Learn Poker: The Online Poker Guide
Whether you are small, tall, male, female, young, old, calm or expansive, poker is a universal game at that it is made for everyone. Today there are more than 100 million players worldwide, a number that is constantly expanding.
Multi-table poker games on a screen
However, due to its many parameters, aspects and specificities, this magnificent game can sometimes be obscure, especially for new players.
This guide could also be labelled “poker for newbies”. It provides an overview of the basics to remember about all aspects of poker gambling, including online poker. It will provide you with many useful and unpublished tips, with links to articles or other sections of the site to be able to explore some topics more important than others.
This online poker guide consists of several sections as follows (you can click on the different chapters to directly access the one you are interested in):
What is Online Poker?
Online poker is nothing more or less than the traditional poker card game as we know it, played on the Internet. There are many sites where you can play, free or for money, as well as many variations and stakes.
Online Poker vs. Live Poker
The rules are identical, although there are some key differences.
Online poker tends to be faster, less risky (you can play for very small amounts), and more accessible (you can find a game at any time, from anywhere and especially from home).
On the other side of the coin, you will only play against people from around the world, and above all you will not be able to see your opponents in person. This makes it more difficult to try to find out if someone is bluffing, but far from impossible either.
Live poker gives both a more real and fun experience, but the first few times at the casino or in a gambling circle can also be intimidating but the best way around this is to come to the table prepared.
A Brief History of Online Poker
Poker has been around for many years, with the most recent imagery guide in our time being the games in smoky bars or casinos. But everything changed in the early 2000s, when a young American player, Chris Moneymaker (yes, that’s his actual name), won the world’s largest poker tournament in 2003 and $2.5 million after qualifying online for only $40.
Before this feat, we played mostly online poker for fun, sometimes in chat rooms and without large sums of money at stake. Since the explosion in popularity of poker things have changed enormously, with a market that has seen many poker rooms launch and offer ever more advanced software. Not to mention, of course, the poker shows and TV broadcasts that have greatly contributed to this “poker boom”.
Why is Online Poker so Popular?
Everyone loves to play, and poker offers a lot of fun and excitement. It is also a game that requires skills and thus gives players a little more interest than a regular lottery.
It is also an easy game to learn, and where it is possible to have fun even without being an exceptional player, and without having the objective of becoming rich (which, it must be said, is also one of the other reasons for its success: the dream offered to become a millionaire!).
The popularity of poker has been in decline since it’s boom back in the day, but it is a good old favorite for players. It may never reach the popularity it had in its hayday, but it will always be a popular game of skill at American online casinos.
Is it Possible to Make Money in Poker?
Of course. Earning money in poker is precisely one of the reasons why many players are getting into it. However, even if it is sometimes possible to qualify for a major tournament (EPT, WSOP,…) for only a few dollars, keep in mind that there are many more losing players than winning players in online poker. Always play for reasonable amounts of money and never fall into the trap of trying to recoup your losses.
It is a very American trait to dream big, but poker must remain above all a fun game. 😉
What You Need to Know to Play Online Poker
The requirements are minimal to play online poker, and chances are you can do it with the same device you are reading this guide with.
The good news is that poker software is not overly resource-intensive, with a few exceptions. Also even an old computer from the 2000s will do.
Not to mention that today you can play poker at mobile casinos on smartphones and tablets, e.g. iPhone and iPad, Windows cell phone etc.. Playing poker on iPhone or playing poker on Android has never been easier!
How Much Money Do I Need?
Not much to start with, especially since you can always find a casino bonus to increase your starting capital. Some casinos offer cashback bonuses which is really just free money to play with. There is always a way to increase your bankroll!
After a few free play games, people usually deposit between $10 and $50 to start, sometimes up to $100. This is usually enough to play for a long time.
The important thing is to play games that match your capital. This is called bankroll management.
The management of your capital (bankroll) is an essential factor in the success of poker. It is similar to your everyday expenses: it is never good to live beyond your means.
So it is also true for online poker, and even for poker in general. The reason? Your capital must be able to withstand a sufficient series of “defeats” (the variance) without you being ruined (“broke” in poker jargon).
In No-Limit it is generally recommended to play tournaments with a maximum entry fee of 5% of your capital. That is to say a bankroll of $40 necessary to start tournaments at $2. Same thing for money games, do not enter cash game games with a buyin greater than 5% of your bankroll.
In cash games it is possible to play at limits as low as $0.01/$0.02$, making a $50 bankroll something huge.
How to Play Online Poker
Most casinos now offer in browser play. So all you need to do is visit the online casino site, log in and choose your poker room. You will be able to join the game directly from your web browser, even on your cell phone if it is powerful enough.
Some casino rooms will insist you download software to play. These are generally slightly more reliable in terms of connections but it is not really necessary in 2019. It usually takes the same process to download.
