Poker is one of the more advanced casino games available. It involves a combination of chance, skill and strategy, and is centered around placing a bet on the strength of your hand. While it can take months of poker playing to get your head round all the possible outcomes, strategies and gameplay, there are plenty of games for beginners. Not sure where to begin? The Compare.bet expert review team has scouted out some the best sites offering the top poker games. Use our list to compare operators, find your favourite, and sign up to start playing poker games today!
The Different Poker Game Types
There are a range of poker variations, which can be played at bricks-and-mortar casinos, as well as online. While the basic gameplay rules are similar, they each have their own exceptions and variations that set them apart. Most online poker sites offer more than one poker variant to players, and here are some the most common:
- Texas Hold’em
Texas hold’em is the most popular poker game, and is usually the variation of choice for poker tournaments. It’s a community game, which means all players will be able to see a selection of face-up cards on the table, and can be played with 2-10 players. The player with the best five-card hand at the end wins the pot.
Omaha is similar to Texas hold’em. Players will be dealt four cards and must use two of them, as well as three out of the five community cards on the table, to make their best hand.
- Omaha Hi-Lo
Also known as Omaha High-Low, this poker variation is practically the same as a standard Omaha game. The difference is that, in Omaha Hi-Lo, the pot is shared between the player with the winning best hand and the player with the best qualifying low hand.
- Stud Poker
Stud poker sees players dealt a combination of face-up and face-down cards in multiple betting rounds. The number of cards will depend on the number variation you’re playing, which can include five, six and seven-card stud. Players bet after each round and their aim is to be holding the best five-card hand at the end of the poker game.
- Draw Poker
Whilst there are a few different variations of ‘draw’ poker, all variations see players dealt a complete hand before the first betting round. The aim is to get the best hand, which can be made by swapping existing cards with cards from the deck, betting after each draw. Five-card draw is often the first variation that new players learn, as it’s considered the most simple.
How to Play Poker
Players win poker simply by having a hand that outranks other players’ hands. These hands are compared in the final round, known as the showdown. If two or more players hold the same hand, you then look at the card values to determine which player has the better hand. Hand rankings can vary slightly depending on the variation you’re playing. However, the standard poker hand rankings, from high to low, are as follows:
- Five of a kind
Four cards of the same rank— such as four aces— plus a wild
- Straight flush
Five cards in sequential order, i.e. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, and all of the same suit. The best straight flush— and unbeatable hand— is known as a royal flush, comprising of A, K, Q, J, 10.
- Four of a kind
Four cards of the same rank, plus one card of another rank, known as the ‘kicker’. If two players have a four of a kind hand, the highest four cards win. In community card games, the players with the highest ‘kicker’ wins.
- Full house
Three cards of one rank, plus two cards of another, matching, rank. In the event of a tie, the highest three matching cards win. In a community game, the player with the highest two matching cards win.
Five cards of the same suit, such as five diamond cards. Sequential order doesn’t matter. In the event of a tie, the player holding the highest rank card wins, going through each matched card’s value until a higher value is found. If all five cards match, players will split the winnings.
Five cards in sequential order but not all of the same suit. The highest ranking card at the top of the sequence will win if there’s a tie.
- Three of a kind
Three cards of the same rank, plus two cards of two other ranks. These extra cards needn’t match in any way. If more than one player is holding a three of a kind, the highest ranking numbers will win. In community games, the two extra cards’ rankings will be taken into consideration
- Two pair
Two cards of one rank, two cards of another matching rank and a final card of a third, unrelated rank. If two or more players have the same highest pair, the highest second pair wins, and the side card will be used to determine wins after that.
- One pair
Two cards of the same rank rank, plus three cards each of unrelated ranks. The highest pair will win a tie, and the side card rankings will break a tie after this point.
- High card
Any hand that doesn’t fall under these categories. The player holding the highest card wins, and the second, third and fourth-highest cards will be used to break a tie.
Ready to Play Online Poker Games?
We’ve run through the most popular poker game variations, as well as the hands you might pick up, so you’re probably keen to get started. Not sure which poker site has the best game options? Check out our list top sites offering the best poker game selection to find your favourite, sign up and get playing!
What's the best poker game for beginners?
Poker newbies usually start with draw poker. It’s the most simple variation and has the most straightforward gameplay. We’d recommend using free demo games to learn the ropes with any poker game before you start betting real money. Once you’re comfortable with draw poker, you’ll be able to try other variations, such as stud poker games and games using community cards.
What are the odds of winning a poker game?
The odds of winning a game of poker will vary, depending on the variation you’re playing, as well as the number of people in your game. You can use a poker odds calculator to calculate this. Simply select the variation you’re playing and select the cards to see the odds of getting that hand.
What are poker tournaments?
Poker tournaments are fast-paced competitions in which players can buy a place in order to compete with other players to win a large cash prize. The top poker sites offer poker tournaments and, whilst Texas hold’em is the most popular tournament variation, it will vary from site to site.
Can I play online poker for free?
Yes. In fact, unless you’re an expert, we’d recommend spending a little time playing free poker games to begin. This can help you get to grips with screen layout and different poker variations before you place any real money on the table. Most top sites offer demo games to give players a taste of the action before they start playing the real thing.
Is online poker safe to play?
Yes, so long as you’re playing with a trustworthy operator. All sites featured on Compare.bet are regulated by governing bodies, such as the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), which means they’re held to high standards when it comes to player protection and security. You’ll be in safe hands if you’re playing with one of our recommended operators.