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Poker has always been one of the most popular card games around the world and one that is not only dependent on luck, but on players’ skills and strategies. It’s sometimes played for fun, often for money, but one thing is for sure – it has never been as popular as it is today. One of the challenges that kept poker from being that widely played as it is now, is that in the past you would have to get together with other players at a real poker table at a real poker table with a real deck of cards. Not surprisingly many fans of the game didn’t have so many opportunities to play poker as often as they would now.
Imagine the upsurge the game experienced with the development of the Internet that brought players from all over the world together in the best Online Poker sites. Online games allowed people to play poker any time they wanted, and they didn’t even need others present in the same room. It’s not that this has stopped their all-boys’ poker nights, it’s just that more opportunities are open now and players may play whatever variation of the game they want, at any stakes, any time and in any Online Poker room. Free games are available, too, and that was unthinkable before.
All of this is possible thanks to Online Poker. Every day millions of people from around the world go to various websites to play online poker to their hearts’ content. All this has made poker number one game in the world. If you already are an online poker player, you should have a pretty good idea of the size of the online poker market, and how much fun you can have, as well. If you haven’t joined the poker craze yet, you really do need to see what you’ve been missing.
Play Poker Online – Game Variations
Poker is not a single card game, but a collection of different games, all of which have different sets of rules. The best online poker sites, in fact, offer quite a nice selection of poker games to their users, allowing them to choose between different variations of poker, different buy-ins and limits. Most of the poker sites, however, will offer you mainly the two most popular variations of the game Texas Hold’em and Omaha with different limits. Other well popular games are the 7-Card Stud and the 5-Card Draw, but these are not present at every poker room. Not to mention some less popular variants, like Badugi, or mixed games like H.O.R.S.E. or S.H.O.E., that are offered only by the biggest online poker rooms in the world.
After you’ve chose the best online Poker variation for you, you can choose whether you want to play cash game or tournament. If you decide to play cash, you can just choose the limits and join any table you like right away and also leave it in any given moment. If you want to play tournaments instead, you have to check the tournament schedule of the poker room you’ve chosen and wait for the starting time. A great thing about tournament is that with a minimum fee or no fee at all you can win great prizes, but on the down side there are usually a lot of people that participate and the tournaments sometimes take a lot of time to complete. On the other hand if you’re just starting to play online poker, a tournament with no fee (freeroll) is your best choice, since you can start practicing without spending your own money.
Without any doubt, Texas Hold’em is the most popular Poker game in the world. This game falls into the category of community card poker – except for the two face-down cards that each player is dealt, there are also face-up community cards, that everyone can use to complete their hand. The maximum rounds of betting while playing one hand, can be four, and at the end of each hand the player with the highest hand that is still in the game wins.
The highest possible hand that you can have in Texas Hold’em is the Royal Flush – same-suit consecutive cards from 10 to Ace. If you have same-suit consecutive cards up to lower than an Ace, than you have Straight Flush. The next best thing is Four of a Kind and right after that – Full House (combination of three of a kind and a pair). Just under the Full House, in the hierarchy of hand strength we have Flush (5 same-suit cards) and right under that – Straight (five consecutive cards). Then there is the Three of a Kind, two pair, a pair and high card, arranged from highest to lowest.
Every hand begins when each player is dealt two cards and the blinds (obligatory bets) are posted. A round of bet follows and every player has the chance to pay the amount of the highest bet posted in order to continue in the hand, to raise the bet, and to fold or give up his hand. After all the players have posted the same amount of money the game continues with the revealing of the first three community card (the flop). Another round of betting occurs, after which the fourth community card (the turn) is revealed. After, there is the third betting round and then the last community card (the river) is shown. What follows is the last round of betting, after which the player with the highest hand wins all of the accumulated bets (the pot). It’s not really necessary to complete all four rounds in order to win. If every single player on the table gives up their hand after you bet, you will automatically win the accumulated so far pot.
