Poker Online

Since poker transitioned from physical cardrooms to online casinos, the game has consistently grown in popularity. This digital gambling niche currently attracts millions of UK gamers, novices, and experts alike. As a result, numerous online poker platforms have launched left, right, and centre to get a share of this billion-dollar industry. But why is poker online so popular, what does it entail, and where can you play? For the answers to these questions and more, why not stick around? We reveal everything you need to know about online poker in this tell-all guide. So, let’s jump right into it!

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Introduction to Online Poker

Poker is a card game played in various formats all over the world. The game is built upon a straightforward premise; players must wind up with the highest-ranking poker hands to win a game. While poker game was prevalent in physical rooms, it’s now widely played over the internet.

Poker lovers can attest to the fun and thrills associated with playing the game online. But, amid all the fun, players who play their cards right can wittingly walk away with some extra cash! No doubt, a bit of luck can rake in a couple of quid in the short term. But, if you’re in it for the long haul, you must understand that poker is a game of skill. That calls for consistent methodical and calculated decisions to offset hard luck. Employing poker strategies and tips will help you here.

Introduction to Online Poker

Online Poker History

As mentioned before, poker is a fun card game that was predominant in physical card rooms and later introduced to the online gambling scene in the late 1990s. Although it was considered a social game, things took a slight turn when real money wagers were on the table. Today, poker is regarded as one of the most competitive gambling games. The first-ever real money wager online for poker was placed in January 1998. Following this, several websites launched to offer different game variants to interested parties. PokerStars was among the list of pioneers and continues to dominate the industry.

By the mid-2000s, more online poker websites burst onto the scene after seeing how lucrative the industry was. However, following the Black Friday debacle in 2011, the online poker world momentarily took a knock, also affecting punters in the UK. However, despite the brief setback, online poker has started to pick up again.

UK lawmakers are 100% behind the gambling activity after explicitly giving online poker the green light through a 2005 Act. The law allows UK residents to play online poker in country-licensed and offshore sites. That’s, of course, provided you’re above the stipulated legal gambling age of 18 years.

Difference Between Offline and Online Poker

Poker is loved for its versatility. You can choose to play it online or offline, but the general rules and objectives of the game pretty much remain the same. But in as much as there are similarities, there are some differences between playing live and online poker. So let’s fish them out:

  • Hand rankings: Whether you’re playing online or offline, the hand rankings are similar. A pair of aces will give you the highest chance of winning, and a royal flush comprises five consecutive cards of the same suit, etc.
  • Objectives of the game: Poker is poker, both online and offline, and the game’s objectives are the same. Generally, you must have the best card hands from a group of players.
  • Number of players: Ideally, between 2 and 7 players can play poker both online and offline. However, with online poker, you also have the option to play alone by selecting a single-player poker game. The same isn’t possible for offline poker.
  • Who you play against: Usually, you’ll be playing against a group of strangers you can’t see with online poker. Naturally, you can see your opponents if you sit around a poker table physically. Also, with some online poker variants, you can only play the game against the dealer alone and no other players.

Comprehensive Online Poker Guide

Now that we have the basics out of the way, we'll proceed to furnish you with an in-depth guide explaining the ins and outs of online poker. Whether you're new to the game or have been around the block long enough, you'll find the following section useful. We explain the different poker variants, tournaments, sites, the works.

Online Poker Variants

Online Poker Variants

Many players are familiar with Texas Hold ’em, but there are plenty more poker variants at your disposal. Even though the game’s objectives are the same, each poker variant comes with a slightly different set of rules and gameplay. Depending on the site, you can play video poker, where the outcome of each game is determined by Random Number Generator (RNG) technology. In this case, cards are shuffled randomly before the start of every hand. The idea is to generate a sequence of cards that players can’t predict. For added volatility, random numbers previously generated are discarded before a new game commences.

