Poker is the most popular card game. It’s available everywhere — from land-based venues to online casinos. On the internet, you can choose between video poker and live dealer poker. However, that’s just the primary categorization — there are numerous poker variants.
Whichever variant you choose, you need to know that poker is a strategy game. In fact, it’s the only strategy game. That’s the main difference between poker and other games. While in games of chance, all you can do is choose the bets with high odds, in poker, you have the power to affect the outcome.
When it comes to online poker, it’s paramount to choose a legitimate casino. You can be successful all you want — if you play at a rogue casino, you’ll be left empty-handed.
Online Poker Winning Tips
So, the first tip would be to choose a casino carefully. It’s often impossible to differentiate between a good and a bad casino at first glance. That’s why you need to have your eyes wide open.
A good casino has an extensive game library. However, it also has high security and fairness standards. Moreover, a good casino should offer multiple payment options and player-friendly terms.
When a casino interests you, make sure you review it thoroughly. While it may be tedious, reading the terms and conditions section is important. Rogue casinos often have shady clauses. You should pay attention to withdrawal policy, wagering requirements, and overall payment terms. Next, you should inquire about security and fairness standards. Good casinos use encryption to protect players’ privacy. As for fairness, they most often use a random number generator and have their games monitored by testing agencies.
If you read through the entire website and you’re still unsure about the casino’s business practices, you can go a step further. Namely, you can consult other players on forums and check the casino’s ratings on trustworthy watchdog portals.
Learn the Rules
Before we can move on to tips and tricks, we need to go over the rules. We’ll use the example of Texas Hold ’Em, the most popular poker variant. It’s a community card poker variant, one of the three variants (the other two are draw and stud).
To have a successful game of poker, you have to memorize the hand ranking. You need to know the value of each hand by heart. Whichever variant you play, and however different the rules may be, the hand ranking stays the same.
A royal flush is the highest-ranking hand. It contains the highest five cards (10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace) of the same suit (hearts, diamonds, clubs, or spades). If you have it, the worst result can be a tie — no hand can beat a royal flush.
A straight flush consists of five consecutive cards of the same suit. They’re not the highest five cards, otherwise it’d be a royal flush.
Four of a kind contains four cards of the same rank (such as four Aces) and one card of a different rank. In this example, no one can form a royal flush, since there are no remaining Aces.
A full house is a combination of three cards of one rank and two cards of another rank (for instance, three Aces and two nines).
A flush consists of five cards of the same suit. They’re not in consecutive order. If they were, that’d be a straight flush or a royal flush.
Five consecutive cards of different suits form a straight.
Three of a kind combines three cards of the same rank and two cards that match neither those three cards nor each other.
Two pair contains two cards of one rank, two cards of another rank, and one card that matches neither pair. An example would be a hand containing two fours, two sixes, and a nine.
A pair consists of two matching cards (of the same rank) and three cards of three different ranks.
High card ranks the lowest. It falls in none of the listed categories.
The Course of the Game
Texas Hold ‘Em is a community card poker variant. Hence, it involves community cards which are dealt in three rounds. It also involves blind bets.
The First Betting Round
As the game starts, the first betting round takes place. Depending on the variant, players place either blind or ante bets. A game of Texas Hold ‘Em typically involves the big blind and the small blind. The small blind (the player sitting to the dealer’s left) usually places half of the standard minimum bet. The big blind (the player to the small blind’s left) doubles it.
Alternatively, players can “ante up” and place the standard minimum bet. Ante bets are also known as forced bets.
The First Dealing Round
Before dealing the cards, the dealer “burns” the first one from the deck. They put it out of play, making it that much more difficult to assume which cards may have remained after the dealing round. Then, they deliver two cards to each player, clockwise.
Making a Move
After every dealing round, players take action. Depending on the strength of your hand, you can check, call, raise, or fold. If you check, you don’t place a bet. Calling means matching someone else’s bet. If you raise a bet, you put more money in the pot. In that case, the following players can either call your bet or fold. Finally, if you fold, you’re out of the round that’s in progress.
Community cards are there for everyone to use. In variants that involve them, you can combine your cards and community cards to form your hand.
The dealer places the first three community cards (the flop) on the table after the first betting round. The other two (the turn and river) follow the second and third betting round, respectively.
When the closing betting round ends, the showdown starts. All players (except for those who have folded) reveal their cards to one another. They compare their hands, and the one with the highest-ranking hand wins the pot. In case two (or more) hands rank equally, it’s a tie, and the pot is divided evenly.
Poker Strategy Tips
A game of poker allows you to strategize, so you can enhance your chances of winning.
After the first dealing round, estimate the potential value of your hand. Look for a pair, cards of the same suit, consecutive cards, or face cards. You can then decide whether to bet to see the community cards. If you have Aces, face cards, or a pair, you may want to raise. An Ace with a King or a Queen is also a strong starting hand. However, if you don’t have a good starting hand, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t bet. If you have some luck (or you have bluffing skills you can use in a live game), your low-ranking hand may win the pot.
Moreover, you should practice before you play for real money. That way, you’ll get to put your knowledge to the test and develop quick instincts. Luckily, most online casinos have the free play option, so you don’t have to look any further.
Finally, when you play for real money, stay within your own limits. However dynamic the game may be, you need to know how much you can afford to spend. Going over the limit may be tempting at times, but it’s not the risk you should take.
You can’t become successful in poker overnight. Rules may be easy to memorize, but there’s more to a game of poker than rules. You need to know when to bet and when to fold. You also need to know how to conceal your cards, yet assume which cards your opponents may have. Most importantly, you have to stay realistic and set reachable goals. Poker has made no one rich in a day.
Frequently Asked Questions
No one can guarantee that you’ll win every single time. However, you can enhance your chances. You should be selective with your starting hands, especially if you’re a novice. If you’re playing a live game, you can use your bluffing skills too. Most importantly, you have to know the hand ranking by heart.
There has been no evidence of online poker being rigged. However, you need to be careful when choosing a casino. If a casino is rogue, you can face withdrawal delays or even voided winnings.
Unlike other games available at casinos, poker is based on skill rather than luck. Although there are rules, you can affect the outcome and enhance your chances if you’re skillful enough.