The first step is to download poker software, an operation that really doesn’t take long, even with a slow Internet connection.
Once the software is downloaded to your computer, you will usually need to double-click on the.exe file, and let the installer do his job (sometimes answering configuration questions).
Then all you need to do is create an account (sometimes requested before downloading the software). You will then be asked to provide your bank details.
Please note that you must be of legal age and in a regulated State to register and play online poker. If you cannot prove you requirements then the casino can, and will, refuse any payout when you win. Don’t waste your bankroll!
To deposit several payment options for poker are always provided to you, with the most common credit cards practiced from everywhere. To withdraw your winnings, there are several options, dependent on the individual casino.
Once you have completed your registration and logged in, you will have access to all the money games and tournaments offered by the site or its network. To access it you will simply have to navigate in the “lobby” (this is like an online casinos homepage).
To do this you can browse the lists of open tables and tournaments, click on the tabs of the categories you are interested in, apply filters, or even sometimes take advantage of special features such as those that take you directly to a free seat in a game that matches your criteria and preferences.
Poker software is both simple and sometimes time-consuming to explore, due to its many features (which are often similar from one room to another). You will just sometimes need a little time to fully understand them.
What Type of Poker Can I Play?
In terms of variants, the most popular overall is Texas Hold’em.
In Hold’em, you receive 2 private and hidden cards, which you must try to connect with the 5 community cards table.
It is a very easy game to learn but it takes time to master. Even the best players continue to learn every day!
On some online poker rooms there are other authorized variant, such as Omaha, where you receive 4 cards instead of 2 here.
Mucho Casinos experts advise new players to start on Texas Hold’em and work up to a Omaha game.
Online Poker Tournaments
In tournament poker you pay an entry fee (plus a commission to the room, usually around 10%), you are then given a stack of chips, and it is up to you to go as far as possible with them. If you lose everything, you are eliminated.
LAN Battleship Poker
Tournaments are probably the most popular form of poker, as they are the most fun and suitable for beginners. It is also where you can live the dream of winning big for little investment (and even qualify for the world’s biggest poker tournaments such as the World Series of Poker and the European Poker Tour).
All online poker rooms organize many tournaments during the week and at any time of the day, at various buy-ins, and in different game modes. Take a good look at the ones that suit you best.
Sit & Go’s
Sit & go (sit-and-go) tournaments are also tournaments, but smaller, often at a single table. The main difference with “classic” tournaments is that they start as soon as all the seats are filled (hence their name, literally “sit down and go”).
These tournaments usually take less time, and are ideal if you don’t have several hours to spare.
To learn more about the Sit & Go’s strategy, we have published an excellent series of strategic articles on this type of tournament (Sit and go).
Cash games are also known as “ring games” or money games.
This is the oldest form of poker, where the chips in front of you have their true cash value. The other big difference is that you can sit at the table and leave it at any time, which means you can play for 10 minutes or 10 hours, as you wish. Unlike tournaments, there is therefore no objective in cash games, because there are no ranking or paid places. You earn what you earn, and you lose what you lose.
Some players prefer cash games for their flexibility, but be aware that the game is different, often more difficult, and requires a very different discipline.
Reliable Poker Rooms for Beginners
There is no readymade answer to this question because it depends on many factors.
The largest sites tend to have the most players and the most games and the largest choice of tournaments.
On the other hand, new casino sites see worse players taking refuge on their tables. This can give new players a better chance of winning. They also sometimes offer more attractive bonuses to get players in.
Most rooms offer a welcome bonus to attract new players and encourage them to register.
It is always important to make sure you are not mistaken when choosing the online poker room you will play in.
Of course, it is always possible to change (and we even advise you to have a “bankroll” scattered over several rooms at once, to vary the pleasures and enjoy the best of each). But once you register at a poker room, it’s like a second home. We want to be comfortable there.
The right choice is first and foremost a quality room, reliable, well attended and generous in terms of promotions.
But the right choice is also the room that suits you, whether in terms of software, atmosphere, and all the personal requirements you may want to stick to.
That’s why our tests and reviews are here to tell you as much as possible about the very best rooms on the market. Enough to make your choice, the right choice.
MuchoCasinos has selected for you the best online poker rooms available to Americans. Whether you are a beginner, an experienced player or even an expert poker player, you will have no trouble finding the best poker room for you thanks to our expert reviews.
You can indeed learn more by consulting our individual reviews for each poker site. You will find in particular a description of the various bonuses offered (as well as our exclusive codes for even more advantages if necessary), an overview of the room’s tournament offer, a test and analysis of the casino software, and numerical or non-numerical benchmarks (strong points / weak points) for a quick overview.
Why Can’t I Play at All Online Poker Rooms?
