Poker might just be the most beloved game of chance in existence. This gambling classic has countless variants and is enjoyed in every corner of the globe. Although millions still prefer playing the game in person, online poker has become the go-to solution for the majority of modern players.
Most of us define poker as a winner-takes-all competition with several participants. This format is preferred in dedicated networks like 888poker, but we wouldn’t recommend it if you’re inexperienced. You may end up competing against skilled individuals that could bust your bankroll swiftly. For this reason, our review focuses on discussing variants that are played against the casino. Pick a version that intrigues you and use it to learn the ropes before taking on real opponents.
The Best Online Poker Sites for This Year
The Poker Hand Rankings You Need to Know
This section is for new players, so feel free to skip it if you know the essentials. Generally, the idea of casino online poker is to beat the dealer with a better hand. Your hands are ranked by the card combinations that they contain. Now, we’ll list them all from worst to best:
- High-card — When your hand doesn’t contain any pairs, flushes, straights, or any of the below combinations, it’s ranked according to the highest-ranking card you have. For example, if you’re dealt a 9-5-2-Jack-Ace, you have a high-card Ace. When the dealer also has the same high-card as you, the game looks at the second-highest-ranking card to break up the tie.
- Pair — A pair of two cards with three random ones.
- 2-pair — Two pairs plus a random card.
- 3-of-a-kind — In online poker, three cards of the same kind beat 2-pairs.
- Straight — Whenever all of your cards have sequential ranks (e.g., 2, 3, 4, 5, 6), you have a straight. Do note that Aces can also count as 1 when forming straights.
- Flush — A 5-card combo that requires all cards to be of the same suit.
- Full House — Got a pair and a 3-of-a-kind in one hand? You were dealt a full house!
- Four-of-a-kind — Self-explanatory.
- Straight flush — Five cards of an identical suit in sequential order (e.g., Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5 of hearts).
- Royal Flush — Basically, the highest-ranking straight flush. It starts with a 10 and goes up to Ace.
The Most Common Casino Poker Types
Community card games — This category is easily the most popular of them all. Each player receives a set of face-down “hole” cards. At the same time, a community hand used by all participants is dealt in the middle of the table. Your task is to create the best hand out of the community & hole cards. “Texas Hold’em,” “Casino Hold’em,” and “Omaha” are three typical examples of this genre.
“Stud” online poker — The player receives a set of cards (most often 5-7) and must create the best 5-card poker combination with them. Usually, in versions played against the casino, you need to put down an “ante” bet to receive your cards and then decide between folding or playing your hand. In the latter case, a separate wager is required.
“Draw” games — After you receive a set of cards, “draw” pokers allow you to keep the ones you like and get rid of the rest. New cards appear in the place of the ones you’ve discarded. This is the main principle of all video poker machines.
The Best Online Poker Sites Have Live Dealer Streams
When it comes to casino online poker, real-money players always look for live dealer tables. The lobbies of leading studios like Evolution and Playtech Live offer the most authentic form of virtual gaming entertainment. You can join rooms that are broadcasted in Full HD and are available around the clock. You’ll always be greeted by an attractive and professional croupier who will deal real cards in front of you.
What’s great about these tables is that they don’t discriminate against players based on budget. Usually, you’ll be able to bet as little as $0.50-$1 per hand. Meanwhile, high rollers can put down as much as $1,000-$5,000, depending on the table.
888casino and bet365 are some of the best online poker sites for live dealer games. The lobbies of both operators feature content from the studios we described above. Most often, you’ll be able to join “Casino” and “Texas” Hold’Em rooms in addition to broadcasts where Tri-Card and Stud pokers are played. Furthermore, some variants feature a side bet that comes with a massive progressive jackpot.
As an added bonus, live dealer lobbies are packed with other table classics like blackjack, baccarat, and roulette, so you’ll always have many entertainment options at your disposal. The only downside to this type of entertainment is that it can’t be played for free unless you claim a no-deposit bonus like the one offered at 888casino.
Game Highlight — Side Bet City
- Theme – 1980s
- Made By – Evolution
- Betting Limits – $0.50-$250
- RTP Rate – 94.34%-96.69%
Evolution’s “Side Bet City” is a super simple and fun broadcast that takes you back to the 80s. In this online poker, the croupier deals three cards, then draws two more for a 5-card hand and another two for a total of seven. Your task is to predict whether a poker combination will appear in the 3-, 5-, or 7-card hand. Alternatively, you can wager that no valid combination will appear during a round, which comes with a payout of 0.7:1. The jackpot is worth x1,000 your bet and is downed when the first five cards form a royal flush. However, you’ll benefit from the lowest house edge if you stake your money on 3-card hands and “all lose.”
RNG Pokers Are Great for Practicing
The advent of live dealer streams has pushed RNG-based online poker out of the limelight. However, there a couple of good reasons for playing against the computer. First, RNG titles typically have demo modes. In other words, you can play them for free to your heart’s content, which is perfect for learning the rules and different card combinations.
Furthermore, the all-virtual poker collections of most casinos include exotic offerings such as “Mississippi Stud,” “Let It Ride,” “Caribbean Draw,” etc. One of our favorite iterations is “Pai Gow,” which is also known as “Double-hand Poker.” You and the dealer receive seven cards each, and the goal is to create the best possible 2- and 5-card hands out of them. You’ll win if both of your hands are superior to those of the dealer. In this online poker, real-money wagers are often returned as a result of ties. The low volatility is perfect for price-conscious bettors looking for prolonged entertainment.
The Pros and Cons of Video Poker
The easiest way to master hand rankings is through video poker. These iconic machines have been around since the 70s and have a massive fan base in land-based and virtual casinos. They serve as a middle ground between table games and slots, possessing fast gameplay based on draw poker.
Their paytable is always visible on the screen, and it will alert you whenever your hand contains a valid card combination. This type of online poker is also known for having superior return rates that often rival and even surpass those of blackjack. On the flip side, reducing the house edge to its minimum requires you to follow strategy charts that can often confuse even experienced gamblers.
“Jacks or Better” is the most widespread version of this game. The lowest qualifying hand is a pair of Jacks, hence the name. Other iterations such as “Bonus” and “Double Bonus” are all based on “Jacks or Better.” You may also find “Wild” variants in which a designated card can take the place of any other to help you form certain hands.
Excellent Mobile Compatibility Is Guaranteed
The best online poker sites rely on cutting-edge technologies to deliver a superb multi-platform experience. In layman’s terms, this means that bettors who use smartphones and tablets can play just as easily as those on a computer.
It doesn’t matter if you’re competing against others through a dedicated client or trying to beat the dealer in live streams and RNG games. The software at the sites we recommend features a streamlined interface that seamlessly adapts to touchscreens of all sizes. Typically, non-essential buttons and settings are all gathered in the main menu, while drawing cards and the betting options are represented by large icons situated in the corners for easy reach. That being said, the games you can play in portrait mode aren’t that many, so we always recommend holding your phone horizontally.