Why play online poker?
Wondering why you might play this age-old card game online? Here are a few reasons it’s so popular.
Unlike games such as roulette and slots, poker isn’t just about luck. Games are influenced by players’ skill, experience and strategy, and it’s this tactical aspect that makes poker more tense than other casino games.
Suits all budgets
Online poker caters for players of all budgets- whether you want to play free poker games, or you’re a high roller looking for high stakes poker, there’s something for everyone.
Play on the go
You can play your favourite poker games anytime and anywhere, thanks to mobile poker games. Whether you download a mobile app for poker, or play through a mobile-friendly site, you can play poker in just a couple of clicks- no matter where you are.
History of poker
Poker is one of the world’s most popular casino games, but where did it all begin? The answer isn’t entirely clear, but it’s generally thought that poker originated in the United States sometime during the early 19th century.
As poker gained popularity, players created more variations of the card game.
In fact, many of the variations you can find at online casinos today are the more recent inventions, most being formed in the 20th century. It was in the 1970s and 80s that poker really took off, with most casinos offering the game and the formation of professional poker tournaments.
The rise of online casinos meant that poker was more widely available than ever before, and it quickly became one of the most played table games among online players. Today you’ll struggle to find an online casino that doesn’t have a poker game.
Start playing online poker today
- Compare casinos
Our genius list features the best online poker sites on the market, and you can read up on all you need to know using our expert reviews. Simply browse and compare to find the best casino for your poker preferences.
- Sign up
Once you’ve settled on a site you’ll need to create your account. You can follow our link to take you straight to the registration page and get signed up within a few minutes.
Unless you only want to play free demos, you’ll need to make a deposit to get your bankroll started. Simply make your way to the cashier page, select your payment method and follow the on-screen instructions.
Deposits are usually processed instantly, so you can head straight to the games catalogue and start playing. There’s plenty of poker variations on offer at our recommended casinos, so pick one out, set your bet and hope for a lucky hand. Enjoy!
Online poker variations
The term ‘poker’ is typically associated with its most popular variation, Texas Hold’em. However, there are actually over one hundred different variations, many of which you can play at online casinos. Each variation has its own unique features, but the aim of the game generally remains the same – to make the best possible hand. Let’s take a look at the variations you’re most likely to find at the top online poker sites:
- Texas Hold’em
Easily the best-known variation, Texas Hold’em is played at all the major poker tournaments. Each player is dealt two ‘hole’ cards and then waits for five community cards to be revealed. Players must make their best hands with any combination of the seven cards. There are four betting rounds in this variation.
- Casino Hold’em
Essentially the same as Texas Hold’em except that it is played against the house, removing the bluffing element from the game.
- Omaha Hold’em
Omaha Hold’em has the same four rounds of betting as Texas Hold’em but differs in that each player is dealt four hole cards and the five community cards are revealed straight away. The aim is for players to make their best 5-card hand from two of their pocket cards and three community cards.
- Caribbean Stud
Played against the house, the dealer and each player receives five cards face down, after which the dealer turns over one of their cards. The players then fold or bet. The cards are then revealed and the best hand wins.
- 7-Card Stud
In this variation, each player is dealt seven cards, three of which are face down and four face up. The aim is to make the best possible 5-card hand from their seven cards. 7-Card Stud has five betting rounds.
- 5-Card Draw
In 5-card draw poker each player is dealt five cards, with the option of trading up to three of them on the initial round. The best 5-card hand then wins. There are only two betting rounds in 5-Card Draw, making it one of the simplest poker variations.
Live dealer poker
If you’re after a more immersive online poker experience, you can enjoy live dealer games at many of the best online poker sites. These games are streamed from specially built studios, bringing a live poker game to the comfort of your own home. Players are able to see the table and watch the dealer whilst interacting through a live chat, creating a more realistic casino experience.
The best poker websites offers a range of different live dealer poker variations, which means you can enjoy your favourite poker game from the comfort of your own home, without compromising on the authentic casino experience. Keep an eye out though, live dealer poker isn’t for everyone- minimum bet limits tend to be higher than computerised poker games.
Want to try your hand at online poker without dipping into your own wallet? You can do just that when you play at free poker sites. Most online casinos offer free games and don’t require you to deposit or wager any of your own money. Whether you want to play poker for fun, or get to grips with a new variation, free poker games are ideal. It goes without saying that you can’t win big money on these games, but that isn’t the top priority.
The UK’s top online poker sites have mobile-friendly websites, and some even have native mobile apps, which means you can enjoy both computerised and live dealer poker games on your mobile and tablet- whether you’re at home or out and about. You needn’t compromise on quality, either, as software developers create games using HTML5 technology, offering seamless gameplay across different device platforms. In fact, some games are even developed specifically for mobile play.
How to play online poker
Poker can seem slightly intimidating to beginners, but it’s pretty simple once you get the hang of it. The rules vary depending on the variation you’re playing, but the basic principle of the best hand winning remains the same. Of course, online poker doesn’t require the same bluffing skills at land-based casinos, which makes your job a little easier. Here’s how a game of Texas Hold’em might unfold.
