How to Play Poker Online

Table of content

Poker has been providing enjoyment, challenge and of course, winning, for players of all kinds for around 200 years. Emerging from earlier games that involved bluffing, poker was played in bars, then casinos and ultimately tournaments across the world. But it was the internet that really changed everything.

Online casinos, and eventually casino apps on your mobile device, meant that anyone, anywhere could play poker, often against people on the other side of the world. But if you want to get involved, online poker can seem a bit overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. From beginner-friendly games to tournaments, you can get started in a few minutes and learn as you go.

Here is our guide that includes everything you need to know about how to play poker online.

Choosing an online poker provider

The first thing to do if you want to play poker online is pick a platform. There are hundreds of online casinos or poker-specific sites and apps, each offering different games, some more suited to beginners than others. The first thing to think about is how your location impacts where you can play. Some sites are only available for specific countries, others have limited availability, so the first thing is to check what providers you can use from your country.

There are two kinds of online poker site to think about: online only or those with a downloadable app. Happily, the best platforms tend to have both these days, so you can play how you want from one account. However, do make sure the provider you choose has the format you want to play most often. Now, with a list of sites on your platform of choice,there are two essential features to check out. Security and Trust.

You want a secure platform, after all, you will be depositing money, and eventually taking out winnings, but you also need a platform you can rely on.

As with anything online, there are poker room providers that can be unreliable. Minor things, such as log-in issues you can work around, but here you may find some sites take far too long to process withdrawals, keeping your money hostage. The thing is, if this happens and you lose trust, it can make you think twice when it comes to playing poker online. That is why it is a good idea to check online reviews not just for the games, but check payment experiences and so on too.

The biggest sites all have great reputations for security, and you can trust them to pay out winnings promptly too. After that, it is a question of finding a platform that has the forms of poker you want. If you really like the idea of texas hold’em, then make sure the poker site has that game. It sounds obvious, but in the excitement of opening that first account, it is easy to forget. You can open accounts at more than one provider of course.If you think you may want to try more than poker, then think about some of the casino-type options that offer roulette and more as well. Make sure it’s a trusted and secure site just the same, you want the whole experience with poker software to be enjoyable.

How much money do you need to play online poker?

Not much. Micro-stakes gaming means you can play with just a small bet and very low buy-ins, and many platforms have introductory bonus offers that essentially mean you learn with their money. There are even free-to-play games for you to get started on with many platforms, and this can be a great way to learn how to play poker without any risk. Although of course, while you can’t lose anything, you don’t win money either.

Once you get into playing poker and winning, and want to start playing for real money, then your first deposit will probably be somewhere between $50 and $200, which will be enough to keep you going for a while on low-stakes games where the size of the pot is never that big. 

What Beats What?

Poker is all about strategy, but at its heart is the cards themselves, and knowing which hands beat which is an essential part of any variation of the game you may play.

A poker hand consists of five cards, in some games these will be the 5 cards you hold in your hand, stud poker is played like this. In others, such as Texas hold’em, you will have some cards in your hand, and some on the table, known as community cards.

Whichever variety of poker you play, it is the five cards that make your hand that determine how good your hand is, and these can be arranged in rankings. These are the basic poker rules that you must know when you’re new. How well your hand ranks will also influence how you bet, as follows:

Poker Hand Rankings and Betting Structures

Hand values from high to low. Anything about a hand beats it, all below will lose to it.

Poker HandDescription
Royal FlushA straight from 10 to Ace of all the same suit
Straight FlushA straight with cards all of the same suit
Four of a KindFour cards of the same value
Full HouseA pair and three of a kind in the same hand
FlushAny five cards of the same suit
StraightFive cards in sequential order but not of the same suit
Three of a Kind – also called a setThree of a Kind – also called a set
Two PairTwo separate pairs of cards
A PairTwo same value cards

Once we understand this concept, then you can begin to get to grips with any poker game, as the variations on poker rules never change the hierarchy of hand value. This is the basis of learning to play poker for beginners and takes you from those first starting hands, all the way to poker tournaments. So, if you want to learn poker, make sure you remember these hands and where each sits. Once you have these poker basics mastered, then its time to look at how bets are placed, as this is where your strategies for winning can develop.

Poker Betting Structures

The other aspect of poker games that new players must get to grips with are the betting structures. There are three different betting structures depending on the poker variant being used, these are:

  • No Limit – As the name suggests, there are no limits to how much you bet other than how much money you have.
  • Pot Limit – Each bet can be no bigger than the pot itself.
  • Limit – At the beginning of a game of poker, an ‘Ante’ is set. This is the maximum bet that can be placed at any time during the game.

Poker Variants

One reason why poker is a fun game is that there are so many variants of poker to play. Each has its own unique qualities, requires different strategies and offers different experiences. So, whether you are just learning the basic rules or heading to cash games and tournaments, there is something to enjoy in every type of poker game out there.

While there are probably hundreds of variants of games out there as groups of players add new rules or think of new approaches, these are the most common and the ones you will find to play poker online.

Texas Hold’em

You have two cards in your hand that only you can see, plus five cards on the table to pick from to create your best five-card hand.

Stud Poker

There are a couple of variants of this, based around either 5 or 7 cards dealt to you, some in your hand others on the table visible to other players.

Omaha Poker

You have four cards in your hand, plus five community cards on the table. You have to make the best five card hand from these nine cards, two from your hand and three from the table.

Draw Poker

The initial deal provides five cards, and once you see them you can decide to fold your hand and exit the game or carry on. If you play, you can then exchange between one and five of the cards in your hand for new cards dealt from the deck.In addition to these poker variants, some online poker tables offer games that switch between all of the above in rotation.

