Real Money Online Poker
Poker has exploded in popularity with the coming of the new millennium, going from a game that was limited to a very modest casino presence, with most of the action occurring at home games, to the tremendously popular game that it has become today.
Once more people became more familiar with the game of Texas Hold’em, which was hardly played outside of the World Series of Poker not that many years ago, and when they started being able to play this game online whenever they wanted, this caused an explosion in its popularity.
While traditional poker still pales in comparison to other casino table games such as blackjack, roulette, and craps as far as casino floor space goes, it is the online growth of the game that has really saw it grow as much as it has. Casinos do offer their own variations of casino poker, playing against the house, games they make more money from than regular poker tables, although many casinos do offer regular poker, and you can certainly get your fill playing at the many online sites that offer it.
While casino games can be mastered quickly, poker is such a rich game, like chess, that the journey of learning is one that never ends, where even world class players continue to work on their strategy and play. Let us take you on a journey into this very interesting world, so you may get an introduction into why this is the favorite gambling game by far with so many people.
Like many gambling games, the origins of the game of poker is pretty muddy, although its birth is believed to have occurred in Louisiana in the 18th century, back in the days when it was a French colony.
The first game that really resembled today’s poker was the European game of primero, first played in the 16th century, where players would bet on their hands, where the best hand would win at showdown and players could also bluff players out of hands and win by everyone else folding. These are the two primary features of the game of poker and poker could even be considered a variation of this old game.
This later led to the creation of the French game brelan, which became adapted by the English in their game of brag, and as this sort of betting game evolved, further variations were created, including the Irish game of poka and the French game of poque. It is believed that French immigrants to Louisiana brought poque to America where a new variety was created called poker, which spread up the Mississippi river to other parts of the country.
The original poker in New Orleans was played with just 20 cards, but as it spread, the full 52 card French deck was adopted. Other refinements emerged during the 19th century such as adding a hand of the same suit called a flush, as well as allowing players to draw cards. During the Civil War, the straight was added, having 5 consecutive cards, bringing the ranking of hands up to modern standards.
Several new variations of the game also emerged during this century, starting with stud poker, along with the addition of wild cards. The turn of the 20th century brought us more variations such as lowball, as well as poker’s first community card games, precursors to today’s community card games of Hold’em and Omaha which dominate the poker scene today.
Poker started to really take off in popularity once the World Series of Poker was created in 1970, where the game of poker really started to take a hold in popular culture thanks to the media coverage of these events. The emergence of online poker and an online player winning the World Series of Poker and the creation of the World Poker Tour saw the popularity of poker explode, to take it to its current level of fame.
Poker In Other Countries
Modern Poker Variations
In spite of how popular Texas Hold’em has become, where it has become so dominant on the poker scene that this variation has now become virtually synonymous with poker itself, people still play other variations, including the community card game of Omaha, and to a lesser degree, seven card stud. Draw poker used to be king but is rarely played anymore, and 5 card stud also was once king but this and a lot of other variations, and there are many of them, are now relegated to home games, and aren’t even played at home games much anymore.
The basics of all poker variations are the same though, and the goals are the same as with then the much older game of primero, to win hands by having the best hand or by default, by all other players giving up their hands. Hand rankings range from a royal flush, to a straight flush, to four of a kind, to a full house, a flush, a straight, three of a kind, two pair, one pair, and high card.
With most games, the highest hand wins, although in lowball the goal is to make the worst hand, where the best hand is a six high of A2346. Lowball isn’t played much anymore but you can still see it rolled out in some places, and definitely has a different strategy since the goal is opposite that of playing for the highest-ranking hand.
Community card games such as Hold’em and Omaha rule the roost now, especially Hold’em. Aside from getting a huge boost from being selected as the game whereby the world champion of poker is decided with, there are aspects of community card games that make the game more fun and profitable, due to the fact that sharing community cards results in hands being more similar in value, which leads to more interesting hands and wilder betting.
7 card stud is still played, which is the same amount of cards as Hold’em but each player gets their own 7 cards instead of each player just having 2 of their own with 5 community cards shared among all players.
There are also numerous casino poker variations where players play against the house instead of against other players. Poker is a very strategy rich game and many casino players either aren’t interested in this or are do not feel that they are competent enough to compete well enough, where their lack of skill and knowledge places them at too much of a disadvantage. Casino poker allows anyone to enjoy a game that at least is similar to real poker while only needing to master a few simple rules where they can have the house edge not a lot higher than games like blackjack, craps, baccarat, and single zero roulette, and similar to double zero roulette and slots.
