Real Money Online Poker

The winning tips and strategy advice you need to get the most out of your online Poker experience

Incredibly, ten years ago you'd have been hard pushed to find a good real money poker game online. Fast forward to 2013, however, and the choice of legit online poker games is bewildering.

You can now play any variant – from Texas Hold'em to Pot Limit Omaha – at pretty much any stake you want, from mere cents to thousands of dollars, and you can play anytime you like, all from the comfort of your bedroom.

But which game do you choose, how can you make your money go further, and where should you even start when thinking of making your first legal poker deposit?

Let's take a look at some of the rules of the game first then get you up and running so you won't be wasting time on the virtual tables.

 
 
Quick Poker TIPS 
  • 1Study your opponents – online poker is about playing people, not cards.
  • 2Multi-table to increase your play volume, and your winnings
  • 3Play at micro-stakes for just a few cents - you can't do that in live casinos
  • 4Use freerolls to boost your bankroll at no risk
Online Poker: Getting to know the game

The most popular form of poker - both at legal online poker sites and in land-based casinos – is No Limit Texas Hold'em. It's popular for a reason – it's crazily simple to learn.

Dealing

Every player starts with two cards dealt face down. These are a player's ‘hole cards' and they only get to see them. Then, five cards are dealt up in the middle of the table with a round of betting between each card. These five ‘community' cards are shared by everyone at the table.

Flop, Turn, River

After an initial round of betting, three cards are dealt face up on the board, known as ‘the flop', then another round of betting follows before a single ‘turn' card is dealt face up on the board. After another round of betting, a final card, ‘the river', is dealt up on the table. After one final round of betting, any players left in turn over their cards to see who has the best hand. The winning hand wins the pot, with players splitting the pot for having hands of equal value.

The object is to make the best five-card poker hand from any of the five cards on the board and the two in your hand. Rankings follow the classic poker hand rankings, with high card being the lowest winning hand and a royal flush the highest.

 
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Texas Hold'em & Omaha - The Modern Players' Favorite

Poker online comes in many forms, but No Limit Texas Hold'em is the most popular. This means that there are no limits on the amounts you can bet. You can't be ‘priced out' of a bet – if you want to bet everything in front of you, you can. Limit games are popular in the USA but don't offer as much excitement.

Omaha – especially in its Pot Limit format – is also a popular card game played online. Similar to Texas Hold'em, it has one key difference – instead of two hole cards, players are dealt four cards each, and this time, you MUST use two of your own cards plus three community cards in order to make the best five-card hand. Pre-flop and post-flop betting is similar but with Pot Limit you can only raise how much is in the pot at that time; there are no all-in scenarios as in No Limit Hold'em.

Pot Limit Omaha – or PLO – is most popular in online cash games, as the action is so furious, and those real money games are often where you can find lots of easy cash. PLO is much more difficult to master than its Hold'em cousin, and as such will attract some terrible players looking to see what all the fuss is about. Find a good poker website with juicy Omaha games, and you'll find easy money. Better still - let us do the hard work for you.

Finding the Best Online Poker Sites

Despite the legal situation in the United States (see History) denying many Americans the chance to play online poker, the game is rising exponentially in popularity across the world by players on laptops, Macs and PCs from the wilds of Canada to the beaches of Australia and everywhere in between.

In 2013 you can play tournaments, cash games, Hold'em and Omaha, Draw Poker and Stud, qualify for big live events via small-buy in satellites, or play private ‘home games' with pals on the Internet.

More people are playing online than ever before, but where do you even begin with choosing a real money online room to play poker on? For every popular site with full tables there's a site that struggles to get a single table going. For every site with trusted, audited software there's another disreputable site which you should avoid like the plague.

If you're getting into real money online poker, choosing the right room is the first and most important decision you'll ever make. Luckily we review and rank the very best Internet poker sites so that you can pick one of our top links and deposit funds without worry. Sign up now and you can even take advantage of a good real money deposit bonus where you can play poker in return for the site matching your deposit with real cash. The more poker you play, the better the chance you can ‘play through' the deposit amount.

Finding top real money poker sites – what to look for:

  • Safe and secure audited software
  • Big player pools for fast action and bigger prizes
  • Good deposit bonuses to attract players
  • A wide range of poker games
  • A good range of real money deposit options
  • Fast cashouts to get your winnings quick
Winning at Online Poker

you're looking to play some real money card games online, Texas Hold'em is where you should start. But what are the best things to learn for the aspiring World Series of Poker winner? Let's have a look at some key tips to get you started.

Starting Hands

You'll only get two cards at the start of a hand, so make sure they're both strong. It's much easier to play a pot with a strong holding, particularly when you're starting out, as it negates any chances of getting into sticky situations. If you know you're beat even when holding a good hand, you shouldn't be in the hand –simple.

