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Online Poker

Poker is the most popular card game in the US, as many Americans love playing cash games and tournaments with their friends and in poker rooms. For the last 20+ years, this game was available on the web as well, but it wasn’t really legal. Online poker has a turbulent past in the US, but many states decided to legalize this activity entirely, resulting in regulated poker in America. Our team of experts conducted research to find the best online casinos that offer online poker. We took into account all important game elements, including the overall quality, bonuses for new players, available cash games & tournaments, liquidity, fishiness, and more. Feel free to explore the list below and pick a site that meets your needs. All of the sites are safe, secure, and licensed by official regulatory bodies.

Best US Casinos with Online Poker

How Does Poker Work?

Poker comes in all shapes and sizes. However, the most popular type that players enjoy nowadays is called Texas hold’em poker.

All online poker sites offer two major ways to play this game — cash games and tournaments.

If you opt for cash games, you’ll need to select a virtual table and buy as many chips as you want. If you lose all chips, you can buy more of them and end the session when you think you’ve played enough.

On the other hand, tournaments are a bit more organized. Players need to pay a buy-in prize, and all players receive the same number of chips. Their buy-ins are added to the prize pool, which is then distributed to the best players.

Then, everyone is seated and get to play their way towards the 1st-place prize, usually given the lion’s share of the prize pool. Of course, every tournament organizer decides how many players will get the money and how to distribute the prize pool based on your performance.

Poker Laws in the US

Live poker is basically legal in any state where casino gambling is legal, and that’s why many land-based casinos across the nation feature great poker rooms with ongoing cash games and tournaments.

However, things look a bit different when it comes to online poker. So far, only a handful of states have legalized this activity, meaning you have to be in one of them if you want to play legal poker on the web. At the moment, the states that legalized online poker are New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.

Please take into account that the US laws are rapidly changing and evolving — especially the ones that are related to popular things where there’s room for improving the industry and charging big taxes. Needless to say, online poker is one such thing, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see many other states legalize this activity in the near future.

Play Poker for Free

If you’re not interested in playing the popular card game for real money, then you can choose to play it completely for free. There are plenty of online poker rooms that don’t use real money for this game. Even some real-money rooms and casinos allow players to enjoy this game completely free of charge?

Plenty of poker lovers are simply not ready to play poker using their real money. Instead, they want to practice the game by using the fake credit provided by the casino or the poker room.

The good news is that you can switch to real-money play whenever you feel ready. If you’re good enough, you’ll even be able to become a professional poker player and play the game for a living, as many players already do.

But if you want to remain a casual player and like to play poker just to have fun, then free poker is a perfect option for you. The best part is — you can play it as much as you want.

Play for Real Money

Real-money poker is much more popular than its free counterpart. Simply put, many players who enjoy this game also want to make a profit, so they see no point in playing poker for free.

If you’re one of them, and you’re ready to make a deposit and start your online real-money poker adventure, make sure to check out some of the best casinos that offer poker.

Another huge advantage of real money poker is that you can receive bonuses when making real-money deposits. You see, many poker sites and online casinos want to attract more players, and that’s why they offer lucrative rewards to anyone who opens an account and makes a deposit.

Sometimes, you don’t even have to deposit, as some sites offer small tokens of appreciation that you’ll get just by opening an account. These are usually referred to as poker sign up bonuses or poker no deposit bonuses.

Basic Strategy

Poker has simple rules. It’s a very straightforward game on the surface. However, once you scratch underneath, you’ll find that poker is actually quite complex, with entire books written on its strategy.

Overall, the strategy is divided based on your experience level. There’s a basic, intermediate, and advanced poker strategy that you need to learn if you want to make the most when playing this game.

But even new players need to learn and practice a lot before they can reach the intermediate level. In this part of the article, we’ll just introduce you to the basic strategy by giving you a couple of essential things that you should always take into account when playing poker.

Strategies to Avoid

There’s just one rule when it comes to poker strategies — whatever you do in excess is probably not good. Let us elaborate.

