Poker is a card game played by millions of people across the world every day. The growth and evolution of online poker has increased the amount of poker games significantly. It is now easier than ever to join a poker game from any location, at any time. Whether you’re looking to play for fun, for small change, or to win big, there are a host of different ways you can play poker.
The biggest emerging trend is in online poker. The flexibility and convenience of playing online , as well as the regulations and winnings on offer make it the most exciting space for poker players worldwide.
If you want to learn more about poker, in particular online poker, then this, the ultimate online poker FAQ page compiled by Borgata casino, specialists in online poker, is for you. You’ll find out how to play poker like a seasoned pro, with an introduction to poker terms, an overview of the different types of poker, the poker rules involved and the best poker practice to improve your game. This will help you know which poker games you’d be interested in. It will also help you refine your game and find a poker strategy to help you win big.
You’ll also find a comprehensive explanation of the world of online poker. We’ll have a look at the history of online poker, the differences between online and offline poker, and the best online safety tips. This will help you to navigate the online space as a poker player who knows how to win at poker.
We’ve also included a list of the most frequently asked questions about online poker. This section will help put your mind at ease when it comes to online poker safety and security. It will also help to know what the best way to play online poker is, and how to avoid common mistakes. These FAQs are a one-stop shop for all your online poker adventures!
Introduction to poker
To play poker well, you need to first understand the core principles of the game. While poker has a reputation for being difficult to understand, the basics are actually quite simple. It may take longer to learn than Blackjack, but that’s because the game has far more nuances. Poker only truly becomes more complex when you start to learn about the different strategies and versions of poker.
This section will give you a clear and thorough introduction to poker. This will include the origins of poker, the different poker hands, and an understanding of how poker games are set up.
Origins of poker
The exact roots of poker may differ depending on who you speak to. Some say it originated in ancient China, while others believe it started in Persia. Either way, there is no doubt about how our current iteration of poker found its way into being.
The French had a game in the 17th century called Poque. This game involved three cards per player, and a lot of bluffing and betting on the strength of your hand. This game was brought to New Orleans by the French in the 18th century, and then Anglicized and evolved into five-card Poker in the 19th century.
The game was very popular in Mississippi on the trade boats, and with soldiers during the American Civil War. While news of the game spread to Europe gradually, it only reached its worldwide fame during World War 1. The American soldiers brought the game to the trenches and with that poker was spread to the world.
What is the objective of the game of poker?
The objective of the game is to win the pot. The pot is, more often than not, money, but it could be any accepted items used to bet in the game. To win the pot, you need to have the strongest hand, or to be the only remaining active player in the round. Each player would wage their bet on the strength of their hand, even if they are pretending that it is strong.
How do you play poker?
Poker rules differ in the different variants of poker games, but there are basic set of holistic rules that govern how to play poker. The game will generally use the 52-card pack, potentially including the joker cards as wildcards.
The designated dealer will deal cards to each player. Clockwise, each player will place their bets for the round based on the strength of the cards in their hand. Each player has the option to call, raise or fold. To call is to match the current bet that has been placed for the round. To raise is to match the current bet and increase it for each player involved in the current round. To fold is to surrender the bet that you’ve made in the round and take no further part until the next hand is dealt.
Once the bets for the round are called and not raised further, the next round begins. Between each round the dealer will add cards for the players. The type of poker you’re playing will indicate how many cards are added per round. Once all the cards for the poker hands are dealt, and all the players have either called on a final bet amount or folded, the players reveal the cards in their hand. The player with the strongest hand wins the pot (the collective bets that were placed each round).
These rules are nuanced to each type of poker, but that is the general way that poker works. After each hand, a player can cash out and leave the game with the money they brought into the game or have won during the game. If a player runs out of money, they are out of the game. To this end, it is usually the last remaining player that wins the game. If you’re playing socially, you might call it quits at a certain time in the evening. The player with the most money left in the game will win overall.
What are the different types of poker?
There are many different types of poker that have come to the fore since the game travelled on the Mississippi and the battlefields of World War 1. Poker is played in bars, on boats, in casinos, on televised poker tournaments and online. The stakes can be small or euphorically high. What are the differences between some of the main types of poker? This section will give an overview of straight, stud, draw and community card poker.
This is a straightforward variant of poker where each player receives their five cards at the beginning of the round. Each player can then place their bets. As all the cards have been dealt, there is only one round. The winner is the player with the best hand, or if everybody else folds. This version of the game was popular during the American Civil War.
Due to all the poker cards being dealt at the beginning of a solitary round, there isn’t too much space for a complex poker strategy in the game. As a result, more nuanced variants of the game are played at poker tournaments and in casinos.
Stud poker gives rise to one of the most famous poker terms in popular culture: ace in the hole. So what is stud poker?. This type of poker is where players receive cards both face-up and face-down in rounds called streets. The face-up cards are visible for other players and the dealer to see. The face-down cards are called hole cards. It brings in an additional amount of poker strategy. You would need to be mindful of what chances your opponents would have of holding a better hand than you. The hole cards allow for you to also understand how much of a bluff would be believable.
