Poker is a game for the cunning and daring. Though it’s complicated and requires quick thought and strategy, it’s undeniably fun to master!
Since the ‘90s, internet poker has been of the world’s favourite online pastimes, with thousands of no-limit hold’em games running simultaneously online 24/7 at all sorts of stake levels. Many say it’s unlike other games as it rewards skill more than chance.
The rules online are the same as in a casino setting, but you will have to focus more on the maths behind your bet than calling your opponent’s poker face. The real benefit of online casinos is that you can play at any time, for as long as you like, for any stakes you’d like, with friends or even on the go.
Here’s our guide to get you ready for the big wide world of online poker.
What you’ll need
The requirements to start playing online poker are very minimal and you can play on any device with an internet connection and a browser. There are also many poker apps for smartphones and tablets so you can play from anywhere.
You won’t need to put down much money to get started, either. You could start by playing for free by trying out a no-deposit casino. After that, most players deposit between £20-200 and can make it last quite a while, as long as you don’t make big bets outside of your budget.
However, you will need to have a good grip on the rules and how to play before you stake your first bet.
How to play No-Limit Texas Hold’em
This is the most common and popular type or style of poker in the world. To get started, you will need to click a game and wait for the table to be ready for you to join.
You and the other competitors will need to pay an ‘ante’, a small amount to start the game. Then, the fun begins. The dealer will deal everybody two cards which will be hidden from all the other players.
This is the point at which you choose whether or not you want to bet. You can fold, check or raise.
‘Fold’ means you want to skip the round. You can do this if you have a poor hand already, such as two low non-chronological cards of different suits.
‘Check’ means you wish to match the bet. You can do this if you feel you might get good cards coming up.
‘Raise’ means you want to increase your bet, which you should do if you feel you have a strong chance of getting a good hand.
The dealer will then place five community cards on the table. You will need to look at your cards and determine whether you can combine them with any cards on the table in order to create the best possible hand (see the hierarchy of hands below – and memorise them so you can recall them quickly! This is a game of fast decisions).
The best hand of all the players at the table wins. The payout depends on the odds determined by the game and the amount you bet in combination with the others in the game.
No-Limit Texas Hold’em is relatively simple to learn but complex to master, making it a great intro to the world of poker.
Other well-known poker variations you can play online include:
- Pot-Limit Omaha
- Omaha Hi-Lo
- 7 Card Stud
- 5 Card Draw
- Short Deck Hold’em
- Chinese Poker
Hierarchy of hands
This is crucial to understand before you start your first game. Here’s a table of what to look for, along with examples of how they’ll look, with the best at the top and the weakest at the bottom. If you’re confident you have a strong hand, you might want to up the bet, but if it’s looking like you have a weak hand, you might want to fold to cut your losses.
1. Royal flush
A, K, Q, J, 10, all the same suit.
A K Q J T
2. Straight flush
Five cards in a sequence, all in the same suit.
8 7 6 5 4
3. Four of a kind
All four cards of the same rank.
J J J J 7
4. Full house
Three of a kind with a pair.
T T T 9 9
Any five cards of the same suit, but not in a sequence.
4 J 8 2 9
Five cards in a sequence, but not of the same suit.
9 8 7 6 5
7. Three of a kind
Three cards of the same rank.
7 7 7 K 3
8. Two pair
Two different pairs.
4 4 3 3 Q
Two cards of the same rank.
A A 8 4 7
10. High Card
When you haven’t made any of the hands above, the highest card plays.
In the example below, the jack plays as the highest card.
3 J 8 4 2
If two people play the same hand, the person with the higher cards wins. For example, a pair of threes will lose to a pair of tens.
Poker tournaments are extremely popular – the most talented players live like sports stars – thanks to the TV exposure of the World Series of Poker, World Poker Tour and European Poker Tour. But tournaments aren’t exclusive to rich and famous professionals. You can enter one online at any time.
Online tournament poker often works in this way: first, you pay your buy-in and get a stack of chips. Then the moment you run out of chips, you’re out of the tournament. The eventual winner is the player who collects all the chips. The prizes can wind up huge in these so they are worth checking out.