Online Poker Explained

Online poker is the internet version of the traditional card game, which has been around for a long time. However, the game’s popularity skyrocketed in the 21st century, in no small part thanks to the gambling industry’s online expansion. 

Several decades ago, the first poker sites began to emerge from the depths of the internet, and nowadays, it’s impossible to imagine a time when such sites didn’t exist. The number of people coming into contact with this game for the first time online is rising. Additionally, countless players have only ever played poker over the internet.

If the idea of playing online poker games sounds attractive but you’re unsure of where to start, we welcome you to our comprehensive guide below. The information in our guide is helpful for players who have never played poker before and those who have never played online. Let’s begin.

What Is Online Poker?

Online poker is the internet form of traditional poker. Poker is among the few casino games based on skill and not luck. Consequently, players’ opponents are each other and not the dealer (casino), which has numerous implications on the game. However, playing this game online comes with multiple benefits over traditional games played in land-based casino venues. 

One of the most significant benefits has to do with the practicality of enjoying poker games from your home’s comfort and at your leisure. Instant access is another advantage, as well as the significantly more extensive game selection.

What’s The Difference Between Standard And Online Poker?

On the one hand, standard poker represents the traditional card game played in land-based casinos or among friends in a real-life setting. In other words, you can play standard poker against real opponents in both a brick-and-mortar casino and at home. 

You can even play this game in a Live Casino via HD streaming. The difference between real-life play and playing in a Live Casino is that real-life play usually involves visiting a casino, using real cards, and sitting at a real poker table. Playing Live Casino poker is done virtually but in real-time. You use a device to stream the game and give a dealer instructions on how to move your cards.

On the other hand, online poker is a game you play against the casino, and the most popular type of such games are video poker games. The machine is your opponent in such games, and you play against the software (random number generator). 

However, there is a crucial difference between playing against live opponents and playing against software. When you play against a live opponent, you can employ various strategies to increase your winning odds. Playing against live opponents means participating in a skill-based game, making it possible to win by making different choices and decisions. 

When you play against software (such as in video poker games), you cannot use strategies because you’re participating in a luck-based game. Luck-based casino games feature the odds stacked in favor of the house and against the player. Therefore, playing virtual poker means the odds are against you, and the house always wins in the long run. Whenever possible, we recommend playing against other players online to maximize your chances of winning.

Types Of Online Poker

Playing poker over the internet is so popular that numerous variants developed from the original game of poker. Some of these variants represent the online form of land-based poker games (such as Texas Hold ’em, for example). Indeed, Texas Hold ’em is so popular it has become synonymous with the term “regular poker.” You’ll find this variant at almost every online casino, but this variation of the game is just the tip of the iceberg. 

Furthermore, keep in mind that all poker games feature numerous consistent rules. However, variants such as Seven-card stud, Omaha, and Texas Hold ’em also have vital differences you’ll need to learn when playing each one. Here’ more insight into each of these popular types of online poker. 

Texas Hold ’em

As previously mentioned, this variant is the quintessential poker type that countless generations of online gambling enthusiasts enjoy. You’ll need between two and ten players to play the so-called “Cadillac of Poker.” Additionally, traditional poker rankings apply to this game, and your goal is to create the best five-card poker hand. But, compared to draw poker, Texas Hold ’em features a different way of constructing players’ hands.

Every player receives two hole cards (two cards dealt face down) in this game. During the following rounds, the dealer deals five more cards face up in the middle of the table. Since each player uses the face-up cards to create a five-card poker hand, these cards also have the name “community cards.

There are three stages during which the dealer deals the five community cards. These stages are the flop (the first three community cards), the turn (just one card), and the river (the final card). Players observe the seven total cards (five community and two hole cards) to assemble the best five-card poker hands. All card combinations (between the hole and community cards) are available for creating the best possible five-card hand).

The exciting part of Texas Hold ’em is that the lone remaining player can win the pot without showing any cards if the betting causes all other players to fold. Consequently, winning the pot doesn’t always require having the best hand. In other words, you can bluff and get other players to fold better hands than yours. However, if you reach the showdown with one or more players after there is no more betting, having the highest-ranking five-card hand is the only way to win.