Stud poker can be played with five, six, seven and even eight-card hands. One of the most popular variants of stud poker is Razz.
Razz differs from most poker games in that it is the lowest hand that wins the pot. The game rose to popularity in the early 20th century with the increased use of a 52 card deck as opposed to a 20 card deck. It was added as a poker game to the World Series of Poker in 1971.
Razz is usually played with a maximum of eight players. Each player can receive a maximum of seven cards. With these seven cards, each player will try to make as low scoring a hand as possible.
The game begins with each player receiving their two hole cards face-down, and one card face-up. The face-up card is called the door card. The player with the highest value door card will start the betting for the round. If all players have the same value door card, the value is ranked by suit. The ranking for highest to lowest is spades, hearts, diamonds and then clubs.
Once the first round of betting has been completed, each player who is still in the hand will receive another card, also facing up. Betting now begins with the lowest hand facing up, with the minimum bet increasing in the 6th round. In the seventh round, the final card is dealt face down. The 7th and final round begins with the same player who started the 6th round. Once all the bets are in, each player reveals their lowest possible five-card hand from their seven cards. The poker player with the lowest hand wins the pot.
In draw poker, each poker player is dealt their complete hand of cards at the beginning of the game. Each round, players have the opportunity to draw and replace the cards in their hand. Draw poker is the most common type of poker that is played at home with friends and family. With all the cards in each players hands unknown to you, it can be difficult to develop a strategy for your hand based on the cards in play.
Five-card draw is the most commonly-played draw poker game. It is often used as one of the easiest ways to learn poker. Due to the lack of strategy, the game is not often seen at poker tournaments or at a poker casino.
Five-card draw is played with a minimum of two or a maximum of eight players. The object of the game is to have the highest scoring hand at the end of the second round of betting to take the pot.
The game begins with each player putting in their ante. This is an entry bet to be part of the game. You can also play five-card draw with blinds. For blinds, the two players to the left of the dealer will have to put in their bets for the cards to be dealt. The person sitting on the immediate left of the dealer will be the small blind and the person sitting on their left will be the big blind. The big blind has to put in double what the small blind put in.
Once the bets are in for all the players, the cards are dealt. Five cards are dealt face-down to each player. Once everyone has had a look at their own cards, another round of betting ensues. The betting will begin with the person sitting to the left of the dealer, and go clockwise. Each player can call the bet, raise or fold. When playing with blinds, the first round betting will begin with the player sitting on the left of the big blind.
Once all bets for the first betting round are in, the draw round ensues. Starting with the player on the left of the dealer, each player has the opportunity to trade in some or all of their cards. They will give the dealer the cards they want to trade in, and the dealer will draw their new cards from the deck. If a player doesn’t want to trade any cards in, they ‘stand pat’. The player will remain in the game, with the cards they’ve been dealt.
Once every player has had an opportunity to exchange their cards, the second round of betting begins. Much like the first betting round, from the left of the dealer, each player will look at their cards and place an additional bet for their hand. Every player can check in the round and not increase their bet if they prefer not to. If one player increases their bet, the other players will need to call the bet or fold.
When all the bets are in, the showdown begins. Each player reveals their five-card hand and the poker player with the highest hand wins the pot.
Community card poker
Community card poker is a variation of stud poker. It is also known as flop poker. In community card poker each player receives an incomplete hand. These are your hole cards. The dealer then places a number of communal cards that all players can use to complete their hand. These cards are called the board. The board cards are usually dealt one per round. The players will use their hole cards and the communal board cards to build their hand.
The two most well-known community card poker games are Texas Hold’em and Omaha Hold’em. You’ll likely find both in a poker casino, making use of blinds rather than antes for the betting. At home you’ll likely play with an ante.
Texas Hold’em was originally conceptualized in the early parts of the 20th century in Texas. In the 1960s and 1970s it spread to casinos across the USA. It has been televised for many years at big tournaments. Camera angles give viewers a look at the hole cards of each player, which increases the suspense of live poker.
Texas Hold’em has also been extremely popular as an online poker game. Two of the winners of the World Series of Poker qualified for the tournament through online poker qualifying rounds.
A game of Texas Hold’em could make use of both an ante and blinds. If antes are used, each player will need to buy in to be able to receive their hand. Each player is dealt two hole cards face down. The jokers are removed from the deck of 52 cards. Starting with the small blind, a pre-flop round of betting ensues.
Once all the players have called, raised or folded, the dealer will deal the flop. The flop consists of three communal cards being placed face-up on the table, for all players to see. Once the flop has been dealt, the second round of betting will begin.
Once all the active players have called, raised or folded, the dealer will deal a single community card. This card is known as the fourth street or the turn card. After the fourth community card is placed, a third round of betting will begin.
The active players will have to call, raise or fold. If there are at least two active players remaining, the dealer will deal the fifth and final community card. This card is called the fifth street or the river. The fourth round of betting ensues.
