Online poker is the game we would all love to be better at. Obviously, it is satisfying to beat the dealer, but taking down an entire table of opponents feels pretty great as well. That is why this guide is going to help enhance your online poker skills.
Best Sites to Play Online Poker
First off, you have to know where is good to play, and it is not just a matter of opting for any poker site your come across. The following places can offer a nice blend of bonuses, and mobile, and poker games:
This mobile-compatible site offers casino hold’em on Android and iOS. Make a first deposit and also get up to 500 free spins.
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How to Play Online Poker Free
The luxury of being able to play online poker free is going to give you time practising new techniques. Risking your bankroll on every hand is not smart if you want to take the time needed to learn properly. For these reasons, it makes more sense to seek out no deposit bonuses that can let you play for free.
No Deposit Bonuses
A dream scenario is getting to play online poker with free credit and having no deposit needed. Online poker site differ from each other as to what they offer, so you have no guarantees of getting the same deals from every site.
As a general rule, you should always try to have a look at the welcome deals that are available for newbies. Some poker sites go out of their way to lend a helping hand . For example, your no deposit poker bonus could be usable in a room or in tournaments geared towards new players.
T&Cs to Look Out for
Every bonus comes with terms and conditions – it is just a fact of life. So, what you need to do is get with the programme, and you can do that quicker if you know the core T&Cs to be aware of:
- Bonus breakdown: You could receive a lump sum, or perhaps the bonus is divided into poker tickets worth up to specified values.
- Bonus dispersal: This is when the bonus is not given out all at once. For instance, you could receive a free ticket a day for your first week.
- Expiry times: Check to see when each stage of the bonus expires, as this could be an extremely short window of, say, 24 hours.
- Wagering: Online poker bonuses work differently to those of casino sites, which require you to play through funds a set number of times. In this case, you are expected to earn points through performance in order to get winnings.
- Overlap: In almost every case, it is not possible to overlap online poker bonuses. Read the terms and conditions to ensure you avoid losing out.
- Identity: A poker site can reserve the right to demand proof of your identity, considering that you are engaging in online gambling.
- Payment: Although these are free no deposit bonuses, the poker site may ask for payment details as proof of identity.
- Max cashout: The free nature of no deposit bonuses means that they will carry restrictions, such as a maximum amount permitted for cashout.
- Minimum withdrawal: Similarly, you can also be asked to meet a minimum threshold before the site agrees to process your winning withdrawal.
- First deposit: Poker sites can ask you to make a first deposit before completing a withdrawal, so also watch out for this requirement appearing.
Top Types of Poker Variants
Between online and land-based poker, there are several variants that people like to play. Although the popularity fluctuates greatly, there are still loyal player bases from some of the niche forms of poker.
Texas hold’em has been the de facto variant of the poker world for quite a number of decades. There’s just something about the enhanced nature of the game that made it an even more appealing option compared to the likes of five-card draw and Omaha hi.
In five-card draw, you get your own cards and are permitted the chance to change some of them. However, Texas hold’em redesigns the approach of using your five best cards and places the entire game in the context of community poker play.
Texas Hold’em Rules
Every player at the table starts with two hole cards each, with the big blind staking the full minimum bet and the small blind staking half. The betting proceeds round the table (call, fold, or raise) until the small blind makes their decision.
This leads to the dealer laying down three cards on the flop. Another betting round commences and all remaining players get to see one more community card on the turn. Then there is another betting round to determine who gets to see the river card, which is the fifth and last of the community cards.
The round ends by the last players raising, calling, or folding. When there is a call, the remaining active players will show their cards. For reference, the order for hand strength from strongest to weakest is the following:
- Royal flush
- Straight flush
- Four of a kind
- Full house
- Three of a kind
- Two pairs
For much of the 20th century, it was five-card draw that people played with their friends around kitchen tables. Eventually, this would be replaced by Texas hold’em once players realised what the pros favoured at the World Series of Poker.
Nevertheless, five-card draw remains a valuable game to play for the fact that it teaches you the fundamentals of bluffing, and also the common rules of video poker. The construct of the game varies to Texas hold’em, so you will have to bluff at different times.
