Online poker sites for real money are always innovating. By coming up with fresh new formats, rooms can attract players from their rivals. What you will find is that the other sites soon bring out their own versions of new games – and then the innovation cycle starts again.
There are 5 main poker formats, each with variations within it. Here are the key options for those considering real money online poker for the first time:
- Cash Games:This is the default poker format, where the chips in front of you have a real money value. Real Money No-Limit Holdem is the most popular game, though you will find many others. Pot Limit Omaha, Stud and Draw variants can all be enjoyed. Most cash game tables are either 6-max or full-ring (9 or 10 players). Heads-up poker is also common, and some sites have 4-player tables too.
- Poker Tournaments:This is the most diverse format. What joins them is that you buy-in for a stack of chips, and the games run until one player has them all. Prizes are distributed depending on where you finish. A regular ‘freezeout’ tournament has a single buy-in – and pays between 10% and 15% of the field. There are also rebuy tournaments, turbo speed games, bounty tournaments (where every player gets a price on their head), satellite qualifiers (to bigger buy-in events or even live tournaments), and fast-fold format games.
- Sit N Goes:1-table tournaments have lost some of their popularity recently, due to a choice of other quick poker formats. These games include multi-table games, which kick off when between 2 and 5 tables are full (no scheduled start time). You will also find double-or-nothing, knockout bounty, low stakes and turbo sit n goes played for real money.
- Fast-Fold Poker: This format started off with Rush Poker at Full Tilt, and now almost every poker room offers it. The idea is to speed up both cash games and tournaments, by cutting out the waiting time between hands. You can fold out of turn, and though the others at the table will not see you go, you will be moved to a new hand with players from a ‘pool’. This is fast and entertaining. Most sites are only big enough to run NL Holdem fast-fold games, you will also find this in Omaha variations at the biggest real money rooms.
- Lottery Sit N Goes: Random prize pools are awarded with this format – which goes under different names depending on which poker site you are playing on. Expect a 3 or 4 handed game, with hyper turbo blinds, and a prize pool of between 2x and 10,000x your buy-in awarded at random. There are variants of this game already being produced with different concepts. For example, Sit N Go Hero at Party Poker puts a bounty on the head of one player at random!
There are plenty of options for real money poker games online. While it can be entertaining to switch between them – a better path to profits is to pick one and get good at it. You can build a bankroll within your specialism, then try out the other games.
Is Real Money Online Poker Legal?
For US online poker players, there is a lot of confusion about the legality of real money poker. You’ll find there are no federal laws stopping any individual from enjoying real money poker – and that State laws vary considerably.
The main source of confusion about the legality of real money online poker comes from the 2006 ‘UIGEA’. In the mainstream press, this made online poker illegal. In fact, it only stopped the banks sending money to poker sites, and those poker sites from operating in the US.
Outside of the US, there are many real money poker rooms, who are completely legal (and regulated) in their own countries. These are mostly on Caribbean islands, or in Central America.
The UIGEA does not apply to individual players – who are free to enjoy the real money poker games.
Banking restrictions do mean you’ll need to be creative in moving your money on (and your winnings out) of these poker sites.
Laws vary internationally. Most countries either regulate online poker or simply allow people to enjoy it freely.
Are Online Poker Sites Secure? Is My Money Safe?
Just as important as legal considerations is the question of whether your money is safe online? The vast majority of the times, the answer is a clear yes. If you are playing at one of the big-name international brands, you should have zero worries in this respect.
If you are enjoying the real money poker games at US friendly offshore casinos, then a little more homework can be worthwhile. I recommend you stick to those brands which have a long track record. If a site has been around for 5+ years and have provided fast cash outs and great service – you can deposit there with peace of mind.
Late payments, ongoing disputes with players or a lack of certification for the deal of hands are all red flags. You can read the detailed reviews of online real money poker sites here at GambleOnline.co to find out more about the most reputable rooms.
How to Deposit at Real Money Poker Sites
You have found a reputable room, decided on your stakes and game format, brushed up on your strategy knowledge – now it is time to make a deposit.
This is where some players get stuck. Internationally, you are spoiled for choice on poker deposit options. From the US, the methods available are more restricted. This section clears up the mystery, and shows you the options for getting your money on board:
US Deposit Options:
- Credit Cards: Even with the banking restrictions, you’ll be able to get money on board with your Visa, Amex or MasterCard a lot of the time.
- Prepaid Visa Cards: The type of cards you buy from convenience stores can be used to deposit at offshore poker sites (make sure you ask your site about brands before you buy one).
- Bitcoin: I’ll include several alternative cryptocurrencies here. These are a secure way of moving money around. Once you set up a wallet, you’ll be able to make payments and get withdrawals as often as you like. Depositing on gambling sites with cryptocurrency is becoming more and more popular.
- Money Transfer: Use established companies like Western Union to wire money to a site, an individual will collect this on your behalf.
- Wire Transfer: This can be used in both directions for larger amounts of money. You will need to work with your poker site on this one – which is often reserved for high-rollers.
- Cashier Check: Usually used to withdraw your winnings, some sites will accept checks for deposits. This method is slow, though reliable.
International Deposit Options:
In addition to the options used by online poker sites for US players, players outside the US can deposit and withdraw with the following methods. Note that not every poker room has every method.
- Debit Cards: In addition to credit cards, Debit cards are popular deposit options. Visa, MasterCard. Amex, Via Electron, Discover and Maestro brands can be used.
- PayPal: Only the biggest and best brands accept PayPal. This can be used for both deposits and withdrawals.
- Other eWallet Brands: There are many services similar to PayPal, which are more widespread as poker deposit and withdrawal options. These include Skrill, Neteller and Trustly.
- Virtual Credit Cards: Some services offer you a virtual credit card. This is an online account, which allows you to deposit via your bank, then spend with a card. Examples include EcoPayz.
- Voucher Services: Prepaid vouchers which you buy from convenience stores can be used to deposit. The best-known example here is PaySafeCard.
- Mobile Payment Options: Apple Pay can now be used to deposit at online poker sites.
There are many more when you get down to the individual country level. These include payment gateways and local bank transfer options.
Wrapping Up: Real Money Online Poker
Online poker is a mature product these days, with a lot of choice for players – and a lot of easy ways to get money on board (and winnings out!).
If you are moving from play-money or kitchen-table poker for the first time, you do need to be aware of the skill gap. Real money US online poker is competitive, and the skills used to beat play-money games will not be anywhere near good enough to beat these games. I recommend enjoying the games – and treating them as a learning experience while you build your strategy knowledge.
Most poker rooms offer bonuses for new real money players, which will give your bankroll an instant boost.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Poker Site
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 real money poker sites, it becomes tough to decide which one of them is the right one for you. In order to find a reliable & safe poker site that caters to your needs, you should consider the following –
Player Traffic: Player traffic helps determine whether the poker site 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 website is quite popular among players. The more players there are; the better will be the prize pools.
Software: 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 gameplay, 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 gameplay are some of the major considerations when deciding on signing up at a poker site.
Bonuses & Promotions: Promotions are extremely common at the top online poker sites for real cash. 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.
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 opponent’s 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 a 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 by best to worst hand.
Poker Hand Hierarchy
|Poker Hand Name||Cards in Hand|
|Royal Flush||A, K, Q, J, 10 in the 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|
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. Most poker sites for real cash 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.
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.