If there is still more than one player active after the fourth round of betting, the game ends in a showdown. In the showdown, a player makes the best possible hand of five cards out of the seven cards at their disposal (their two hole cards and the five communal cards). The winner will take the pot.
Each player could use both, one, or none of their hole cards in their showdown hand. As a result, there is the chance of a tie. In this event, a kicker will be used to determine the winner. The kicker is the additional card that makes up the five-card hand. For example, if your five-card hand contains two sets of pairs and a single king, and your opponent has the same set of pairs and a single queen, you will win. The king is more valuable than the queen.
There are occasions when the kicker will be the same, resulting in a tie and a splitting of the pot. In Texas Hold’em, the suits aren’t ranked in value, only their numerical value.
Omaha Hold’em is similar to Texas Hold’em but has formed its own reputation in casinos as a game for poker players with strong-nerves. The main difference between Omaha Hold’em and Texas Hold’em is that each player is dealt four hole cards rather than two. Each round of betting, and how the community cards are revealed, is the same for both games – it is only at the showdown that the differences arise again.
The showdown in Omaha Hold’em requires each player to make their best possible hand using their four hole cards and the five community cards. There are additional rules for the showdown hand. Each player must use two of their hole cards and three of the community cards to make their showdown hand. You can not use more or less of either. This has permutations for the strength of a player’s showdown hand. Whereas in Texas Hold’em a player can use all of the community cards, a player must only use three of them and two of their hole cards.
With each player receiving four hole cards, the bets can mask big bluffs from players. As a result, a game of no-limit Omaha Hold’em can produce a very large pot.
Three card poker
Poker has continued to change with the times. In the 1990s a new version of poker was created call three card poker. It started being played in casinos from the mid 2000s. In this poker variant, you play against the dealer.
To begin the game a player must place an ante or pairs wager. A pairs wager is saying that you’re betting on at least getting a pair. Multiple players can play in the same round, however every player is only playing against the dealer. This is similar to Blackjack.
Once the ante is paid, each player receives three cards face-down, including the dealer. After viewing their own cards, the players have another opportunity to increase their bet or fold. The dealer also has the option to fold. If the dealer folds, the ante is paid to each player in full.
Should neither the player nor the dealer fold, the cards are revealed. Whoever has the stronger hand wins the pot. The ranking in three card poker differs from normal rankings in that a straight is more valuable than a flush. This is because it is more difficult to have a straight in your three cards than a flush.
The rankings in three card poker are:
Three of a kind
For the dealer, their hand needs to contain a queen or higher to play. If the dealer folds, they pay each player their ante. If they play and lose, they pay each player their ante and bet. Most poker casinos will pay out bonuses for very strong hands.
The game has a quick turnaround and can be a lot of fun. It is advised to follow the dealer’s example and only play on hands that contain a queen or higher.
What are the poker hand rankings?
It is essential to know the poker hand rankings for the game you’re playing. Whether you’re playing at home or in poker tournaments online, knowing your hand rankings will help you know how much to bet and when you should fold. It’s often the case that the best poker players are those who know when to fold. In the following sections, you will find the ultimate poker hands guide.
For the most part the poker hand rankings are consistent for straight, stud, draw and community card poker. There are variations for the value of the ace. The ace can either be limited to 1 in low scoring games, i.e lower than 2, or it can be higher ranked than a king in high scoring games. It is important to know how the ace is valued in the poker game you’re playing.
The general poker hand includes five cards. In a showdown, these five cards will determine whether or not you win the pot. As a result a ranking order for the strongest five card hand was determined. Some poker games will have their own specific rules that impact rankings, however for the most well-known poker games, the ranking is consistent.
In a 52-card deck, from highest to lowest, the rankings are as follows:
Four of a kind
Three of a kind
It is worth noting that if you’re using jokers as wildcards with your poker cards, the strongest hand is five of a kind, with the joker being the fifth card along with four of a kind. In three card poker, a straight is ranked higher than a flush because with three cards, it is more probable to get a flush than a straight.
Each of these rankings are explained in more detail in the following sections.
A straight flush is the highest ranking hand in poker, if you are playing without wildcards. To achieve a straight flush you need to have five cards of the same suit in sequential order.
If you’re playing high rules, an ace can operate as either higher than a king or lower than a two, but cannot be both in the same five card hand. For example, you can’t play a jack, queen, king, ace, two as a straight flush. It would need to end at the ace or begin with the ace.
If two players both have a straight flush, the pot will go to the player whose straight flush contains the highest ranking card. The sought-after royal flush is when you have a high ace flush, i.e ace, king, queen, jack, ten. This is the highest ranking hand in poker where no jokers are used in the deck.
Four of a kind
Four of a kind is a five card hand that contains four cards of one rank. The fifth card is called the kicker. This hand is also called ‘quads’ colloquially. It is weaker than a straight flush, but stronger than a full house.
A four of a kind hand is ranked by the rank of the four cards, i.e four queens is stronger than four jacks. If the rank of the four cards is equal between opponents, then the rank is decided by the rank of the kicker. For example, if both players have four queens, you would look to the rank of their fifth card to determine the winner.