In some cases, you also have the opportunity to play live dealer poker games, where the operator mimics a real live casino setting, complete with a realistic gaming ambience. Such poker games have a live professional dealer present to lead the game. In addition, you’ll be playing with real cards on the table. 888 Poker and PokerStars are examples of sites that offer live dealer poker games. Regardless of the format you play the game in, you’re likely to encounter the following popular variants:

Five Card Draw Poker

Five Card Poker is arguably the most straightforward poker variant you can play. For this reason, it’s pretty popular among beginners. Most poker players can confirm that it’s the first game they mastered before moving on to other variants. Five Card Poker doesn’t require much strategy, making it perfect for players looking to enjoy the game casually. As mentioned, the game is easy to learn and uses standard poker hand rankings.

To win, a player must make the best five-card poker hand possible after a draw and bet. The game starts with a small and big blind before cards are dealt. Following this, each player is dealt five cards. Then, betting starts, and players must fold, call, or raise. The remaining players proceed to draw anywhere from 0 and 5 cards. Shortly after, a second betting round commences. The player with the best hand wins. It’s that simple!

The fact that there’s only one drawing round makes Five Card Draw simple to follow. Plus, the game moves pretty quickly, which makes it interesting. The only drawbacks are that you can’t see any of your opponents’ cards, making it a tad difficult to ascertain the strength of their poker hands.

Texas Hold ’em Poker

Texas Hold ’em is by far the most popular online poker game on the market to date. We’ll even go as far as saying it’s a staple in almost all gaming platforms that offer poker games. Texas Hold ’em is often the dominant variant used in major tournaments and big games, which is why many professional pokers are drawn to it. Texas Hold ’em is also a hit with beginners, as it’s relatively easy to learn.

Like Five Card Draw, two blinds are put forward before cards are dealt. The game starts with two players placing their blinds bets. Next, two cards are dealt to each player, and then in a clockwise direction to the left of the big blind, they must decide to call, raise, or fold. Following the first betting round, three more cards are dealt onto the table. After another betting round, one more card is dealt, followed by the final round. The remaining players then show their cards, and the one with the best five-card poker hand wins. You can find numerous Texas Hold ’em tips and strategies, which sometimes level the playing field between pros and newbies.

Caribbean Stud Poker

Despite the fancy name, Caribbean Stud Poker is not from the tropical islands or much different from Five Card Poker. The only significant differences with this variant are bluffing is non-existent, you can’t make any draws, and you only play against the house and not other players. Be that as it may, you’ll find it simple to master the rules.

A game starts with the dealer laying out a five-card hand on the table facing down. The dealer proceeds to flip one card face up, at which point you must look at your card and decide to wager an extra bet or fold. If you fold, you lose. After every player on the table places an additional bet or folds, the dealer looks at the full hand in front and opens their hand if they have an Ace-King or higher. If you made an additional bet and it’s higher than the dealer’s open hand, your extra bet is returned to you. The payouts depend on the card you have.

Caribbean Stud Poker has reasonable betting limits, depending on the poker platform you join. While the game is typically played on RNG tables, you can also play with a live dealer online.

Three Card Poker

Three Card Poker is another exciting poker variant that is also easy to learn. Like any poker game, the goal is to make the best hand possible. But here’s the catch; you must do so with only three cards. If your poker hand comprises a pair or better, you win the game.

To begin the game, the player places an ante bet. Then, three cards are dealt to each player and the dealer facing down. Each player looks at their hand and decides whether to place a play wager equal to the ante bet or not. If you fold, the dealer collects your ante and pair plus wager. However, if you opt to place a play wager, the cards are turned over. You win the game if you have a better hand than the dealer. On the contrary, if the dealer’s hand is better, the house collects the player’s ante and play bets.

Omaha Poker

Omaha Poker, also called Omaha Hi, is similar to Texas Hold ’em and often ranks second in terms of popularity. The Hi in Omaha Hi refers to the highest hand that wins the pot. As such, the variant is usually paid as a pot-limit game. Although the gameplay is much the same as that of Texas Hold ’em, there are a few notable variations.

Firstly, instead of two cards being dealt to each player, the game deals out four. Because each player has more cards to start with, it is much easier for them to make a good poker hand. After the cards are dealt, players have to try and make the best possible five-card poker hand. However, they can only use two of their initial cards and three from the five community cards dealt.

