In this article, we are going to discuss the online poker scene. We’re going to cover all the major poker operators in terms of player pools, software, deposit bonuses, reputation, and a lot more.
Online poker is an activity that has thrived in recent years. Unlike traditional gambling, which has a fixed negative return and limited game play, online poker has deep complexity and the possibility for players to win in the long run.
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Determining Which Poker Site is Best For You
There are a number of factors that determine the best poker site. One such factor is popularity. It is nice to have a lot of tables to choose from at a particular limit and to be sure that your game is running when you want to play. Another factor is the softness of the site. Every poker player loves to be at a table full of fish. So, while smaller sites might not have as many players, if they can offer better quality games (read easier to beat), then that can hold considerable appeal.
Another factor is whether a site offers a particular format or poker variant. Between SNGs, MTTs, cash games, and zoom / rush style games, there are a ton of different formats through which one can play online poker, and that is without even considering different poker variants. So, a player who specializes in one form of poker is naturally going to want to play at a site where that format is offered.
Contrasting Look and Feel and User Experience at Different Poker Sites
Player experience is crucial, and poker client quality and customer service are two of the biggest factors why customers choose a top poker room.
Before making a registration, players should first check how they like the website, read some reviews of what other users are saying, and consider their own first impression in terms of ease of registration and navigation.
How to Take Advantage of First Deposit Bonuses
Deposit bonuses are a great way for newer poker players to build their bankrolls and help cushion the swings of negative variance. The most common form of deposit bonuses for new players is where you deposit, and the bonus is released every time you pay a certain amount of money in rake. For example, you might make a 100% deposit bonus of $100. Then, every time you pay $30 in rake, you will get an extra $5 of that $100 deposit bonus released into your account. This is, in effect, a form of rakeback.
A second type of deposit bonus is where the online poker site will match your deposit with free cash or tourney tickets. Usually, these bonuses are smaller but available on small deposits. You might, for example, deposit $20 and get a free $10 tourney ticket. These sort of deposit bonuses are actually much more attractive because they boost the size of your bankroll right away, and even if there are certain roll-over requirements before you can cash out, the whole point is to build up a bankroll on the site anyway.
Aside from first deposit bonuses, poker sites will often offer reload bonuses for players who are already playing on their site. To take advantage of these offers, players must make an additional deposit, even if they already have funds in their account.
Many poker sites offer rakeback to their customers. The way that it works is, you get a certain percentage of the rake that you pay back into your account, usually on a weekly basis. So, if you have a 30% rakeback offer, then you get 30% of the rake that you pay returned to you. This is great if you are already beating the games after the rake because it is essentially free money added to your account. Some high-volume players make a living off rakeback alone, playing a ton of tables at the same time and breaking even after the rake but getting lucrative rakeback payments.
Closely associated with rakeback is poker site loyalty programs. Basically, how it works is that there are multiple levels, and the more you play, the higher you go in the site’s loyalty program. The higher you go, the more rakeback the site will pay you, and also, you might get different bonus offers or other rewards. Usually, sites with promotional offers like this cater to professional players, and as a consequence, the games can sometimes be tougher because there is a higher ratio of pros to recreational players.
Another thing that online poker sites may offer is a bad beat jackpot. How it works is, they take a dollar or fifty cents from each pot at bad beat tables over a certain amount. In return, if you lose with a huge hand like aces full or quads, then you win the bad beat jackpot and get a huge payout. Players at the table where a bad beat happens also receive a smaller table share.
Poker sites also may offer freeroll tournaments. These are great for newer, more casual players because you get to play for free (no buyin required) and can actually win cash prizes.
Popular Poker Variants in 2024
No Limit Hold’em (NLHE) is the most popular poker variant today, both live and online. Because you receive just two-hole cards, this game has the appearance of simplicity, but in reality, it is a game of rich complexity that takes a few minutes to learn and a lifetime to master. Given the no limit structure of betting, edges can be steep, and all in confrontations are fraught with anxiety and excitement.
Pot Limit Omaha is an exciting action game with many similarities to NLHE. Like NLHE, you have a flop, turn, and river, but instead of two-hole cards, you start with four. The additional hole cards completely change the nature of the game and mean that monster-made hands and massive draws are much more common.
Five Card Draw is an interesting poker variant because there are no exposed cards. The only information you have about your opponent’s hand is how many cards they drew and how hard they are betting. Despite its waning popularity, you can still play five-card draw online, both in cash game and tournament format.
Seven Card Stud is another poker variant that is on the decline, despite the fact that decades ago, it was the serious poker casino game. In some respects, it is a more enjoyable game than Texas Hold’em. Because there are no community cards, it is easier for an underdog hand to catch up in Seven Card Stud, which can make the game more interesting. There is also a lot of skill in the game because of all the exposed cards on early rounds, which advanced players keep track of.