- Blind bets
The game starts with two players making forced bets, known as blinds. The players who make the blind bets change each round. Every player is then given two hole cards – only the player can see their own hand.
- Pre-flop betting
Once each player has checked their hand, they need to decide whether they want to play the round. The options are to call the blind, meaning you match it’s value, raise, meaning your bet an amount larger than the blind, or fold, meaning you forfeit your hand and don’t play the round. If a player raises, each player must then match the raise or fold.
Once each player has made their decision, the dealer places three community cards face-up on the table. This round is known as the flop.
- Second betting round
Another round of betting then takes place. Players now have the option to check, which means remaining in the game without increasing their bet. However, if one player checks and another then raises, the player who checked will have to either match the bet or fold.
- Third and fourth betting rounds
Another single community card is then dealt face-up, followed by a round of betting. This step is repeated so that there are five community cards in total.
Once all the community cards have been dealt, each remaining player needs to make the best poker hand from the seven cards available to them. The remaining players then have a showdown, where they reveal their hands and the player with the highest ranking hand takes the pot.
Poker hand rankings
Online poker is decided by who has the best hand, so it’s important to know the different hand combinations and how they rank. These are the poker hand rankings from weakest to strongest:
- Pair – two cards of the same rank (the rank is the number)
- Two Pair – two different pairs
- Three of a Kind – three cards of the same rank
- Straight – five cards in a sequence but not of the same suit. For example, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
- Flush – five cards of the same suit but not in a sequence, such as five diamond cards
- Full House – three of a kind with a pair
- Four of a Kind – four cards of the same rank
- Straight flush – five cards in a sequence, all of the same suit
- Royal Flush – sequence of 10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace, all of the same suit
Online poker tips
Strategies for online poker are less complex than for land-based games as there’s no bluffing involved. However, you still have to make decisions in every round in an attempt to maximise your chances of a win. Let’s take a look at some tips that can help you get the most out of online poker:
Know when to fold, check and raise
Online poker strategy essentially boils down to knowing the best decision to make considering the strength of your hand and the community cards. As there’s no mind games it makes little sense to carry on playing with a weak hand, so it’s advisable to be selective and fold often. This is known as playing ‘tight’.
Be aware of the odds
Having some knowledge of the odds will help you make the best decisions. Let’s say you’re playing Texas Hold’em and you’ve got four hearts, two in your hand and two on the table. Four community cards have been dealt, so there’s one to go. If we ignore the dealer’s hand, this means there’s 46 cards left in the deck and nine hearts, as there’s 13 cards of each suit. So you have nine ways to win, but 37 to lose, meaning your odds are 37/9, or roughly 4:1. Of course, the dealer may have a heart which complicates things, but this gives you an idea of your chances. You can use poker odds calculators online to help you work out your prospects.
Understand the hand rankings
Poker hand rankings are simple, but it’s important to understand the hand rankings before you start playing – even a small mistake can result in a loss. Most online poker games show players the hand rankings throughout the game, but you shouldn’t be reliant on this.
Consider the house edge
The house edge differs between different poker variations, and also between games made by different software developers. However, some games tend to have a lower house edge than others, no matter which version you play. For example, while Casino Hold’em will usually have an edge of 2% to 2.5%, the house edge for Caribbean Stud often sits at 5%. While you should always play poker for fun, the house edge could impact your potential of making any winnings.
Manage your bankroll
As with any online casino game, it’s important to manage your bankroll. This means making sensible, well-educated wagers and never betting more than you can afford to lose in an attempt to chase your losses. Casino Genius recommends starting off with free poker and low stakes games if you’re a beginner- just to help you manage your bankroll better as you’re getting to grips with the rules and betting options.
Fancy prolonging your poker gameplay with an online casino bonus? The best poker sites offer welcome bonuses and regular promotions, and players can use these bonus to play online poker games. These are the deals most poker sites have to offer:
The most common poker bonuses are matched deposits, where you’re awarded a percentage of your first deposit as bonus funds. You might see a matched deposit bonus advertised as ‘50% matched bonus up to £100’. This means you’ll get the full £100 for depositing £200, or you could deposit £100 to get £50 in bonus cash.
You may also stumble across the slightly rarer no deposit bonus, where you’re simply given free cash for signing up. These will be of a smaller value than matched deposit rewards, usually no more than £5 to £10.
Other poker sites will offer regular promotions, rewarding players for their gameplay to keep them coming back for more. Loyalty schemes are one of the most popular methods of doing so, rewarding regular players with points that translate into bonus funds.
These bonuses rarely come without a catch, and that catch is most often wagering requirements. These determine how much cash you’ll need to wager before you can withdraw your bonus winnings as cash.
Unfortunately, poker games don’t tend to count 100% towards these requirements at online casinos. The exact percentage they contribute will vary between casinos and depending on the variation you choose. While poker will contribute 25% at one site, it may be excluded altogether at another. This means that exclusively playing poker games is unlikely to help you complete wagering requirements and get your hands on any winnings as cash.
Poker bonuses usually come with time limits. You’ll need to use your bonus funds within this time limit otherwise they— and often any associated winnings— will expire.
