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Poker is without a doubt one of the most popular casino games in the world. Nowadays you don’t even have to go to one of the brick and mortar casinos as there are plenty of alternatives available online. The advantages of playing online are that you can make your moves in your own time and won’t be distracted by the other players that much. The rules are almost identical to those of real poker and as a beginner, you can practice for free in the online casinos until you feel confident enough to play with real stakes.
One thing that you need to be aware of is that poker is a very broad topic. There are a lot of variations out there, each with their own set of rules and potentially an entirely different gameplay experience. For example, you might already know how to play the popular Texas Hold’em Poker but that does not necessarily mean that variations like Omaha, HORSE, Razz or Stud Poker are a walk in the park for you.
Online Poker Networks - Compete against real Players
Furthermore, we have to divide Online Poker into two completely different categories. On the one hand, you have the large Online Poker Networks where you can compete against other players across the globe for a small fee. This is where most professional players are at home, waiting patiently like sharks for their next victim. If you are not an experienced player this might not be the place to start your online poker career.
Casino Poker - Play against the Bank
But there’s good news: there is also a more relaxed option available in the form of casino poker. This can be found in many online casinos and even in live casinos. Here you don’t have to worry about professional players that know every trick in the book because you are only competing against the bank. The skill required to get started with casino poker is way lower and is therefore a good entry to the world of the popular card game.
The most popular Poker variations
As previously mentioned, there are plenty of poker variations out there. In fact, the options are so numerous that we cannot discuss them all in this guide. We would, however, like to give you at least an idea of what’s available for you to explore:
- Texas Hold’em
- Omaha Hi
- Omaha Hi-Lo
- 7-Card Stud
- 2-7 Triple Draw
- 5-Card Draw
- 5-Card Omaha
- Chinese Poker
- Short Deck
If you want to find out more about the above-mentioned poker variants you can easily find more detailed information about them on the web or in one of the many guides on GoodLuckMate.
How to Play Texas Hold’em Poker
The most popular of the multitude of variants is Texas Hold'em Poker, which is why we want to go into a bit more detail with this one. Plus, most of the concepts that you’ll learn in this guide can be applied to other variations so it’s a good starting point. Casino Hold'em follows the basic rules of Texas Hold’em, but you are playing against the dealer instead of other players. To fully understand the rules, you should first familiarize yourself with the various card combinations and their values.
In this overview you can see the order in which poker hands are rated, sorted from the most valuable hand to the hand with the lowest value:
- Royal Flush: A straight from 10 to Ace of the same suit
- Straight Flush: A straight of five consecutive cards of the same suit
- Four of a Kind: Four cards of the same value
- Full House: Three cards of the same value plus two cards of the same value
- Flush: Any five cards of the same suit
- Straight: Five consecutive cards that do not have to be of the same suit
- Three of a Kind: Three cards of the same value
- Two Pair: Two pairs of two cards of the same value
- Pair: A pair of equal value
- High Card: If you don't have any of the above mentioned hands, your highest card counts
Now that we've explained the different poker hands to you, let's take a closer look at the gameplay of Casino Hold'em.
The basics of Casino Hold'em
Before a game of Casino Hold'em begins, you must first place a basic bet, the so-called ante.
After you have placed your ante, you will be given two cards. The dealer also receives two cards, but they are not visible to you. Next, three community cards are revealed in the center of the table. In technical jargon, this is called a flop. So far, almost everything is identical to normal Texas Hold'em poker.
You can form your poker hand by using any of the community cards that are available to all players and the banker and the two cards on your hand. You can use a maximum of five cards for that purpose. After analyzing your cards and the three community cards, you need to decide whether to call or if you want to fold your hand. If you call, another bet equal to the ante is required. If you fold you lose the ante and the game round is over. If you decide to call, the dealer draws another community card at the so-called “Turn”. This is followed by the final round, the “River”, with one more community card, so five in total.
The dealer now compares his hand to the player's hand. This is called a showdown in technical terms. The dealer can only win if his hand has a certain minimum value. To qualify for that, the dealer must have at least a pair of fours or a higher hand. If he does not succeed, you win the round automatically and receive the corresponding profit depending on your hand. If the dealer qualifies and has a better hand than you, you lose the round and your wager. The exact amount you receive for your combination of cards varies slightly but can be easily looked up in the game rules at any point in time.
Casino Poker FAQ
What’s the difference between playing against real players and playing against a banker?
The rules are fundamentally the same and the game follows a similar trajectory. One of the big differences is that in a regular round of poker there’s also a mandatory wager for two players on the table. The “Small Blind” and the “Big Blind”. The reason for this is to encourage players to take a risk and attack the “Blinds” with weaker hands to steal them away. Otherwise, you could just wait until you get the best hand possible without having to play any of your bad hands.
Another difference is that if a player makes a bet, the other players can decide to raise the bet when they think they have a stronger hand or if they simply try to bluff. It is even possible to re-raise the hand. This can go back and forth until a player is “All In”, which often results in an immediate showdown with their whole stake on the line.
How do I get a Poker Bonus?
It’s really easy to get a poker bonus in most online casinos. However, first, you have to decide if you want to compete at a poker network against other players or if you want to try the casino poker version of the game where you play against the bank. This is because there’s usually separate bonus offers available for each of them.
If you want to play casino poker you can take advantage of one of the many online casino welcome offers out there. Most of them can be used for table games and that usually includes casino poker as well. Sometimes there are even live casino bonuses that can be used with live dealer games, which also include different types of poker tables.
If you are not sure which offer to choose you can have a look at the GoodLuckMate Top List in order to find out more about the best deals out there.
Can I play poker for free?
Yes! There are several different ways to play online poker for free. If you are interested in trying out the casino poker options you can test most of the games in a free version. There you can play with play money for as long as you want. You can refine your strategy and learn more about the game without having to risk a dime. On most casino sites you can do this by selecting one of the games while you are not logged into your account.
Some of the poker networks offer a similar free play option where you can compete against other players just for fun and without real cash. Sometimes there are even so-called “free rolls” for new players. These are free tournaments with a small prize pool where you can win real money without having to make a deposit.