Playing Online Poker
Online poker is readily available in both fun-money and real money modes to players throughout the world. Depending on ones jurisdiction, there may be more or less options for real money poker. Before joining just any online poker room, it is important to verify the licensing credentials of the operator, as doing so will ensure you are protected by regulatory mandates placed upon the operator if and when you decide to play poker online for real money.
When seeking to play online poker - whether for fun money or real money, the first rule of thumb is to ensure you register at an online poker room that is open to players from your jurisdiction. Secondly, you will want to know how many players are on the site (player pool) and if it’s easy to find open poker tables suited to your preferred stakes and bankroll. If everything checks out to your liking, it's a good idea to then watch the action at potential tables before jumping in. One of the most helpful features of online poker software is that it gives all players the ability to watch the action in real time, with no obligation to put down a bankroll.
Free Play Poker
If you are new to playing poker entirely, the top online poker rooms offer free play mode, in which newbies can play poker against one another with unlimited "fun money" credits. Free play also gives real money players a chance to become familiar with the software and betting controls beforehand. While most poker software platforms operate in similar fashion, there are small differences - primarily in navigation controls - that can take some getting used to. Since all players have limited time to act on their hand (a clock is literally ticking), it pays to know how to navigate the software platform ahead of time.
Online Poker Tournaments
The very nature of online poker tournaments facilitate a larger pool of winnings. The more players taking part in the tournament, the greater the pot. For the largest and most popular poker rooms in operation, guaranteed tournament winnings often reach the millions. The reason that certain poker tournaments are able to guarantee winnings is based on the buy-in amount for the tournament, the number of spots available and the size of the player pool. In essence, the combined buy-ins of all the players are funding the winnings of the tournament. For poker rooms that have large player pools and which consistently host tournaments, simple math affords them the ability to offer weekly guaranteed tournaments.
For new online poker players seeking out tournament action, Freeroll and Sit n Go tournaments are a great way to get in on some initial action. Freeroll tournaments do not cost anything to join, i.e. there is no entry fee or buy-in, however, winning players can still win real money or other rewards, such as free entry to larger buy-in tournaments and satellites. Sit 'n Go Tournaments are another great type of online poker tournament for beginners as they are quick and do not require a large bankroll. Sit 'n Go tournaments are often single table, but there are multi-table tournaments, but with a far less players, thus giving newbies a better chance of winning with minimal risk. Sit n Go's take place around the clock 24/7 and begin when enough players take a seat at the table.
Tournament play formats include "Freezeouts", "Rebuys" and "Shootouts". "Freezeouts" are the most common style of tournament play, and essentially means that when a players bankroll is spent, they are out of the tournament for good. "Rebuys", on the other hand, allow players to buy back into the game after losing their entire bankroll. The "rebuy" period is usually during the first two hours of the tournament, after which no more rebuys are permitted and the game goes into a freezeout structure. "Shootouts" are structured by rounds, in which players are sent to the final table based on how many rounds they lasted and placement in each round.
Poker players can win serious money playing online. In addition to weekly multi-million guaranteed pots, many poker rooms host satellite tournaments for the largest land-based poker tournaments, such as the World Series of Poker. The entry fee to these tournaments would normally rule out participation for a number of players with smaller bankrolls. But by entering low-fee satellite tournaments, poker players can get bankrolled to play against the pros.
Online Poker Games and Hands
In addition to Texas Hold'em and Omaha - the most popular online poker games - the larger poker rooms often provide Stud Poker, Five-card Draw and Razz. A wide variety of Pot Limit and No-Limit Games should be available at various stakes. No Limit (NL) games mean there is no limit as to how much one can raise the pot, while pot-limit (PL) games are limited according to pre-set bets (small and big bet).
It is important to know and have memorized the traditional poker hand rankings before playing competitively. The most popular online poker games, such as Texas Hold'em use these traditional hand rankings:
Straight Flush – Five sequentially ordered cards of one suit.
Four of a Kind – Four equal valued cards of any suit(s).
Full House – A hand composed of three cards of equal value and two cards of equal value.
Flush – Five non-sequentially ordered cards of a single suit.
Straight – Straight by the numbers, meaning five sequentially ordered cards by value, but of multiple suits.
Three of a Kind – Three equal valued cards of any suit(s).
Two Pair – One pair of matching cards and another pair of matching cards, i.e. a pair of 4's and a pair of Kings.
One Pair – Two matching cards.
High Card – The highest value card of one's hand, which comes into play during ties.
Featured US Poker Room
Ignition Casino and Poker Room (formerly Bovada) has a dynamic poker community, and is the leading online destination for US players. The site pools players from Bodog and the vast number of US players community started by Bovada. Prize pools totaling a guaranteed $2 million are available every week, and major tournaments every night with a featured $100 thousand guaranteed tournament every week.