Razz is a variant of seven card stud wherein your goal is to make the lowest hand possible. Unlike some other low games, straights, flushes, and aces don’t count against you. The nuts is A2345. Like in stud hi, a keen awareness of dead cards and your opponents’ boards is crucial in decision making.
H.O.R.S.E. Stands for Hold’em, Omaha, Razz, Stud, Eight or Better and is a mixed game variant where you play Limit Holdem, Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Stud, and Stud Eight or Better. This is considered a very skillful game to play because you must be well-rounded and knowledgeable about five different poker variants.
Badugi is an interesting low variant, where the nuts is A234, all different suits. So, the most important thing is to have one of each suit. You also do not want to have pairs. If you have all different suits and no pairs, this is called a Badugi, and it beats anything except a lower Badugi.
Poker Against the Casino
Caribbean Stud Poker (Casino Stud Poker in the UK)
In this casino poker game, each player antes up and then receives five cards. The dealer also receives five cards and will expose one. At this point, players can choose to either play, in which case they must wager twice their ante, or fold, in which case they lose and forfeit their ante. The dealer then exposes their hand. If the dealer has worse than AK high, they do not qualify and pay out only the ante bet. If the dealer has AK high or a pair, then they do qualify. If the dealer qualifies and the player beats them, the dealer will pay out both the ante and the raise, but if the dealer has the better hand, they take both bets. In addition to the main bet, there is also a jackpot or progressive jackpot bet which players can make, depending on what type of table they are playing at.
Video poker is sort of a cross between a slot machine and a five-card draw poker game. You get five cards to start and then decide which to keep and which to throw away. Then you get paid based on how strong of a hand you make. There are tons of different video poker variants, and some have a very high return to player, which make them attractive to suave gamblers. Just keep in mind that this high return is based upon exact knowledge of what to keep and what to throw away.
Pai Gow Poker is a casino poker game played with seven cards. The player can then arrange his seven cards into a five-card and two-card poker hand. Note that the five-card hand must be higher in value than the two-card hand. Like in any form of poker, you are trying to make good hands like a straight, flush, or full house (in the five-card hand). There is also a joker, which can be used to make a straight, flush, or ace. The dealer wins ties, which is where the house edge comes from.
Oasis Poker is a variant of Caribbean Poker. In this game, players ante up and receive five cards. Then, a player can exchange one or more of their cards. The cost to exchange depends on the number of cards traded. One card costs 1x the ante, two costs 2x the ante, three costs 3x the ante, four costs 2x the ante, and if you want to throw away your entire hand, then five cards costs only 1x the ante. After switching, the player can then choose to raise or fold, unless they exchanged all five cards, then they must raise. If the dealer doesn’t qualify (has worse than AK high), only the ante is paid, but if the dealer does qualify then all bets are paid or taken depending on whether the dealer or the player has the better hand.
With Red Dog, players ante up and then receive two cards. If the cards are consecutive, the player pushes. Otherwise, the player can bet on whether the next card will be in between the first two or not by choosing to raise. The payout for the raise depends on how many spaces there are between the cards. The fewer ranks in between your cards, the higher the payoff. If your third card isn’t between the first two, then you lose. If your two cards are identical, then you push, unless your third card is of the same rank, in which case you get a juicy 11:1 payout.
Live Dealer Casino Poker
The biggest providers of live dealer casino poker games are Evolution Gaming, Playtech, Ezugi, and Vivo Gaming. These live dealer providers offer a number of poker variants, like Casino Hold’em, Ultimate Texas Hold’em, and Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker. While all of these games have the fundamental premise of the player competing with their poker hand against the dealer, the intricacies of playing, raising, and hitting bonus payouts will vary.
What Is the Biggest Advantage of Online Poker for New Players?
The biggest advantage that online poker offers for new players is the variety of limits and games available. Comparing live with online, a player could start online with a bankroll of $50, having 25 buyins for $.01/.02 NLHE. Live poker seldom has games where the big blind is less than $2, so you would need to have a $5000 bankroll to play that game. So newer players can play online and gain experience at affordable limits.
What Should A New Player Know Before They Start Playing Online?
The most important thing with any skill is practice, practice, practice. To this end, you do want to practice conservative bankroll management so that you can continue to practice. And while putting in the hours on the table is important, it is equally important to study away from the table and work on your game.
How Can I Utilize Deposit Bonuses and Rakeback to Maximize My Bankroll?
Shop around. There are a lot of different online poker sites which are trying to attract clientele. Deposit, play through a deposit bonus, and then bounce to a new site. These deposit bonuses are effectively free money and will boost your bankroll and help you move up in limits. Make sure to check out various rakeback offers and keep an eye out on your email for reload bonuses or offers that you can take advantage of.