Omaha also comes in other variants, such as Omaha Hi-Lo and Five Card Omaha. With Omaha Hi-Lo, the gameplay is similar to Omaha Hi. The only significant difference is that the pot is divided between the highest and lowest-ranked Five Cad Poker Hand. As for Five Card Omaha, it’s better suited for players that enjoy making strong hands in Omaha Hi. And players are dealt five cards as opposed to four. Unfortunately, it’s the least popular variant of the three and, as such, isn’t available on most poker sites.

How to Play Poker Online

Before you even think of joining any poker site, you must familiarise yourself with the rules of the game. Lucky for you, there are plenty of resources at your disposal to get you up to speed. Sites like 888 Poker and PokerStars offer tutorials and guides to help you master the game. In fact, PokerStars goes the extra mile to offer a Poker school complete with different courses structured by poker experts.

While learning the game fundamentals, you must equip yourself with the necessary strategies. Remember that if you intend to pursue poker long-term, you’ll need to mentally invest yourself. That means arming yourself with poker strategies, tips, and tricks to give you an edge and boost your confidence.

Once you know the game’s basic rules and related strategies, you can sign up with a poker website to play for real money. Depending on the platform you pick, you may need to download the poker software onto your device. The great news is you can also wager via a web browser on your desktop or mobile device. With mobile devices, you get to wager on your favourite poker titles while on the move.

How to Play Poker Online

Best UK Poker Sites

We mentioned how you need to join an online poker platform to kickstart your gaming adventure. While the process sounds pretty straightforward on paper, it’s rather taxing in reality. When selecting a poker site, you must understand that some platforms offer players a dedicated poker section. Then you’ll find others that offer poker games as part of the online casino offering.

Which is better of the two? Naturally, dedicated poker sites like 888 Poker and PokerStars are precisely that—committed to offering a 100% poker service to their customers. As such, you’ll find extra bells & whistles like a bonus specific to poker players, more poker variants, poker software, and poker reward programmes. Online casinos that offer poker as part of a general library may not avail more variants or poker-specific bonuses. However, this all depends on the platform in question.

When scouting for the best UK poker site, you’ll also need to consider other factors such as the operator’s legitimacy, reputation, security, customer service, and payment platforms. We can’t overemphasise how the site you wind up with can propel or deter your poker gaming skills and confidence. That’s why we encourage you to pick wisely or take the easy route and rely on our trusted recommendations.

Online Poker Tournaments

One of the advantages of playing poker online is you open yourself up to a world of exciting tournaments. The sheer number of poker tournaments you can enter is mind-blowing, with each event offering different pots, buy-ins, and rewards. Also, depending on the tourney you participate in, you can extend your range and brush up on your poker skills. In addition, you’ll find platforms like PokerStars offering punters more than 20 major events. Below are the most popular ones you can explore:

  • Freezeout

Freezeout poker tournaments are among the most popular events most UK poker sites offer. In fact, they were the only kind of tournament run by most sites in the 90s. Some iconic poker events, such as the World Series of Poker, primarily run this type of tournament. With Freezeout tournaments, players enter the event with a fixed buy-in. For the newbies out there, buy-in is the stipulated value of chips a player should buy to be eligible to participate in a tournament. Armed with your chips, you start playing the game until you run out. If you lose all your chips, you’re automatically booted out of the tournament. You don’t get a chance to buy in again into the contest—you’re frozen out, as it were. Of course, the alternative is to win the game!

The thrill associated with Freezeout tournaments also makes them appealing to competitive players. When you join such an event, the idea is to eliminate all the other players until you’re the only one left with all the chips. Also, Freezeout tournaments put a cap on your losses. For instance, if you’re participating in a £200 buy-in tournament, you can’t lose more than £200 on that day. Granted, it’s not much of a consolation, but at least you’re protected from catastrophic losses.

  • Freeroll

Freeroll tournaments, also known as poker freerolls, are popular with gaming enthusiasts. As the name implies, you don’t need to pay to enter. In other words, you don’t need buy-in to secure your seat at the table. So it’s no wonder they are popular with cautious and novice poker enthusiasts looking to learn the game. However, advanced poker players are also drawn to these types of tournaments. Because who doesn’t want a chance to join an exciting tournament for free at no risk?