Online poker has been very dependent on different laws in recent years, both in Europe and the United States. If in the past players from all over the world played in the same venues, today the situation is different, especially in America.
Only online poker rooms approved by US law are accessible to American players. In any case, these are the only rooms where you are officially allowed to play.
One of the major advantages of this is that American Poker Rooms must meet a certain number of standards, guaranteeing better security to players.
Find a Bonus to Get Started
Poker bonuses are so numerous and so advantageous that it would be a real shame to miss them today. At MuchoCasinos, you are sure to find the best online casino bonuses on the market!
Among these, we find first and foremost the poker sign-up bonuses. These are credited to you at the same time as your first deposit or after, usually a certain percentage of it (usually 50 to 200%), up to a certain limit.
Other rooms offer you a small amount directly without any consideration and sometimes even without any obligation to deposit. Ideal to start playing without even taking out the credit card.
Others offer you tournament tickets (for paid tournaments or freerolls), and others offer you a package including bonuses and tickets.
The way poker bonuses work is quite variable from one room to another. That’s why finding the best poker bonus is not always so easy.
In practice, you will sometimes find poker bonuses directly paid into your account and directly usable to play. The rest of the time you will only be able to unlock your poker bonus gradually, depending on the number of “Player Points” you accumulate (so the bonus money will not always be immediately available).
In any case, the bonus can only be withdrawn after you have played a certain number of hands on the room.
Check out our list of the best poker bonuses to make sure you make the right choice.
Poker Hands Value
Even if it is not really a tool strictly speaking, it remains the first companion of the player who starts: a clear list of the order of strength of the different combinations of poker. To be printed and especially to be memorized as soon as possible.
You have trouble figuring out how to play poker combinations, and who wins? We give you the official order from the hands of poker, simple to understand and explained.
Note: if you still have questions, leave a comment, we will be happy to answer you and help you!
Poker hand values and ranking of a poker hand
- Royal flush
- Straight flush
- Four of a kind
- Full house
- Straight (Continued)
- Three of a kind
- Double pair
- High Card
The value of poker hands – Detailed ranking
Straight Royal Flush
It is a straight (or straight) from the 10th to the Ace, of the same color (spade, heart, diamond, or clover). It is the strongest combination in poker, absolutely unbeatable. It is also obviously very rare, and many players will probably never see one in their entire lives.
Any straight of the same color (spade, heart, diamond, or clover) less than the royal flush.
Four of a Kind
Any 4 identical cards (of the same rank). If two players have the same square at the same time (which means that the square is already on the table), then the player with the highest card in hand (the kicker) wins the pot. If the fifth strongest possible card is the fifth of the mat as well, then there is a tie, and the pot is split.
A Full House is the combination of a Three of a Kind and a Pair, i.e. any 3 identical cards, and 2 other identical cards next to them.
Any 5 cards of the same suit (and not sequential, otherwise it is a straight flush). The highest card in the suit determines its strength. If two players have a Flush featuring the same high card value, then their second card of the highest suit is compared, and so on.
A series of 5 consecutive cards, but not all of the same suit. Aces can count as much for a low straight (A-2-3-3-4-5), also called the wheel, as for a high straight (10-J-Q-K-A). Naturally, the higher the fifth, the stronger it is.
Three of a kind
3 identical cards. Our example shows a Three Aces, with a king and a queen in kickers (accompanying cards), the best possible three of a kind.
2 identical cards, accompanied by 2 other identical cards, simply two pairs. Our example shows the best combination of two possible pairs, a double pair Ace – Kings.
When evaluating or comparing a double pair, always start with the strongest pair. Thus, a double pair A-A-5-5 is stronger than a double pair K-K-J-J-J.
2 identical cards.
Any hand that does not have any of the combinations listed above. In this case, the hand is evaluated in relation to its strongest card. For example, a K-J-9-4-2 hand (which is not of the same color) is a “King High”. If two players have the same “High Card”, then we look at the second highest card.
Note: This poker hand strength is valid for ALL poker variants.
The only known exception is a special variant of Hold’em offered by some online poker rooms in the iPoker network, called “6-Plus Hold’em”, where all cards from 2 to 5 are removed from the game. In this variant only, the ace can be used for a low fifth (A-6-7-8-8-9), the three of a kind beats the fifth, and the color beats the full house.
Tips For Online Poker
Freerolls (free tournaments)
Freerolls are completely free tournaments, which poker sites organize either for all players in the room, or for some who have fulfilled certain conditions (having collected a certain number of player points during the month, etc.).
How to unlock bonuses
As mentioned above, the bonuses offered by online poker rooms come in different forms, as well as the way they are awarded.
For those who are not directly unlocked, their release involves playing a certain number of hands (or participating in a certain amount of tournament withdrawals), most often within a limited period of time (usually 90 days).