Omaha is another community card poker variation and for the most part it has the same rules as Texas Hold’em – the sequence of betting rounds and community cards revealing is the same and the hand strength is determined in the same way. The main difference between Texas Hold’em and Omaha is that while in the first each player is dealt 2 face-down cards, in the second everyone is dealt 4 cards. Another difference is that while in Texas Hold’em you can make a hand with both your face-down cards, with one of them or with none of them, in Omaha you have to always use 2 of your 4 face-down cards and 3 of the community cards in order to constitute an eligible hand. This of course changes a lot of the game’s strategy. For example if you have Three of a Kind in your face-down cards, it’s actually not a good thing, since you can only use two of them and consequently you have less chance to get the forth cards in the deck, in order to make and eligible Three of a Kind.
As far as the bet limits are concerned, in the best poker sites you can play limit Omaha, pot-limit Omaha and no-limit Omaha. The best poker rooms also offer a popular variation of Omaha, which is called Omaha High/Low. In this game not only the best hand wins, but also the lowest. In order to qualify for a low hand you must have 5 cards of different number, the highest of which is lower or equal to 8, which includes the Ace, as it is considered the lowest card in the deck when constituting a low hand. When there’s a low hand, the pot is divided between the winner with the highest hand and the winner with the lowest hand. Straights and flushes don’t count for the lowest hand, so the best possible low hand is A-2-3-4-5.
If you want to play poker online, except for Texas Hold’em and Omaha, you definitely have to try Seven-Card Stud. In this poker game, players are dealt a total of seven cards, some of which face up and others face down. The starting hand of each player consists of three cards – two face-up cards and one upcard, which is called “third street”. After the starting hands have been dealt, the first betting round occurs. After that the game proceeds with the dealing of the fourth, the fifth, the sixth and the seventh card, all of which are upcards, except for the last one. After the dealing of every new card, there is a betting round for a total of five. The hand strength is determined the same way as in Texas Hold’em and Omaha.
Just like in Omaha, Seven-Card Stud has also a variation in which not only the highest hand wins, but also the lowest.
Even though before the explosion of Texas Hold’em, Seven-Card stud was actually the most popular game, actually not every poker operator offers the game. So if you want to have it in your games selection make sure that the poker room that you intent to play in offers enough Seven-Card Stud cash games and Tournaments.
The 5-Card Draw is considered by many the simplest version of poker and consequently is often the first poker variant learned by new players. The game unfortunately isn’t offered by all of the poker rooms, but you will definitely find it in the best online poker sites.
A 5-Card Draw game begins with the posting of the blinds and/or antes. After that each player is dealt five cards, face down, and then the first betting round begins. If after that round more than one player remains in the hand, the game proceeds with the drawing phase, in which everybody chooses the as many of their cards that they want to replace. After that phase is completed, a second betting round occurs, followed by a showdown, in which the player that holds the best hand wins the pot.
There are different versions of the 5-Card Draw, amongst which is the Five-card Draw with a stripped deck. This variant, in fact, uses a 32-card deck (only cards from seven to Ace are in play) and is usually played by four or fewer players. If five players are playing, the sixes are added, so the deck is made out of 36 cards. Since the deck contains a lower number of different cards, the probabilities for the different hand are changes, so a flush ranks higher than a full house.
Choose to Play on the Best Poker Sites
There are so many great poker rooms online, that is sometimes hard to choose, but if you want to play poker online only at the best of the best, you have only a few options. Of course, one of the great choices without any doubt is the most famous poker room in the world – PokerStars. This poker room offers so many different games a freeroll pretty much at any time of the day or the night. This is, actually, one of the few poker rooms that offer some of the less-know poker variants like Badugi or Razz and mixed versions like 8-Game Mix and H.O.R.S.E.
Another great proposal for who wants to play poker online is 888 Poker. Even though the gambling giant doesn’t offer as many variations like PokerStars, its poker room will actually win you over with the giant constellation of rich bonus offers and promotions that he presents its users with.