How To Play Online Poker

The game of Poker is a social gathering around a deck of cards like none other. Folks are able to spend an evening together telling stories, sharing laughs and showing off their skills while engaging in friendly competition. When you get your cards dealt to you and look your friend’s in the eyes to guess who has the strongest hand, the rush of excitement is like no other. It has quickly become an American classic with the popularity of televised poker tournaments for vast sums of money paving the way for everyone to play. Home games with family and friends have become standard get-togethers all across the country with such games as Texas Hold ‘em becoming commonplace activities whether it is for fun or for real money. The internet has furthered the amount of places where one can get into a game.

We have created this page to go over the basics of poker and help all those who happen to novices or experts to the game, settle in at a table that is right for them. Specifically, online poker and where the best tables are to settle in and start stacking your chips.

Types of Poker Games

In every form of Poker, there is always a dealer who issues cards to at least two to ten players present at a table. Players often times must put a small amount of money down in order to receive cards which is called an ‘ante’. Each player tries to form the best set of five cards possible which is known as a ‘hand’. Once everyone who is in the game has their hands, they wager on how strong they believe their hand to be. Sometimes, a hand is worthless but a player will wager none the less to try and convince the rest of the table otherwise. This is called a bluff. Once everyone has placed their bets, the person who initiated the betting is either ‘called’ to show his or her cards or simply wins if no one bothers to match or raise their bet. Often times, players leave the game when they feel their cards are not strong enough to beat their opponents hands and they exist the game by not betting. This is called a ‘fold’ and it is not considered losing. It is typically thought of as surviving and saving money/chips for the next hand to be dealt. Whoever is left in the game after all the cards have been dealt and all the bets have been made with the strongest hand, wins all of the wagers on the table called the ‘pot’. The dealer collects all of the cards, shuffles them and begins a new hand. There are many variations of the game, but these core factors remain the same in each type of poker game.

Main Forms of Online Poker

Texas Hold ‘Em: This is a variation of poker where a large number of players are able to play as there are only two cards dealt to each player while five cards are dealt to the center of the table to be used communally by all of the participants to form their best five-card hand out of the seven cards available. This is the most common form of poker today and is popular for tournaments and televised events featuring large groups of people. A unique feature to Texas Hold ‘Em is a revolving turn-based ante system where only two players at a time must pay in order to have the cards dealt for the entire table. These are called ‘Blinds’ and there are two of them. One is called the ‘Big Blind’ and the other is called the ‘Small Blind’ which is half of the price of the ‘Big Blind’. If a player is a ‘Blind’ in a hand of poker, they are involved in the hand not knowing what their cards are ahead of time whereas those who are not a blind have the option of seeing and folding their cards without spending any money.

Omaha: Omaha or ‘Omaha Hold ‘Em’ is similar to the game of Texas Hold ‘Em in the sense that it features 5 communal cards on the table to be used by all of the players present but instead of 2 cards dealt to each player, each player receives 4. A player may only use however, 2 of their own cards and 3 of the communal cards to make their best 5 card hand. Omaha is a bit more difficult and recommended only for more advanced players, especially when playing the variation known as ‘Omaha Hi/Lo’ which throws in the added twist that those with the lowest hand possible can still win. The pots in games of Omaha are typically much higher as players have more chances to win and are less likely to fold. Players also face more chances to lose.

Stud Poker: There are a few variations of Stud poker with 7 Card Stud being the most popular. Players are dealt a total of 7 cards each but only the first and last card dealt to each player is known to the rest of the table. The best way to think of ‘7 Card Stud’ is as a personalized Texas Hold ‘Em in which there are no communal cards for the entire table to use. A player must make the best 5 card poker hand using the best cards from his or her 7 cards, 4 of which are secret to the rest of the table. This provides a ripe environment for lots of bluffs and sneakier players will love playing stud games.

