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Mankind's love affair with card games can be traced back to ancient times when symbols were carved into tiles or blotted onto strips of dried plant fiber. Not only that, but every culture worldwide has its unique yet complimentary selection of games. Gaming experts have theorized that more than ten thousand of these card games exist.
Historical evidence points to the Chinese as the first to create a standardized deck of cards around AD 1000. Thanks to traders, this deck structure would make its way across the world and eventually become the modern 52-card deck we play poker and other casino card games with today.
While early European card decks can be traced back to the 15th century, it was not until the 1800s that poker became a popular pastime in America. The game Piques grew in popularity in New Orleans, thanks to its French settlers, and was soon prevalent in most local bars and houses of ill repute.
Fast-forward to the 1990s, industrious game developers created the first text-based poker game for the then-popular chat platform IRC. By 1998 this free-to-play text game gave way to the first official real money online software.
The world's interest in online poker hit a fever pitch in 2004 with the first-ever World Series of Poker tournament. The tournament was held in Las Vegas and offered a more than $10 million prize pool!
Here are 20 of the most popular terms you will hear when playing or learning about poker. Use this poker terminology to improve your understanding of the game and how it is played.
- All-In: When any player pushes all their remaining chips into the pot.
- Bad Beat: Refers to a player who holds a strong hand but loses anyway. Often implies lousy luck.
- Blind (Big and Small): The two positions to the left of the Dealer. These players must bet before seeing their cards, making it a "blind bet".
- Bubble: The first non-winning position in a tournament.
- Community Cards: The cards on the table are used by all players to make the strongest hand 5-card hand.
- Cowboy: When a player is holding a pair of Kings.
- Dolly Parton: When a player is holding a 9 and 5, refers to the song lyrics "working 9 to 5".
- Fish: An inexperienced poker player.
- Full House: A poker hand consisting of three of a kind plus one other pair.
- Heads Up: When only two players compete to win the pot.
- Hole Cards: These are the cards each player receives at the beginning of the game.
- Kicker: When the winner comes down to two matching cards, the kicker is the highest ranking card.
- Nosebleed Games: These are poker games where the stakes are astronomically high.
- Nuts: This term refers to holding the best cards in the game being played.
- Quads: This term refers to any hand containing four of a kind.
- Shark: An experienced poker player.
- Snowmen: This term refers to a pair of eights.
- Tilt: When a player loses their cool and plays erratically.
- Trips: This term refers to any hand containing three of a kind.
- Whale: Any player with a massive bankroll.
Depending on which casino poker game you play, there will be a unique set of rules you need to learn. Follow these basic rules to become comfortable playing poker online.
Understand the Rules of Each Game Type
Depending on which poker variant you choose to play, there will be rules and gameplay nuances that you need to learn. Do not feel overwhelmed; most poker games use similar winning hands and rules for dealing the cards. We recommend checking out the rules in the game for detailed descriptions of what is required to play and win in that specific game.
Who is Seated at the Table?
Most casino poker games have you playing against the House or a dealer. However, live poker games and tournaments allow multiple players at a table. This changes how the cards are dealt with and how each round of betting works, which will require a strategy modification on your part. Decide ahead of time if you want a single or multiplayer experience and choose your poker table accordingly.
Understand the Betting System
Most Hold'em and Stud poker games follow a recognizable betting pattern. The player stakes an Ante to begin the round, then places a final Bet (double the value of the Ante) to have all remaining cards dealt and to reveal the Dealer's hand. This process is entirely different in Asian poker games such as Pai Gow. Understanding what each poker variant requires you to stake ahead of time is essential to managing your bankroll effectively.
Learn the Flow of each Hand
In traditional poker games, each hand's flow mirrors the tournament experience. The player places their Ante and Bet wagers. The full set of community cards and the dealer cards are revealed, and the participant with the best 5-card hand wins. Wagers are claimed, winnings are handed out, and the board resets for the next game. In a game like Pai Gow, the primary difference in the process is that only a single wager is placed before the Player and Dealer resolve their hands.
How do Wins and Payouts Work?
If you are new to online poker, it is easy to think that all games are the same. However, depending on which game you choose to play, there can be significant differences that impact whether you win or lose. In Pai Gow, you need to make two hands win, a 2-card and a 5-card hand. Both need to beat the Dealer's hands for you to win. If you only beat one hand, the round is a push. In Caribbean Stud Poker, if the Dealer does not qualify, your Ante wins 1:1, but all other bets are considered a push. Knowing these rules is key to winning a round and claiming the pot.
Online poker is one of those games that, while it has a sliver of a chance, thanks to the randomness of the cards being dealt, it does allow the player to use strategy to influence the outcome of the game. While no formula guarantees a win on every hand, here are several strategies that can help you improve your overall performance.