If poker players in a showdown share the same rank for both their four of a kind and their kicker, the pot is shared as a tie. All suits are of equal rank.
A full house is when you can utilize all five of your cards in your play with three cards of one rank and two cards of another rank. It is also known as a full boat. It is weaker than four of a kind, but stronger than a flush.
A full house is ranked by the rank of its triplet, and then by its pair. The rank of the triplet is always considered first, even if the rank of the pair is higher than the triplet. For example, a hand of 4,4,4,2,2 is stronger than a hand of 3,3,3,K,K.
If both players share the same rank of triplet, the higher ranking pair will take the pot. If both the triplet and pair of opponents is of equal rank, the pot is shared as a tie. All suits are of equal rank.
A flush is a hand that contains five cards of the same suit but not in sequential order, for example five clubs, hearts, spades or diamonds. It is weaker than a full house, but stronger than a straight.
The cards do not need to be in a sequential order. A flush is ranked by the highest ranking card in the hand, then by the second, then the third, then the fourth and finally the fifth. If two players share a flush with all five of their cards having equal rank, the pot is shared as a tie. The suits are of equal rank.
A straight is when a hand contains five cards in sequential order, but not of the same suit, for example 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 where the 6 and 5 are diamonds, and the 4, 3 and 2 are hearts. It is weaker than a flush, but stronger than three of a kind.
The ace is treated in the same way it is in a straight flush. You cannot use it as both a high ace and a low ace in the same hand, i.e. Q, K, A, 2, 3 is not a viable straight.
The rank of a straight is determined by its highest ranking card. If there are two straights that share the same rank but differ in suit, the straights are deemed equal. The pot will then be shared.
Three of a kind
A three of a kind is when your hand contains three cards of the same rank, and two cards of differing ranks. For example, three kings and a 2 and 5. A three of a kind hand, also known as a set or triplet, will contain two kickers. It is weaker than a straight, but stronger than two pairs.
A three of a kind hand is ranked by the rank of its triplet, then the higher ranking kicker, followed by the lower ranking kicker. For example, if two players both have three queens, the winner will be the player with the higher ranking kicker. A hand of Q, Q, Q, 6, 4, will beat a hand of Q, Q, Q, 5, 4. If both the triplet and the kickers are the same for two players, it will be a tie. The suits are not ranked.
A poker player has two pairs when his five card hand contains two cards of one rank, two cards of another rank, and a kicker as the fifth card. It is weaker than three of a kind, but stronger than one pair.
A hand of two pairs is ranked by the highest ranking pair. If the highest ranking pair is shared between two players, then the highest ranking second pair will decide the showdown. If two players share identical pairs, the showdown is decided by the highest ranking kicker. If two players share the identical hand, the showdown will be tied, regardless of suits.
A pair is when a player has a five card hand that contains two cards of the same rank and three cards of differing ranks. Pairs are ranked by the highest ranking pair to the lowest. Thereafter, the highest ranking kicker will decide the showdown. For example, a hand of J, J, 8, 5, 4 will beat a hand of J, J, 8, 5, 3. Suits won’t decide a tie if the five cards are the same rank.
One pair is weaker than two pairs, but stronger than a high card hand.
If a poker player’s hand contains five differing ranked cards, of differing suits, and not in sequential order, the rank of the hand is determined by the highest ranking card. This is generally the lowest ranking hand in poker, and is weaker than one pair. This hand is also known as nothing or no pair.
If the highest ranking card is shared between players, then the second highest ranking card will decide the tie. If the second highest ranking card is shared, it moves to the third, then the fourth and finally the fifth. The tie is never decided by the ranking of suits.
Betting rules and limits
While playing poker is a lot of fun on its own, what draws people to it time and time again is the chance of winning big. Poker is not a fixed game and casinos do pay out. That being said, to know your chances of winning, it is wise to understand the odds involved. After all, the casinos need to make money so they bet on these odds. But every now and then a hand is dealt that is an exception to the odds.
While poker can be thrilling, it can also be the cause a lot of personal pain. Gambling needs to be done responsibly and sober, with a clear head. In this way you need to look after yourself and your money to truly enjoy the highs and lows of playing poker.
In some poker games a betting structure will be in place to cap the amount of bets you can make or raise in a game. These parameters add to the poker strategy of players, so it is good to understand what the different betting structures are. This section will break down the different types of betting structures you’ll find in poker games.
As the name suggests, no limits is when there is no limit to the amount you can bet on a hand. While this means that the pot can get rather large, it also means that the importance of folding at the right time is more prominent. Players will also need to keep tabs on how many chips they have left for the game.
Texas Hold’em poker games usually operate with a no-limit betting structure. This adds to the excitement of the poker games, bringing in those “I’m all in” moments.
The format for no-limit betting is that there is a minimum bet, but no maximum bet. If you’re playing with blinds, the minimum bet is determined by the big blind’s bet. Players that make a raise must raise by the same amount as the previous bet.
There is a strategy involved in getting your opponents to bet on their weaker hands, or else there is a real chance you’ll leave a game of no-limit Texas Hold’em with no chips remaining.
