You’ve probably heard all about the huge success stories that have come from playing at online poker sites. Some lucky poker players have gone from rags to riches and even swapped out their day job for a seat at the virtual poker table. But which poker rooms are for you? Should you go for Texas Hold’em or another variant like Omaha? Read on for our quick introduction to the world of online poker, discover our expert poker reviews, and sign up to play today.
In a Nutshell
Beginners Guide to Playing Online Poker
When you head to your chosen casino’s poker section, you’ll probably find an endless selection of online poker varieties and formats. This might be a little confusing at first, but it’s simple – there are variations of the game tailored to different player preferences, ability levels and bankrolls. You’ll usually be able to choose from tables with different minimum and maximum stakes, number of players, and prize pools.
There are some other more unique variations that you might only find at poker specialist casinos such as 888. If you haven’t got much time on your hands, Speed Poker games like 888’s Snap Poker lets you go from hand to hand without waiting more than a minute. For players looking to put their poker face to the test, webcam poker is your best bet. It’s real poker, real people and real cash from the comfort of home.
Let’s now take a look at some of the most popular ways to play poker for real money online.
Popularised by films and TV shows, not to mention the life-changing triumphs of real-life players, Texas Hold’em is the most well-known poker variant in the world. The rules are pretty simple, too. Players are each given two face-down “hole” cards at the start of the game. This is followed by an initial round of betting, before community cards are dealt face up in front of everyone.
The idea is to create the best five-card hand using any number or combination of hole cards and community cards. The first three community cards are dealt in one go, and this is known as the “flop”. There’s a post-flop round of betting, before another community card is added. Another round of betting is followed by a fifth and final community card. Any players who haven’t folded must now show their cards in what’s known as the showdown, with the highest hand winning the game.
Omaha is both very similar and fundamentally different to Texas Hold’em. The gameplay is the same, but you begin with four hole cards rather than two. Of these four hole cards, you have to use two when constructing your five-card hand. This is in contrast to Texas Hold’em, where you’re free to ignore your hole cards entirely.
Before Texas Hold’em came along and stole all the limelight, seven-card stud was the key game of world of poker. It still attracts fans in their droves even today, and the rules are easy to grasp. A game of seven-card stud begins with each player being dealt two hole cards and one face up card. There’s then a betting round, followed by everyone being dealt another face up card.
This process is repeated until the seventh card, which is dealt face down. There’s a final betting round, after which the surviving players must reveal their five-card hands to see who’s won.
Tournaments and Cash Games
The top online poker sites will pride themselves on their multi-table tournaments – aka MTTs. These usually require buy-ins to join, and will have clear start times laid out on timetables. Vast numbers of poker players may compete, although there are also small scale “sit & go” tournaments to choose from.
Poker sites will also host cash games, which are far less exacting than tournaments. There are no set start and stop times – you can enter any cash game that has space for another player, and you can play for as long or as little as you like.
Satellites are tournaments that provide a way into the big leagues. By succeeding in satellites, you can win free entry to prestigious, high stakes tournaments that usually require high buy-ins.
There are several versions of poker available online, but Texas Hold’Em Poker is by far the most common. If you’ve watched a game of poker on TV, chances are that it was Texas Hold’em.
The aim of the game is to win money by capturing the pot each round or ‘hand’. This pot contains all bets placed by players during the hand. You’ll wager in the hope that your hand is the best. Alternatively, you can bluff your way to a win by giving the impression you have a strong hand, hoping your opponents will fold.
The rules are pretty straightforward – it’s simplicity makes it a perfect place to start for beginners, but there’s enough excitement to satisfy the most experienced poker players.
To kick things off, you have to place a small bet before you’re dealt any cards. This is called your ‘blind’, as it’s placed before you’ve seen your hand. Placing a blind means that any players who decide to participate have something to play for – you’d be pretty disappointed if your hand won and you got nothing in return, right?
Once you’ve placed your blind, the cards will be dealt. You’ll be given two cards which can’t be seen by other players, and there will be up to five face-up ‘community cards’. Combine these two sets of cards to create the best hand possible – the best hand wins! However, you don’t always need to have the best hand to come out on top. The beauty of poker is that you can bluff your way to a nice win. Betting enough on a hand can often cause other players to fold and thus resulting in a win. As you can imagine, this tactic can easily backfire and should be played with caution.
How to Play Poker for Real Money
We’ve put together a list of the best online poker sites available online right now. You’re spoilt for choice here – our list is jam-packed with real money poker websites which offer great poker bonuses, promotions and a varied range of poker games. The big names like 888poker, partypoker, PokerStars and GGPoker are all here, so have a browse, weigh up your options and find the perfect match for you.
Decided where you want to play? Follow our link to the sign up page for new players. Here, you can register an account in minutes by entering a few personal details. If there’s a no deposit welcome bonus, it will be given to you automatically at this point, unless a promo code has to be manually entered.
The next step requires you to head over to the cashier page. Here, you should follow the on-screen instructions to make your first deposit. The best online poker sites offer a number of options, from debit cards and bank transfers to e-wallets like Neteller, PayPal and Skrill. Your first deposit will unlock the site’s welcome bonus, so you should have a good pot to get started with.
Now you can set off on the road to big poker wins. No risk means no reward, so you’ll have to place some real money stakes here. Fortunately, the very best sites feature a number of rooms based on gameplay style and wagering limits – so you’ll never have to spend beyond your means to enjoy a game.
