Top Online Poker Casinos

Poker is the only casino game you don’t play against the house but other players. As a result, it’s possible to affect the outcome and take control of the game. Check out the top online casinos where you can enjoy poker for real money or for free.

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Even though poker isn’t a game of chance, you’d need some luck to win. However, it all comes down to your ability to make a suitable decision at the given moment. Thus, you may win even with a poor hand or lose when you think you’re about to grab those chips. Therefore, learning the game’s basics and practicing it to gain skills is critical. 

What Is Poker?

Poker is a straightforward card game that requires both skills and luck. Simultaneously, despite being simple, it’s highly engaging and exciting, which is why so many players love it. But even though it won’t take long to get the rules, you’ll need a lot of time to learn how to play the game successfully. 

Furthermore, there are multiple poker versions, each playing differently. They can be divided into three poker game categories:

  • Draw poker
  • Stud poker
  • Community card poker

Draw Poker

At the beginning of the game, each player gets the whole hand right away. In most draw poker games, all the cards players receive should be hidden from their opponents. Later, they discard some of them and draw the same number of cards they got rid of. As a result, they will lose the cards they don’t like and get the chance to improve their hands. 

Stud Poker

Regarding stud poker, players receive some cards turned face-up and others face-down. Hence, others will have some idea about the hand they got. Unlike draw poker, they don’t get the whole hand in the beginning but receive more of them later. And as the game goes on, each player forms the best hand with the cards they got. 

Community Card Poker

In community card poker, some cards are placed face-up on the table every player can see. Simultaneously, they receive some cards initially and try to form a strong hand with “shared” cards and the hidden ones. The most popular community card poker game is Texas Hold’em. 

How to Play Poker Online?

Even though there are numerous poker variations, some things are the same in almost any version. In most cases, the goal is to get the strongest hand and, as a result, win the money. Moreover, the hand ranking is usually the same.

High cardThe best-ranking card you have
PairTwo cards of the same kind
Two pairsTwo pairs of matching cards
Three-of-a-kindThree matching cards
StraightFive differently-suited consecutive cards
FlushFive same-suited cards
Full HouseTwo matching cards and three-of-a-kind
Four-of-a-kindFour cards of the same kind
Straight FlushFive same-suited consecutive cards
Royal FlushCards ranging from 10 and an Ace of the same suit

As for the moves to make, players can either:

  • Check 
  • Bet
  • Call
  • Fold
  • Raise

Once the game has started, everyone can bet or check – pass the action to the next player. However, if someone raises the bet, you must match the amount (call) or give up a hand (fold). You can also re-raise or bring even more in this situation, and your opponents again need to follow up or fold. 

Poker History

When looking at poker strategy, it’s wise to observe the game’s beginnings. Germans used a game of bluffing called “Pochen” as early as the 16th century. Later, it evolved into a French version called Poque. Later, this game found its way to New Orleans, where players enjoyed it on riverboats along the Mississippi.

The game became more popular in the 1830s and became known as poker. The Civil War saw the addition of the rule that drawing cards can improve your hand. Stud Poker evolved around the same time. There are many poker betting strategies and variations of this game. Punters can play the game in private homes and numerous Poker rooms at renowned casinos. You can play poker socially for pennies and matchsticks or professionally for thousands.

Poker is a game of chance. However, it requires tremendous skill, and each player controls their fate.

Poker Strategy For Beginners: The Pack

The 52-card standard pack is the preferred choice in this title, sometimes with one or two jokers added. Although poker is traditionally a one-pack game with 52 cards, today’s best players use two packs of contrasting color to speed up their game. The dealer deals with one pack while the other is in preparation for the next deal. 

For two packs, the procedure involves the previous dealer assembling all cards from the dealt pack, shuffling them, and placing them to the left. The shuffled deck of cards then passes to the next dealer when it’s time for the next deal. Two packs are also available for many games. In these cases, the left-hand opponent cuts the pack.

Clubs have a tradition of changing cards frequently and allowing players to request new cards at will. Both packs should become unused when new cards come into the game. The dealer should also remove the seals and cellophane wraps in full view of all players.