  • Playing too loose — If you decide to play any hand out there hoping that you’ll just “go with the flow,” you’ll probably lose a lot of money.
  • Playing too tight — If you don’t play any hand unless it’s a pair of aces, you’ll miss on plenty of opportunities while other players seize them.
  • Sticking to just one strategy — There’s no “one-for-all” strategy in poker. You need to adapt to other players whenever you can.
  • Not using any strategies — Hoping that the element of luck will get you through the day is just wrong in poker, which is widely regarded as a game of skill.
  • Chasing losses — If you play cash games and you’re on a losing streak, perhaps you have stumbled upon the so-called “sharks” (experienced players preying on the inexperienced ones, which they refer to as fish). In that case, instead of trying to chase losses, the best strategy is to leave the table.

Poker Styles of Play

Every poker has a specific style of play based on the number of hands they play and the number of chips they bet overall. The styles are divided into four basic categories:

  1. Tight — A tight player will not play many hands. In fact, they’ll fold on most hands unless they are certain they’re going to win.
  2. Loose — A loose player will play more hands overall. They will even play the cards that objectively don’t have much chance of winning.
  3. Aggressive — An aggressive player will make a lot of bets, open a lot of pots, and put other players under pressure.
  4. Passive — A passive player will not be the one making bets, but they will usually call other bets and wait for the action to unfold.

Most of the players are actually a combination of the four. There are, therefore, the following types of poker “personalities:”

  1. Tight-Aggressive — Plays few hands but bets aggressively.
  2. Tight-Passive — Plays few hands and usually just calls when they decide not to fold.
  3. Loose-Aggressive — Plays a lot of hands and makes bets all the time.
  4. Loose-Passive — Plays a lot of hands, but usually just calls instead of showing aggression.

Positions

How you’re going to approach your hands mainly depends on your position. As you probably already know, the dealer button is shifting one position every round, and so do other player positions. Just remember that those who get to be the last to place a bet have more information than those who are first to do it. That’s why it’s always better to show aggression in late positions.

Here’s the list of all positions:

  • Early positions: Under the gun (UTG and UTG +1)
  • Mid positions: MP and MP +1
  • Late positions: Hijack (HJ), Cutoff (CO), Button (BTN)
  • The Blinds: Small Blind (SB), Big Blind (BB)

Odds and Outs

Finally, you should always be able to calculate your odds and determine the number of “outs” you have when you play poker.

Odds simply determine your chances of winning a certain hand. These are calculated in several ways, but we’ll not discuss the math here. If you’re interested in how the odds are determined, make sure to watch a couple of useful videos on this matter.

Outs are the number of cards you may need in order to make a winning hand. Let’s say that you have two cards of hearts, and the flop shows another two cards with hearts. Since there are a total of 13 hearts cards in a 52-card deck and you have four of them, it means that you need one of the remaining nine hearts cards on the turn or the river. In other words, you have nine outs.

Strategies to Avoid

There’s just one rule when it comes to poker strategies — whatever you do in excess is probably not good. Let us elaborate.

  • Playing too loose — If you decide to play any hand out there hoping that you’ll just “go with the flow,” you’ll probably lose a lot of money.
  • Playing too tight — If you don’t play any hand unless it’s a pair of aces, you’ll miss on plenty of opportunities while other players seize them.
  • Sticking to just one strategy — There’s no “one-for-all” strategy in poker. You need to adapt to other players whenever you can.
  • Not using any strategies — Hoping that the element of luck will get you through the day is just wrong in poker, which is widely regarded as a game of skill.
  • Chasing losses — If you play cash games and you’re on a losing streak, perhaps you have stumbled upon the so-called “sharks” (experienced players preying on the inexperienced ones, which they refer to as fish). In that case, instead of trying to chase losses, the best strategy is to leave the table.

Poker Hands

There are so many different versions of poker out there. However, the one thing that all makes them poker games is the poker hands. In this part, we’ll start from the lowest and rank all the valid hands in poker games. We’ll also give examples next to each hand.