What is the Main Goal of Poker?

The goal of poker depends on you. For some new players, the goal is to reach tournament play and win big money. For some its to make a little extra cash, for others it is purely to have fun.

Obviously, in the first two scenarios, the goal would be winning poker games, as that is how you make a profit, but in the world of online poker games, where you can enjoy free play if you want, if its fun you are looking for, that may not even be about winning at all. The chat between players and just enjoying different poker games may be enough. For some, even with micro-stakes, betting in poker is a thrill in itself, while some just love trying all the different types of poker game.Only you know what your main goal will be, but whether you’re playing for a career or just having fun on your phone, every player can enjoy poker their own way.

How to Play Online Poker for Beginners

Each variant of poker has its own unique rules, however in all of them the hand rankings remain the same, so whichever you play, your aim is to create the best 5-card hand possible. Because poker is a game of betting and bluffing, you don’t need the very best hand on the table to win, but you want to have the best hand you can have from your cards to give your strategy the best chance of success.

Getting started is easy

First go to the website of the gaming provider you chose and log in, or download our poker app and play from there.

  • Join a poker table – we recommend a Texas hold’em game to get started
  • Follow the on screen instructions for placing bets and so on, as the way you do do it varies a little depending on the platform.

Then we get to the key part of playing poker, the strategy for betting. Betting starts from the player to the dealer’s left and works around the table. When it’s your turn, there are four things you can do during each round of betting:

  • Call – You place a bet equal to the minimum bet
  • Raise – You increase the minimum bet required to keep playing
  • Check – You don’t place a bet and pass this round. You can only call a check if no other player has called or raised the bet in that round
  • Fold – You give up on this hand and exit the game

Betting takes place in rounds. It begins with the player to the left of the dealer and carries on round the table with each player betting in turn. If after the first round of betting there are at least two players who have not folded, then the game moves on. You’ll find that people often bet or fold based on this first round of cards, and you can use to your advantage. After that first round, when you play Texas hold’em, three cards are dealt into the middle of the table, community cards that all can see and use.

For card games where additional cards are dealt after betting, that first round is often called the pre-flop. That pre-flop betting round is a chance to put your poker skills to the test. See what other players do over a few hands and you can start to see patterns in how they play. This can be a handy guide for how they will react in future games.

The next round of betting begins, and after this if there are still at least two players left in the game, a fourth card is dealt to the community hand, and another round of betting commences. After this, a fifth community card is dealt if there are still at least two players, and after that a final showdown bet round begins and players reveal their hands. 

After that, whoever has the best hand formed from a combination of the cards in their hands and the community cards, wins the pot. That is it! Your first exciting game of poker is finished.The exact process does vary depending on the type of poker being played, but the betting rounds and winning requirements remain the same.

Poker Tips for Beginners

East to learn, hard to master. That is the best way to describe poker, and it can be a little daunting for new poker players.

While the goal is always to have the best possible hand, by bluffing or through betting strategy, you can win games without it. Think about how you can eliminate other players before the end by making it too risky to continue for them, and you can beat people with better hands than you.

Poker Bluffing

Bluffing is at the heart of your poker strategy. If you think an opponents’ cards are not string, you can raise the bet to make them fold, even if your cards are no better or even worse! That is a bluff. You make them believe your hand must be strong because you confidently raise the stakes, even if you have nothing in your hand at all.

However, this is a risky strategy, if you really don’t have a good hand, then you must get all the other players to fold before the final round, else the chances are someone else will have a better hand than you and beat you. If they all fold though, you never have to show your cards at all.

Develop Skills to Play Poker Like a Pro

Practice makes perfect. This is especially true with poker, the more you play the better you get. This is because once you have the poker rules sorted, understand the concepts of bluffing and betting, then poker is a battle of wills between players.

The more games you experience, the more you see other players, the more you learn about how people play the game, and where you can exploit that. Its not just about creating the best hand possible for yourself but understanding what the other players at the table are likely to have too. Then you can have a good idea who is bluffing, who is strong, and adapt your game to suit.

Manipulate Other Players in the Game

Bluffing and betting strategies are designed to make other players behave the way you want, whether that is fold and leave the game or match your bets when you are confident that they have a weaker hand than you. You can vary the number of chips you place to keep them guessing so that when players make their strongest five-card hand, they have that element of doubt of whether it is good enough to beat you.

But always remember, those players are also trying to manipulate you in the same way.

Making deposits and withdrawing winnings

Free poker games are fun, but if you want to play with real money, and win real money of course, then you need to add funds to your gaming account, and know how to withdraw your winnings.

The details vary a little between different platforms. But in general you will add your bank card to the account and go through a payment process as you would any online store, and the funds are transferred to your gaming account to be used in games.

Withdrawals are usually handled by the same system, with a withdrawal request to the payment method you have on file. Be aware that some sites will only release finds back to the payment method used to make the initial deposit, so make sure you use the right card option for that.

FAQ

Is learning how to play poker easy?

Learning the basics of poker is easy, but it is the strategy aspect that makes the difference in how good a player you are, and that comes from experience for most players.

How do you play basic poker for beginners?

Log into a gaming account, join a poker game and follow the instructions. You buy in, cards are dealt, you place a bet, and if there is more than one player left, you go to a showdown to find who has the best hand.

Are there different ways to play poker?

Yes, there are dozens of variations of poker, with around seven appearing on almost every platform. However, while rules vary between them, putting together the best hand from the cards dealt and using betting strategy with bluffing to win, remain the same in all of them.

What is the main advice for New Players?

Have fun. Learning poker is a journey, you get better as you play and learn strategies that work for you, but above all it should be a fun experience at this stage, so make sure you enjoy it.

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