A fixed limit poker game only allows players to raise and bet in fixed amounts. The bets will usually be divided into big bets and small bets. Small bets are used in the earlier rounds, and big bets are used in the later rounds.
Before joining a game, you will be able to see what the small and big bets are – for example $5/$10. If the game is played with blinds, the big blind is usually the size of the small bets ($5 in this example) and the small blind will be half of that ($2,50).
Additionally, fixed limit games can also place limitations on the amount of raises per round. Ordinarily this is set to three raises per round. If the maximum of raises have been made in a round, the remaining poker players can only call or fold.
Fixed limit poker games are not as popular as no limit poker games, but they do help players to regulate their chips more efficiently. You won’t be able to be swept up by the moment and place an audacious raise.
A pot limit on a game of poker is similar to no limit poker in that there are minimum bets set by the big blind. It differs in how it handles the maximum bet you can place. The maximum bet you can place is determined by factors in the round you’re playing.
You need to take stock of the amount of chips in the pot, the amount of bets placed in the round so far, and the amount it would take for you to call and take part in the round. The sum of all of those chips will give you the maximum amount that you can raise in the round.
For example, if the pot is $50, and this round players have been $30 with a call of $10, you will be able to raise by a maximum of $90 (50 + 30 + 10).
A spread limit betting structure is similar to fixed limit poker, but it differs in that poker players do not have to raise in set amounts. A spread is determined before the game, and players can raise an amount anywhere between the minimum and maximum of the spread. The minimum amount is usually the same amount as the big blind.
A cap limit betting structure only allows player to bet a set amount per hand. It is similar to no limit poker in that there is no maximum raise, so long as it doesn’t exceed the maximum amount a player can bet per hand.
For example, if the poker game has a cap limit of $60, and a player uses $50 on the first three rounds of the hand by calling and raising, that player will only have $10 left to bet for the rest of the hand.
History of online poker
The internet has drastically changed our lives since the 1990s. From dial-up connection to the latest smartphone, we have access to our interests, hobbies, and other people like never before. A social game like poker has naturally acclimatized to the new landscape with little effort or rule changes. It’s as if poker was waiting for the internet!
Online poker is fast becoming the game of choice for millions of players across the world. While there are a lot of free online poker sites available, there are also professional platforms that can pave the way for players to qualify for the World Series of Poker. In fact, two World Series champions qualified for the Series by playing in online poker tournaments.
Online poker has many benefits: you can play poker online from any place with an internet connection, and you don’t need to sit in cigarette-soaked carpeted rooms till late in the evening. The flexibility and ongoing regulation of online poker sites means that poker is fast being seen in a far more positive light. A game of strategy with very real money winning potential.
But where did online poker begin? It turns out that it has been around for longer than most would think. The first online poker games were played on Internet Relay Chat in the early 1990s.
By the end of 1998, Planet Poker was created. This was arguably the first fully-fledged legal online poker website. You could play using legitimate money, and play from the comfort of your own home.
Since then, we’ve seen the growth of the online casino poker, with many platforms offering free online poker games of all types and structures. The best online poker sites are hostingcountless tournaments, setting tables with players from all over the world. These tournaments are legitimate, and some of them can get you a seat at the World Series of Poker. Chris Moneymaker is the icon of online poker. He earned a seat at the World Series of Poker through online poker tournaments, and went on to win the series and a cool $2,500,000.
Whether you’re playing Texas Hold’em or Video Poker online, there are safe, regulated sites that you can trust. Most sites will require you to download software to play their tables, but there are also a lot of websites that allow you to set up an account and play within your browser or smartphone.
As technology continues to add convenience and security to our lives, so too has online poker become more regulated and secure.
What is the difference between online vs offline poker?
In terms of the rules and regulations, there is no difference between online and offline poker. The main differences have to do with the gameplay experience and the speed of the game.
If you’re playing Texas Holdem poker online, you won’t be able to read a bluff as easily as you would if the player was sitting next to you in person. That being said, if you know your odds well enough, you can still spot a bluff.
A game of poker generally plays out much faster online than offline. There is also a case to be made that online poker has more aggressive players than offline, although I’m sure there are poker casinos that will buck this trend.
In terms of security and money, online can be as safe as playing in a casino. While the older generations might still be sceptical of online transactions, many people do most of their purchases online, and if you’re using the best poker app or a website with a clear SSL/TLS certificate, you can rest assured. The biggest danger would be using an unsecured WiFi connection or a public computer. These dangers go for all online transactions, not just online
One overt difference is the time-bank used in online poker. With players situated across the world, you can’t keep everyone at the table waiting while you go out for dinner. A time-bank gives you an allocated amount of time to make your play. While this might take some time to get used to for live poker players, it’s not to rush you. It’s just there to make sure that the game continues for all involved.
The online lobby also has features that you won’t necessarily find at your local casino. This includes rake-bake offers, loyalty bonuses and stats for all of your hands. The online lobby will differ from site to site. In general you should expect more data from playing online than you would have from playing live poker.