- Develop Your Poker Skills for Free: Poker can take time to learn and even more time to master. Use demo games and free tournaments to hone your skills without risking your bank balance.
- Consider the Spread of Possible Hands: Great poker players don't just focus on their hands but consider the hands that other players could be holding. They then weigh their odds against this bigger picture.
- Play The Odds, Not Your Preferences: We all have our favorite hole cards; however, to play good poker, you need to learn to focus on the cards with the highest probability of winning. A card hand guide can be a helpful tool to keep close.
- Aim to be Consistent: Playing poker is a hobby you can enjoy for years. To make the most of these games, play the hands with the highest odds as often as possible. This allows you the best odds of winning over the long run.
- If you Tilt, Walk Away: Getting angry or frustrated will cause you to ignore the odds and play emotionally. This reaction is known as tilting; when this happens, down your cards immediately and call it quits for 24 hours.
To become a skilled online poker player, it is essential to play the game calmly, keeping an objective view of the cards and their outcomes. To help you on your journey from novice to poker master, we recommend the following:
Study the Rules of Each Type of Poker
It is vital to your success that you take the time to learn the various online poker rules. We recommend starting with being able to know a weak hand from a strong one. Learn which hands offer the best payouts. Where relevant, understand the Dealer's qualifying hands and what it means for your winnings if they do not qualify.
Use a Guide to Winning Poker Hands
Unlike other casino games where the outcome of each game is purely based on chance, poker has objectively weaker and stronger hands. A poker hand strategy guide will show you which hands have better odds than others of winning. This factor allows you to know when to cut your losses and when you strengthen your position.
Fold On Weak Hands
One thing that every successful online poker player knows is when to fold. The urge to place a bet just to see if the cards fall in your favour can lead to random winning hands, but often, they will lose. Learn to pursue strong hands while cutting your losses on weak hands.
Do Not Chase Losses
While there is a skill component to poker, players always lose. If you have had a poor run, we recommend closing the casino and doing something else. Only return to the poker table once you have rested and cleared your head. To master the game, you need to master yourself. Enjoy poker with a clear head, do not let your emotions determine how you play.
Choose Casinos that Offer Poker Bonuses
When you are ready to play poker for real money, be sure to find an online casino that offers bonuses and promotions to poker players. All the casinos we recommend on this page offer incentives to poker players.
Poker Games Types
Ante Up 21 Blackjack
Combine the action from blackjack with the luck of poker, and you get Ante Up 21 Blackjack. In this fast-paced game, the players go head-to-head in the final hand with the Dealer to compare the best of their two-card poker hands.
The object is to win the "pot", which comprises all player stakes. In all basic poker games, you win by having the highest-ranking poker hand or making a bet that no other player calls.
As with poker, you win by having the highest-ranking poker hand but in a live player setting. Live poker is played in real-time online or in person.
The object of this Chinese poker game (also called Double Hand Poker) is to beat the bank. Players are dealt seven cards and arrange the cards into two hands (one of two cards and one of five cards) to outrank the banker's two hands.
In Red Dog (also known as Yablon), two cards are dealt, and a player bets on the ranking of the third card. The player wins if the third card falls between the two cards already dealt.
This poker variant deals two cards (hole cards) face down to each player. Five cards are then dealt face-up (the board), and players use the cards from the board combined with their hole cards to make the best possible five-card poker hand.
Live Texas Hold'em
Like regular Texas Hold 'em, the aim is to make the best five-card combination using your two hole cards and the dealt board cards. Live Texas Hold 'em is just played in a live casino setting.
The ace of hearts (red cape) is placed face up, and the remaining 51 cards are dealt to the players. Players take turns discarding up to four cards of the suit chosen by the Dealer, and the winner is the player that gets rid of all their cards without being called out.
3 Card Poker
Players place bets (Ante or Pair Plus) and are then dealt three cards. If you can beat the Dealer, you make a Play wager equal to your stake. The Dealer must have a hand of queen-high or better to qualify, and the hand that beats the Dealer wins.
Caribbean Stud Poker
Bets are placed, and each player (including the Dealer) gets five cards with one of the Dealer's cards face up. Players decide to fold or play by multiplying their initial bet. Beat the Dealer with the best poker hand to win.
Live Caribbean Stud Poker
Place your bet in a live dealer setting and try making a good hand with the five cards you are dealt. The Dealer gets five, but one card faces up. Decide to fold or play (double your bet) and win by beating the Dealer with the best poker hand.
Cyber Stud Poker
This five-card poker game is progressive and is played without wild cards. As with Caribbean Stud Poker, you have to beat the Dealer, but there is a compulsory jackpot wager in addition to your regular bet, increasing the win as the game progresses.
This card game is similar to Let It Ride and a variation of five stud poker. It is based on a player's three cards and two community cards where you can play or fold based on your hand's strength.
