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A Comprehensive Guide to Playing Poker Online

poker game dealer button

Poker is one of the most popular card games of all time, and one of the most popular forms of gambling as well. There are more than 100 million players in the world, and thanks to the emergence of online gaming sites, the demand for poker continues to grow. Playing online allows the users to join a session wherever they are, and they can take part with stakes that range from just a few pennies to really large amounts. If you want to start playing poker online but you’re not sure how to get started, this guide will teach you everything you need to know.

Brief History of Playing Online

Until the early 2000s, poker has only been available in land-based venues. As for the internet, there were some chat rooms where people could play, but that was entirely recreational. However, after certain technological advancements, players saw the emergence of secure websites where they could deposit real money and wager against each other. The demand for online poker has been growing steadily since the first day, but it actually skyrocketed in 2003 when an amateur player known as Chris Moneymaker managed to qualify for the World Series of Poker Main Event through an online tournament. Moneymaker spent $86 to sign up, and in the end, he won the tournament and went home with $2.5 million. Shortly after that, poker started being showcased on ESPN, which inspired hundreds of thousands of new users to start playing online. 

The Most Popular Variants

There are many poker variants you can easily access online, and choosing the best one really depends on your preferences. However, Texas Hold’em has been the most popular one for a long time, especially its no-limit variant. In fact, there are thousands of no-limit games running on different platforms, basically, 24/7, involving all sorts of stakes. In the no-limit version, you are given two cards that you should combine with five community cards in order to create the best possible hand. Hold’em is essentially easy to learn, but mastering it is somewhat of a challenge. It is also available in other formats, ranging from standard cash tournaments to speed poker and jackpot games. Other well-known variants besides Hold’em are Omaha Hi-Lo, 5-Card Stud, 7-Card Stud, Short Deck Hold’em, Pot-Limit Omaha, and others.

All You Need to Know Before Getting Started

Staying on top of the following points will help you get started with online poker in no time:

How Online Poker Rooms Work

The first thing to have in mind when it comes to joining an online poker room is definitely legality. Luckily for you, things are fairly simple – as an online user, you abide by the laws of the jurisdiction where the operator is physically located. Therefore, any legal issue that might arise is on the operator, but in order to stay safe, you need to stick to the websites that were licensed by reputable, authoritative bodies. Once you’ve found a licensed operator that you’re satisfied with, all you need to do is register a new account by entering some basic personal information and selecting a valid payment method. After you’ve created an account, you will probably be welcomed with a greeting bonus that you can use in one of your future games.

poker cards

Deciding on the Budget

The fact that you can get started with far less cash than in brick-and-mortar casinos is one of the great advantages of online poker. Namely, you can start by wagering as little as $0.01, and work your way up to pretty high limits. And if you’re not yet comfortable investing your hard-earned money, you can even start with free games where you can get to know the rules and try out a strategy or two. But once you get started with real-money games, you need to set up a solid bankroll strategy that works well with your personal budget. For example, many players make an initial deposit that ranges from $50 to $200. The key is to exhaust the budget and make it last more than just a few game sessions. So if you deposited $50, it is smart to stick to $1 tournaments until you collect some more cash. On top of that, you should always be on the lookout for attractive bonuses that can extend your bankroll without having to deposit any extra money of your own.

Understanding a Rake in Poker

The term ‘rake’ refers to the commission fee that a casino charges for operating and running the game. It is a standard component of each poker game, and every player is faced with it, regardless of their experience level. Therefore, in order to stay profitable during a poker game, you need to beat both your opponents and stay ahead of the rake. That is why many players consider the amount of the rake so they can build their strategy around it.  But how can you calculate the rake? Well, the amount of money reserved by the platform depends on the website itself, as well as the game type. It is taken both in tournaments and cash games, but it is done in different forms. For example, tournaments usually collect pre-defined rakes that are charged together with the buy-in costs, while in cash games, the rake is charged based on the total amount of money in a pot. 

Taking Part in Tournaments

Poker tournaments have been wildly popular for a while now, greatly due to the TV exposure of some of the greatest events like the World Poker Tour and the World Series of Poker. When you enter a tournament, you get a stack of chips, and if you lose them all, you’re out of the game. In the end, the winner is the player who collects them all. Tournaments are the most affordable way to get a chance to win amazing prizes. For example, there are events where you invest only $10, and if you win, you can go home with more than $200,000. Nowadays, online competitions are getting even more attention than live ones, since they can easily host thousands of participants without using any physical space. One of the most famous online events is the Poker Stars Sunday Million,  which is organized every week, and the players get to compete for a $1 million prize with a buy-in of only $109. 

Tips and Strategies

Check out the following tips that will help you quickly find your way in the world of online poker:

Try Your Luck with Freerolls

Freerolls are basically free tournaments that are run by online operators who welcome select customers. Entry to such events is free, so there is no need to worry about losing actual cash. However, if you get in, there is a chance for you to win real money. Many platforms organize freerolls on a weekly basis, and with a little bit of effort, you will find opportunities you can pursue. Also, some events are reserved for particular regions, groups, or clubs, so that is another idea to explore.

poker chips

Find Tables for Beginners Only

Many online gambling sites have separate tables for beginners only, and if you’re still trying to figure out the rules and your game style, it is smart to stick to those. Competing against other beginners will allow you to get some real experience while playing for real money, but without getting discouraged by the speed and skill level of your opponents. If you choose to play with beginners only, you will be limited to just one table, and once you’ve played a certain number of hands, you will no longer be able to access this section of the website. 

Track Your Results

Even if you’re looking to participate only as a casual player, keeping track of results can be quite helpful. Collecting stats on your own performance will give you an idea of what actually works for you and what doesn’t. Seeing where you lost money and where you won some can help you significantly improve your future stats. Fortunately, tracking is not at all complicated, since the majority of operators have their own system that you can use. Every time you end a game, click on the session stats, which will show you how you did. When you do that, pay extra attention to the times you went to showdown, the number of flops seen, and of course, your win rate.

Poker has been around for centuries, and thanks to all the technological innovations, the online version is getting as popular as playing live. Due to the convenience of online gambling platforms, people from all parts of the world can access their favourite variants of the game. As a beginner, you may have thought it would be too complicated to get started yourself, but now that you’ve learned all there is to know about online poker, you are ready to go.


What Is a Rake in Poker? Explained by Matthew Gover

Poker Tournament Strategy, by Daniel Negreanu

Top Tips for Amateur Poker Players, by Robert Jameson

Poker Terms, by Geoff Fisk


How Much Cash Back Will I Earn?

Rakeback increases your winnings from online poker as you continually earn money back from every raked hand or tournament you play.

Many players earn a living wage from rakeback alone. Use the calculator below to estimate the size of payments you’ll get over a given period of time. The calculator will compute your expected daily, weekly, and monthly cash back depending on the stakes and tables you input.

Calculate Your Rakeback

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