Real Money Poker Main Concepts
Rather than place a bet and try your luck like with a typical casino game, where your bets represent the amount that you wish to risk in the hand, poker lets you bet based upon known cards and probabilities. Poker games generally do not require you to put any money in the pot before you see some cards, unless there is an ante required, which is not the case with modern poker games for cash, or when you have to post a “blind,” a required bet in some community card games.
Poker does require there be some money in the pot to start it, otherwise everyone could fold and no money would change hands. Without any money in the pot, there isn’t even anything to bet on to try to win, and we need something to wager for before it even makes sense to wager anything, betting a certain amount to win what is in the pot plus whatever other amounts may go into it as the hand progresses.
There are two ways to win at poker, by showing down the best hand based upon hand rankings, and by seeing everyone else fold their hands, where you win the pot by default. The house makes their money by taking certain small amounts out of pots, called the rake, although at California live card rooms, the house charges an hourly rate instead as current law does not allow them to rake pots.
Given that poker players play against other players, the number of people that are dealt hands matters, and the more players there are, the stronger hand you will need to win at showdown. As players fold, the chances of your winning the hand goes up if you are still in it, and strong poker players take both into account, the number of hands dealt and the number of hands remaining.
The amount of money in the pot also matters a lot, and the bigger the pot or the bigger it is expected to be, the more players may wish to bet and the more likely they are to stay in. If you are drawing to a flush for instance, there will be a certain number of cards left in the deck of the suit you wish to draw to, and the percentage of these cards divided by the number of unknown cards in the deck yields your percentage of hitting the flush on the next card.
How much money that is in the pot, and for advanced players, what the expected pot size is estimated to be, will determine what sort of pot odds you need to make sense of the bet. The more money in the pot, the better the pot odds and the more you should be willing to risk to hit your hand.
Even expert players don’t use a whole lot of math here, as there are just too many variables to for a precise number, including your hand hitting but losing, which can be particularly expensive. The goal here is just to have a sense of pot odds and avoid putting yourself in situations where you neither have good enough showdown odds or good enough takedown odds, although the takedown odds can be high enough that you should bet regardless of your hand.
The real key to playing poker well is to not just play your own cards like unskilled players do but to play your hand with a view to what your opponents may have. This isn’t just a matter of playing your hand versus playing the players, it involves doing both, not only what your opponents may have but what they tend to do, where one player may be aggressive and not take any sort of hand to bet while another may be more timid and only stay in hands where they have a strong enough hand to justify it.
Much can be learned at the poker table by observant players even when they are not in the hand, and real success at poker involves seeking to understand the tendencies of your opponents and what their bets mean, as well as what sort of strength on average they need to justify a bet in a given situation. We do not even need to know what they have when they bet, just how often they do it. Poker is an extremely rich game and one that even the best players have room for improvement with, and this is a big reason why it is so popular.
Texas Hold’em, or simply Hold’em as it is commonly referred to these days, is a poker variation where each player gets two starting cards face down, which remain hidden until showdown, which players use to make the best 5 card hand when put together with the 5 community cards that are dealt in the middle of the table.
Players take turns being the dealer, although unless it’s a home game, the actual dealer or the virtual one if playing real money poker online deals the cards. Hold’em uses a dealer button to designate which player is to act last in all rounds. To the immediate left of the dealer acts first, and posts the “small blind.” The next player posts the “big blind,” generally twice the amount of the small blind, and this is what is represented in a game being deemed $1/$2, where the $1 is the small blind amount and the $2 is the big blind.
Each player then receives their two hole cards and the betting starts with the small blind. Players decide whether to call the big blind, in our example by posting $2, putting in a raise, or folding. Hold’em is rolled out in limit, pot limit, and no limit, with no limit being the most popular form these days, where there are no restrictions on the amount you bet, where you can push all your chips on the table into the pot and go “all in.”
With limit poker, players can only raise one unit per raise, with the maximum amount of raises at any time being 4. Pot limit has no restrictions other than your never being allowed to bet more than the amount in the pot.
Betting in all rounds concludes when all players have had an opportunity to either call or fold. Three cards are then dealt, called the flop, followed by another round of betting, always starting with the player left in the hand that is nearest to the left of the button. A fourth card called the turn is then dealt, with another round of betting, followed by a fifth community card called the river, after which the final betting round takes place. If there are two or more players left, they show their cards in the same order as they bet, and the strongest hand wins the pot.