Even the best poker players aren’t automatically the best online poker players. The environment means that your tactics and habits might need to adjust to the quicker game. That being said, the game is still the same, the odds are the odds, and online poker real money is still real money. Knowing your poker game of choice and gaining experience will help you both offline and online.
In essence, poker tips and tricks can work both offline and online. There are however, specific online poker tips that will help you navigate the online poker tables and tips for playing poker at a casino that will help you navigate your favorite local poker tables.
While the rules of the game are the same, the tempo and gameplay differ. Understanding the nuances of offline and online poker will help you maximize your success. That being said, having a general poker strategy will help you to make winning less about luck and more about strategy.
What is a good poker strategy?
The game of poker sounds simple enough. All you need to do is have the strongest hand to win the pot. Fortunately for some, and unfortunately for others, there are ways to increase your winnings and play your opponents, not just their cards. There is also the fact that you never really know what cards your opponent has, and whether they have an ace in the hole.
A good poker strategy will include having an excellent understanding of the cards in play, the odds of certain hands materializing from those cards, identifying which opponents have a weaker hand, and pushing those opponents to bet more on their weaker hand. Ultimately, a good poker strategy will involve a level of consistency.
There is an old poker adage that if you always knew what your opponents cards were, you would always play in the same way. What this means is that there is a consistency in how you play poker. As you grow in experience, you will refine this, but it is important to start to think about what your strategy is or has been.
Poker strategies will differ from player to player. Some might be slow and steady, conservatively making wins without losing much at all. Others might be more aggressive and opportunist, winning large but losing regularly as well. Once again, it is important to identifywhat works for you, and then refine it. Learn more about techniques for that style of play, and keep reflecting.
Collecting your stats is a great way to see the effectiveness of your strategy. Many online poker rooms will give you a stats page for you to see how you’ve performed. You should see how many times you’ve made it to a showdown. Think about when those occasions were and how you played to get there. To measure is to know, and poker is no different in this regard.
Your observations should not only be limited to your own play. You should watch how your opponents play as well. If you see the same familiar faces in the casino, you should be able to see trends in how they play their game. This will help you to know when they are excited about their hole cards and when they are nervous.
You can still observe other players when playing online. It might not be possible to see their physical discomfort, but you can still see trends in their poker play. Do they always call? How often have they raised? How often do they fold?
Whether you’re playing online or offline, the importance of observation is to remember that you’re not playing in a vacuum. Poker is about the cards in hand, but it also about playing your opponents and your opponents playing you. To this end, be aware that your strategy might be more transparent than you think it is. Awareness is key.
Finally, there are many websites that offer odds on specific hands. This will help you to know what the chances of your ideal hand are. While there is, of course, a level of luck in poker, knowing your odds will help you decide whether or not to fold. If you’re a slow and steady player, the odds will help you to play your hand as wisely as possible.
While you won’t print out an odds sheet and take it into a casino, you could get a vague understanding of the odds by playing online poker with it open in a new tab. This will help you to practice your strategy and make decisions that are as informed as possible.
At the end of the day, there is no fool-proof poker strategy. The most important thing is to start to create your own strategy so that you can play to your strengths. Your strategy should involve knowing how aggressively you want to play, knowing your stats when you played well, observing your opponents, and knowing the odds of a certain situation playing into your hand. Tying all of these together will help you to refine your poker game and should help you play more deliberately and successfully.
Casino poker gameplay tips
Going to a good casino is an exciting experience – the neon lights, the sound of machines, and the promise that you could walk out far richer than when you walked in. In the past this was the first time many would experience a proper poker game. These days the youth are growing up with a casino in their pocket, and many experience online poker before ever playing it live.
Casino poker can be intimidating, especially if the other players are old, steely-faced men with moustaches and cigarette-stained hands. Have no fear though. There are numerous tips for playing poker in a casino that will help you stake your claim at the poker table. Some involve timing, others involve etiquette. These poker tips should help you have a positive experience all round.
The first poker tip is about choosing when you want to play. While some casinos are busy during the day, most will come alive at night. This is especially the case on weekends when a lot of younger, part-time players hit the casino for a night out.
The weekend evenings are good for two reasons: you’ll find a lot of inexperienced players, and you’ll find a lot of inexperienced players drinking. On your part, it’s advisable to top up that glass of dry-lemon. Staying sober will help you make better decisions, and intoxicated opponents can make the most avoidable mistakes.
If the weekend is a little too busy for your liking, a weekday night is also an option. This is only really an advantage if you don’t have work in the morning or can go into work later in the day. The poker players might be a bit older and more seasoned, but they could have a job in the morning, or family to go home to. In that case, they might have pressure to leave, when you don’t. You’ll be able to spot these players as their body language will indicate they are in a hurry. They may be more inclined to throw caution to the wind, and bet on a large pot with a weak hand.
