The Best Online Poker Sites & Poker Rooms Today
Ever since the poker boom in the early 00s, when Texas Hold’em popularised the game to previously unseen heights, there have been several places to play online. Today, many online casinos still separate their PvP poker suites from their regular casino games – 888poker, for example, is a completely different domain to 888casino. It’s understandable why these two worlds are kept apart. The poker scene, after all, is very different to online casino. The game-changing differences lie in your opponent. Casino games are played against the house. These games are played against other human players. It’s important not to confuse online poker with casino poker or video poker. Games such as Evolution’s Ultimate Texas Hold’em are modified version of classic PvP poker. In addition to this, online poker is played in US dollars in order to keep a universal currency for every player worldwide. Let’s take a look at some of the best online poker sites today.
When I’m reviewing casino games, I often advise readers to look at the software developer making the game for an idea of the kind of quality you can expect. However, with online poker, you don’t really need to worry about software developer. The online poker world works differently, and these sites should be viewed more as platforms than individual games. The best online poker rooms are communities, and the strength of those communities lies in the members that make up the collective whole. Still, there are standards that must be met before I can recommend a place to play poker online for money.
How to Spot the Best Place to Play Poker Online
When faced with the choice of so many options, finding the best online poker rooms for you can be a daunting task. Regardless of whether you play internationally or at the best poker sites in the UK. However, there are ways to sort the good from the bad – you just have to know what to look for. I’ve been in this business a long time and I’ve picked up a couple of tells that mean I can spot a bluff. These are the factors that you should be considering when looking for the best poker sites.
The Most Popular Online Poker Games
A good operator in this market will offer a minimum of three formats of poker in general. Cash games work the same way they do in traditional, land-based casinos. Players can drop in and out of games whenever they want, and the blinds and antes stay at the same level throughout the duration of the game. There no elimination. If a player goes bust, they can simply restock their funds and play on. Cash games are available at online poker for at a range of levels from blinds as low as 1 cent/2 cent up to $25/$50. At the upper limit, pots can quickly build into hundreds and even thousands of dollars.
Online poker tournaments come in all shapes and sizes but generally involve a single buy-in and larger numbers of players than cash games. Once a player busts, that’s it – they’re out. Play continues until you are down to a final winner. Delve into the tournament section of an online poker site and it is easy to be overwhelmed. Hundreds of events are held daily, with varying buy-in levels. The tournaments are structured to run at different speeds, with different rules for entry and re-entry, whilst prizes range from cash to entry tickets into higher stakes online poker tournaments. It’s even possible to win entry into large land-based tournaments such as the World Series of Poker by competing in online satellites.
1/4 Texas Hold’emThe most popular PvP poker variant and the one that most players will recognise. Today, Texas Hold’em can be played at different speeds, stakes and with or without elimination, but the core game remains the same.
2/4 Omaha Hold’emOmaha Hold’em is a twist on the Texas Hold’em format where players each recieve four hole cards instead of two. Only two cards can be used in connection with the community cards at a time.
3/4 Snap Poker Snap Poker is a variant designed to reduce the waiting time between turns. A fast-fold feature allows players to recieve new cards the instant they fold the previous hand.
4/4 Blast Poker Blast Poker is a super-turbo format where players are given a fixed time to finish the game, otherwise everyone is all-in until a winner is crowned. The prize pool is also generated randomly.
Sit and Gos are like small tournaments. Rather than being scheduled to take place a certain time, Sit and Gos begin as soon as the required number of players are registered. As a result, they are popular with players who are looking for knock-out poker games but don’t want to hang around waiting for a tournament to start. Typically, both Texas Hold’em and Omaha Hold’em – a version that involves players receiving four hole cards instead of two – are catered for across cash games, tournaments and Sit and Gos. Recently, the best poker sites have been experimenting with the format even more, with interesting new rule changes such as forcing players to go all on every hand, or by offering prize pools that are randomly generated much like traditional casino jackpots. We expect that this is an area of the market that will expand even more in the near future.
Online Poker Bonus Deals – Do They Exist?
Just like at online casinos, the best poker sites offer welcome packages, deposit bonuses and seasonal offers. The deals vary but generally involve some form of bonus cash or tournament entry tickets. These kinds of welcome packages not only give players the chance to play in a tournament that they otherwise may not have been able to afford or simply unwilling to enter due to the expensive buy-in costs, but they provide valuable experience opportunities for budding poker players. Playing a $1,000 entry tournament means that you will be competing against players that regularly play at that level, and are therefore experienced enough to teach newbies a thing or two.