Ranking of Poker Hands
  • LPair (two cards of the same number)
  • Two Pair (two cards of the same number and two other cards of the same number)
  • 3 of a Kind (three cards of the same number)
  • Straight (five cards which are in sequential order)
  • Flush (five cards which are of the same suit)
  • Full House (a pair as well as 3 of a Kind)
  • 4 of a Kind (four cards of the same number)
  • Straight Flush (five cards in sequential order which are also of the same suit)
  • Royal Flush (ace-high straight consisting of cards all from same suit)
Casual Games and Tournaments

Now that we’ve covered a lot of the basics of poker in general, we should cover the different environments that you might find yourself playing a hand in. The two most basic settings in which games are played will usually be a casual Sit’n’Play game or a Tournament. Sit’n’Play is what the name implies in that a player simply sits down at a table, puts in an ante and then plays poker with a group of people who may enter and leave the game as they wish. These games can be played for high stakes or low stakes depending on the group you are playing with and you can leave the table with whatever you have won at any time that you wish. It is perfectly acceptable to sit down and win a huge pot and then bid farewell immediately afterward but don’t be surprised if people are glaring at you for your good luck. You can also, in turn, leave a table after a few really bad hands where you lost a lot of money. Sometimes it is best to cut your losses and get out of there.

Tournaments, on the other hand, are a more dedicated endeavor. These are usually known in advance to start at a specific time with a set amount of players. There will be rules in place which everyone must follow such as the buy-in, ante and pot limits, but the general goal is for all parties present to play until they are knocked out of the game. Sometimes a tournament will feature a “Winner take all” prize where the last player standing takes everything in the pot. Other tournaments may have set amounts to be awarded to the champion and then the runner-ups. There will also be tournaments with huge amounts of people where perhaps the top 100 finalists will receive a cash prize or the right to proceed to an even bigger tournament championship. Tournaments are typically for huge sums of money and a major draw to any poker player who feels that they have learned the game well enough to engage in serious competition with others.

Online Poker vs. Live Poker

While poker played over the internet is largely the same as poker played around a physical table, there are a few key differences. Some people prefer a live experience while others only wish to play online. There are pros and cons for each setting and we will outline the differences here.


Many people believe that sizing up the competition, in person, is part of the game. Whether it be trying to determine if a player is bluffing or visibly excited for having a great set of cards, it may be easier in a live poker setting to “know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em” just based on the appearance of others around the table. For many others, it is precisely this reason which makes online poker a preferable experience. No one will see your smile while holding a Full House and no one will see you shaking and sweating while going all in with a hand of absolutely nothing. Online poker also affords a player to pay closer attention to betting habits and odds perhaps more closely. Players will be able to see precisely how many chips an opponent holds and whether or not they may be a high-roller or an amateur.

Speed of the Game

The speed of a game online versus a live game is incredibly different. Where there is rarely a time limit put on a physical table, online poker games will typically have a short amount of time for a player to place a bet, providing a much quicker game. This will instill a level of quick thinking in a player for calculating odds, how much to bet or if they should fold in a way that live poker does not. Much can be won and much can be lost in a very short amount of time as many hands of poker can be played in an online poker room much faster than a live poker room.

“Zone” Poker

One of the more unique aspects of playing poker over the internet rather than at a live table is what is often called “Zone Poker”. This may have a different name or title depending on what site you may be visiting but it is essentially the same everywhere. Playing in the ‘Zone’ is when a player has multiple windows open with multiple games being played simultaneously. Online poker sites will allow you to play many different games all at the same time and organize them for you so that the moment that you place a bet in one hand, you are immediately shifted over to another table to make a bet there, so on and so forth. We almost listed this aspect under the category of ‘Speed of the Game’ as this is the greatest effect that it has in poker- increasing the speed of the game exponentially. The moment a player folds one hand at a zone table, he or she is now seated at a different table receiving fresh cards rather than sitting around waiting to see how a hand plays out that you are not present for. In today`s fast-paced world, Zone Poker is the next hottest thing, giving players the chance to see more cards, play more hands and have more fun.

