If you want to learn how to play online poker as a beginner or need a refresher on the basics, this guide is all you need to read.
Online poker is a popular and exciting card game that can be played from anywhere you are.
We have also covered poker hand rankings, different types of betting options, and the basic strategies to help you win.
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Step by Step on How to Play Poker Online
Whether you are a beginner or an experienced player, learning how to play poker online can be a great way to hone your skills. The best thing about playing poker online is that you can still compete with other players and win real money.
In this guide, we’ll take you through the step-by-step process of playing poker online.
Step 1 – Betting
Two common types of forced bets before the hand begins in poker are ante-betting and blind betting.
Ante betting is a small bet that every player at the table must make before the hand is dealt. This bet is usually a small percentage of the minimum bet for the game. The ante aims to create a pot for players to compete for, even if no one else chooses to bet.
Antes are commonly used in stud games but are less common in other forms of poker.
Blind betting is a different type of forced bet, typically used in games like Texas Hold ’em and Omaha. Instead of every player making a small bet, one or two players are forced to make larger bets before the hand is dealt.
The two players to the dealer’s left must post the small blind and big blind, respectively. The small blind is typically half the size of the minimum bet for the game. The big blind is equal to the minimum bet.
Step 2 – The Deal
Once players have placed the forced bets. The dealer deals a certain number of cards to each player. The number of cards dealt to each player varies based on the poker variant being played.
In Texas Hold’em poker, the dealer deals two cards face down to each player. These face-down cards are referred to as whole cards. The dealer will then deal five cards face up on the table. The face-up cards are community cards; any player on the table can use them.
In Omaha poker, each player is dealt four-hole cards face down. The dealer then deals five community cards in total. Players must use exactly two hole cards and three community cards to make the best possible five-card hand.
Texas Hold’em Poker and Omaha poker are both blind betting poker variants. Below is how card dealing works in the ante-betting poker variant:
In Seven Card Stud, players place an ante bet before the game begins. After all the bets have been placed, the dealer starts the game by burning a card and then deals three cards to each player at the table.
Two of the three cards are dealt face down, and one is dealt face up. The face-down cards are also called hole cards, while the face-up card is commonly called Third Street or Door Card.
Step 3 – First Betting Round
The first betting round begins once players have been dealt their hole cards. The player to the left of the big blind is the first to act in Texas Hold’em and Omaha poker.
In Seven Card Stud poker, the player with the lowest-valued third street cards will be the first to act.
This player has three options: to fold, call, or raise. The action moves clockwise around the table, with each player having the same options.
If a player chooses to fold, they give up their cards and are out of hand. A player who chooses to call must match the size of the big blind. If a player chooses to raise, they increase the size of the bet. The minimum raise is typically equal to the size of the previous bet or raise.
Once all players have had a chance to act, the betting round is complete. If only one player remains after the betting round, they win the pot, and the hand is over. If multiple players are remaining, the game proceeds to the next round.
Step 4 – Second Betting Round
Once all players can act, the dealer deals the first three community cards in Texas Hold’em, and Omaha poker.
In Seven Card Stud, the dealer deals one card face up to each remaining player. This card is referred to as a fourth street’.
The second betting round begins with the player to the dealer’s left or the player whose fourth street is of the highest value.
This player has the option to check or bet. If they choose to check, they pass the action to the next player in a clockwise direction. If they choose to bet, they place a wager, and the action moves to the next player. Each subsequent player has the same options for checking, betting, folding, calling, or raisingIf no player has placed a bet during the second round, the action moves to the next round, the third round of betting. However, if a player has made a bet, each player must decide whether to fold, call the bet, or raise the bet.
Step 5 – Third Betting Round
After the second betting round, the dealer reveals another community card in Texas Hold’em and Omaha poker called the turn.
The dealer deals the fifth card, the fifth street, to each remaining player in Seven Card Stud poker. This card is also dealt face-up.