Once you’ve decided when you’ll be entering the casino, the next poker tip is to know where to sit. Don’t feel pressured to stay in one spot for the night. Shift to new tables and shift to seats that open up at your current table. You’ll be surprised at the impact that changing seats can have. For example, if there is a player who is practically giving away their chips through their betting, try to get a seat on their left. If you’re one of the last to play after the flop, the better informed you’ll be of the players hands from their betting.
While you’re within your rights to move about, the final step speaks to your broader conduct in the casino. Your etiquette will help you have strong seats at tables, and win favor from the other players. For changing seats, most casinos have a button you can press to request another seat.
When it comes to having friends in the casino, this will help you get placed at good tables and get quicker service if you’re looking to top up on chips. The easiest way to make friends with the staff at the casino is to tip. Everyone, from beginner to poker pro tips, or at least they should. You can take a cue from others at the table or ask one of the staff what the going tip is if you’re not sure. It is a case of a little going a long way, as a good seat can be the difference between going home empty-handed or with the pot.
Online poker gameplay tips
Online poker is known to be a faster and more aggressive poker environment. That being said, the game is still the same and a lot of fun is to be had. The following online poker tips will help you get used to the pace and protect your bankroll.
If you’re new to online poker, it is strongly advisable that you begin by playing low-stakes poker. Starting with low-stakes poker allows poker players to acclimatize to the online environment without the stress of depleting their bankroll. Even if you’ve played live poker many times, it is still recommended that you begin with low stakes online. It will help you get used to the nature of your opponents online and how it feels to play poker from the other side of a screen.
Online poker, like most online activities, tracks a lot of data. Many poker sites will have a lobby and a player dashboard so that you can track your games and your winnings. Familiarize yourself with the player lobby so that your online poker game strategy can benefit from your own data.
As with data, being online allows you to be in two places at once. Many online poker players have found the benefit of playing multiple tables at the same time. This is only advisable once you’ve become comfortable with the pace of online poker and have a basic online poker strategy for your games. Multi-tabling effectively can maximize your earnings from a session.
Leveraging technology will help you to have both a better online poker experience as well as help you improve your online poker success rate. One of the more advanced poker tips is to use tracking software. Tracking software will help to make notes of how your opponents are playing, and identify trends that you have perhaps missed. Some software will record your hands, allowing you to watch them at a later stage and analyze them. This again is something that is not possible in live poker, unless you’re playing on a televised event like the World Series of Poker. While some software is expensive, there is also free software available that will give you basic tracking functionality. It is worth researching the different software that is available and make a decision based on how seriously you would like to take your online poker career.
Finally, it is important to remember that you live in the physical world. The environment that you play online poker in will have an influence on your decisions and focus. In the same way that drinking while playing live poker is often advised against, so too is playing online poker in front of the TV or around family and friends. Finding a quiet and secluded spot will help you to focus and enjoy your game of poker. If your family and friends find you disappearing too often, set yourself time-limits to switch off and return to the living world. Remember, online poker rooms are open 24/7, so you will need to take a break at some point.
If you start with low-stakes, and familiarize yourself with the online poker environment and all of its tools and software, you’ll stand the best chance of acclimatizing to online poker and thoroughly enjoy it.
What is the best way to grow your online poker bankroll?
Getting used to the online poker gameplay can take a bit of time, especially if you’re used to live poker gameplay. It is advisable to begin your online poker career with low-stakes rather than dive straight into high stakes poker. This is the best way to protect your bankroll until you have gained further experience. Even if you’re winning more and more often, your online bankroll is still not guaranteed to be high. The following poker betting tips will help you to grow your bankroll.
First of all, when signing up to an online poker site, you’ll see that many offer free cash or tokens on signup. You won’t be able to withdraw these sign-up bonuses as cash immediately. Instead, you’re incentivised to receive these free tokens by playing a certain amount of poker games. There is often a window period for this, so once you sign up, it’s a good idea to consistently play a bit of online poker.
As mentioned, low-stakes poker is where you should start. There are also free tournaments that are available from time to time. Even though they’re free, they still offer cash payouts. There are also beginners tables that you can join – this is a great way to ensure that you aren’t playing with Chris Moneymaker in your first game. If you start your online poker career with free tournaments and low-stakes beginners tables using your sign-up bonus cash, you should have a healthy bankroll by the time you’re confident enough to play for high-stakes.
Once you’re in the big world of high stakes online poker, there are a few tips that should help you grow your bankroll further.
As a general rule, you should only bet between 1 – 5% of your bankroll on a table. You’ll read about online poker players who push way more, but if you’re serious about your bankroll, 5% should be your maximum.
The next tip is to not micromanage your balance. You could be gradually growing it, and looking at it will make you feel good. One bad loss could drop your balance and leave you feeling despondent. This is dangerous as you might try a risky hail-mary bet, way over 5%, to reclaim some of your loses, but this could further deplete your balance and ruin your bankroll entirely. It may be difficult not to revel in a big pot win, but remember that your balance will ebb and flow. Play the long game to ensure your bankroll grows over time.
Finally, if you find yourself irritable, hungry or bored, finish the hand and logoff. While the online world seems sterile and consistent, humans are not. Being in the wrong headspace can allow for rash decisions which could cost you. Taking your online poker seriously and playing responsibly is the best way to protect and grow your bankroll.
