How to Play Online Poker
Poker is a mathematical game that involves both skill and luck. Unlike most casino games, online poker is played against other players and not the casino. Meaning if you are better than the other people at the table you should expect to make a nice profit.
The casino takes a small rake of around 5% per hand and lets you slug it out with other real life players to see who is king of the table.
The rules of poker
There are several variants of poker but this article will focus solely on Texas Hold’em, as it is the most popular and most played form of the game. Texas Hold’em can be played heads up which is 1v1, at a ‘6-max’ table which has 6 seats, or a ‘full-ring’ table which has either 9 or 10 seats.
A typical hand of poker plays as follows:
Cards dealt – Every person at the table is dealt two cards which cannot be seen by anyone else. Cards are dealt clockwise from the left of the dealer button.
Blinds posted – The two sets next to the dealer will post blinds to encourage action. The player directly to the left of the dealer will post a ‘small blind’. The player two seats to the left will post the ‘big blind’.
Pre-flop action – Starts with the player sitting left of the big blind. The player has three options, they are:
Call – to match the big blind
Raise – which increases the size of the pot.
Fold – give up their hand and not put any chips into the pot
All players at the table will have the same decision to make. The hand will end if everyone folds except for one player (the winner of the hand). If the raise has been called by at least one player we go to the flop. We also go to the flop if someone has called without any further raises taking place.
Flop – The flop involves three cards which are placed face up on the table. These cards are known as ‘community cards’ and can be used by every player still in the pot to make a ranking hand.
Players will have the option to check, bet, raise, call or fold depending on the action.
Turn and river– The turn card is shown if two or more players are still in the hand. The same options are presented to each player as the flop. If two or more players are still left in the hand, the river card is dealt where players are given the same betting options.
Showdown – If two or more players make it to the showdown, they turn over their cards and the strongest hand wins the pot.
The hand rankings listed below work for all forms of poker except for games that provide ‘Hi-Lo’ variants. Hands are listed from strongest to weakest.
Royal Flush/Straight flush – The best hand you can make is a royal flush. This is A,K,Q,J,T all in the same suit. A straight flush is any other running combination in the same suit and sequence.
Four of a kind – As the name suggest, this hand has four cards that are of the same value. AAAA is the highest four of a kind with 2222 being the lowest.
Full house – A full house is three cards of the same value alongside two other cards of the same value. If both players have full houses, the higher full house takes the pot. For example AAA222 beats QQQKK.
Flush –5 cards which are of the same suit.
Straight – 5 cards of any suit that make a 5 card sequence. For example 2,3,4,5 or 8,9,T,J,Q.
Three of a kind – Three cards of the same value. For example KKK or 888.
Two pair – two different card ranks that make up a pair. For example AA22 or 6655.
One pair – One card that matches another. For example JJ or 55.
High card– When you failed to make a hand, the highest ranking card in your hand or on community cards is your strongest hand.
The higher the rank of card the better the hand. For example a pair of aces will beat a pair of kings, and three of a kind 8s will beat three of a kind 4s.
The ace can be used as a high and low. If you play online, have this site open to keep your hand rankings on hand or print the picture below.
Online poker stakes
All online casinos that provide online poker will have a number of different stakes for you to play at. Whether you want to play a $0.10 tournament or a cash game with $10,000 stacks at the table – you can.
There are two types of games that poker casinos offer, they are:
Cash games – Range from $2 buy ins all the way up to the nosebleeds ($5,000+). Each chip on the table represents a dollar amount. If you win a pot for $50 dollars you have just won $50.
Tournaments – Work by you paying an entry fee and been given a number of chips. These chips do not represent actual money but are used to place you on a leader board. Your aim in tournaments is to be the last player standing to scoop first place.
Most tournament structures pay out 10% of the prize pool. So in a 100 player tournament, the players who finish in the final 10 will receive a cash prize.
If you want to test your poker skills against other real life players then online poker is the way to go. Poker is one of the few games where you can buy in for $1 and leave $100,000.
To find out the best online poker casinos, each casinos listed in this article offers plenty of options and unique signup bonuses if you create a poker account today.
Shuffle up and deal!