How To Play Online Poker – The Ultimate Guide

At first playing online poker may seem daunting, it actually doesn’t need to be. It is, in many ways, a simple card game that can be learned in minutes. Winning however might take a little longer.

“Poker takes five minutes to learn but a lifetime to master”, said Mike Sexton, Poker Hall of Fame member with over $6.7 million in live tournament winnings to his name. And, of course, he is absolutely correct too.

The card game of Poker has a long and fascinating history and has been referenced in the 10th century China as well as old-time tales of the wild west to the card sharks and hustlers of sixties Vegas. Today poker is enjoying a whole new lease of life in the internet age where it is doing it better than ever. In this article, we provide a complete introductory guide, including everything you need to know to start playing online poker today.

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How To Play Online Poker – The Ultimate Guide

Online Poker Guide

(Image: Poker | © Tim Reckmann | Licence: CC BY 2.0)

Poker is one of the world’s most famous card games. It is also considered to be a complex and fun game, where success is earned by skill rather than luck. Each week of the year, million-dollar poker tournaments run with thousands of players in attendance, professionals and amateurs alike. Some of these are designed for high rollers and others for low stakes players. You can tell the different tournaments apart by their buy-in and prize pool. The highlight of live poker’s year is the World Series of Poker (WSOP) that takes place every May in Las Vegas and runs until July.

With 2001’s famous online poker boom when, for those that don’t know, an amateur player and full-time accountant from Atlanta named Chris Moneymaker qualified for the WSOP Main Event through an $86 online satellite before winning the whole event for $2.5 million, came an explosion in online payers who thought they could pull off a similar feat.

The Internet revolution meant that poker players who were looking for tables to play but couldn’t get to a casino now had the chance to join games from home, and in the last 20 years, the industry has evolved so much that it is now responsible for at least 10% of the incomes of major gambling networks, a percentage that’s growing.

Playing online poker is as simple as joining a poker room, making a deposit, receiving your cards, and start fighting for the pots.

 

 

Different Online Poker Variants

Texas Hold’em

In Texas Hold'em, you are dealt 2 hole or pocket cards and there are 4 rounds of betting that each precedes a card reveal. Firstly, players make their blind bets before any community cards have been revealed. This is referred to as pre-flop. When all bets are in, the first three community cards are revealed, this is known as the flop. By now, players have 5 cards to pick from and have a better understanding of their likelihood of winning the hand. Another round of betting ensues before we reach the Turn, where the fourth card is added to the middle, before betting once more prior to the River, the final card reveal. The aim of the games is to make the best five-card combination using any of your 2-hole cards and any of the 5 communities. Or, if your best possible hand is really weak, make it look like you have a strong hand by bluffing.

Omaha Hi-Lo

In Omaha Hilo, each player is dealt with four-hole cards while five community cards are dealt face-up on the table. Like Hold’em, players use exactly two cards from their pocket cards to combine with community cards to form a winning hand. Unlike Hold’em they have four-hole cards to choose from and MUST use exactly half of them. The pot is then divided between the best hand for high and the best hand for low.

Sit and Go’s

Sit and go’s are popular modern online games that come in Hold’em and Omaha editions. They are usually played six-handed and start as soon as all players have bought in. They are single table mini-tournaments whose prize pool is determined by the size of the buy-in.

Jackpot Sit And Go’s

Jackpot sit and go’s are exactly the same as above except that, before play takes place, a spinner decides the prize pool which can be as much as 10-100 times the buy-in. Note, all poker rooms offer their own take on this, the most common among the bookmakers being iPoker’s Twist. In some rooms, players can buy-in for £100 and play for £1,000,000 if the spinner hits the jackpot.

All-in Flip Tournaments

With all-in tourneys, the luck element is re-introduced to poker. The game’s mechanic is such that players are dealt their cards before the computer chucks all player chips into the middle. This keeps on repeating until a winner is found. In some cases, such as in the jackpot sit and go game Blast from 888poker, players have to play under a timed countdown before the game switches to all-in play.

Knock Out Bounty Games

You will find some Multi Table Tournaments (MTT) and Sit & Go tournaments at poker rooms where the prize money is divided between adding to the prize pool and being used to put money on another player’s – or your own – head. This effectively means that you or they have a bounty on your head and whoever knocks you out claims that bounty as an added income from the game.

The Big Blind

(Image: The Big Blind | © Poker Photos | Licence: CC BY 2.0)

Where To Play Online Poker

The first thing you need to do is to choose an online poker room. Many of the popular bookmakers like bet365, William Hill, Coral, Ladbrokes, Betfred, Paddy Power, Dafa Bet, Boyle Sports and Betfair, all play on the same iPoker network. While Grosvenor are signed up to Microgaming’s MPN network,

888poker, part of 888holdings, however, runs its own, very highly rated, poker platform, as do Unibet.

As you can see, most bookies offer online poker in their portfolio and in most cases it is very easy to use your account balance for Poker. It is also very easy to make a deposit using any method you prefer such as e-wallets, credit or debit cards, etc. With your account ready to go (verified, deposit ready), you'll need to visit the lobby where you'll find the tables to join.

 

Blinds, Stakes, Bets

In the lobby, you'll see different formats like we outlined above, such as Texas Hold'em and Omaha HiLo. Then you have your limits, such no limit or pot limit. These can be seen in the way your game is listed in the lobby, i.e. NLHE means that the game will be No Limit Hold’em, while PLO donates Pot Limit Omaha. Then, we have stakes, $0,25/$0,50 which is NL50 for example.