How to Choose
How to Choose the Best Online Poker Sites
Poker players are bound to disagree over what the “best” site is. A lot of it can come down to subjective factors such as how much you like the look of the site and its poker rooms. That said, our expert reviewers have certain factors they look out for, in order to assess which sites are worth bringing to your attention. These include:
- The size of the game selection: Does the site feature much-loved variants like Texas Hold’em, Omaha, Omaha Hi-Lo, Razz and Heads Up, presented with state-of-the-art poker software?
- Poker limits: Are there games with lower blinds for beginners to try, along with high buy-in tournaments for seasoned poker players?
- Fast withdrawal times: Can you choose swift withdrawal methods like e-wallets and Visa Fast Funds?
- Good bonuses: Are the welcome bonuses fair as well as generous, with manageable wagering requirements?
- Promotions: Are returning players provided with ongoing rewards and promotions such as rakeback percentages and entry to freeroll tournaments?
- Responsible gambling tools: Can members choose to control their online gambling using reality check alerts, deposit limits, time out periods and self-exclusion?
- Customer support: Can poker players contact the online casino’s staff in multiple ways, day and night?
Boost Your Poker Bankroll
Whether you’re tempted by 888poker, PokerStars, Unibet, GGPoker or any of the other online poker sites available in the United Kingdom, you’ll notice they all have bonuses waiting for new players. Here’s a quick explanation of the different types available.
This is a particularly interesting welcome bonus because you won’t have to pay a penny to get rewarded. All you have to do is sign up to the site, and you’ll be handed bonus credits to bet with.
Matched Deposit Bonus
Let’s say a site is advertising “100% up to £150”. This is a matched deposit bonus, and it means you’ll be given a percentage of your first deposit in bonus credits, up to the stated limit. In this example, if you were to sign up and deposit £150, you’d have a total of £300 to play with.
Nervous about trying poker tournaments for the first time? Some online poker sites will give you free tickets as a welcome bonus, so you can dabble without risking your own funds. These free plays are often drip-fed over to you over the course of several days, and you may have to make a deposit to be eligible.
Existing Player Bonuses
Online poker sites tend to look after their existing members to keep them coming back for more. Here are some types of promotions you might enjoy.
Freerolls are tournaments which don’t have buy-ins, yet still let you play for real money prizes. Some are open to all members, old and new, while some require you to collect loyalty points before access is given. Either way, they’re a good way to brush up on your poker skills and experience the tournament atmosphere.
The word “rake” in poker refers to the commission which an operator takes from prize pots. This gives rise to a popular promotion called “rakeback”, where players with enough loyalty points are given a certain percentage of the rake back. Think of it as a rebate for being a regular player.
Who doesn’t love a bit of free cash? Many poker rooms will award you cash prizes for fulfilling challenges – such as winning cash games with certain types of hands – or for depositing funds on certain days. You can also compete in daily leaderboard competitions for lucrative wins.
Almost all online casinos have loyalty programmes, and poker rooms are no exception. They tend to have levels or rungs you can ascend by playing poker and racking up loyalty points. This will unlock all kinds of perks, from cash prizes to tournament tickets to cashback bonuses.
Reead the Bonus Fine Print
With all bonuses, it’s important to check the small print. This way, you’ll be well aware of stipulations such as:
- Wagering requirements: These dictate how many times you’ll have to bet your bonus amount before winnings can be taken out of your account
- Time limits: Your bonus credits and free play tickets may expire by a certain date
- Maximum win limits: There will very likely be a cap on how much you can win using bonus bets
New Online Poker Sites
Play Poker for Free
Poker is a thrilling game, but it can also be intimidating. If you’re still getting to grips with it, you might appreciate being able to play for free, using play money. This is possible at a number of poker rooms, and it lets you get used to the rhythm of the game and try out strategies. There won’t be any real money prizes, of course, but this is all about practice, practice and practice.
Play Mobile Poker
It’s easy to play online poker on your mobile device. Every site is optimised for use on your phone or tablet’s browser, while some operators even offer dedicated poker apps which you can download to your handheld device. A native mobile app like this will offer a more personalised experience, and keep you updated on the latest bonuses through push notifications.
How to Pay at an Online Poker Site
Poker sites make it easy to manage your bankroll, by supporting a range of payment methods. Here are the most widely accepted.
Compare and Sign Up
Time to Play!
Now that your poker knowledge is up to scratch, you’re probably eager to play as soon as possible. Remember, unlike games of chance like roulette, poker is a game of skill – so don’t expect to become a poker pro overnight. Practice makes perfect, and if you’re looking for an additional helping hand we’ve even put together some tips to help you strategise your poker game-play. Look out for demo versions for the game if you’d like to get familiar with certain aspects of the game, and be sure to take advantage of any no deposit bonuses you can find All that’s left to do is compare our list of the top poker sites, check out the welcome bonuses and sign up to take your place at the felt today!
Can I play poker on my mobile?
Yes. All of our top casinos are mobile friendly, and many have online poker games available in their games collection, many of which are available via app too.
How can I be sure my game of online poker is fair?
Simple – choose from our list of top online casinos.We’ve chosen only the best UK licensed, trustworthy casinos that put their software through frequent and rigorous tests to ensure they comply with regulation. You’ll be able to play in confidence knowing that all your games of online poker are completely fair.
Do I have to download online poker software to play?
This depends on where you play. While many online casinos require you to download software to start playing, there are a few, like 888casino, that allow you to play on your web browser without having to download any software.