Since exploding onto the scene in the early 2000’s, the unique blend of luck, skill, and huge paydays offered by online poker has made it one of the most exciting and popular games offered by online casinos.
Skilled players routinely make a living on the virtual felt, but the financial promise of the game extends to amateurs as well. A single run of hot cards in a major online tournament can easily net five-figure and even six-figure sums. Cash games where six-figures pots are exchanged are common as well.
Today, many different variations of online poker exist. The most well known — No Limit Texas Hold’em — is a thrilling variant enjoyed by millions. But other forms of the game — most notably Pot Limit Omaha, known simply as ‘PLO’ — are also popular.
Below, we take outline the basics of this most unique and thrilling online casino phenomenon. This article covers the basic rules of the game, the different varieties of online poker, and the most popular playing options.
The Basic Rules Of Poker
The core rule of No Limit Texas Hold’em (NLHE) poker is simple: the player who makes the best 5-card hand using their own cards (known as Hole Cards) and the community board cards wins.
Gameplay starts before any cards are dealt with the two players to the left of the dealer adding money to the pot. These mandatory bets are known as the ‘small’ and ‘big’ blinds. If it is an ante game, players will add those to the pot as well.
Every player is then dealt two cards, face down. The player to the left of the big blind is first to act, and can either fold, call the amount in the big blind, or bet any amount more than the big blind.
Action moves clockwise around the table, with each player having the same three options — fold, call the largest bet made (which will be the big blind, unless a previous player bet more), or fold.
After the first round of betting is complete, three community cards are dealt. This is known as ‘The Flop’. Then another round of betting takes place, this time starting with the player directly to the left of the dealer. Because there is no blind to cover, players have the option to ‘check’ if no previous bet has been made. Once a bet is made, all players must match it or fold.
This process repeats itself two more times, with a single community card being added before each additional round of betting. These are called ‘The Turn’ and ‘The River’.
When the four rounds of betting are over (Pre-Flop, Flop, Turn, and River), any players remaining in the hand show their cards. The best five card hand wins. If at any point in the hand all but one player has folded, that player wins whatever money is in the pot.
The gameplay of PLO is exactly the same. However, players are dealt four cards (instead of two) and must use two of them when making their best 5 card hand. In addition, bets are capped at the size of the pot at the time they are made.
Poker Hand Rankings
The strength of a 5 card poker hand is determined by its probability. The less likely a hand is, the stronger its value.
One Pair — Two cards of the same rank
Two Pair — Two different pairings of two cards of the same rank
Three of a Kind — Three cards of the same rank
Straight — 5 cards in sequential rank, such as 2,3,4,5,6. Aces can count either high (10,J,Q,K,A) or low (A,2,3,4,5), but cannot wrap from high to low (i.e.: Q,K,A,2,3 is not allowed).
Flush — 5 cards of the same suit
Full House — Three cards of one rank and two cards of another rank.
Four of a Kind — Four cards of the same rank
Straight Flush — Five cards in sequential rank all of the same suit
Royal Flush — A,K,Q,J,10 of the same suit
Mobile Online Poker
Our recommended online poker rooms make it easy for players from the UK to enjoy online poker from a bus seat or store queue.
There are two main ways to access online poker rooms via a mobile device. The first is a web application, which works just like any other mobile app and offers one-touch access. The second is web-browser based and requires the room’s URL to be put into the address bar.
From a gameplay perspective, both of the options work equally well, and any modern smartphone or tablet will be able to run the software. However, not all poker rooms offer both options. Be sure to check our reviews to see what is available when choosing where to play.
Different Online Playing Options
There are many different types of poker game. Below is a brief description two of them:
Players put up a fixed amount of money to enter, known as a ‘Buy-in,’ to seed the prize pool. Buying in entitles every player to a fixed starting number of chips.
Every tournament has specific rules about how long after the start players can buy-in. This period of time is known as the ‘registration period’. A tournament where players who lose all their chips can buy-in again is known as a ‘rebuy tournament’. Different rebuy tournaments have different rules about how long rebuys are allowed and how many times a player can rebuy.
The amount of the blinds and antes in a tournament is predetermined beforehand, and will continually rise after a fixed amount of time (known as ‘tournament levels’).
Players are removed from tournaments — or ‘bust out’ — when they have no more chips and cannot buy-in again. The cash in the prize pool is distributed based on the finishing place.
Sit and Go
A Sit and Go is a very specific type of poker tournament, whose key difference from other poker tournaments is that the number of entrants is fixed at a specific number.
Unlike a general poker tournament which starts at a specific time and takes anyone who wants to enter during the registration period, Sit and Go’s will only begin when the predetermined number of players have registered.
Prize pool payouts are the same as for other tournaments. Players play until only a single one remains, with prizes being awarded based on the finishing place.
Casino Poker Games
The popularity of online poker has led many casinos to create casino based poker games in addition to NLHE and PLO, such as Caribbean Stud Poker.
All of these variants can be enjoyed by novice players looking to get in on the biggest phenomenon in online gambling. Just head to any of our recommended online poker rooms and get into the action right now.