If, at any time during the hand, only one hand remains unfolded, the player left wins the amount of the pot. As you might imagine, hold’em is much more than just shooting for the best hand, as getting your opponents to fold is also a main objective.
Other Popular Real Money Poker Variations
Omaha is another community card game, and while it’s nowhere near as popular as Texas Hold’em, it has risen to become the second most popular variation of real money poker out there. Omaha is similar to Hold’em, other than players get 4 hole cards to start and make the best 5 card hand using exactly two of their hole cards plus 3 out of the 5 community cards.
As you might imagine, this format of poker leads to some very big hands, as well as loads of action. Less experienced players need to make sure that they have a sense of what it takes to win Omaha hands, and not be overly influenced by their having what may be a very strong hand in Hold’em but not particularly strong in Omaha.
Omaha is almost always played at pot limit and this is done to keep the game from being a push fest, where numerous players may go all in before all the cards are even dealt. This also helps build pots because it is cheaper to stick around than it is when your whole stack is required.
Limit Omaha can be found, where the betting proceeds by unit as is the case with limit Hold’em. Omaha is often rolled out in hi-lo format, where the highest hand and the lowest hand each win half of the pot.
7 card stud can be thought of as the precursor to Hold’em given that it also uses the best 5 cards out of a total of 7, although in 7 card stud each player gets their own set of 7 cards. The pots are bigger and the excitement level is higher with Hold’em because by players sharing 5 of the 7 cards, the chance of getting a big hand is not higher but the odds of big hands going against each other is higher.
5 card stud is the original stud poker game and works the same way as 7 card stud, with players only getting one down card and a total of 5 cards, which both limits the size of hands and the size of pots. Draw poker involves players each getting 5 down cards and then discarding as many as they wish to draw new cards, which decides the hand. 5 card stud and draw poker used to be the dominant forms of poker but they have now been almost totally eclipsed today.
Poker is also played in tournament format, and tournaments are even more popular than live play. Tournaments set your maximum loss at your tournament buy-in, and tournaments are available in a number of different formats and buy-ins to suit the tastes of all players.
Casinos have adopted the game of poker with several popular variations such as Caribbean Stud Poker which has players playing against the house. There are many varieties of this and each has its own rules and quirks. Given that these are contrived games with set strategies, like blackjack, players need to be aware of a few simple rules that govern optimal play, which are easy to learn and add enjoyment to the game by reducing the house edge.
Real Money Online Poker
The playing of real money poker online remains a very popular pastime, and this has caused the number of players who play poker professionally to explode, even though the UIGEA and the closing of the most popular online poker sites ended up shrinking the U.S. market considerably.
Many U.S. players have continued to play at different online poker sites, the ones that remained in the market, but this affected the game of poker disproportionately, given that so many players relied on huge volume to earn their living. At the biggest sites, you could play a couple of dozen tables at the same time, where a smaller site may have lots of action but not to the point where you could play that many tables at your desired game and stakes.
Online poker is still very much alive and well though, even though the game has tightened up a lot over the years. In the early days of playing real money poker online, there was a lot of loose and wild play with a lot of huge pots and bad players being parted from their stacks with amazing ease. All you had to do in order to be successful in this world was to play tighter than the pack and that alone had you playing with a significant advantage.
As more players caught on to this strategy, this ended up raising the quality of play online and really tightening up games. The winning strategy evolved from playing conservatively to playing aggressively, where the main way of winning pots was now to take them down by getting opponents to fold. Online poker can still be played profitably but the gameplay overall has been raised.
You always need to play better than your opponents to win at poker overall, so when your opponents get better, not overly so but less bad, you have to get better as well to stay above the mean enough to extract a profit from the pack on a net basis after the rake is deducted.
The great appeal of poker isn’t just that it is a real game of skill, where skill matters tremendously, it also is a game that can be beaten, just like if you are allowed to count cards at blackjack to beat the game, but on a much grander scale. The fun level of poker for those who enjoy it is also off the scale, and this is a game that people love to watch even without money on the line, so playing for real money takes this even further up the fun scale.
- Why is real money poker so popular?