  • Highest card — If no player has a valid hand, the one with the highest card wins
  • A pair — Two cards of the same rank (2-2)
  • Two pair — Two pairs of two cards of the same rank (2-2 & 6-6)
  • Three of a kind — Three cards of the same rank (5-5-5)
  • Straight — Five cards in a sequence (8-9-10-J-Q)
  • Flush — Five cards of the same suit (2-5-J-Q-6 of hearts)
  • Full house — Two of a kind and three of a kind (5-5 & J-J-J)
  • Four of a kind — Four cards of the same rank (A-A-A-A)
  • Straight flush — Five cards in a sequence and of the same suit (6-7-8-9-10 of spades)
  • Royal flush — Five highest-ranking cards of the same suit (10-J-Q-K-A of diamonds)

Poker Tips

Here’s a list of several essential poker tips that should help you improve your game:

  • Get familiar with basic strategies and try them out in free or low-stake games in order not to lose a lot of money while learning.
  • Start your poker career by playing low-stake games even if you have the budget for more, and only switch to mid or even high stakes if you feel ready and confident enough.
  • Always devote some time to finding the best cash games and tournaments for you.
  • Always adjust your playing style based on your table, but the safest way to start is with a tight-aggressive style.
  • Always pay attention to your current position at the table, as late positions usually have a slight advantage over the early and mid ones.
  • One of the main advantages of online poker is that you can play at several tables at once (multi-tabling). Well, don’t do that unless you’re 100% certain you can pull it off, which also requires a lot of practice.
  • Don’t get distracted by social media, mobile devices, TV, and other things — focus on playing poker.
  • Learn how to use math to calculate your poker odds, pot odds, outs, and more. After all, poker is a mathematical game.

Poker Myths

There are plenty of myths circulating the web about poker, and most of them simply aren’t true. Let’s take a look at the most popular ones:

  • Poker is gambling — This is partially true as poker involves making bets and receiving rewards. However, poker isn’t a gambling game such as slots or roulette, where the element of luck is the only thing determining the outcome. In fact, poker is a game of skill, meaning you don’t need to rely on luck most of the time.
  • Always play for high stakes — Some poker players believe that playing for high stakes is like learning how to swim in deep waters — you’ll eventually learn it and master it. This is a wrong approach, as it’s always better to learn how to swim when your feet can touch the ground.
  • You need to be a math wizard to succeed in poker — This is not true. Although some mathematical operations are welcome, they become part of your poker routine once you master them. It’s no rocket science.
  • Online poker is rigged — This is also false. As long as you play the game in an online casino or poker room that’s legal and regulated, you can rest assured that poker is not rigged.

Most Popular Poker Variations You Should Learn How to Play

As we previously discussed, there’s a wide array of poker games available in online casinos and poker rooms. However, some happen to be more popular than others. Let’s check out the leading types of poker.

  • Texas hold’em — This is the most popular type of poker which is played by the majority of online poker players. Each player gets two hole cards, and they need to match them with five community cards to make a five-card hand.
  • Omaha — Omaha is similar to Texas hold ‘em, but players receive four instead of two hole cards. Moreover, they need to match only two of their hole cards and three community cards (out of five) to make a five-card hand.
  • Seven-card Stud — Every player gets a total of seven cards, with four of them up and three down. Your job is to make the best possible five-card hand with what you have. This is just one of the many Stud poker games.
  • Five-Card Draw — This is one of the basic poker formats where everyone gets five cards and needs to make a valid hand. Players can usually replace some of their cards to improve the hand. Video poker is based on this format.
  • Razz — Razz is a variation of stud poker and is available in several online poker rooms. What makes it different from other stud games is that hand rankings are inverted. In other words, the lowest hands will win instead of the highest.

Other popular types of poker are high-low Chicago, follow the queen and more.

Your Questions Answered
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Historical Perspective: Poker

Poker Chips and Cards

According to many sources, poker was created in the early 18th century probably. Back then, nobody knew it would become the most popular card game in the world, with an entire industry based around it. The first recorded traces of poker emerged in the 19th century.

Poker started growing slowly, but it really explored in the 20th century, especially after the 70s when the World Series of Poker started, attracting some of the best card players back in the day.

The WSOP started growing, and another form of poker appeared in the 90s — online poker. The rest is history.

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