Poker is one of the most popular games available online, with vast numbers of people hitting the virtual table every day. Unlike many other games in a casino, there’s a real element of skill to poker, and this means that those playing have to understand precisely what they are doing.
On this page, we’re going to be taking you through everything you could need to know about playing poker online. Once you’ve finished reading, you’ll have the knowledge you need to start playing at one of the many top online poker sites out there. Hopefully, you’ll manage to win some money when you do!
How to Play No Limit Texas Hold’em
Of all the different poker variations, the most popular is undoubtedly Texas hold’em. If you are new to poker, we’d recommend starting with Texas hold’em, as you’ll find a massive pool of opponents to play against, many of whom will also only just be starting on their online poker adventure.
The goal of Texas hold’em poker is to make the best possible five-card poker hand, using the two cards personal to you, as well as the five community cards in the middle of the table, which all players can use. You’ll win if you’re the last player left standing or if, when the final round of betting is complete, you have the strongest poker hand of all remaining players.
To begin the game, the player to the left of the dealer button will place a small blind. The next player to the left will place a big blind. These are placed before dealing to encourage betting once the first round of betting arrives. Each player is then dealt two cards face down, which are only seen by them.
When everyone has their cards, the person to the left of the big blind will start. They need to call the big blind, raise the big blind or fold their cards. The action then moves in a clockwise direction, with each player having to match the bet, raise the bet or fold. If the big blind was never raised, the person who initially posted it will also have the option to check, meaning they bet no more money. Once everyone has put in the same amount of money or folded, the game progresses.
Three cards are dealt face-up into the middle of the table, and everyone can use these three cards. The player to the left of the dealer button then begins – they can check, meaning that they pass the first move onto the next player, or raise. The action then moves clockwise and finishes when everyone has bet the same or folded.
You’ll then find another card dealt face up into the middle of the table, followed by another round of betting. Finally, another card is dealt into the middle, and yet another round of betting takes place. If more than one player is remaining by the time the final round of betting finishes, the remaining players will show their cards, and the player with the best hand will win.
The button then moves one place to the left, meaning that the blinds also move one place to the left, and another hand gets underway.
Hands in Poker
It probably comes as no surprise that you’re going to need to know the hands in poker if you’re going to become a competent player. We’ve listed them below, in order of strength, from strongest through to weakest.
- Royal flush. This is a straight running from 10 through to A, using all cards of the same suit. It’s the strongest hand in the game.
- Straight flush. This is a hand featuring any five consecutive cards, all of which must be of the same suit.
- Four-of-a-kind. Pretty straightforward – this hand consists of four cards all of the same value, along with any other card.
- Full house. This is a hand featuring three cards of one value and another two cards of a different value.
- Flush. A flush is a hand where all the cards are of the same suit but don’t run consecutively.
- Straight. A hand where all five cards run consecutively but aren’t all of the same suit.
- Three-of-a-kind. A hand featuring three cards all of the same value and any two other unidentical cards.
- Two pair. A hand featuring two cards of identical value, along with another two cards of equal value, and one other card.
- Pair. When you have a single pair of identically valued cards, along with three other cards, all of differing values.
- High card. When you have none of the hands listed above.
But what happens if two or more players have the same hand? If so, the strength of the hand is taken into account. This works differently for each hand type – see below for more details.
- Royal flush. Not possible for one player to have a better hand, so the pot is split.
- Straight flush. The player with the highest card is the winner.
- Four-of-a-kind. The player with the highest four-of-a-kind wins. If both players have the same four-of-a-kind, the player with the highest spare card, called the kicker, wins.
- Full house. The player with the highest three-of-a-kind wins. If they’re the same, the player with the highest pair wins.
- Flush. The player with the highest card in their flush wins.
- Straight. The player with the highest card in their straight wins.
- Three-of-a-kind. The player with the highest three-of-a-kind wins. If it’s still a draw, the player with the highest kicker wins. If it’s still a draw, the player with the second-highest kicker wins.
- Two pair. The player with the highest top pair wins. If it’s still a draw, the player with the highest second pair wins. If it’s still a draw, the player with the highest kicker wins.
- Pair. The player with the highest value pair wins. If this doesn’t help, the top kicker is used, then the second kicker, then the third kicker.
- High card. The player with the highest card wins. If this doesn’t help, the second-highest card is used, then the third, then the fourth, then the fifth.
If there’s still no way to separate two hands, it will be a draw. When this happens, the money in the pot is distributed to the winning players. Usually, each player will receive the same amount of money. However, if a player has gone all-in and a second pot has been created, different players will be paid differently, based on how much money they’ve bet throughout the hand.
Other Variations of Poker
As already mentioned, Texas hold’em is the most popular form of poker played online. However, the bigger sites will offer other game variations too, which are explained briefly below.
This is almost exactly the same as the standard version of Texas hold’em, but in limit hold’em there’s a limit on the number of raises allowed during a single betting round. This means that the pots don’t usually get as large. While this tweak to the rules only seems minor, it changes the game in a big way, with players needing to adapt to a completely different way of playing.
Omaha is quite similar to Texas hold’em, as it too features five community cards. However, in Omaha, a player receives four cards in their hand, and they have to make the best possible hand using exactly two of their cards and three community cards.
In this version of Omaha, two prizes are awarded at the end of a hand unless one player manages to get all other players to fold before the cards are revealed. One player receives 50% of the pot for having the highest possible hand, while another prize worth 50% is given to the player with the lowest possible hand.
Seven-card stud is a less popular variation of the game but still found at some online poker sites. This game sees players dealt seven cards in total, some face-up, others face down. They then need to make the best possible five-card hand from the seven cards available to them.
One of the oldest forms of poker, razz is found at a handful of different online poker sites. Players are dealt seven cards throughout the game, some of which are face up and others of which are face down, and are required to make the lowest possible hand.