Even a new player can make a lot of money at the micro and small stakes games online by playing a tight, solid, ABC game. If it's a good hand and a good situation, play it. If you know you are beat and the other guy isn't going to fold, just muck your hand to fight another day.
So, what's a good starting hand?

Strong Hands

Obviously, high pairs like A-A, K-K, Q-Q, J-J and 10-10 are worth raising with, particularly in late position. A-K, A-Q and A-J, all suited, are more examples of strong hands you want to raise with pre-flop. They're also good hands for making Continuation Bets with, i.e. if you've raised pre-flop and have hit a flop that doesn't really help you (say, the three cards are all below yours) you may want to lead out with a bet to portray strength.

Medium Strength Hands

Next come the medium strength hands, like K-10, Q-10 and J-10, and medium pairs like 9-9, 8-8 and 7-7. They're all good raising hands, depending on position and the dynamic of your table, but can also be called with in an aggressive pre-flop betting round.

Marginal Hands

Finally, marginal hands like 2-2, 3-3, and A-9 are all decent hands for calling with pre-flop if in late position. You may disguise your hand by hitting trips (three of a kind) on the flop, then you can start to be aggressive.

The beauty of online poker is that no two tables are alike. If you have a particularly tight table you can mix things up by expanding your starting hand range to exploit weakness. For most beginners, however, a solid game with strong starting hands is sensible, if a little dull to start off with.

 
 
Get your FREE Poker Hands Rank Chart

Download our free Strategy Chart so you can instantly know the best play whatever hand you are dealt. The chart gives a quick reference to optimal blackjack strategy to help increase your edge.

  QUICK VIEW
 
Position, Position, Position

Think your starting hand is all that stands between you and a juicy pot? Think again. Poker is all about where you're sitting in relation to the action, and Texas Hold'em is no different.

Late Postition

If you're in late position (i.e. Last or near last to make a betting decision, you'll have had a good chance to see what everyone else has done before you. Half the table may have folded their cards, or a couple of players may have just called a bet. If you're last to act you may want to punish such passiveness with a raise.

Play strong hands in late position, but mix it up with marginal hands like Q-10, J-9, A-9 and so on in an unraised pot. Plus, your aggressive play before the flop can add credibility to any strong play you might want to use on the next round if a garbage flop falls and you want to try a steal. Be ready to fold your high pair if you get a lot of action with a threatening flop.

Early Position

If you're in early position, conversely, such as after the big blind (Under the Gun) or next to him (UTG+1) you'll want to stick to playing strong hands that will hold up to raises. It's all well and good raising A-10 UTG but what if a player re-raises you from late position – what are you going to do now? And if you call, you'll be first to act after the flop has been dealt. You will have no idea what the player in late position is going to do after you.

Some players advocate not even playing ANY hands in early position, but if you do, make sure they're decent.

Advanced Tips

You could spend a lifetime mastering online poker, but many experienced players will be able to read other players' moves – especially online – and call out bluffs with well-timed aggression.

Online poker lends itself perfectly to the improving player as there are so many resources out there for Internet players. You also get to play so many more games, and see more hands, than live players. This means your learning is improving much faster.

 
Learn Pot Odds

Pot odds are one of those simple things that all players should be able to grasp, but very few bother to do. The basic idea behind pot odds is figuring out how much money the pot is offering you in relation to your chances of hitting the hand you want.

For example, let's say you hold a pair of fours at the start of a hand. To hit another 4, making a set, on the flop your odds would be around 7.5 to 1. You know this because there are only two other cards you need (2 out of 52), you hold two yourself, and the other players hold two apiece (we assume you don't know what they're holding). If you're not going to make more than 7.5 to 1 on your bet by playing, it's not worth playing; the ‘pot odds' are not good enough for you to call.

So, if the pot had $25 in it, and you had to bet $5, your pot odds would be 5 to 1: not enough to make the call.

Let's say you make the call anyway, and the flop misses you entirely, coming J-K-2. Your chances of hitting that 4 just went up, as there are fewer cards to come out. However, the action gets a bit crazy post-flop and you're being offered around 10 to 1 on your money to make a call, knowing that your hand odds are about 9 to 1. Now you DO make the call.

Check Raising

Pot odds are one of those simple things that all players should be able to grasp, but very few bother to do. The basic idea behind pot odds is figuring out how much money the pot is offering you in relation to your chances of hitting the hand you want.

For example, let's say you hold a pair of fours at the start of a hand. To hit another 4, making a set, on the flop your odds would be around 7.5 to 1. You know this because there are only two other cards you need (2 out of 52), you hold two yourself, and the other players hold two apiece (we assume you don't know what they're holding). If you're not going to make more than 7.5 to 1 on your bet by playing, it's not worth playing; the ‘pot odds' are not good enough for you to call.