The third betting round is the same as the second betting round.
Step 6 – Fourth Betting Round
The dealer then deals the fifth and final community card in Texas Hold’em and Omaha called ‘river’. Once the river is dealt, the fourth betting round begins with the player to the left of the dealer.
This player has the option to check or bet. If they choose to check, the action moves to the next player in a clockwise direction. If they choose to bet, the betting proceeds to the next player. Each subsequent player has the same options for checking, betting, folding, calling, or raising.
In Seven Card Stud poker, the dealer deals the sixth card, the sixth street, to each player face up. This is followed by another betting round, in which the dealer deals the final card to each player face-down. The seventh card is also called the river or the seventh street. The player with the highest visible hand starts the betting round. This player has the same options as the one in either Texas Hold’em or Omaha poker.
Step 7 – The Showdown
At the end of the final betting round, if more than one player remains, the game advances to the showdown.
The showdown is the game’s final stage, where all the remaining players reveal their hands to determine the pot’s winner.
To start the showdown, the player who made the last bet or raise must show their cards first. If no bet was placed in the final betting round, the player shows their cards to the dealer’s left first. The remaining players then show their hands clockwise around the table.
Once all hands are revealed, the player with the best ranking hand wins the pot. In the event of a tie, the pot is split equally between the tied players.
Hand Rankings in Poker
Hand rankings in poker are used to determine the winner of a hand based on the value of the cards in the player’s hand. The poker variant rules determine the winning hand. For example, in some poker games, the highest-ranked hand wins. The lowest-ranked hand wins in other poker variants, such as 2-7 Triple Draw and Badugi poker.
Here are the hand rankings in poker in descending order:
Royal Flush: This is the highest-ranking hand in poker, consisting of a ten, jack, queen, king, and ace of the same suit.
Straight Flush: This hand consists of any five cards of the same suit in numerical order.
Four of a Kind: This hand has four cards of the same rank, such as four kings.
Full House: This hand consists of three cards of the same rank and two cards of another rank, such as three jacks and two sevens.
Flush: This hand consists of any five cards of the same suit, not in numerical order.
Straight: This hand consists of any five cards in numerical order, not of the same suit.
Three of a Kind: This hand has three cards of the same rank, such as three aces.
Two Pair: This hand consists of two cards of the same rank, two cards of another rank, and one card of a third rank, such as two jacks, two fives, and a queen.
One Pair: This hand has two cards of the same rank, such as two kings.
High Card: If no player has a hand that ranks, the highest-ranking card in their hand is used to determine the winner.
Poker players need to understand hand rankings to determine who wins the pot. Understanding the hand rankings is crucial for players to know when to continue betting or when to fold their hand.
Basic Poker Rules
You must be adept with the game rules to know how to play online poker. While many different versions of poker exist, some standard rules and concepts apply to most poker games.
The game’s objective is to win the pot, which is the collection of bets made by all players during a hand.
- Poker is played with a standard deck of 52 cards, excluding jokers, except in Pai Gow poker.
- Poker can be played as pot-limit, no-limit, and fixed-limit betting.
- In Pot-limit poker, a player’s minimum bet or raise is typically equal to the previous bet or raise.
- No Limit poker games have no maximum bet or raise limit. This means that players can bet or raise any amount of chips they have on the table at any time during the hand.
- In Fixed Limit poker games, the betting and raising amounts are predetermined and fixed for each betting round.
- Some poker games have community cards that are dealt face-up in the middle of the table. Any player can use these cards to make the best possible hand. The number of community cards and how they are dealt varies depending on the game.
Basic Poker Strategies to Win
Once you know how to play online poker, you will realise that winning requires a combination of skill, strategy, and luck. Here are some basic poker strategies that can help improve your chances of winning:
Play Good Starting Hand Selection
One of poker’s most important strategies is choosing the right starting hands. You should only play strong starting hands like pocket pairs, high-suited connectors, and high-suited aces. Avoid playing weak starting hands like low-suited connectors and low unconnected cards.