Card Values

Although one can enjoy poker in many different ways, players familiar with the game’s rules and values can easily play any variant. Regarding poker strategy, a poker hand is five cards, except in specific versions. There are five possible combinations of Poker hands. The highest is five of a type (the best), and the lowest is no pair or nothing.

Five Of A Kind 

This is the highest hand possible and is only possible in games with at least one wild card, such as the joker, two one-eyed Jacks, or four deuces. Five of a kind could be four 10 s, a wild card, or two queens and three Wild Cards.

Straight Flush 

This hand is the highest hand possible when using the standard pack, and there are no wildcards. Straight flush combines five cards from the same suit, such as 10, 9, 8, 7, or 6 of hearts. The A, K Q, J, and 10 cards of the same suit are the highest-ranking straight flush. This combination is also known as a royal flush or a royal straight flush. This hand is 1 in 650,000.

Four Of A Kind 

This hand ranks immediately after a straight flush and is the next highest. For example, four aces and four 3s are examples. It doesn’t matter what the fifth card is.

Full House 

This combination is a colorful hand that consists of three cards of the same rank as two cards of another rank. For example, it may include three 8s and two 4s or three aces and two 6s.

Flush 

A flush includes five cards of the same suit but not in the exact sequence. Example: Q, 10, 7, 6, and 2 of clubs.

Straight 

Five cards are arranged in a sequence of five, but not all in the same suit. Example: 9, 8, 7, 6, 6.

Three Of A Kind 

This combination includes three cards of the same ranking, with two other cards of a different rank, such as three jacks or sevens and a four.

Two Pairs 

This hand features a pair of one rank plus another pair of a distinct rank. Additionally, it also has any fifth card of a different rank.

One Pair 

This combination is rare and contains only one pair, with all three cards of different ranks. Example: 10, 10, K, 4.

No Pair 

This standard hand has “nothing.” The five cards do not pair and are not of the same rank or suit. If more than one player does not have a pair, the hands will rate according to the highest card in each hand. An ace-high hand is better than a king-high hand, and so forth.

There is a critical consideration regarding poker strategy and how to play poker like a pro. Because the suits do not have a relative rank in poker, game rules consider two hands that are identical as tied. The pot is split in such cases by the tied players. 

If two hands have the same high pair of cards, the ranking of each card determines who wins. Here’s an example: 9, 9, 7, 4, 2 beats 9, 9, 5, 3, 2. The fifth card would decide if two hands have identical pairs. For example, Q, Q, 6, 6, J beats Q, Q, 6, 6, 10.

Worst to Best Hands in Poker

Royal Flush

A Royal Flush combines 10, Jack, Queen King, Ace, and King in the same suit. It has a 1 out 649,737 probability and has 4 combinations.

Straight Flush

Straight Flush refers to five cards in one row that are all of the same suit. It has a 1 in 72,193 probability and 36 combinations.

Four of a Kind

A Four of a Kind card is the same in all four suits. It has a 1 out of 4,164 probability and has 624 combinations.

Full House

A Full House is when you have three or more of the same kind in one hand. It has a 1 in 693 probability and has 3,744 combinations.

Flush

A Flush is five cards from the same suit in the same order, but not numerical. It has a 1 in 508 and 5,108 combinations.

Straight

A Straight is five cards in numerical sequence but not in the same suit. It has a 1 in 253 probability and 10,200 combinations.

Three of a Kind

Three of a kind are three cards of the same card and two non-paired cards. It has a 1 in 46 probability and 54,912 combinations.

Two Pair

Two pairs are two different sets or pairings of the same card. It has a 1 out of 20 probability and 123,552 combinations.

One Pair

One pair is a combination of two cards. It has a 1 out of 1.36 probability and 1,098,240 combinations.

High Card

A high card refers to a hand that has no matching cards. It has a 1 out of 0.99 probability and 1,302,540 combinations.