So, if the pot had $25 in it, and you had to bet $5, your pot odds would be 5 to 1: not enough to make the call.

Let's say you make the call anyway, and the flop misses you entirely, coming J-K-2. Your chances of hitting that 4 just went up, as there are fewer cards to come out. However, the action gets a bit crazy post-flop and you're being offered around 10 to 1 on your money to make a call, knowing that your hand odds are about 9 to 1. Now you DO make the call.

Multi Tabling is an Essential Art

If you're looking to play seriously, learning to multi-table poker online is a key element of your online poker career.

Multi-tabling simply means loading up your game screen with as many poker tables as you can possibly manage at once. Many pros will play around 16-24 online poker games at the same time, whether they be cash games, Sit ‘n' Gos, or tournaments, and this allows for faster play, more volume, and ultimately, a higher ROI (Return on Investment). Also, if you've signed up to a legit poker room with a deposit bonus, multi-tabling will ensure a faster play-through of any real money bonus you want to activate.

Lear Good Bankroll Management

As much a vital tip with online poker as it is with live betting for cash, make sure you have your bankroll sorted before you start playing for real money.

It's easy to have dollar signs appear in front of your eyes and want to dive into that $50 tournament or $5/10 cash game. But if you don't have the funds behind you if things go bad, you'll quickly go bust.

The best advice is to set aside a certain amount of money you're prepared to bet with. If you take a hit, drop down the levels, build your bankroll back up, then make a jump up the stakes if you're comfortable.

So, how much will you need in relation to the buy-in? As a rule of thumb, if you're playing cash games have 20-30 buy-ins set aside (especially if you're playing more than one table) and for tournaments, a bankroll of 50 buy-ins is sensible. This way you can handle the swings and reload without any worries.

Invest in Tracking Software

Finally, and this is particularly for you legal cash game fans, consider buying some tracking software. Heads-Up Displays (HUDs), such as PokerTracker 4, sit on your legit poker room's software and allows you to track other players at your table. It's invaluable if you're planning on taking detailed notes on regular opponents.

 
 
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The Quick History of Online Poker

Online poker is a teenager yet its brief life so far is already filled with momentous highs - and embarrassing lows. Let's take a look at some of the key moments in the early life of poker on the Internet.

  • 1998 – The first online poker site, Planet Poker, is launched, with real money Texas Hold'em games available.
  • 2003 – Chris Moneymaker becomes the first online qualifier to win the World Series of Poker Main Event. He had qualified for $80 on PokerStars.com, winning his entry into the $10,000 showpiece.
  • 2006 – The US Congress passes UIGEA – the Unlawful Internet Enforcement Act – banning financial transactions to online poker sites. Online poker is effectively outlawed in the USA.
  • 2011 – Black Friday – The Department of Justice shuts down the sites of five of the biggest Internet poker sites for money laundering. Many American online players lose their funds and some are still waiting for them to be returned.
  • 2012 – Mobile poker introduced so players can play for real money on their phones and tablets.
  • 2013 – The world's largest poker website, PokerStars, deals its 100 billionth hand. States in the US begin to launch their own intra-state online poker sites, with Nevada's Ultimate Poker the first to emerge.
Online Poker FAQ
  • The best way to find safe poker sites on the web is to follow the links on this page. We recommend only the most highly regarded rooms on the net so you won't be left cheated out of your valuable funds.

  • As long as you've got a decent PC, Mac or smartphone you can enjoy real money poker legally in 2013. Make sure you have a good Internet connection as well in order to avoid any drop in service while you're playing.

  • Every poker site will provide a software client for you to download direct from their website. Download the software, create a real money account and login, and away you go. Some poker rooms also offer a ‘no download' client so you can play on their site via your web browser without the need for downloading cumbersome programs that clog up your hard drive.

  • Yes. Most good poker sites offer ‘free to play' games where you can try out the various games for free before making a real money deposit. Most big sites also offer daily freerolls where you can win cash without paying to enter the tournaments

  • It depends where you live. Some countries have embraced online poker, as well as all forms of online gambling, while in other countries poker online remains in limbo. In the USA, for example, the law differs from state to state. In some states it's legal, in others outright against the law, whilst in some there's no clear law governing online poker. Wherever you live, make sure you check with local jurisdictions to see where you stand.

  • Mobile gaming of all kinds has exploded in 2013, and you can now play poker via your smartphone with many of the major poker sites. The graphics and software may not be quite as good as your PC client, but for convenience and poker-on-the-go, it can't be beat.