Omaha Poker

If Texas Hold ’em is the alpha of online poker games, then Omaha poker is the omega. Although the rules are slightly different, this poker variant is just as famous and exists as a derivate of Texas Hold ’em. After successfully mastering Hold ’em tactics, many players find studying Omaha to be a natural next step. 

The similarities between these two variants are numerous. For example, Omaha also uses community cards because it is a flop game. Additionally, Omaha players similarly receive hands face down and combine them with the five community cards to create the best hand.

But the main difference is that Omaha players receive four hole cards, while they only receive two in Hold ’em. To make their five-card hands, players must choose two of their hole cards to go with three of the five community cards. 

Simultaneously, this rule marks another crucial difference between the two variants. Omaha players must use three community cards and two hole cards to build a poker hand. On the other hand, Hold ’em rules allow players to use both hole and three community cards, one hole and four community cards, and no hole and five community cards (also known as “playing the board”). 

Seven-Card Stud

Unlike the previous two variants, the seven-card stud has a minimum of two players and a maximum of eight. In the olden days, one had to learn seven-card stud if they were looking to learn poker and memorize the basic poker rules (before Hold ’em became king). 

Players from the United States witnessed the rise of seven-card stud in the days before Hold ’em went through a popularity boom. One of the most significant differences between seven-card stud and the other previously mentioned variants is that there is no flop in seven-card stud. There are no community cards at all in this poker variant, making it easy to learn as an entry-level poker game. 

A typical seven-card stud game goes as follows: each player receives two face-down cards, and a third one faces up. The face-down cards are the “hole” cards, and the third face-up card is the “door” card. A player decides whether or not to continue with the hand based on the combination of the three cards. When playing seven-card stud, the starting hand selection is crucial, and this aspect is identical to any poker variation. 

Every player receives seven cards, four of which are face up and three face down. The player must choose their best five-card combination out of the seven-card pool. The game also features identical hand rankings to those in Omaha or Texas Hold ’em. In other words, the worst hand is the high card hand (no pair), and the best combination is a royal flush.

Real Money Vs. Free Poker

When transitioning from free to real money online poker games, most inexperienced players mistakenly believe the two are identical. However, they soon realize there are crucial differences between playing money games and challenging real money poker. 

One of these challenges includes different difficulty levels. For instance, if you’ve never played real money games, don’t feel surprised to learn that it is much more challenging to play even the lowest limit real money game compared to a play money one. Most players don’t bother using strategies when fooling around with play money games. Additionally, such players generally don’t care about winning or losing, play every hand they get, and throw all chips in the middle of the table simply to see a big showdown.

However, the situation changes when there is real money on the line. Generally speaking, no one throws money around without reason, including the worst players. In other words, everyone is trying their best to gain an edge. Additionally, online poker features a fundamental rule: opponents’ mistakes generate long-term profit. Therefore, players who are trying to play their best earn enormous profits whenever play money players make big mistakes. 

Additional Differences

One must also consider the rake when comparing these two types of poker. On the one hand, you come out on top even if you play heads up against an equally skilled opponent in a play money game. However, playing against a similarly skilled opponent in a real money game means you both lose because of the rake. The rake is a small portion of the pot that the poker rook keeps as a profit from every real money hand. Therefore, an average real money player will end up as the loser because of the rake, where an average play money player will tend to break even over time. 

Also, real money poker players are generally more courteous than free poker game players. The reason is that real money gaming means that players concentrate on the game by taking it more seriously. Simultaneously, real money games are slower-paced than free poker games because players often take the time to think about their decisions. On the other hand, such pauses rarely occur in play money games. 

Because real money players feel the effects of losing and winning more intensely, emotions play a more significant role in real games. Therefore, compared to their free game counterparts, real money players care much more about playing – and winning. Such a high level of care surfaces in everything from players’ attitudes to their playing style. If you’re looking for a genuine poker experience, you’ll generally find that real money poker is much more intense, fun, and exciting than free games.