Play According to Your Position
Your position at the poker table can significantly impact your success. Being in a later position allows you to see how your opponents act before making your decision, giving you a better understanding of their hand strength. As a general rule, try to play more aggressively when in a late position and be more cautious when in an early position.
Manage Your Bankroll
Proper bankroll management is crucial to long-term success in poker. You should only play with the money you can afford to lose. Avoid going all-in or betting too much of your bankroll on any single hand.
Know When to Bluff
Bluffing is an essential strategy in poker that can help you win pots even when you don’t have the strongest hand. However, choosing the right situations to bluff and being aware of your opponent’s playing style and tendencies is essential.
Study Your Opponents
Reading your opponents and understanding their playing style is critical to winning at poker. Look for tells or patterns in their behavior, such as how they bet, the cards they play, or how they act when they have a strong or weak hand.
Patience is a virtue in poker, and staying disciplined and waiting for the right opportunities to play is essential. Don’t get caught up in chasing losses or trying to win back what you have lost in a single hand.
Practice Online Poker
Practice is the key to learning how to play poker successfully. Play free poker online to grasp the rules, and strategies and get a good idea of how the pot odds work. You can also practice in low-stakes games before moving on to higher-stakes games.
Poker is a complex game that requires skill, strategy, and luck to win. Following these basic poker strategies can improve your chances of success and increase your bankroll over time.
What Makes a Good Starting Hand in Poker
A good starting hand in poker has a high chance of winning the pot, and its strength depends on the number of players, their style, and their position. The best-starting hands are high pairs like AA, KK, QQ, and JJ, while medium-strength hands like TT, 99, and 88 are playable but vulnerable. Low pairs like 77, 66, and 55 are less reliable. Suited connectors like 89, 78, and 67 can be strong, especially if they have the potential to make a straight or flush. Players should understand the game and be flexible in selecting the best starting hand.
What Poker Games are Available Online
Online poker enthusiasts have access to an extensive range of poker games; among the most popular options are:
Three Card Poker:
In Three Card Poker, players bet on their three-card hand against the dealer’s hand. If you want to learn how to play online poker, you can start with this variant. The game is easy to learn and is popular in both land-based and online casinos.
This game is the most widely played online poker variant, where players receive two private cards and five community cards. Players can use their hole and community cards to create the best five-card hand possible. Players also have the option to use community cards alone when making the best hand.
Omaha is similar to Texas Hold’em, but players receive four hole cards instead of two. In addition, they must use two of their hole cards and three shared community cards to form their best possible hand.
Seven Card Stud:
Players receive seven cards, including three hole cards and four face-up cards. The objective is to create the best possible five-card hand using a combination of their private and community cards.
In this lowball poker game, the aim is to have the lowest hand possible. Players receive seven cards, and the player with the lowest five-card hand wins the pot.
Five Card Draw:
It is a classic poker game where players receive five cards and can exchange them for new cards to improve their hand.
In Caribbean Stud Poker, players play against the dealer rather than each other. The aim is to have a better hand than the dealer.
These are just a few examples of the vast array of online poker games.
Online poker sites offer different variations of these games and other unique poker games. Players can play cash games and even join poker tournaments online.
How to Play Poker in a Casino
Playing poker for real money in online casinos is the same as playing at land-based casinos. If you’ve ever played poker with a live dealer, you’ll feel at home playing in a physical casino. The table set-up is identical but has a human dealer to keep things interesting. However, the pace of the game is much slower, which is not entirely bad.
One of the most significant differences is the ability to see your opponents. You can observe their body language and playing style to help you anticipate their next move.
Reviewing the casino’s rules before you start playing is crucial. You can usually find them posted in the poker room. Even though the basic steps for playing remain the same, every casino has its specific variant and house rules. Once you’ve got a handle on those, you’re ready to start playing and maybe even winning big!