  • If a poker variant has been invented, chances are you can probably play it. While Texas Hold'em is the most popular poker variation out there, Omaha and Stud are catching up in terms of online popularity. Most sites – but not all – will also offer some games of Razz (Stud played with the LOWEST hand the winning hand), while 4-max, 6-max and Heads-Up Hold'em can be found at a lot of online rooms.

  • In tournaments you'll receive chips to play the tournament with. In a freezeout tournament, when you've run out of chips, you are out. Rebuy, or re-entry tournaments, are becoming more popular, however, and those allow you to rebuy back in once or twice if you run out of chips. Cash games allow you sit down with a minimum or maximum amount, and you can leave the game whenever you like. The blinds remain constant throughout.

  • In No Limit games, there's no maximum bet that has to be placed – as long as you have chips in front of you, you can raise as much as you want. Limit games prohibit betting above a set limit at any time. Pot Limit games, most notably Pot Limit Omaha, allow you to raise only the amount of the total pot at any time.

  • Originally attached to the 2006 Safe Port Act, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) prohibited the means to place bets online. This meant financial transactions to online poker sites – although NOT the actual playing of poker – was made illegal.

  • While there have been many cases of cheating and collusion in online poker, major sites in 2013 are above-board and totally legit. The biggest rooms are independently audited and regulated to safeguard players' funds and provide a risk-free playing environment.

  • It's often said that for beginners, poker is 70% luck and 30% skill, with those figures reversing for skilled pros. While luck plays a big part in online poker, there's an incredible amount of skill in making money at the game, in betting strategy as well as psychology, bluffing, and aggression.

 
Glossary Of Terms
 
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  • Action - Player's turn to bet, raise, or fold
  • All-in – Committing all your chips in a poker hand
  • Backdoor – A draw requiring two connectors or same suited cards to complete
  • Bad Beat – An unlucky loss against the odds
  • Bankroll - Amount of money a player sets aside for poker
  • Big blind - Mandatory bet before cards are dealt made by player two seats after button
  • Boat - Full house
  • Blind - Mandatory bet placed before cards are dealt
  • Bluff - Bet or raise without the best hand in order to induce an opponent's fold
  • Board - Shared or community cards
  • Bubble - Player eliminated before the money in a tournament
  • Burn – The card the dealer discards before dealing community cards
  • Button – Seat where the dealer is sitting
  • Buy-in - Amount of money required to enter a tournament
  • Call - Bet the amount of another player's bet
  • Check - Choosing not to bet but stay in the hand
  • Continuation bet – A bet made post-flop by player who bet first pre-flop
  • Drawing dead – When a player cannot win the hand, regardless of community cards to come
  • Fish – An inexperienced or bad player
  • Fifth street – The final community card, or river, dealt out
  • Flop – The first three community cards dealt
  • Flush – A hand consisting of five cards all the same suit
  • Fold – Throwing away your hand
  • Fourth Street – The turn card
  • Full house – A hand consisting of three-of-a-kind plus a pair
  • Freeroll – A tournament with no buy-in
  • Freezeout – A game without a re-buy option
  • Gutshot - uncompleted straight requiring one card
  • Heads-up – A poker game between two players only
  • Hole cards – The cards dealt face down to player
  • Kicker – A highest unpaired card in a hand used to break ties
  • Limp – To call the big blind preflop
  • Loose – A reckless or aggressive player
  • Monster – A very strong hand
  • MTT – A multi-table Tournament
  • Muck – To fold a hand without revealing hole cards
  • Nuts – The best possible hand
  • Offsuit - Hole cards of different suits
  • Outs – The cards remaining in the pack that can complete a winning hand
  • Overpair – Holding a pocket pair higher than any possible using community cards
  • Play the board - Using all community cards to create hand
  • Pocket pair – A pair in your starting hand
  • Position – A player's turn in betting order
  • Quads - Four of a kind
  • Rags - Terrible opening hand, like 7-2 offsuit
  • Rainbow – A flop consisting of cards of different suits
  • Raise – To bet more than the previous bet
  • Rake – A percentage of pot taken by cardroom
  • River – The fifth and final community card
  • Satellite – A tournament awarding entry into a larger tournament
  • Set - Three of a kind including a pair in the hole
  • Showdown – Two or more players revealing cards to decide a winning hand
  • Side pot – Extra pots contested after a multiple all-in
  • Sit and Go – A tournament that starts once all seats are filled. Normally single-table
  • Small blind – A mandatory small bet by player after button before cards are dealt
  • Straight – A hand consisting of connecting cards
  • Split pot – An equally divided pot for tied hands
  • Top pair – A pair including a hole card and the highest community card
  • Trips - Three of a kind including only one hole card
  • Turn – The fourth community card
  • Under the gun – The first player to act before the flop
 
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