How A Round Of Poker Looks

Let’s look at the key features of a poker game, including the various positions at the table and the betting rounds. We’ll observe poker strategy in detail in later sections.

The Button

Play proceeds clockwise around each table, beginning with action to the left of the dealer button. The “button” is a circular disc placed in front of the player and rotated one seat to the left for every hand. The dealer button serves to play in poker rooms and casinos. However, the dealer button does not deal the cards.

When you play poker at home with your friends, the player with the button deals the hands. The button indicates which player is acting dealer at the table. To initiate betting, the first two players to the left of the button must post a “small blind” and a “big blind.”

The action then spreads to multiple streets:

  • Preflop
  • Flop
  • Turn
  • River.

Below are explanations for these rounds, or “streets,” as they’re called in in-game lingo.

For example, Texas Hold ’em requires the player on the button to play. In other words, the player nearest to the button gets the last action on any post-flop streets. Regardless of poker strategy, the dealer button determines which players must post the small or big blinds. However, it also decides where the cards go during dealing.

The dealer buttons in the small blind are to the left of the player who receives the first card. After that, the dealer moves clockwise from one player to another until all players have received their two starting cards.

Blinds

The blinds of a Texas Hold ’em game require two “Hole Cards” to be dealt face-down, and the first round begins. Two players are required to place small and large blinds before every hand starts. The wagering starts with the blinds, which exist as forced bets.

The absence of these blinds would make the game boring as no one would need to pay any money. Instead, players could wait until they get dealt pocket aces (AA) and play only then. Therefore, blinds ensure that there is some level of action in every hand. The blinds in tournaments go up at regular intervals. Cash games have the blinds remaining the same. Tournaments have regular blind raises, leading to a different poker tournament strategy for each player.

As the tournament progresses, the blinds will increase, with the stacks of remaining players growing and decreasing. The button subsequently moves to the right of the previous position. The size of the small blind is usually half that of the large blind. However, this can vary from one room to another and may depend on the game in question (regardless of poker strategy).

Preflop: First Betting Round

Two “Hole Cards” are dealt face-down, and the first round begins. After each player receives two holes cards, the first round of betting begins. The player to the left is the first to act. This position is known as “under the gun” because it requires the player to act first. Three options are available to the first player:

  • Call: Match the amount of big blind
  • Raise: Increase the bet within the limits of the game
  • Fold the hand and throw it away.

If a player decides to fold, they are out of the game. They can no longer win the current hand. Players can place bets anywhere between the big blind (the minimum allowed bet) and the total amount in the current pot. The game determines how much a player can raise.

A game of No-Limit Texas Hold ’em requires that the minimum opening raise be at least twice the amount of the big blind. When it comes to poker strategy, the maximum raise is all the chips in the player’s stack (an “all-in” bet). In fixed-limit Hold ’em, or simply “Limit Hold ’em,” a raise is always precisely double the big blind.

Pot-limit Hold ’em is a less common variation of poker. Players can place bets anywhere between the amount in the big blind (minimum bet) and the total amount in the pot. The play continues clockwise around the table after the first player (or ‘under the gun”) acts. Each player has the same three options: to call, raise or fold.

After the dealer calls the last bet, the action becomes “closed,” and the pre-flop round ends. Play moves on to the “flop.”

The Flop: Second Betting Round

Once the pre-flop betting round finishes, the first three community cards will go on the table. The second betting round will follow, involving only players who haven’t folded (which may be the perfect time to consider a poker strategy). 

This betting round (and all subsequent ones) begins with the active player left of the button. A player can now “check” to see if there has been any betting activity before they bet, call or fold. A check is simply the act of passing the action on to the next player in a hand. The betting continues until the dealer calls the last raise or bet, which closes the action.

Sometimes, a player decides to check the other players around the table. This action also ends the betting round.

The Turn: Third Betting Round

The fourth community card is otherwise known as the “Turn” and precedes a new round. After all betting activity on the flop, the fourth community card is called the turn and goes on the table face-up.