Five-card draw rules
Most commonly, five-card draw is played with an ante that must be paid before the hand begins. There can be variants where blinds are integrated, but you will find that ante is the more common and simpler approach.
After the ante or blinds have been completed, the dealer shall present each player with five cards facing down. The betting will then continue to the left of the dealer or else the big blind, dependent on the type of game.
Next up is the draw round in which players will exchange anywhere from one to five cards and receive brand new ones from the dealer. Of course, the exact number of permitted cards can vary depending on the rules agreed upon. A final round of betting shall begin before the players have a showdown and lay down their cards.
In seven-card stud, your aim shall be to create the optimal five-card hand from seven potential cards. Comparatively, this is quite a complex poker game compared to five-card draw and Texas hold’em.
Seven-card Stud Rules
This is not a game suited to beginners, so you need to take the time needed to master the rules of seven-card stud:
- Ante: Pay the cost of being dealt into the hand (e.g. £0.20).
- Third street: You will receive three cards comprised of one facing up and the other two facing down. The player with the lowest card showing is then required to make the first bet, with the action continuing clockwise around the table.
- Fourth street: The next card shall also be facing up and is called “fourth street”. At this point, the betting continues with the player who has the highest-value up-card.
- Fifth street: A third up-card shall be given to each player. Once again, the action begins from the player who has the best cards showing.
- Sixth street: A fourth up-card (sixth overall) is then handed out, with the action going from the best cards.
- Seventh street: A third down-card (seventh overall) then gets given out. As before, the highest-value hand showing begins the action.
- Showdown: From all remaining players, it shall either be the last bettor or raiser who is required to show their hands first. The winner shall be determined by the standard rankings of poker hand strength.
Fundamentally, the rules of Omaha hi stem from Texas hold’em, with the game combining hole cards and private cards. Naturally, this contributes to a poker experience filled with bluffing and strategic decision-making.
Omaha Hi Rules
Before attempting to play Omaha poker, you must first receive a rundown through the main rules and steps associated:
- Deal: Big and small blinds lay down their chips before the dealer provides four hole cards (down-cards) to each player.
- Pre-flop: After the big and small blinds have laid down their chips, the action proceeds around the table. You could have the option to call, raise, or fold, so think carefully if you want to pay to see the flop.
- Flop: The flop is comprised of three community cards facing up. Betting continues with the player immediately after the button.
- Turn: A fourth community card (the turn) is laid down once the previous round of betting finishes. After seeing the turn, betting begins yet again.
- River: Next, the final community card (the river) is placed on the table. This triggers a last round of betting.
- Showdown: The last remaining player to bet or raise is asked to show their cards. Please bear in mind, however, that the hands can be much stronger in Omaha. Create your best hand from three hole cards and two community cards.
The first distinction between Omaha hi and hi-lo is that this version asks that you create hands using two hole cards and three community cards. What can also prove confusing is that you can create both a high and low hand, as there are pots devoted to each.
The higher pot is based on creating the very best hand, but the low works a bit differently. Basically, aces are counted low and you cannot count high cards in a low hand, except for aces. The ultimate hand is to create a straight from 5 to A, as this would also give you a chance at winning the high pot as well.
Omaha Hi-Lo Rules
Aside from the dual pots, Omaha hi-lo is pretty similar in structure to hi:
- Deal: After the blinds are down, the dealers hands out four hole cards each.
- Pre-flop: The action goes from left of the button and players call, raise, or fold depending on whether or not they want to see the flop.
- Flop: Three community cards get laid face up.
- Turn: A round of betting is concluded before the fourth community card appears.
- River: Another round of betting happens before the final community card lands.
- Showdown: Players conclude a last round of betting before cards are presented. The player with the highest hand wins the hi pot, while the one with the best of the lowest hand gets the lo pot. Ultimately, it is possible to win both with 5 to A if the high hands are on the weak side.
Razz is a form of stud poker where the challenge is to create the best hand from the lowest cards. You will recognise it for being similar to Omaha hi-lo, as you receive seven cards and one objective is to make a low hand.
Before playing hands of razz, you are advised to look through the rules and steps associated with the game:
- Ante: Stump up your ante and get ready to play.
- Third street: Start with three cards from the dealer, including two hidden in the hole and one facing up. The highest card showing then starts the betting.