There are several major reasons why so many players enjoy playing poker, starting with the fact that just watching the game is plenty entertaining, as evidenced by all the media coverage of poker events. Poker also pits players against other players instead of the house, where if you are better than they are you can beat them as luck evens out. Other games guarantee that you will lose money over time, where you have to hope to get lucky to win and your luck will eventually run out. Poker over the long run is all about strategy and the amount of strategy in poker is simply enormous, like playing chess versus playing heads or tails.
- What role does bluffing play in poker?
The very idea of bluffing versus playing normally arises from those who have a limited understanding of the game, thinking that players throw in an occasional bluff to keep players guessing. When a good poker player bets, there are two main elements, your showdown equity and your fold equity. Both need to be accounted for in every hand, both the chances of beating opponents by hand strength or by their tossing their hand, or both. A great many pots don’t get to showdown in today’s poker so the tendency of opponents to fold is very key.
- Why do people say that we have to play the player in poker?
It’s not that good poker players play the player instead of their own hand, they actually account for both and play both their cards and their opponents, both what an opponent may have and their betting tendencies. The betting tendencies of an opponent is actually the most important thing. There are times where we may want to be less aggressive if we have a strong hand and don’t want to scare opponents away, but when we have less and prefer them to fold, and we can get them to fold enough to make the bet profitable, the bet makes sense.
- Why are community card games like Hold’em and Omaha so popular?
If you have ever played poker or even watched a fair bit of it, you know that the most interesting hands and the biggest pots come when several players have strong hands, when the betting may become fierce. With players all sharing 5 common cards, the strength of hands will tend to be more similar than if they were all dealt their own as is the case with 7 card stud. Community card games promote more action, and more action equals more entertainment for players as well as bigger pots.
- How easy is it to learn to play real money poker?
The rules of poker are quite simple. Many people already have the basic concepts, knowing things like hand rankings and the concept of the game, and start out thinking that poker is a game of the best hand wins. As they come to learn how to play well, they then may pick up on the idea that a lot of hands end without anyone showing their cards, and observe how the better players at the table win. They then come to learn that you have to adjust your strategy to particular opponents, and with the right guidance and direction, they can learn to play both their hands and their opponents’ hands at the same time, without anything but a will to get better.
- Should players learn the game of poker with play money or real money?
The worst way to learn the game of poker, by far, is to partake in play money games, which do not resemble real money poker even remotely. These games actually have you being rewarded for playing very badly, with everyone playing recklessly. Even one and two cent real money games will have players playing in a way that they care, and they actually tend to guard their stacks of pennies jealously. It’s definitely a great idea to start real money poker slowly, with very small stake cash games or tournaments with very small buy-ins.
- What is the best type of poker to play to learn the game quickly?
There are several formats with real money cash poker games, as well as various game types. The game type that would suit a player the best would be the type that they enjoy, but typically people start out with trying to master Hold’em. Hold’em is rolled out on tables with a variety of seats, with the three main ones being full tables, 6 max, and heads up. Learning the game by playing heads up is by far the best way to learn, against heads up players that are better than you and will shake out any weaknesses in your game. Even the biggest tables usually get down to two players still standing and if you become good at playing one on one you will do better in all formats.
- Can you beat tight poker games?
Poker games these days are often pretty tight, where the average pot size is small. This reduces the value of a strong hand and places a big premium on a player’s ability to adjust to their opponents. If a lot of hands get decided without a showdown, you have to be good at playing in these hands. One of the most important things that less skilled players do not pay attention to enough is how the table sees you. For instance, if you only get involved infrequently, they will give you a few small pots when you have something and take the rest when you don’t. If you usually don’t bet, you will be an easy mark in these games.
- What’s the best way to play in loose poker games?
The way to beat any poker game is to avoid joining what the majority of players at the table are doing. If your opponents play too tight, and fold too much, you want to encourage them to keep folding too much and be the one to rake in more than your share of these pots. If everyone is playing loose, this is when you want to go against them with your big hands and punish them for over-betting. It’s not just how loose or tight the table is, it’s how often hands go to showdown that determines whether you will push players around or trap them with better hands.
- Are there players that regularly beat today’s online poker games?
Online poker games these days tend to be tighter and therefore harder to get a positive win rate net of the rake, with pots often very small. You pay 3 small blinds per revolution and you can’t just fold hand after hand because the blinds will eventually shrink your stack. Successful online players tend to be very active and get involved more than other players do, and some are very good at this. Players also take advantage of frequent player bonuses which return part of the rake to them and make beating the game easier and adding to their profits.