Online Poker

There’s been an explosion in the popularity of poker in the past few years, with players who first learnt the game online now some of the very best in the world. Online poker gives players of all abilities and experience the chance to hone their skills, as you’re playing against other players and not the House. For many online poker players, the draw of the game is that skill plays a far greater part in success than in other table games, and you can interact with other players across the globe.

Rules of Poker

All forms of poker share a common theme in terms of rules. It all comes down to making the strongest hand possible from a set of five cards. Hand strength ranges from no paired cards (the weakest possible hand), through the following ranks:

  • One Pair
  • Two Pairs
  • Three of a kind
  • Straight (five cards in a row, e.g. 7, 8, 9, T, J – suits do not matter)
  • Flush (five cards of the same suit, e.g. all spades)
  • Full house (three cards of one card rank and two of another, e.g. three Queens and two Aces)
  • Four of a kind
  • Straight flush (a straight where all cards are of the same suit)
  • Royal flush (a straight from the Ten to the Ace, all of the same suit)

So for example, if a player ends up with a hand consisting of two pairs and another player (or the house) has three of a kind, the player with three of a kind wins.

There are many variations on this simple poker theme that determine when bets are made and whether or not cards are exchanged. In most forms of poker there are at least 2 rounds of betting – one at the initial deal and then more rounds of betting when the players’ hands change.

The player’s hand changes based on either choosing cards to discard (as with Draw Poker for example) or with communal cards being dealt that affect the strength of all players’ hands as the game progresses (e.g. Texas Hold ‘Em).

Odds in Online Poker

The house edge in most casino games is between 2 and 5%, depending on what variation you are playing. Most casino poker games have some element of skill, which will mean the house edge is somewhat dependent on your skill level, but the strategy for most games can be learnt quite easily and relates to basic poker principles.

Poker Variations

There are dozens of variations on traditional poker, many offered by our recommended casinos. Below are some of the more popular variations:

Three Card Poker

In three card poker the player can make two types of bet – ante or pairplus The dealer deals themselves and the player three cards each, with the dealer’s cards hidden. If the player has made an ante bet then he must now decide whether to fold or raise, with the raise being equal to the initial ante bet.

Now the dealer turns over their cards. The dealer hands are compared and the strongest hand wins. If the dealer has less than Queen high then the hand is called off and the player wins even money on his or her ante bet.

Red Dog Poker

In this simple variation of poker the player places a bet and then two cards are dealt face up. There are now three possible outcomes:

  • If the cards are consecutive in rank (e.g. 6, 7 or T, J) then the hand is called off and the bet is returned.
  • If the two cards are the same (e.g. 2,2 or 8,8) then a third card is dealt. If the third card is the same again then the player receives 11-1 on their bet. If the third card is not the same, the game is called off and the bet is returned.
  • If neither of the above outcomes occur then the game is announced a “spread” and the player can bet on whether the third card (yet to be dealt) will fall within the range of the first two cards.

Triple Pocket Hold ‘Em

In Triple Pocket Hold ‘Em the player has one hand against the dealer’s two hands, but this is not as bad as it sounds! The player receives the first hand, and if he doesn’t like that hand he can choose to give it to the dealer. If this happens then a second hand is dealt and the player again has the option to make the dealer play this hand. If he does this then the player must play the third hand dealt.

Once all three hands are dealt, five communal cards are dealt as with traditional Hold ‘Em, and the strongest poker hand wins.

Hold ‘Em High

Another loose variation on Texas Hold ‘Em, Hold’Em High differs from many other casino poker variations in that there is no dealer hand. Rather, the player can play up to five hands at a time, and after the bet is placed the rules are simple. The cards are dealt and the player must decide for each hand whether to fold, call, or raise. After the decision is made for each hand, the community cards are dealt and the player’s winnings are decided based on a table of odds payouts, ranging from even money for two pair up to 500-1 for a royal flush.

Bottom Line

As you can see, there are many variations on traditional poker available at online casinos. The games we’ve looked at here are just the tip of the iceberg. The great thing is that you can try many of these variations for free at one of our recommended casinos before deciding which your favourite is, and then take the plunge for real money once you’re comfortable with the gameplay mechanics and rules.

Whichever variations you try, the basic poker rules will generally be a good guideline, so if you have a good handle on this you are sure to have a great time. Check out your favourite version of casino poker at one of our recommended poker sites today.