How To Choose The Best Online Poker Room

You’ll find countless different online poker rooms to choose from, but such a vast selection can make things challenging. There are different methods for making your decision easier, one of which is to consider various indicators. 

For example, reviews are an excellent place to start because they reveal past players’ experiences and provide invaluable insight. When performing such research, remember to use more than one site to get a clear picture of a poker room’s strengths and weaknesses. Additionally, the type of competition on a particular site is also a vital factor. Look for sites with a beginner level of the table if you’re a learner to avoid feeling demotivated in your first game.

An easy-to-use and appealing interface is another factor that can help you choose a poker room more easily. Beginner players often feel apprehensive about stepping out of their comfort zone, and an intuitive interface can help them relax. Poker training tools are equally critical for novice poker enthusiasts and more experienced punters looking to improve their skills. These tools can include anything from advanced strategies for professional players to tutorials for beginner players.

Customer support is the cornerstone of every online business, including poker rooms. No matter how good a site is, issues will arise sooner or later. A dedicated customer support team should be available to resolve trivial and more severe questions quickly and effectively. Since typical online gambling issues involve payment problems, you should only choose entirely secure websites. 

Another thing to look for is the amount of traffic. The more traffic a poker room has, the better, and you should avoid sites with very few players. Instead, choose poker sites with a consistent flow of poker enthusiasts.

Poker Apps And Mobile Play

Smartphone casino gaming is slowly but surely taking over the mainstream gaming industry, with numerous rising trends like smartwatch gaming. Regardless, using your mobile device to enjoy your favorite online poker game provides players with two gaming methods: browser-based gaming and playing poker through dedicated apps. 

While browser-based gaming is preferred for most, you’ll also find numerous reputable poker apps available across different markets. The main classification includes real money and free poker apps, and both have iOS and Android apps. Below you’ll find a number of our favorites from both categories. 

Real money poker apps: 

  • Unibet Poker app
  • GG Poker app
  • 888 Poker app.

Free poker apps:

  • World Poker Club
  • Appeak Poker
  • Zynga Poker.

Unibet Poker App

If you’re a novice online poker enthusiast, you’ll have plenty of time to get your bearings with this app. The Unibet poker app offers numerous promotions and welcome bonuses, straightforward gaming on your mobile device, and many games.

GG Poker App

iPhone and Android phones feature an almost identical share in using the GG Poker app. But, remember that you’ll need to download the app directly from the poker site if you have an iOS device. The app’s advanced software is one of its best features, along with PokerCraft – a stats feature allowing players to get a hand analysis. This app also features multi-tabling options.

888 Poker App

This poker app shares its parent online casino website’s stellar and global reputation. Thanks to a trustworthy and established platform, the 888 app is an excellent choice for beginner and experienced poker lovers. The numerous Texas Hold ’em games are the best-known feature of this app, with additional points for 24/7 availability. Customer support is also available non-stop, and the app is eCOGRA certified.

World Poker Club

This app’s gesture system separates World Poker Club from other poker apps. Aside from the standard check/bet/fold buttons, you’ll also notice touch-based gestures for each of these actions. For instance, flicking up means fold, holding down, and slowly dragging up will cause the raise slider to appear, and a double-tap means to check/call.

Appeak Poker

If you’re looking for an enjoyable and hassle-free in-app gaming experience, we recommend Appeak Poker. The play now feature is the most prominent aspect of this app, and players can enjoy MTTs, Double-Ups, Bingo Bango, and Sit&Gos. Thanks to the Duel functionality feature, this app allows players to enjoy gaming while representing their country. If you want a bit of edge while playing poker, you can also access a competitive leaderboard.

Zynga Poker

If you’re on Facebook, you’ve probably gotten to know Zynga poker as the original game on this social network. However, the developers upgraded the app massively to build a superior free poker experience for online poker fans worldwide. No matter which app you choose, mobile poker gaming is an excellent choice any time of day. Good luck!