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Poker Online

If an online casino covers table games at all, then it will almost certainly have a range of poker variations on offer. Poker is a complex game in which a successful player will balance luck with skill, and if you are new to the game then you might be intimidated by the range of terms involved: what is the difference between a check and a raise? Which is worth more, a Full House of a Royal Flush? Well, once you have read our guide, you should know all that you need to get started playing poker online.

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Poker Rules

Laying out the rules of poker can be tricky as there are so many different variations on offer, but suffice to say that there are some basic ground rules which you can expect to be found across the most widely-played forms of poker.

Winning Hands

First of all, we have the ten main ways to win, which are as follows:

High Card: A High Card may sound like a lucky draw, but in fact, it is defined by the absence of any winning combination. The only way a High Card can win is if your opponent also has a High Card hand, and their highest card is of a lower value than yours. Any of the combinations listed below will beat a High Card of any value.

Pair: A Pair is simply two cards of the same value. For example, a seven of clubs and a seven of diamonds.

Two Pairs: As the name suggests, this is a hand containing two pairs. For example, a three of hearts, a three of spades, a five of clubs, and a five of diamonds.

Three of a Kind: This is when your hand has three cards of the same value. For example, two hearts, two diamonds, and two clubs.

Straight: This is five cards in sequential order. The sequence is irrelevant: for example, a three of diamonds followed by a four of clubs, five of spades, a six of hearts, and a seven of diamonds will qualify as a Straight.

Flush: A Flush comprises five cards of the same suit. The order is unimportant; all that matters is that they all share a suit.

Full House: A Full House is when you are dealt a hand that contains both a Pair and a Three of a Kind. One example of a Full House would be a hand containing two clubs, two hearts, four spades, four diamonds, and four hearts.

Four of a Kind: As you have probably guessed by this point, a Four of a Kind is a set of four cards all sharing the same value.

Straight Flush: This is the rare moment when you are fortunate enough to be dealt five cards that not only belong to the same suite but are also in sequential value — for example, a two, three, four, five, and six of diamonds

Royal Flush: The fabled Royal Flush is the single highest-ranking hand that you can be dealt in a game of poker. It comprises a specific set of five cards — a 10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace — all belonging to the same suite.

An important detail to remember is that, aside from the Royal Flush, each of the above hands will still be influenced by the value of the individual cards. For example, a player with a Straight Flush of six, seven, eight, nine, and ten will beat a player whose Straight Flash contains two, three, four, and five.

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The Game Goes On

So, you now know which hands are worth the most in a game of poker. But what exactly is the structure of the game around those hands? Well, once again, the rules vary depending on which version of poker you have decided to play. In this article, we shall be looking at the rules of Texas Hold’em, which is a very common variation and, in all likelihood, the one that you will come across when you play poker online.

First, each player will buy an opening bet, called an ante, which usually costs $1 or some other small amount. When each player has bought their ante, the dealer will hand each of the two cards. Each player will then look at their two cards and decide whether or not they would like to place a bet. Then comes the betting round, and a player, you will have three options…

Fold: Quite simply, this means deciding not to bet for the round. This is typically the best option if you have found yourself with a weak hand, particularly if you have chosen to play poker for real money.

Check: This is matching the bet so that the player will proceed through the round.

Raise: This involves adding more money to the betting pool and should be taken only by players confident enough in their hands that they can raise the stakes.

After the bets have been made, the next step will depend on how many players are left — that is, how many have proceeded without folding. If all but one has folded, then the remaining player will win. If there is more than one player in the game, however, then the dealer will begin revealing a set of five secret cards. The first three of these cards are known as the Flop. Once these are revealed, each player will have the opportunity to bet again. Then a fourth card, the Turn, will be revealed by the dealer, and the players have another opportunity to bet again. The dealer will then reveal the fifth and final card, the River.

The player must then look at the seven cards that are visible to them: the five on the table (visible to all players) and the two in their hand (visible only to that specific player). There will be one more opportunity to bet, and then each player will reveal their two-hand card. Finally, we come to the point where each player tries to create the best five-card hand possible using some combination of the cards in their hand and the cards on the table. So long as you use at least one from each pool, you can use whatever combination you like: for example, you can use one card from your present hand, plus four from the table; or you can use both cards in your present hand plus three from the table. The player with the strongest hand after this process will win.

Real Money Poker Strategies

Obviously, if you have decided to play poker online, then many of the strategies developed around physical poker will not apply. Skilled poker players have long known the value of examining their opponents’ body language — seeing cracks in the poker face — but this will not apply to poker online unless there is some sort of video link-up included, and most web versions of the game lack this feature. That said, there are still strategies that apply to both physical and online versions of poker.

The first strategy that should be taken to heart by new players is to start with small stakes and stick with small stakes until you truly get your head around the game. While it is common sense to make only small bets when you are just starting out in poker, a few too many players get over-eager and start making larger bets before they have a full understanding of the ins and outs of the game. This can lead to a disaster if the overconfident player goes up against a more skilled layer or is simply dealt a bad hand.

Another strategy to bear in mind is that there is no shame in folding. It is common to fall into the trap of thinking that folding is something to be done only when given a poor hand. In fact, sometimes folding is the best choice even if you have a strong hand — so long as you have reason to suspect that your opponent’s hand is even stronger.

Still, another strategy that applies to poker online and offline is knowing the best time to raise. If you are confident in your hand then it can be tempting to raise, but try to avoid getting too carried away. A good learning experience will be to pay close attention to the other players and observe when they choose to raise, and when their decision to raise pays off for them. In a game of real money poker, knowing when to raise can make all the difference.

Play Poker Demo or Real Money

If you are just starting out and feel that you are not quite ready to play poker for real money yet, then perhaps you could take a look at one of the many poker demons available online. An online poker casino will typically have multiple demo versions of the game to try out, and because there is no money involved, these will provide the perfect opportunity to get to grips with the various different versions of poker online with nothing to lose.

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Having read all about the game and the tricks that you can use to get ahead, you may well be on the lookout for a new poker casino to join. Our list of the best casinos will be a good place to start, and once you have given it a look over, you shall soon have an idea of which casinos come up top not only in terms of poker but also in terms of other table games like roulette, blackjack, and baccarat.

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