Played by millions of people worldwide, Poker is one of the most popular card games out there. Thanks to the internet and the emerging online casino market, playing poker has never been easier. There are several online poker sites that you can sign up and play with.
Learning poker as a newcomer can be a daunting task to some. You must keep track of the different card combinations, rules, and unique poker variations. Keep reading below to learn all there is to know about how to play poker and how to successfully play online.
How to Play Poker Online
There are a handful of different online poker variations available to be played. However, “Texas Hold’em” is the leading one that most like to play. More information can be found on the other poker variations later in the guide.
The primary goal and objective of poker is using the two cards in your hand plus the cards on the table to create the best five-card combination possible. The player with the best combination at the end of the round wins.
The cards that you play with are ranked, with the lower number cards “worth” less than the higher number cards and “face” cards. The order goes 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace.
The eight possible winning hand combinations are as followed (ranked from worst to best):
- Pair – Two cards of the same number
- Two Pair – Two separate pairs
- Three of a Kind – Three cards of the same number
- Straight – Five cards in a row
- Flush – Five cards of the same suit (Clubs, Hearts, Diamonds, Spades)
- Full House – Pair plus a three of a kind
- Four of a Kind – Four cards of the same number
- Straight Flush – Five cards in a row that are also the same suit
- Royal Flush – 10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace in a row that are also same suit
With each of these hands, the numerical value of the card matters as well. For example, a pair of Aces is worth more than a pair of threes. A Straight that goes 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 is worth more than a Straight goes 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.
Online Poker Rules and Definitions
- Finish the game with the best 5-card combination or convince everyone else to fold
- Each round you can bet, check, call, raise, or fold
- Bet: add more money to the pot via your own chips
- Check: to do nothing (can’t be done if someone else has already bet that turn)
- Call: match someone else’s bet
- Raise: bet more than another player’s bet
- Fold: discard your cards and exit the round
How to Play Texas Hold’em Online for Beginners
Now that we’ve been over the overarching goal of poker and how the card rankings work, here’s a quick step-by-step guide on the order of operations of a poker hand.
- The hand starts when the dealer shuffles the deck and distributes two cards to each player
- The first round is called the “pre-flop.” Each player will get a chance to check, bet, raise, call, or fold
- After each player has had a turn to make an action, the round goes to the flop, where the dealer reveals three cards from the deck
- Another round of betting will commence after the flop where each player will have a chance to check, bet, raise, call or fold
- The fourth card is then revealed. This is called the turn
- Another round of betting will commence
- The final round is called the flop, where the fifth card on the table is revealed
- One final round of betting will commence, followed by each remaining player showing their hand, marking the end of the hand
- The player with the best card combination wins
Online Poker Tips and Tricks
In addition to knowing the order of operations of each poker hand, it’s also crucial to understand some of the top poker tips and tricks, plus some of the “unwritten rules” to the variations on these casino table games.
Right off the bat, bluffing is a key part of the game. Poker isn’t always about having the best hand and being the luckiest. Half of the game is finding ways to convince other players to fold out of fear that you have a superior hand, even if you don’t. This can be accomplished via body language, table talk, etc.
This looks a little different when playing online poker, but you can still bluff your way to wins.
Having a good understanding on when it is appropriate to bet and when it is appropriate to fold is another important facet of the game. Even if you don’t start with a super strong hand, there’s value in at least seeing the flop. If you have a strong high card to start (Jack and above), there’s a good chance that seeing the flop could drastically improve your chances of winning.
Knowing when to fold is just as important to your poker strategy. You don’t want to be continuously betting large amounts with weak hands (unless you’re trying to bluff, of course).
If you have an extremely strong hand, “value betting” can be a good way to coax other players into matching your wagers. This is simply betting reasonable amounts that other players are willing to call, before revealing at the end that you had the best hand all along.
If you’re really looking to take your poker game to the next level, there are several “Poker Calculators” that can tell you the chance of winning with each hand. If you’re struggling to grasp what a “good hand” looks like, these calculators are a great place to start. Confidence in your hands makes your decision on whether to bet/call/raise/fold that much easier.
There are a few “unwritten rules” attached to in-person poker. However, most of these don’t apply when playing online. In general, playing poker should be a respectful experience. Trash talking and excessive table chatter are typically frowned upon. If your online poker site has a chat box, don’t overdo it, especially when it’s not your turn in the hand.
Online Poker Explained
When playing online poker via one of the top online casino sites available, your screen will look similar to the image above. Your cards will be visible to you above your username, while your opponents’ cards will be hidden.
The flop, turn, and river cards will be shown to you right in the middle of the poker table, with the current pot size directly below it.
When it’s your turn to make an action, you’ll see buttons that allow you to bet, call, raise, fold, or go all-in. Click the button to make your desired move. You can also track your winnings by looking at the number directly below your name.
Lastly, you’ll have access to a chat box that allows you to communicate with other players on the table. It will also show you each player’s previous move on all casino apps.
As online poker has gotten more and more popular, most online casinos also offer condensed versions of the game. This typically looks like dealer-only poker, where you are only competing against the dealer. One benefit with these variations is you can use online casino bonuses to play with extra credit.
These versions of online poker are normally user-friendly and do a good job of highlighting what each individual button does. The goal of these bonus poker games is the same, but some of the actions and ways to bet are unique to the specific game and online casino. It’s more complicated than online slots, but poker is so much fun thanks to all the strategy involved.
How to Bluff in Online Poker
Bluffing in online poker can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. Keep track of how your opponents like to play and use their tendencies against them to bluff.
Poker Variations – Omaha Poker
In addition to Texas Hold’em, there are several other poker variations that you can play online. “Omaha” is the other primary variation that is popular in the poker community.
In Omaha poker, you start the game with four cards in your hand. This dramatically improves the quality of combinations that you can put together. You can still only use two of your hole cards plus three table cards to put together your final card combination, but the larger hand to start with increases your range.
Five Card Draw and Seven Card Stud are two additional poker variations that are a little less common compared to Texas Hold’em and Omaha.
Texas Hold’em vs. Omaha: Which Is Better for Online Play?
Texas Hold’em is the more popular variation when it comes to online poker playing. The general stance in poker playing communities is that Hold’em requires a little more skill, making it more fun to play online.
How to Play Poker Online FAQs
How to play online poker in the US?
Playing online poker is extremely easy. There are numerous sites that you can sign up with and play poker for free or with low buy-ins. Due to the popularity of online poker, you’ll be able to find a game to play fairly quickly.
What are the rules of online poker?
The game starts with a dealer shuffle and two cards being distributed to each player. Five additional cards will eventually be laid down on the table. There’s an initial round of betting followed by the flop where the first three table cards are revealed. Another round of betting commences followed by the turn where the fourth card is revealed. Another round of betting commences followed by the river where the fifth card is revealed. There is one final round of betting followed by any remaining players showing their cards to determine who is the winner.
What are the benefits of playing poker online?
The main benefit of playing poker online is ease of access. You don’t need to round up a group of friends or go to a physical casino. Simply log on and start playing.
When playing online poker how to play small blind?
Most online poker games include a big blind and a small blind. A big blind requires you to open the first round with a larger sized ante, with the small blind being slightly less. For example, a poker game might start with a $10 large blind and a $5 small blind. The blind positions rotate as each hand ends.
What are the most popular variations of online poker?
The most popular variation of online poker is Texas Hold’em. Other popular versions include Omaha, Five Card Draw, and Seven Game Stud.