Hold Em High
Like with Hold Em, each player has to make the best hand with the dealt cards. If nobody has a pair (or better hand), the player with the highest cards in Hold Em High wins. High cards can also be used to break ties.
The game's object is to make a high point total with the best poker hand. To begin, you need to bet before you get four cards. Then, choose to fold or play and get two more cards. This game is played with 52 cards but no wilds.
Let It Ride
This five-card poker game has no dealer's hand. Three cards are dealt with two cards placed face down. Place three equal bets and withdraw one bet (if you choose) after considering your cards. The first card is exposed with another chance to withdraw a bet. The object is to win on all the bets on the table.
Side Bet City
This blackjack game makes the side bets the focus of the game. You bet on whether you will win with 3, 5, or 7 cards to make the best 3-5 card poker hand. A fourth bet option is to bet the "all loose" option.
The player gets a mix of face-down and face-up cards which are dealt in multiple betting rounds. Each player is dealt a card face-down and four face-ups, followed by a round of betting after each of the last four rounds.
Live Stud Poker
You play with a live dealer and first place your bet. One card is dealt face up and another face down. After betting rounds, three more face-up cards are dealt. The winner is the player with the best 5-card hand at the end of the round.
2-7 Triple Draw
This poker game has the typical value of hands reversed as the lowest 5-card poker hand wins. Each player tries to make the lowest possible hand with the five cards they are dealt. The draw occurs before each betting round and occurs three times.
2-7 Single Draw
We play this lowball poker game with five cards. Players can exchange as many of their cards as needed off the top of the deck. The lowest five-card hand is the winner.
This mixed-game poker variant has eight separate poker disciplines played in rotation. In order: 2-7 Triple draw, Limit Hold 'em, Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or better, Razz, Seven Card Stud, Stud Hi-Lo 8 or Better, No-Limit Hold'em and Pot-Limit Omaha.
This game is a variant of draw poker where the game's object is to make a 'Badugi' or a four-card low hand with four different suits (no pairs). Aces always play as a low card, and straights are ignored. The best hand would be 4-3-2-A, with each card a different suit.
Fast Fold Poker
Also known as Zoom Poker or Zone, players are immediately dealt another hand at a new table after folding. Basic poker rules apply where the best hand wins.
Five Card Draw
Each player gets five cards with a round of betting that follows. Each player can discard up to three cards and get them replaced from the deck. The best 5-card hand is the winner.
This multi-game form of poker is commonly played at high-stakes tables. It begins with Fixed Limit Hold 'em, then Fixed Limit Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Seven Card Stud (High only), and then finally Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo.
This game combines Texas Hold'em and Omaha, where each player gets four cards. After pre-flop betting, you decide which two cards to keep. The Dealer will deal three cards face up, followed by another betting round. You can use two, one, or none of your hole cards to make the best hand.
Open Face Chinese Poker
This variety of Chinese poker is played with 3-4 players and employs 13 cards to construct three separate hands/rows. At first, only five cards are dealt, and the rest are drawn from the deck and placed face-up on the table. The aim is to have the best hand from weakest to strongest in each row.
Unlike Texas Hold 'em, players are dealt three cards instead of two. A forced bet is made to the pot before the cards are dealt. The third card is dealt face-down and determines the variation of Pineapple.
Short Deck Hold'em
We play this poker game (also known as Six Plus) with a stripped-down deck of 36 cards. Two cards are dealt (face down) to each player. Five cards are then dealt face-up (hole cards). Players use the cards from the board combined with their hole cards to make the best possible five-card poker hand.
FAQIs online poker legal?
We only recommend licensed and regulated online poker providers. You will, however, have to check your local regulations to make sure it is legal where you live.Can I win real money playing poker online?
All the online poker games we recommend can be played for real money, and all profits are yours to withdraw and keep.Is online poker a game of chance or skill?
Due to the human decision-making that goes into winning a hand of poker, it is considered a game of skill.Can I play poker on my iPhone?
Yes, you can. All the poker games we list can be played on the latest iOS mobile devices, including the iPhone and iPad.What is the worst hand in online poker?
If you are dealt an offsuit 2 and 7, you should fold immediately. This hand has zero chance of landing a high-value combination other than a lucky pair or trip. Skilled poker players don't leave their wins up to chance.Can I play poker online against other players?
Yes, you can. There are live dealer poker games and tournaments where you can play with other players worldwide.Is online poker a casino game?
Poker is an interesting card game in the traditional poker market and is available at online casinos.Can you count cards playing online poker?
No, you can't. All online poker card decks are reshuffled after each hand making card counting impossible.Should I always fold 7s?
Perfect poker strategy says to fold any 7s other than a pair, 7-Ace, or 7-8.What is the rarest hand in poker?
The most elusive hand in poker is the Royal Flush. This hand comprises a 10, J, Q, K and Ace of the same suit.