After this step, another round will take place, just like the one on the previous street. Considering their poker strategy, players have again the option to choose to check, bet or call, fold or raise. Call = match the amount of big blind.

The River: Final Betting Round

The River is the last community card. A final betting round follows the “River” community card, and the “Showdown” begins.

After all betting activity on the turn, the fifth community card (the River) goes on the table face-up. After this action occurs, another round will happen, just like the one on the previous street.

The remaining players now have the option of checking, betting, calling, folding, or raising. The remaining players with hole cards must now reveal their holdings to determine the winner. This step is known as the “Showdown.”

The Showdown

The Showdown means that the player who has the best combination of five cards wins. Players build their hands by selecting the five best cards out of the seven available and according to their poker strategy. The dealer assists the remaining players in determining a winning hand. According to official poker hand rankings, the player who has the best combination of five cards wins the pot.

Advanced Poker Strategy

Only after you have mastered the basics of poker theory can you begin to tackle advanced poker theory. Learning the basics of poker theory will help you win against those who don’t understand them. The following section contains insight into how professional poker players think.

Once you’ve learned the basics, are familiar with basic theory, and understand how poker profits work, it is time to work towards converting this theory into a practical strategy. We will discuss more advanced poker theory below, including these critical concepts:

  • Determining the profitable and nonprofitable actions
  • Strategy versus tactics
  • Maximizing EV.

Determining The Profitable & Nonprofitable Actions

Translating theoretical poker strategy concepts into a game plan calls for different steps. The first step is to understand what actions cause a surplus or deficit in your bottom line. You know you win when your opponents play worse than you on a variety of decision points. But how can you identify those “leaks” in their game?

What Is A Leak?

Leakage is any play with a negative expected value (-EV) that results in a loss of money over time. But what causes leaks? It might be better to view leaks as errors. This question brings us to a common misconception in poker.

Many players believe that losing a game means they made a mistake. When professional poker players talk about their mistakes or opponents’ mistakes, they think of big pots in which the player raised all-in while their opponent was playing a giant hand. They might also think of the times when they failed to put down AK but ran into AA. These aren’t mistakes made in poker.

In terms of poker strategy, what is a mistake in poker?

A professional poker player will often talk about making mistakes. They are most likely talking about a situation where they did not play well given all the information. This occurrence could be the case if a professional checks back on a river, and then after reviewing their play, discovers that there are many worse hands than they thought.

 They will realize that they made an error and lost their long-term earnings. It is better to value bet in that spot. They may also make the same mistake, place a bet unlikely to get called, and then realize they made a mistake again.

The same goes for professional players discussing their opponents’ mistakes. They are most likely referring to any strategic or tactical errors that could lead to long-term losses. They may see their opponent calling in the blinds repeatedly with marginal hands. Professionals will see that their opponent is making strategic pre-flop mistakes because of a flawed strategy.

Strategy Versus Tactics

You know your game must have fewer leaks than your opponents’ to be a successful poker player. So, go back to the basics and build your poker strategy. Once you know what a profitable strategy looks like, you can make sure your tactics fit that strategy.

Chess is an excellent example of organizing your thoughts in poker and turning poker theory into an action plan. There are two types of chess that you can play at any time: a tactical and a strategic game. The strategic game is the player’s long-term defensive strategy and plans for offensive attacks. 

On the other hand, the tactical game consists of short-term actions designed to implement the long-term strategy. While the strategic game is more rigid, the tactical one is dynamic and constantly evolving. Poker is the same.

Your plan can either lead you to superior or inferior strategies in poker. 

Strategy = Fundamentals

It helps to see your poker strategy as fundamental and every action within those limits as a tactic. As you progress and learn as a player, it is essential to focus on advanced theory and build a tactic that matches your strategy. 

You will create a system that allows you to make good decisions in the heat of play and avoid costly errors. If you’re unsure of what to do, go back to the basics and determine which tactical play best fits your overall strategy.

Maximizing EV

Maximizing means to win more when you’re winning and lose less when you’re losing. This logic is an essential aspect of poker because it forces you to analyze each situation thoroughly. Sometimes, an obvious play may not be the best option, even though it is +EV. 