- Tournament tickets
- 3.5 points per $1 needed
- Bonus Code: 888BONUS
Poker bonuses are subject to wagering requirements, just like at online casinos. Again, these vary and are often tied to a points-based system rather than a strict playthrough requirement due to the nature of tournament play and how it differs from regular casino games such as slots, blackjack and roulette. Regular promotions and events are also common, with the worldwide poker tournament schedule heavily influencing the emergence of satellite tournaments and free ticket giveaways. It’s good practice to check the promotions tab of your chosen online casino every time you log in to make sure you don’t miss out on any promotions.
The Truth About Payouts and RTPs
Return to player rates are a key part of casino poker games and video poker at online casinos, but for online poker, the truth is, it’s not a factor. When you play a casino game against the house, the money you lose goes to the casino operator, and the money you win is paid out directly from the pot of money that has been collectively lost. With online poker, players compete for money against each other. When you win a hand at a cash game table, the prize pot is full of both yours and your opponent’s money, not the operator’s. The casino site still gets its cut, taking a small percentage of each pot in cash games, for example, or by adding fees to tournament buy-ins. If a tournament entry is listed as $100 + $10, for example, that means that $100 goes to the prize pool and $10 goes straight to the operator as a fee for hosting the game. The exception to this rule is when poker sites run prize guaranteed tournaments. If, for example, you enter a tournament with a prize pool guarantee of $5,000, but the number of entrants has resulted in that figure not being met, the operator will make up the shortfall to ensure that the total prize pool on offer is as promised.
Online Software: How It Works
When we talk about software providers in the casino business we are talking about third-party game developers. The creative minds and technical experts that produce the wide range of innovative games that can be enjoyed at online casinos today. With online poker, however, the situation is different. Online poker software is generally provided by the operators themselves. The package is not a selection of games, but a lobby for finding and entering tournaments. Once entered, the downloaded software will launch windows for individual poker games. Not all online casino software has to be downloaded. In fact, all the best online poker rooms today allow players to access the lobby directly through a browser, negating the need to download any dedicated software package to access the cash games, tournaments and bonus promotions.
The Advantages of Online Poker Tournaments
As the old poker saying goes, nothing beats looking your opponent in the face, reading his tells, a true battle of wits. However, today there are so many advantages to playing poker online over choosing land-based casinos or home games that it’s easy to see why so many poker players have abandoned live play altogether. The speed at which you can find and join an appropriate tournament with an attractive prize pool online is frighteningly quick.
- Why Go for Online Poker:
- More Variety – Slow tournaments, fast tournaments, freezeouts, re-buys, it’s all there online
- Lower Stakes – You can experience tournament poker for much less online than on land
- Speed is Key – Playing a poker tournament doesn’t have to take 12 hours when you play online
There’s also so much more variety in the digital space. No local casino is ever going to let you play 9-handed for two hours for a $1 buy-in, but online it’s possible, and with the huge numbers of players that the best online poker sites can attract, there plenty of fish at the high-roller tables for experienced players to profit from. You might not get to see your opponent’s poker face, but this small disadvantage is negated by the wealth of options you have available to you when playing poker online.
The Future of Online Poker and News
Online poker has been through the boom and bust cycle at least once during its relatively short time on the market. After the initial craze of online Texas Hold’em came to end with the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 in the United States, online poker has slowly begun to rise in popularity again. I put this down to a couple of factors. Firstly, the increasing popularity of streaming services such as Twitch and YouTube have given poker players a new audience, and it’s now common for fans to watch their favourite poker personalities playing the game online. Secondly, the best poker sites have really upped their game in terms of the quality of the product they bring to the table. In the mid-00s everyone was so poker-crazy that simply providing the base game was enough for these guys. Today, they are forced to be more creative, more generous with their promotions and provide players with a more polished experience in all areas of the game. There is definitely a worrying move towards more pure chance games and casino-style gambling coming from 888poker, but others are moving forward to VR poker and more technology-driven advancements. For the latest poker news, check out my hub below.
Playing Online Poker: A Conclusion
There’s never been a better time to get into playing poker online for money. The best poker sites offer tonnes of options for both new and experienced players, whatever level of stakes you wish to play at. There’s even free money tournaments which allow players to get to grips with the software and tournament structures before diving into the real thing. Check out my top recommendation review below and get started with your online poker journey today. If you would like to find out more about other poker variants such as casino poker and video poker, or other niche casino games such as keno, baccarat and scratch cards, you will find all of the relevant information here on this site.
- Major Strengths
- Wide range of buy-ins
- Fast-paced gameplay
- Minor Strengths
- Multiple game formats
- Major Weaknesses
- Minor Weaknesses
- Steep learning curve