Is online poker safe?
The online environment is host to a number of dangers. Malware like trojans and spyware have been used to gather people’s banking details and passwords. Online poker is no different, especially as there is money involved. It is important to ensure that you stick to online safety guidelines such as keeping your antivirus up to date, and operating on the latest software.
When it comes to online poker itself, there are a few poker safety tips. As with any online platform that handles money, you should always make sure that your account details are kept safe and secure. Don’t login to your online platform from a public computer or on a shared public WiFi.
If you’re downloading a poker app, make sure that it is from a trusted provider. More and more casino websites are being bought by larger casino companies. This is a good thing in terms of safety. The bigger casino companies are more robust in their processes and security.
There is still an allure to the smaller casino websites. The smaller sites often try to entice new players with bigger winnings and sign up bonuses. The bigger casino websites will be able to offer a bigger payout though.
When considering which casino website to try out, you should consider whether there will be a lot of players on the platform, if the online casino has been audited by third parties and what the casinos track record looks like. This will help you to make an informed choice.
Some online poker websites require you to download their software to play online. This is fairly standard, although many online poker websites are offering web browser functionality. Before deciding to download any online poker software to your device, read reviews and do your own thorough research.
Is it safe to keep all of your bankroll on an online poker website?
Thanks in part to Black Friday, some poker players are concerned that they might lose their bankroll if the online poker website suddenly disappeared or went offline. A player’s bankroll could take months and years to accumulate, so it is a fairly understandable concern.
If your bankroll is stored on an online poker website of an established and renowned casino, you should be in safe hands. These casinos are often audited by third parties and are used to handling large amounts of money.
If your bankroll is stored on an online poker website of a fairly new casino, it may be wise to be more cautious. You could withdraw most of your bankroll and deposit it into your own savings account. In some countries, you will need to pay tax on the amount if it is a very large amount.
Some online poker websites have started to pay out in cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. This also adds a level of security if you have an existing cryptocurrency portfolio.
Is online poker rigged?
The truth about poker is that odds are very rarely in your favor. This is understandable when you see a dealer cutting and dealing cards in front of you. It is more difficult to grasp these odds when you’re looking at a computer screen. The thought crosses your mind that the game is rigged by the computer. But is it? The short answer is no. It is very difficult for online poker sites to rig who wins their games. They will receive their main income from the rake of each player.
Is online poker legal?
Online poker is legal in most parts of the world. In the USA however, online poker has had a challenging journey. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was passed in the USA in 2009 and many online poker providers pulled out of the USA. The Act targeted off-shore gambling sites and made it illegal to gamble online in the USA.
The biggest raid happened on 11 April 2011, otherwise known as Black Friday. The USA government seized the .com websites of many prominent online poker providers, and froze the player accounts on their systems. Some sites were allowed to pay-out their players before they were forced to close down.
Since then, the US government has legalized online poker in some of its states, including Nevada and New Jersey. You can only play online poker when you are physically in these states in the USA.
Black Friday has shone a negative light on the industry. In the UK and most of Europe, online poker is legal and tax-free. With time, the industry should continue to expand and benefit from strong government regulation. Online poker is an ever-evolving space and will benefit from new innovations in technology and online security.
It is best to research whether online poker is legal in the country or state you are in, before setting up your poker office and do-not-disturb sign on the door.
General questions about online poker terminology
While you might have a deeper understanding of online poker after reading this online poker FAQ, you might still come across a phrase or a word that you won’t have heard of in the context of poker. This section will answer some of the most frequently asked questions about poker terminology.
What is an ante?
Sometimes an ante must be paid before a poker game begins and the players receive their cards. An ante is a portion of a bet that each player must pay if they want to play the hand. In this way the pot is established. An ante is optional, and is often replaced by the use of blinds.
What are blinds?
Blinds are forced bets placed by one or two of the players before a hand begins. There are usually two blinds: the big blind and the small blind. They will sit to the left of the dealer. The small blind will bet half of what the big blind must bet. If the poker game has a ‘live blind’ it means that the blinds can raise when the action comes round to them again.
What are hole cards?
Hole cards are the player cards that are dealt face-down. It is most commonly used in stud poker games like Razz and community card poker like Texas Hold’em.
What is the door card?
The door card is the first card that is dealt face up in stud and community card poker.
What is a rake?
In offline poker, the rake is the amount of money that is taken out of the pot by the dealer. In tournaments the rake is usually taken from the entrance fee. In online poker, the rake is also taken from tournament entry fees and online cash games. The rake fee is usually less online than it would be in a brick-and-mortar casino.
The future of online poker
As online poker becomes more accepted and accessible across the world, more and more people will begin to play it. As always it’s important to do so responsibly. This means knowing who the online casino is and what they offer. Once your mind is at ease, you can sign up, claim the sign up bonus and begin hours of fun towards a growing bankroll. Online poker is the next evolutionary step in one of the world’s most enjoyed competitive games.
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