Joining a tournament for free is only half the fun. If you win, you walk away with a wide range of rewarding prizes. Depending on the online poker site, prizes range from real money prizes to more tournament tickets. If lady luck is on your side, you can even win a ticket to participate in a more expensive tournament! Plus, such events give you a chance to connect with fellow poker players for free.

One would think that since Freeroll tournaments are free to enter, they offer sub-standard gaming experiences compared to other poker tournaments. You’ll be pleased to know that this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Freerolls are structured in pretty much the same way as high-end poker tournaments and offer equally exciting rewards.

  • Sit & Go

Sit & Go tournaments are also very popular with poker players, so much so that any poker site worth its salt offers them. That’s why you’ll find them displayed in the game libraries of poker bigwigs like 888 Poker UK and PokerStars. With this kind of tournament, only a set number of pre-registered players ranging from 2-12 can play at any given time. The exact number of players will depend on the site.

Players must buy in upon joining the tournament. Again, the buy-in depends on the exact event and the poker site. Interested parties also have to pay a tournament fee and randomly take their seats around the table before the game commences. Once all seats are occupied, an initial draw is conducted at each table in the tournament. According to high card ranking, the draw determines which player will act as the dealer. It’s not uncommon for a tournament to be played at several poker tables. If that is the case, players are shuffled around the tables during the event. The last person remaining in the tournament wins all the chips. How much you win will depend on the online poker site’s prize pool structure.

  • Satellite

Satellite poker tournaments are popular with beginners unwilling to spend significant amounts of money to enter a poker event. They’re characterised by low buy-ins, making them appealing to cautious gamers or players with limited bankrolls. But seasoned poker enthusiasts will tell you never to shun Satellite tournaments, often using them as stepping stones to gain access to higher buy-in poker events. That’s because the prize from Satellite poker tournaments affords you entry into even bigger and more prestigious poker tournaments. For this reason, most Satellite poker events are also referred to as qualifying tournaments.

To put things into perspective, a typical large poker tournament can require around £150 buy-in. On the other hand, Satellites will require as little as £15, so do the math. Depending on the site and poker event, you may have to pay an additional tournament fee. As with most tournaments, the buy-in contributes to the prize pool, while the tournament fees go to the site for hosting the event. Depending on what’s available on your preferred online poker platform, you can either join a one-table or multi-table Satellite tournament.

  • Re-Buy

We already discussed how players get chucked out of the tournament in freezeout tournaments the moment they lose their buy-in. Re-buy tournaments are part of freezeout tournaments but give you leeway to buy more time and linger in the game a little longer. Call it a grace period of sorts. In essence, when you lose all your chips in a tournament, instead of busting out, you can buy in again.

The only catch is you can only re-buy if you lose your tournament chips within a stated timeframe. We might as well point out that the re-buy period is usually very short. For instance, your grace period may only last up until the first break of the tournament. Once the re-buy period is up, the game reverts to the original rules, becoming a Freezeout tournament.

Given the leniency of Re-buy tournaments, you’ll notice that they tend to attract many players. As such, they often boast a larger prize pool. Also, most players eliminated in the tournament opt to purchase more chips increasing the prize pool. The only drawback to this exciting event is it tends to drag on longer because of the re-buys.

Best Bonuses for UK Online Poker Players

Best Bonuses for UK Online Poker Players

Poker sites entice new customers and retain existing ones by structuring attractive bonuses. The strategy has worked well for leading platforms like 888 Poker and PokerStars. Poker bonuses allow you to make the most of what’s available by granting you more chances to win. While you’ll find several bonuses on offer, depending on the site, the following have been chosen by top poker brands in the UK:

  • Free Play: A free pay bonus is when the operator allows you to play specific poker games using the offer. The reward, however, isn’t exactly free, as the operator may require you to deposit a small amount to unlock it. Take, for instance, PokerStars UK. It unveils a £40 free play bonus if you deposit £10.
  • No deposit bonus: The desired no deposit bonus is popular. Some sites allow new players to wager on different poker games for free but win real cash. 888 Poker adopts this brilliant strategy by offering new customers a £20 no deposit offer.
  • Loyalty Scheme Rewards: UK players can also join programmes that reward them for their loyalty. With such loyalty schemes, every wager you place earns you points to advance up the reward levels ladder.

