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Poker is one of the oldest card games that incorporates betting into the gameplay, yet it is still one of the most popular gambling options today. Poker is often thought of as a legitimate sport today, with a long list of tournaments and competitions taking place around the world each year.

World Series of Poker is probably the biggest branded competition of this type, and it has turned some of the top talents in the game into international celebrities.

Online Poker is a little different to live poker tournaments though. It eliminates much of the suspense involved when it comes to staring into the eyes of a worthy opponent without giving too much away. Despite the intensity, it is extremely popular online, whether it's played at traditional online casino sites or special poker rooms.

Poker 101

Despite all the different varieties of poker and all the additional rules and betting practices, pure poker is a card game that usually revolves around a 5-carded poker combination hand. These hands are ranked from lowest value pairs to the ultimate Royal Flush.

Players will bet against themselves (poker rooms) or against the house (casino games) to outscore their opponent and win money off them.

The game involves skill and has been removed from the list of ‘’games of chance’’ in many countries around the world. As such, the odds-on winning is determined by how well you play and what decisions you make when playing.

On average, poker games have high Return to Player ratings of 99% and more, depending on the game type. This leaves the casino with a low edge and you with a good chance of raking in the wins.

The most fundamental part of playing poker (before you learn strategy) is learning and memorising the different hand combinations.

The basic poker hands from lowest to highest, include:

  • High Card: If no players have a valid combo, the player with the highest value card in his hand wins.
  • 1 Pair: This is when you land two of the same type of card. (2x Kings, or 2x Aces, etc).
  • 2 Pairs: This is when you have two sets of pairs in one hand.
  • 3 of a Kind: This is a hand that has 3 matching card values in it (3x 9s, etc).
  • A Straight: All 5-cards in your hand run in consecutive order of value (2,3,4,5,6, etc). They need not be of the same suit: 6♣-5♠-4♦-3♣-2♥
  • A Flush: When all 5-cards in your hand are from the same suit. They need not run in consecutive order (all hearts, or all spades, etc): A♣-10♣-8♣-4♣-2♣
  • Full House: This is when you have ‘one pair’ and a ’3 of a Kind’ together in your hand.
  • 4 of a Kind: A hand where four of the same card value is in the hand (4x 5’s, etc).
  • 5 of a Kind: When all cards in your hand are the same value (joker poker only)
  • Straight Flush: this combines the principles of the Straight and the Flush. All five cards in your hand are of the same suit and run in consecutive order: 8♣-7♣-6♣-5♣-4♣
  • Royal Flush: This is the same as a Straight flush, but it combines the 5 highest value cards: A♥-K♥-Q♥-J♥-10♥

Poker Rooms (Dedicated Poker Casinos) vs Online Casino Poker

While poker is poker, the way it is played can differ. When you load into an online casino and head to the virtual or live dealer poker section, you are going to be able to load up games where you take on the dealer head to head. Even if other players take their seats at the table, they too will play against the dealer and not against you.

Online poker in exclusive poker rooms involves virtual table play games where you bet and play against real players who have accessed the site from their mobile or desktop devices the same way you have. Naturally, the game options will differ.

Popular Poker Room Games (Against Players)

While the four listed games below are some of the more popular game types at online poker casinos/rooms, other variants of the game can be enjoyed, including 5 card-stud variations.

  • Texas Holdem: The most popular form of poker in the world requires you to make the best 5 card hand from the 2 cards in your hand and 5 on the table. Texas Holdem is played against other players.
  • Omaha: Played similarly to Texas Holdem, this game deals you 4 cards, of which 2 must be used with the communal cards to muster up the strongest poker hand.
  • 7 Card Stud: In this rarer variation of the game, players are dealt seven cards (4 face-up, and 3 burnt/face-down cards). They must make the best poker hand from their 4 face-up cards and the 3 face-up communal cards.

Popular Online Casino Poker Games (Against the House):

  • Casino Holdem: This is played like Texas Holdem, but your only opponent is the house.
  • 3 Card Poker: The player competes against the house for the highest 3 card poker hand. The rules are really simple and easy to grasp.
  • Pai Gow: Players are dealt seven cards. They are expected to beat the dealer with a 5-card and separate 2-card hand.
  • Caribbean Stud: Also known as 5-Card Stud, you are dealt a 5-card hand. There is an option to discard as many cards as you want to (just once) and have them replaced by the dealer. The end outcomes will be evaluated against the dealer’s hand and the higher hands wins.
  • Let it Ride: This game requires players to make the best possible poker hand from two face-down and three communal cards. There is an option to withdraw a third of your bet during the course of the hand.

Poker Bonuses and Promotions

Like other online casinos, Poker Casinos also frequently offer bonuses and promotions. Welcome Bonuses are often the norm and can come in various forms; each to benefit you and your gameplay.

While Deposit Match Bonuses with wagering requirements may apply on some bigger money values, often free money bonuses will be granted when you make a deposit. For example, an offer might read ‘’$10 Free on a $20 Deposit’’. In this instance, once you have bet your $20, the casino will give you an extra $10 in bonus funds to use.

Poker Tournaments

Online poker tournaments are a great way of testing your skill and nerve without it costing you a great deal of money. Many tournaments are free or have a relatively low entry fee. Several of our recommended casinos and poker rooms also offer free entry into poker tournaments as part of the Welcome Bonus. Tournaments at online casinos will be either Sit’n Go or scheduled events.

With a Sit’n Go tournament, there is no set starting time; instead, players register and as soon as the table is full, the tournament begins. These often have a minimal entry fee, with a relatively small prize, but they are popular because they allow you to enjoy tournament play at a time that suits you.

With a scheduled tournament, both the entry fee and the prizes will be bigger — sometimes the rewards on offer for winners can be huge and even include entry into much bigger tournaments, such as World Series of Poker events.

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