Proper Game Regulation

As with knowing a particular opponent’s chip count, having a time limit to place a bet or having the knowledge of your hand’s odds, the regulation of the game is fairly precise in an online poker room versus a live environment. In a live poker room, a dealer is in charge of divvying out chips, cards, taking blinds, etc. while in an online poker room, everything is automated by the server. This guarantees perfect mathematics and the correct allotment of winnings to various players at the table without the worry of mistakes. When a confusing 3-way tie takes place and a person who went all-in yet others continued to bet after the fact, the mathematics is taken care of instantly with no room left for debate among players. The facts are set in place as the rule of law and no one has to worry about being followed into the parking lot by a sore loser. Everything in an online environment is seamlessly regulated to perfection which gives online poker a distinctive advantage over its live counterpart.

Poker Stakes

Play Money: Poker is not a game that can be played without a wager of some sort. That does not mean that it has to be for real cash or something of significant value but each player has to have some sort of a supply of something in order to bet how valuable they believe their poker hand to be. This could be anything from peanut shells to sticks of gum but there has to be something to either gain or lose in order for the game to have a winner and a loser. There are plenty of instances of friends and family playing with pieces of torn up bits of paper and so long as everyone is having fun and treating the game semi-seriously, there is ample opportunity for a new player to learn the ebb and flow of the game of poker without suffering a major loss. Online poker sites will almost always offer “Free tables” where no actual money is wagered and players may get their feet wet.

Real Money: Although poker can be played for “fun money”, it is real cash which typically keeps the game more interesting. As we discussed earlier, one must buy-in to a game before sitting down to be dealt cards and this can vary greatly depending on where you are. ‘Stakes’ is the term used to describe the degree and amount of how serious a game may be monetarily or what the risks involved are. A low stakes games may be for $0.25 whereas a high stakes game may be for $1000. If you are playing a Sit’n’Play game, the stakes will usually be described using the minimum/maximum bet you are allowed to bet at a particular table such as $2/$4. This would mean that the minimum bet a player could make would be $2 and the maximum bet would be $4, however, this may also describe the ‘Blinds’ which is commonly used in Texas Hold’Em and Omaha where the ante rotates around the table in a turn based system and antes are not required for every hand dealt. The ‘Small Blind’ would be $2 and the ‘Big Blind’ would be $4. You will want to ask or look to see if there is a maximum bet limit but many games of Texas Hold ‘Em and Omaha are listed as “No-Limit” which means a player can bet as much money as they have available.

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One of our favorite online poker networks is SportsBetting. They provide the utmost in exemplary service to poker players all across the nation with tight security, privacy and gaming options for a wide range of skill sets. Players can get into a Sit’n’Play game or engage in a high stakes tournament or if they prefer, get into a game where only play money is risked. Whether it be Texas Hold ‘Em, Omaha or 7 Card Stud, players will find tables which are just for them as thousands of players play on one of the largest networks with the most amount of options in the industry.

Signing up at SportsBetting Poker is easy and even comes with its own reward to help you ante up right from the get-go. Upon becoming a member and making your first deposit, new users will find a 200% bonus applied to the cash they deposited which makes buying into any game or tournament that you wish a cinch. The chips will forever be stacked in your favor at and we recommend it to experts and novices alike.

BetOnline Poker Great For Beginning Players - Favorite of Experienced Players!

This online poker room boasts the fasted growing network of users on the web and it’s easy to see why. With multiple variations of the game, players can get into casual games or join one of BetOnline’s famous tournaments. In fact, BetOnline has some of the highest prize pool tournaments in the game with $250,000 put into the pot each and every week. Members can try their luck and test their skills in the weekly guaranteed $10,000 tournament where the top players get a hefty slice of the pie.

BetOnline also sports revolving promotions which are never ending such as their 4 of a Kind Challenge where any lucky player that happens to hold the lucky hand is rewarded with $40 for their good fortune. BetOnline’s downloadable software is one of the finest programs around and we urge any American players looking to throw the cards around online to check them out.

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America’s Game

With poker rules, styles and different variations of the game having come to great notoriety, players all across the nation are familiarizing themselves with the basic principles of the game and where they can go to play for low stakes fun or serious high stakes action. We hope that some of the guidelines on this page have helped to discover the game and table that is right for you. With the internet at your fingertips, you are already halfway there just by being present on this site. With only a few clicks more, you can take what you’ve learned and get into a real game against some stiff competition or just play for the sake of playing against others who are just only learning the ropes at legal poker sites.