Limits

This is related to the maximum bet you can place during a hand. If the table is No-Limit, you can, if you so wish, go all-in and put all your chips into the centre of the table anytime. However, when playing Pot Limit, players can bet up to the total amount already put in the pot.

Stakes

The small blinds and big blinds are enforced bets at the start of the hand before players know the first three community cards (pre-flop). Which player makes the big blind and which player makes the small blind is dependent on where they are sitting in relation to that hand’s dealer. Blinds represent the minimum bets at the table, and in some games are related to the maximum buy-in you can make. For example, an NL$1/$2 table refers to a No-Limit game with a minimum bet of $2.

What is interesting about poker is that not always the player with the best hand wins. There is always the possibility to bluff an opponent. This means to lead your opponents to believe you have the best hand. This bluff is usually transmitted by your actions and behaviour.

Poker Hand Strengths

HandDescription
Royal FlushThe strongest hand in poker, consisting of Ten, Jack, Queen, King and Ace, all from the same suit.
Straight FlushThe straight flush is composed of five consecutive cards of the same suit.
Four of a kindFour of a kind is made up of four cards of the same rank such as tens.
Full HouseA full house is a combination of two other hands, three of a kind and a pair.
FlushFive cards of the same suit make a flush.
StraightFive consecutive cards are called a straight.
Three of a kindA three of a kind includes three cards of the same rank.
Two-pairTwo pair hands are composed of two separate pairs.
PairA pair is simply two cards of the same rank.
High cardIf you don't even have a pair, then all you have is a high card, the highest solitary card in your hand.

 

Best Tips For Becoming a Poker Pro

These days, many people consider making a full time living out of playing poker professionally. There are many online resources out there allowing you to study the game strategies and apply advanced maths to your games in order to become a poker pro. Keep in mind that playing online poker as a job can be stressful as downswings are common in this career so you'll need to be ready psychologically to face these situations. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to maximise your chances of success.

Set Up Your Work/Play/Grind Station

Generally speaking, playing online poker doesn’t necessarily require a powerful PC. At least at first. Once you begin to play multiple tables or install third-party software you might want to look into upgrading to a gamer’s PC with plenty of RAM and up to date graphics cards. The size of your monitor isn’t too important, don’t get bogged down looking for a huge screen, especially as a good grinding station will require more than one. Instead, pay more attention to screen resolution and whether or not it is HD. Keyboards are not as critical as other items in your set up, but remember that MTTs can go on for hours so comfort is key. Other than that, make sure your Wi-Fi is the best possible and that you have back up as well as your perfect desk and the correct chair for the job which basically means that you want it comfortable and supportive.

Shout Out All Distractions

Once you have set up your perfect grinding station, make sure it is free from distractions and is as quiet as possible. Of course, music is fine in the same ways that many live poker players take to the tables wearing earphones. They shut out diversions, such as other players fiddling with their chips, trash talking or some other distraction. Back at your home station, music could shut out personal distractions like TV, kids, pets or other members of your family.

Eat, Drink and Sleep

Many people regard poker as a mind sport, not unlike chess for employing planning and strategies. For those that do, and those that don’t yet, it is worth giving some thought to your diet as it will play a big role in any success you might go on to enjoy. Food, nourishment and nutrition are all important factors if you are to last long in a long running tourney. Preferably, start the day with a breakfast rich in both protein and carbohydrates and sticking to foods with a low glycaemic index such as eggs, beans, grain, whole rice, and of course vegetables, seafood and lean meat. It also goes without saying that you should always stay hydrated and the best way to do this is by sticking to good old fresh water.

 

UK Poker Legalities

The UK possesses some of the most liberal attitudes to gambling in the world and this extends to laws. So long as you are 18 or older, save for lotto where you can play at 16, you are legally allowed to play in a live casino, online casino, play bingo, poker and have a bet on your favourite sporting event.

 

Tax Free Winnings?

In the UK, all poker wins are tax free. Indeed, all gambling winnings, be they sports betting, casino, lottery or bingo, do not need to be declared. This is not true in the United States and other territories, however. The UK currently makes gambling winnings exempt from taxation, because tax has already been paid on the earnings used to wager money.

 

How To Play Online Poker FAQs

✋ Is My Personal Information Safe And Secure at Online Poker Sites?

Yes, of course. In most cases, these are the same operators you have been safely betting with over the years, using all the same encryption-based security features.

💡 I’m New to Online Poker, Can I Practise in Free Play First?

Yes you can absolutely play in free mode first to get the hang of things, it won't take you long.

📈 Which Games Will I Be Able to Play at These Poker Sites?

At these online poker sites, you can play many of the games we have listed above. Remember that different rooms have different names for their games, but these are all basically the same, or at least similar.

💸 What Online Poker Room Should I Join?

That is really entirely up to you. Some people are looking for soft rooms where there may be less skilled opponents at the table. If you are still learning your game, then you don’t want to be a fish (chum for the more skilled players) and will want to look out for sharks (skilled players looking for a meal, don’t let it be you).

 

 

ThePuntersPage Final Say

Online poker is only a few clicks away if you already place bets on sports events. It's a fun and exciting game, and as a probability game, it will undoubtedly help you improve your knowledge about odds and other vital concepts. After a few sessions, you'll have the feeling that you were ready to play poker your entire life.