Poker software providers
Many of the leading casino software providers have developed versions of the classic casino card games, and we’ve picked out some of the best.
Playtech is one of the leading online poker game developers, winning Poker Supplier of the Year at the 2018 Gaming Intelligence Awards. It offers a huge number of high quality titles, from traditional favourites to exciting new variations- Age of the Gods Twister Poker is one such example, featuring a large progressive
Evolution Gaming stands out for its live dealer poker games, creating some of the most immersive on the market, thanks to its HD streams from specially built studios. It offers several different live poker titles, many of which have side bet options that offer players the chance to win prizes such as progressive jackpots.
Having launched its poker network in 2003, Microgaming is one of the longest established online poker developers. Its poker games are some of the best on the market, winning Poker Software of the Year at the EGR B2B Awards in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. Players have plenty of poker variations to pick from, including the likes of Multi Hand High Speed Poker and Triple Action Hold’em.
How to pick a top online poker site
Our list genius list of best UK casinos makes comparing poker sites a breeze, but you’ll still need to narrow down the options to find the casino that’s best for you. These are a few things to keep in mind:
All the casinos on our list are licensed by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), which means you can rest assured that your information will be kept safe and secure. If you’re browsing other sites, always make sure to check for a license. Licenses will be displayed on the websites of online casinos.
The poker variations on offer offer vary from site to site. While you’ll find the most popular titles at many casinos, if you’re looking for a particular variation you should check whether a casino has it before signing up. Online casinos also use different software providers, which may be a factor in your decision.
Who doesn’t like a generous welcome bonus to use on your favourite games? Of course, bigger isn’t necessarily better. You need to consider factors like game restrictions, wagering requirements and time limits as these are what determine how likely it is that you’ll actually get your hands on any winnings. As well as the welcome bonuses, you should check out the regular promotions offered by different casinos to help make sure you get the best deal.
Most online casinos accept traditional payment methods, like bank transfers and debit and credit card deposits. However, you might have to look a little harder to find pokers sites that accept e-wallets like PayPal, and Bitcoin payments. Don’t forget to take a look at the cashier options before you sign up if you have a particular payment method in mind.
Friendly- withdrawal terms
You want to know that if you do get lucky and bank some winnings you can actually access your winnings. Withdrawal processing times and minimum withdrawal limits can vary between sites, so it’s worth reading up on this. You’ll be able to find out all you need to know in the terms and conditions pages of online casinos.
Many players find they never need to contact customer support, but it’s important that the support is there if you were to have a problem. You’ll find that most of the top online casinos have 24 hour support, and can be reached by email, live chat or telephone, but not all sites offer this same level of customer service. Check out the contact options before you sign up to make sure they suit you.
Ready to play?
Now you’ve got to grips with the basics of online poker, you probably want to try out some online poker games for yourself. We’re sure you’ll find your ideal casino using our genius list. All our recommended casinos are licensed by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), so you can rest assured you’re playing at a safe and secure site.
Can you guarantee a win in online poker?
No. Although online poker is partly a skill-based game, it’s luck that determines the cards you’re dealt. This means that, while you can make tactical moves, there’s nothing you can to do guarantee a win. As with all casino games, you should be playing for fun and see any potential winnings as an added bonus.
What are the odds of winning at poker?
Unlike with games such as roulette, there are no set odds in poker as the odds change every time a card is dealt. Of course, if you’re playing a game like Caribbean Stud, you can work out your chances of being dealt certain hands. For example, the odds of being dealt a royal flush from a 52-card deck are 649,740:1, while your chances of a pair are 1.37:1. However, for games like Texas Hold’em, odds need to be worked out each round, and can never be 100% accurate because the dealer’s cards remain hidden. Using a poker odds calculator can help you to work out the chances of you landing a winning hand in poker.
What is the difference between draw and stud poker?
Draw poker is where players are dealt complete hands and can then improve them by replacing cards. Stud poker is where each player receives a certain number of cards to start with, after which additional cards are dealt in betting rounds. Players cannot swap any of their cards in stud poker. These both differ from community card poker, where community cards are shared by all players and are used to make the best possible hand.
What is an ante bet in poker?
An ante is a forced bet that means all players must put an equal amount of money or chips into the pot before a game begins. Antes are most common in games of draw and stud poker, while blinds— forced bets made by only a selection of players each round— are used in community poker games.
Are online poker games are fair?
Yes. As long as you’re playing at a casino licensed by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), you can rest safe in the knowledge that the poker games you’re playing are fair. The UKGC regulates all licensed casinos to ensure that casinos and their games remain honest. Plus, all poker games at licensed casinos use random number generators (RNG), or an impartial dealer in live games, so you can rest assured that these games aren’t rigged.
How can I withdraw my poker winnings?
The withdrawal options on offer vary at different sites. The top poker sites and best poker apps allow players to withdraw using a range of fast withdrawal options, including debit cards and e-wallets, but others have a more limited selection. It’s always worth checking the small print to understand the processing times for each withdrawal method, as well as any associated fees, to avoid any surprises later.