For this reason, it is a good idea to play as many hands as possible during the first few weeks, in order to recover as much of the bonus amount as possible. You can then release some pressure.
Qualify online for the biggest real life tournaments
It’s the dream of almost every player: to be in a prestigious big tournament somewhere in one of the most beautiful destinations in the world.
If this is possible, it is of course important to keep in mind that there are few elected representatives, or at least that the road is long. But not impossible….
Several options are available. The first consists of large tournaments with several thousand players. A real butchery or luck will be of paramount importance.
It is also possible to try your luck in the “steps” tournaments. This is sit-and-go (usually at a single table), where you have to try to finish in the top places to win a ticket for the “sit-and-go step” of the level above. And so on until the last tournament that offers a package for the big live tournament.
For example you start with a sit-and-go step 1 to $1, trying to win your ticket for a sit-and-go step 2 to $10, and so on. Note that you can start at any step you want. But of course the higher you want to start, the more you need the right capital, otherwise it’s too risky.
The good thing about these “step” tournaments is that even if you don’t win a ticket for the next step (usually only the winner or even the 2nd), you can still win a ticket for a step tournament of the same level if you finish at the place just after.
Multi-tabling (i.e. playing on several tables at once) is a preferred way to play poker for players who are looking to make numbers, often professionals.
Today most software allows multi-table play, even offering features to facilitate play in this mode (reduced tables, logical organization on your screen (s),…).
Multi-tabling is not an easy task and requires a quick mind and a lot of training. Obviously playing on 2 tables at a time will not be insurmountable, but will double your risk of error.
Multi-tabling is usually done by money games, but it can also be justified in the case where two tournaments that interest you are playing at the same time.
As a general rule we would not recommend it for beginners. Master the game first, and then see if you want to speed things up.
If you like to play cash games but the game is not going fast enough for you, you can also go to the recent variant of “fast poker” offered by more and more rooms (Zoom Poker, Speed Poker, Go Fast,…). If the received hand does not suit you or you no longer want to play it, simply lie down and you will immediately be moved to a new table and with a new hand!
Player Points and Loyalty Programs
Some players don’t always know it, but all online poker rooms nowadays offer a loyalty program or at least a points system, and sometimes even a shop.
You earn player points (called differently depending on the sites) according to a scale. This scale is based on the amount of commissions (levies, or rake) you pay to the room when you play (see below).
The accumulated points can then be used to “buy” tournament tickets, bonuses, various and varied items in the hall’s shop, or even collect cash directly.
So always take a look at your balance and especially the benefits to which these points entitle you. Also check the conditions (multiplying factors according to your activity, validity date, etc.).
The “Rake”: The Poker Rooms Commission
One of the questions you may ask yourself when you start playing online poker and are not familiar with this world is how online poker rooms make their living.
It’s actually quite simple. When you play a game of money, a withdrawal is made from most pots, a percentage of the pot. This is “capped” at a certain amount so that this levy remains reasonable, especially when stakes are raised, and in any case to remain within a reasonable limit in relation to the players’ investments.
Also, make sure you always play on a room that offers the “no flop no drop” rule (no flop drawn, no sampling done).
For tournaments it is even easier, the deduction corresponds to the second amount indicated on the price of a tournament. Either for a tournament with an entry fee of $10+$1, $10 goes into the total prize pool divided between the paid seats, and $1 goes into the pockets of the room.
Rake and silver
Obviously this may seem like a small amount to small limits, but it is thanks to the volume of games that a room can reap big benefits.
The player, on the other hand, will have every interest in trying to pay as little as possible.
This is why rake is an element to be taken into account when deciding whether or not to play on a room. Indeed, it must remain within market standards to be honest. For tournaments it is generally set at 10%, but it can reach a little more for the cheapest tournaments (while conversely the “fee” tends to decrease for tournaments with higher buy-ins).
For example, a $5+0.50 tournament is the norm, while a $5+2 tournament would clearly be theft.
Rakeback is, in essence, a part of the rake that you have helped to generate, which the room gives you as a loyalty reward. That’s why rakeback is mainly of interest to big players.
Legal Problems and Cheats at Online Poker
Concerns about the legality and security of online poker have always been a major concern for players.
Fortunately, most Poker Rooms today have people working full time to hunt down fraudsters and cheats of all kinds. And even if nothing and no one is ever infallible, cases of collusion or online robots are fortunately not so frequent.
In terms of legal poker, the law on the Opening of the Games Market makes the situation much simpler today: the rooms under official licenses will be the only ones officially authorized to carry out their activity for American players.
Regarding taxes, if poker is not your main activity, you do not need to declare your winnings. Things get complicated if you live off poker and it is your main activity. It is therefore advisable to check with the competent authorities and your tax office if you want to be in good standing and avoid certain setbacks.