Online Poker Guide

One of the most popular forms of internet gambling today is online poker. Advances in web technology allow players from all over the world to play against each other in poker tournaments and cash games from the comfort of their own home, at all hours of the day.

Whilst we deal primarily with casinos sites, and not poker rooms, here we’ll take a look at what the online poker craze is all about, and try to give you a good basic understanding of some of the most popular game types. These include exciting variations – like video poker and Caribbean Stud poker – that are available in all of our recommended casinos.

Best online poker sites

History of online poker

The first real money hand of online poker was dealt on January 1, 1998 at Planet Poker. The game enjoyed moderate popularity online until 2003, when Chris Moneymaker won the live World Series of Poker Main Event for $2.5 million. Moneymaker was the first person ever to win his entry ticket to the Main Event in a $39 satellite online tournament – a game format that gives players the chance to win entry into live events via online qualifying tournaments.

Online poker boomed as news spread of Moneymaker’s victory and the journey that led him there. Internet poker rooms sprang up everywhere, creating a billion dollar industry. As the dust settled, there were several poker rooms that stood out as attracting most of the traffic. These included PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Party Poker.

The game suffered a blow in April 2011 when the US government passed a law that made it illegal for US citizens to play poker online. Poker rooms restricted access to US players, which led to around a 50% drop in the player pool overnight.

Since then many countries have created legislation around online poker play, whist some players have found ways to bypass restrictions, and some rogue sites have gone so far as to continue operating counter to the law.

 Variations of online poker

In addition to Texas Hold ‘em, most online poker rooms offer several poker variations, such as:

  • Omaha Hi-Lo – Four hole cards are dealt, flop, turn and river are dealt, and the pot is split between the strongest and the weakest hands.
  • Pot Limit Omaha – An exciting game where four hole cards also use the flop, turn, and river. Strongest hand wins, and players can make bets equal to or smaller than the current size of the pot.
  • Razz – A game similar to stud wherein the goal is to make the lowest hand possible from the seven cards dealt to each player
  • Horse – A mixed game consisting of Texas Hold ‘em, Omaha, Razz, Seven Card Stud, and Seven Card Stud split eight or better.
  • Let It Ride– A variation on Stud poker with simple gameplay and a fast pace.
  • Caribbean Stud Poker – A bluff-free and stress-free version of poker similar to Casino Hold’em.

Game formats

There are several game formats popular in online poker including:

Cash games (aka ring games) – This is where players can join the game any time and play for real money. The buy in is dependent on the amount required for the blind bets.

Multi-table tournaments (MTTs) – Tournaments have a set starting time where players buy in for a fixed amount. Players are allocated a set amount of chips and if they lose those chips, they are eliminated from the tournament. The blinds and antes go up over time, putting pressure on players with fewer chips. Usually around 10% of the starting field wins a share of the prize pool, with the majority going to the first three places.

Single-table tournaments (STTs) – Also known as “sit and gos”, STTs are similar to multi-table tournaments except they begin when enough players register and usually consist of between 6 and 10 players, depending on the size of a single table.

Poker game spinoffs

At Casino Reef, it is important to note, that we do not recommend any poker rooms per se. Instead, our recommended casinos are places where online players can play poker-type games.

For example, the popularity of multi-player online poker has led many online casinos to offer similar games where the player can play against the house, rather than against other players. These games include Caribbean Stud poker – a table game with rules much like 5-card stud poker – where the player wins prizes based on hand strength, and video poker, where poker hands are used in a slot machine style format.

Bottom line

Online poker is an exciting and convenient alternative to the traditional forms of poker found in live casinos. The speed with which the game can be played – thanks to electronic dealing – the possible size of the tournaments, the prize pools, and the ability to play at more than one table at a time, are all attractive propositions for many players.

To get a taste of simpler poker play, there are the poker style games available at our recommended poker casinos above, which are available for both for free play as well as high stakes bets. Great fun, great practice, and possibly very rewarding!