Top 5 Tips for Playing Poker Online

The internet is your oyster when it comes to learning helpful poker strategies and tips. It’s filled with numerous resources, guides, and articles, all offering advice on how you can take your game to the next level. But if, as editorial staff of, we were to single out the five most significant pro-tips, the following would definitely make the cut:

  • Start with micro-stakes: We advise you to start by placing the lowest stakes possible in any poker game. Even advanced gamers swear by this tip. That way, you don’t prematurely run down your chips.
  • Don’t always rely on your favourite hand: If you’ve been playing poker long enough, you’ll have a favourite starting hand, and that’s okay. But our advice? You may want to ditch it if it results in bad plays. Remember, poker isn’t a game of superstition. At the end of it all, logic wins the day!
  • Stick to your winning strategy: Don’t get us wrong; relying on your favourite hand always isn’t advisable. But that doesn’t mean you have to chop and change your poker strategy at every turn or because you’re frustrated. Seasoned poker players will tell you that every session counts, and applying a consistent winning strategy will make you a better player.
  • A little aggression is necessary: Unless you’re playing for fun, the goal is to win. And a little aggression may help you achieve just that. If you find yourself playing with weaker players, don’t hold back on betting a lot of chips to force them out.
  • Know which games to play: After all is said and done, know which poker table to join. If you’re new to the game and find yourself surrounded by players who only make meticulous moves, it’s a good time to exit. Avoid joining bad games unless you’re playing for fun.

Online Poker Strategies

As much as poker is a fun game to most players, it’s highly competitive. Any online poker player with serious hopes of winning will have to nurture a high skill level. Relying merely on luck or gut instinct is unlikely to make you a profitable player. Neither will emotions, pride, and ego. Poker strategies help you play your hand better and boost your confidence levels.

Ultimately, poker strategies can possibly make the game more lucrative for you. Even if you’re not the best poker player in the room, just a few tweaks to your strategy can catapult your game from mediocre to outstanding. In addition, after consistently adopting different strategies, you increase your chances of winning in the long run.

Bear in mind that poker strategies aren’t one-size-fits-all. In the same vein, there isn’t one optimal poker strategy you can use. Different strategies apply to different variants. That’s because some variants are pretty basic while others are more complex. It’s in your best interests to learn techniques linking to the particular game you want to play.

Closing Thoughts

To most people, online poker isn’t just a game of cards. It’s a source of excitement and adrenaline and, of course, a chance to make money. Online poker comes in numerous variants and is relatively simple to master. It’s easy to go from amateur to expert really quick. All you have to do is go through many training resources and poker guides at your disposal. Once you’ve grasped the game fundamentals, you can join a dedicated poker site or online casino. Simply make sure you align with the best poker sites that come complete with exciting bonuses, promotions, variants, and tournaments. And, yes, it’s very much legal for UK players to indulge in the game.

Because online poker is a game of skill, it’s worth arming yourself with a few tips and pointers before you play. But above all, don’t forget to keep a level head and have fun!

Poker Online FAQ

Yes, it is. UK lawmakers legalised online poker in the country after passing the 2005 Act. However, only online poker sites licensed by the UK Gambling Commission are allowed to operate.

As long as you’re above 18 years old, you can play poker online by joining a dedicated poker site or online casino. While you’ll find numerous options to choose from, PokerStars and 888Poker are among the top sites in the UK.

Yes, you can. Most poker sites offer exciting bonuses specific to new poker players. All you have to do is open an account successfully and claim the available bonus by following the prompts. Once you burn through your welcome bonus, you can typically find ongoing promotions to boost your bankroll.

Poker tournaments are exciting events hosted by poker sites where players compete by wagering on the game. To enter, you usually buy-in and/or pay a tournament fee, depending on the type of event.

There are numerous poker variants you can play online based on the site. Common variants include Texas Hold ’em, Omaha, Five Card Poker, and Caribbean Stud Poker.



Nick Griffin

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The creator of this project is not just another writer but he is, first and foremost, a passionate online gaming player. His attention to detail means he spends hours studying and trying out innovative new techniques in order to write content that is engaging and truly informative for the users of this blog. When he's not writing, you can find him in Macau and Las Vegas, with sunglasses and the ever-present cigar.

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