You may find yourself in a desperate situation and make hasty decisions to get to the next hand. Unfortunately, your long-term win rate and overall poker strategy will decline if you miss out on superior “concealed” plays.

Maximizing Profit: The Road to Maximizing It

Sound and disciplined foundations are the first steps to maximizing your potential. These fundamentals will allow you to create more profitable situations while avoiding -EV areas. The most beneficial action is easier to understand and will be more available if you avoid complicated decisions.

In other words, maximizing is easier when you actively create profitable scenarios. Rather than following a cookie-cutter strategy, which can lead to bankroll suicide or flying by the edge of your pants, it’s much more enjoyable. Once you know the most lucrative situations, it is possible to constructively position yourself in them daily. Instead of passively waiting for profit to arrive, you can actively seek it out.

Online Poker Winning Tips

Excellent poker players understand that this game isn’t all about cards and getting lucky. It has a lot to do with psychology. Thus, they developed the crucial skill necessary for surviving the poker game – the ability to fold. 

Generally, new players aren’t much fond of giving up a hand. It’s natural to be curious and try to make it to the end, even if it means losing all the money. However, avoiding folding at all costs is the worst possible thing you can do. Simply put, this is the easiest way to lose your money.

Moreover, professional players are well familiar with the poker strategy chart. And even though you’ll take forever to learn it, you should – if you want to play poker seriously. Nonetheless, relying only on the strategy chart is also a mistake. During the poker game, intuition is your best friend. 

Simply put, you need to make a suitable decision while keeping various factors in mind. Things such as experience and intuition are critical. However, you should also know the best moves to make according to the poker strategy chart. 

Why Play Poker for Free?

As a poker player, you’d need to gain much experience before beating your opponents. Thus, playing poker for free is an excellent choice for newbies. Even though playing it for real money is more exciting, gaining skills and experience is crucial before going down that road. 

So, if you want to become a decent player and, as a result, enhance your odds of winning, remember that practice makes it perfect. Luckily, many online casinos offer free play options and allow you to gain experience and simultaneously browse through the game library. 

Real-Money Poker

Playing poker for real money is as exciting as it is challenging. As you can imagine, every beginner’s mistake can get you into trouble and cost you a lot of money. Hence, new players shouldn’t rush into it but take their time to practice and gain skills instead. 

Moreover, choosing a suitable online casino to play at is critical.  When it comes to online gambling, safety comes first. But other than a valid license, it should have an excellent reputation, lucrative bonuses, and quality games.

Mobile Poker

Today’s online casinos should have mobile-responsive websites or applications. Every quality venue provides the possibility of on-the-go gaming. It opens new doors for players and enables them to enjoy their favorite games wherever they are.

And poker is an exciting game to play on a mobile phone, simply because it feels different from a desktop. However, some players don’t like mobile gaming and prefer to play on larger-screened devices – but you can’t know unless you try it. If you want to check mobile poker out, search for up-to-date online casinos that are mobile-optimized.

Difference between Poker and Blackjack

Even though both require cards, poker and blackjack are entirely diverse games. When you play poker, you play against other gamblers. On the other hand, blackjack is played against the dealer – or the casino. 

However, blackjack also demands specific skills, such as decision making. It also has a basic strategy chart that shows you when to make a particular move. Furthermore, card counting can affect the winning odds, so casinos aren’t fond of it. And lastly, blackjack doesn’t have a fixed house edge. Thus, a skilled player can beat the dealer even though “the house always wins.”

All said and done; poker has less to do with luck than blackjack. You don’t play it against the house; you need to rely on your intuition, knowledge, ability to read the opponents, and such. 

Closing Thought

Poker is a simple and unique game that brings much excitement (and preferably a profit). However, just like all other casino games, it doesn’t come without risks. Choosing a safe venue with poker games is mandatory for a quality experience. Besides understanding the rules and gaining some skills, controlling your money spending is also critical. So, poker and responsible gaming are primarily about fun and excitement.