- Fourth street: On fourth street, you receive a fourth card that is exposed. This time, the player with the strongest hand goes first (e.g. A2).
- Fifth street: Now, you get another exposed card. On fifth street, the player with the lowest exposed cards continues the betting.
- Sixth street: Each player is passed another exposed card and betting begins yet again.
- Seventh street: The last card is given to players facing down, so there is a nice prospect to bluff at this stage.
- Showdown: At the showdown, the best low hand going from ace to 5 wins the hand. The last player betting has to show their hand first. In razz, hands mostly include straights, but sometimes pairs and three of a kind.
Badugi shares principles with five-card draw in that you can exchange multiple cards when making your own hand. Community cards are also absent and you will have to make do with creating hands from just four cards.
Although badugi is one of the less common poker games, it can help to understand how it works in case you should ever encounter a table. At the start, the player to the left of the dealer posts the small blind, with the next posting the big blind.
The dealer then hands out four cards facing down to each player. Before proceeding, the round of betting continues from left of the big blind. Once the betting has been resolved, players can elect to exchange up to four of their cards for new ones.
Moving on, there is a second of full betting and the drawing of cards. This is repeated for a third and final time. Any players remaining will complete a betting showdown to determine who is the winner.
The Badugi Hand
The ultimate aim of the game is to make a hand known as badugi, which features four cards in different suits and with no pairs. This is not a game that rewards the matching of cards. As such, the best hand in the game is to have A through 4 with every card coming from a different suit.
Comparatively, king to 10 is treated as the worst possible hand. That would actually be defeated by an ace alone, so you can see why it pays to understand the workings of the game in badugi.
These retro games look a little like slots, but challenge you to create strong hands from five cards. These are the popular variants:
- Jacks or better: Your hand only qualifies if you have a pair of jacks or better.
- 10s or better: This is slightly easier because the entry requirement is 10s.
- Joker’s wild: A wild joker is included in the deck and raises the possibility of getting five of a kind.
- Deuces wild: In this version, you get to treat the 2s as being wild.
- Bonus poker: Similar to jacks or better, but you receive higher winnings for obtaining four of a kind.
- Double bonus: This time, the bonus winnings are provided for when you can match up four aces.
- Double double bonus: An even more extreme take on jacks or better where you can win on four extra instances of four of a kind.
- Aces & 8s: A game in which you receive enhanced payments for four of a kind, including hands with 7s and then aces or eights.
- Aces & faces: There is a special tier of payouts that will be reserved for gaining four aces or else four face cards.
Check out Video Poker games for more details.
Poker can also be played with live dealers, who can often be found hosting these top variants:
- Casino hold’em: Hundreds of players can take on the dealer with the same hand. This works simply by choosing to wager when you want to play a hand.
- Three-card draw: This compacted form of poker is played with only three cards. The dealer needs at least a queen to play, while the additional features can include the likes of Pair Plus and Six-card Bonus Bets.
- Caribbean stud: A poker variant where you receive five cards and then raise or fold before seeing the dealer’s cards, which all face down except for the last one.
Online Poker School: Strategy for Beginners
No expensive tuition fees are need for enrolling in our online poker school. This portion of the guide is where you can get some vital tips in our online poker strategy for beginners. These are not guaranteed to deliver victories, but you can get better through following the tips:
- Rules: Never be afraid to step back and return to the rules. Several top poker variants have been explained above, but you can find details for others through Google.
- Hands: It’s only natural to see a pair of kings and feel like you have a strong hand. However, some of the more specialised poker games value the hands differently. Try to remember this to avoid making mistakes in your bets.
- Practise: After learning the rules, sticky to your level and play with others you can compete against. You will only make it tougher to learn how to apply the rules if you play against overly difficult opponents.
- Bluff: Poker will never be your game if you are unwilling to bluff. Players who do not bluff are easy to read and will not do consistently well.
- Position: The first player to bet, raise, or call is in the weakest position and has the least information on their opponent’s hands. Play it safe in the early positions, but try to take advantage for the late positions after seeing opponents’ actions.
- Folding: After starting with a weak hand, the act of folding is something that will help preserve your bankroll. At packed tables, the bets can skyrocket and drain your funds when you choose to limp in with nothing.
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