It doesn’t matter who you are, where you are or what your bankroll is, online poker is designed to be enjoyed by all kinds of players. Best of all, you don’t even have to walk into an actual casino to enjoy the game. You can play for the smallest stakes or even free all from the comfort of home. All the casinos we review here at Handpicked Casinos offer different variants of poker. From video poker to Texas Hold’em, live dealer poker and all kinds of variations in between, you’re never short for some sort of fun poker experience online.
Getting Started with Online Poker
More important than your skill, level or bankroll is the online casino you choose to play at. Make sure you only pick a reputable and licensed site where you’re assured that the outcome of every game is fair and your banking and personal details are always safe. Also, make sure the poker games or rooms work for you, some sites are better suited to beginner poker players than others. Sites that appeal to newer players may offer loads of free money, easy cash games and plenty of other casual players to play with at the virtual tables.
Pick the Right Game for You
Once you’ve opened an account with an online casino, made a deposit and decided it’s poker you’re after, it’s time to pick the perfect game. Some casino lobby’s are full of big stakes and bright lights. Don’t let that confuse you. Poker is all about mastering the level you’re at right now. So, if you’ve never played before, start low and nail the lower-stakes levels first. If you’re more at tournament level, often the low buy-in Texas Hold’em tournaments have loads of casual players looking to enjoy the game.
Try Out Freerolls First
Look through our list of recommended online casinos and you’ll quickly find that many of them run regular freerolls promotions offering player points or extra cash. You don’t need to pay to enter, and these freerolls are an excellent way to learn the ins and outs of online poker or dip your toes into a new poker site. Don’t view freeroll tournaments as a way of making big profits but do use them as a great way to hone your skills and get used to playing with other people.
Find Your Way Around the Screen
Once you’ve decided which poker variant to play, it’s time to find your bearings. There can be lots going on at an online poker table that sometimes it’s easy to lose your way. Most sites have different software to each other, but the layout is pretty much the same. You’ll find a chat box in a bottom corner where you can follow the action and chat with other players. There’s also commonly links to the cashier as well as the hand history at the top of the page and a betting adjuster at the bottom of the page. Play around with everything before you even start playing and familiarise yourself with the jargon. The hand history tab, especially, is handy when you want to check out past hands or see what hands opponents have failed with.
Learn the Basic Rules of Texas Hold’em
You don’t need to become a World Series champ to get ahead in online poker, but it is good to learn a few moves like decent hand selection, bluffs and continuation bets.
Texas Hold’em is certainly the most popular poker choice the world over. It’s fast, fun and easy to get the hang of. But we all need a few pointers. Firstly, Hold’em is a variant played with anywhere from 2 to 10 players at a table. Each player gets 2 cards in the hold that are hidden from everyone else’s eyes.
The aim is to make the best 5-card hand formed with any of the 5 two-hole cards and 5 community cards that are dealt face up and placed in the middle of the table. Betting rounds happen before the first 3 cards are deal – called a pre-flop, and then after flop (post-flop). More betting takes place after the fourth card is dealt (the turn) and also after the fifth card has been dealt (the river) which is the final round of betting.
If there are 2 or more players still in the game at the end, a showdown happens, and the best hand takes the prize. Overall, the bets run from the dealer in a clockwise rotation. The first two rounds of betting are called forced bets, or the Small Blind and the Big Blind. The blinds increase during the tournament to bring the game to a conclusion.
Betting Size and Hand Selection
The next thing to learn is how to gauge your bets. There’s usually a bar at the bottom of the screen to size your bets. Some online casinos will let you programme automatic bets to make decision-making that much easier, and also helpful when playing multiple tables at a time.
With the basic Hold’em version, you should stick to betting amounts. It makes it harder for opponents to gauge you and makes your decisions easier.
A good play to opt for is a raise of 3 times the game’s big blind if you have a strong hand. It’s not particularly high to force you to make a decision for all your remaining chips, but also not so low as to attract attention. This move often forces out most players in a hand so you can concentrate on taking on just one or two players after the flop.
One of the most important things in any online poker game is to know when to fold. If you think you're beaten, toss in those cards. Patience always pays out.
Hand selection is another important poker element, especially when you’re first learning to play.
In a game of Hold’em, you need to raise with strong pairs, like pairs of 10s, Kings, Queens, Jacks or Aces along with suited connectors like Ace-King or King-Queen.
Play Multiple Tables
Once you’ve got the hang of the basics, consider playing multiple tables. All online casinos let you play more than one table at a time.
Making long-term profits in poker comes down to volume, and the more hands you fit in per hour, the more cash you can make.
Try a Sit’N’Go
Before you jump right in at the deep end, try a Sit ‘n’ Go, which is ideal for getting a feel for the game. With this kind of tournament, you will experience around an hour of intense competitive poker play to see whether or not you’ll enjoy the game.
Take It Slow
Online poker is no casual game. You need to decide on bets on the fly and under pressure. Pace yourself. Work your way up to tournaments with dozens of hands by starting in practice mode with low limit games. In fact, we recommend playing free games while you hone your skills.
Know the Ranks
To win at poker, you need certain ranks. These include:
- Four of a kind
- Straight flush – five cards in a row of the same suit
- Full house – 3 cards of a kind plus two of another kind
- Flush – 5 cards from the same suit
- Straight – five cards in a row but not of the same suit
- Two pairs – two of one kind and two of another
- A pair
If a player has hands of the same type, the player with higher card rank wins the round.
Types of Online Poker Games
Online poker comes in an abundance of variants. Common online poker games include:
- Limit vs. No Limit
- Seven Card Stud
- Tournament Poker
- Live Dealer Poker
- Video Poker
- Sit ‘n’ Go tournaments
- Single player games
- Multiple tables
- Texas Hold’em
- 2-7 Triple Draw
- Chinese Poker
Online Poker – The Bottom Line
Online poker is a game you can master with practice and the tips we’ve given you in this guide. It’s really a matter of trial and error to figure out which variety of poker suits your style and bankroll. The best way to start playing poker online is in practice mode for free so you don’t have to risk your money as you learn your way around the tables.
Once you’ve got the hang of it, find an attractive online casino bonus that will boost your playing funds and give you the chance to play for a little longer. To get you started, take a look through our list of recommended online casinos that offer many different poker variants for you to play around with.
When you’re ready, join the tournaments, try out the live dealer games and remember to never wager more than you can comfortably afford to lose.
With so many different types of online poker to play, you’re sure to find the perfect version of you and your playing preferences! All that’s left to do is pick a reputable online casino, open a new player account and pick your poker preference.