Poker Games Online
Throughout most of its history the game of poker was always played “live” – meaning face-to-face with other players seated around a table. From its early days on steamships and in back rooms of dusty saloons, poker emerged as a popular activity in California card rooms in the 70s and 80s and spread across the US in casinos and home games over the 80s and 90s.
If you’re hesitating at the idea of putting your money into an imagined world teeming with sharks and grifters online, we can assuage your fears. The world of online poker games is far from a den of inequity.
In the UK, US, Europe and Asia, for example, major online poker companies are publicly owned and listed on the stock exchanges.
They are licensed and regulated by government oversight agencies like the UK Gambling Commission, Malta Gaming Authority or the New Jersey Department of Gaming Enforcement.
Online poker games are certified and guaranteed to be fair and secure and your online transactions are protected by the latest ssl encryption, just as any online transactions are. As long as you’re playing on a licensed and certified poker site, online poker games are as safe as it gets.
For many people, though, a very enticing entry point are the free poker games which online poker sites offer without ever needing to create an account or make a deposit.
Poker Games – Texas Holdem
The most popular poker variation in the world by a large margin, Texas Hold’em is the game you’ve most likely seen on TV or in recent movies.
With two hidden hole cards for each player and five exposed “community” cards shared among the players, Hold’em is a back-and-forth mental tug-of-war packed with great action and strategy in all of its formats.
“No-Limit” Holdem in particular has captured the world’s imagination with the opportunity for any player to shove all of their chips in the middle at any point and put their opponent to the ultimate test.
If you’re just getting started playing Texas Hold’em we recommend checking out some basic articles for a simple understanding of the rules and etiquette of the game and a few of our tips for solid beginner Holdem strategy.
Poker Games – Omaha
If Texas Hold’em poker is considered “high-action” poker, Omaha has to be considered “really high action” poker. Growing a ton in popularity over the last few years, Omaha poker is similar to Texas Hold’em in rules and betting structures but has one major difference: In Omaha you get four hole cards compared to two in Hold’em – although you can still only use two to comprise your final hand.
Given the amount of added variables and hand combinations with four hole cards instead of two, you can see how Omaha has action potential on every street. Pot-Limit Omaha is probably the most popular Omaha variant online.
Poker Games 7 Card Stud
The “granddaddy” of poker games, Seven-Card Stud is what most people were thinking of when they said “poker” in the past. The dominant game of our grandfathers, you might have learned it at the kitchen table from one of them.
It’s definitely not as popular today as it once was – Texas Hold’em is certainly the dominant game of choice now – but you’ll still find it in lots of cards rooms (particularly in California) and at the World Series of Poker.
Razz Poker is basically the inverse or “lowball” version of 7 Card Stud. Once you’ve learned how to play 7-Card Stud you’ll have no problem making the switch to Razz as there are only 3 real differences:
- The winning hand is the “worst” or lowest possible hand
- Straights and flushes don’t count and aces are always low
- The player with the lowest hand (aka best hand) starts the betting in each round
There’s also no qualifier for the winning hand – as long as it’s the lowest hand left in the round, it’s the winner.
As you might have guessed while the game plays like a round of Stud in action, your preferred starting hands and optimal strategy for Razz are much different.
Fast Fold Poker (Zoom Poker)
Fast Fold Poker has swept the online poker market over the past 4 or 5 years. It’s one of the most revolutionary innovations ever brought to the poker world and will be a staple of many poker players’ online action for years to come.
You’ll find it under different names on different poker sites – Zoom Poker, Speed Poker, Snap Poker, FastForward Poker, etc – but all fast-fold poker games play the same way:
- Whenever you fold your hand you’re immediately whisked to a new table with a brand new hand
That’s it, really. No waiting around for long hands to play out. No downtime. Just straight poker action, all the time, whenever you fold your hand. You can even auto-fold to make it that much faster.
If there ever was a poker game tailor-made for the mobile phone it’s Fast Fold Poker as your need for multi-tabling goes away – simply jump into the fast-fold player pool on a single table and you’ll get all the action you can handle.
Short Deck Hold’em (6+ Hold’em)
Another new poker game variant that has become all the rage is Short Deck Hold’em, also known as 6+ Hold’em or Six Plus Hold’em.
Originating in the high-stakes card rooms of Macau and Manila, Short Deck Hold’em has grabbed a lot of attention in Europe and North America over the last few years with Short Deck events in the Triton High Roller series and a new Short Deck event at the World Series of Poker.
What exactly is Short Deck Hold’em? Well, it’s simply Hold’em with all the cards below six (2,3,4,5) removed from the deck. That makes for a 36-card deck and a dramatic increase in big hands made.
It also, though, changes up your optimal strategy quite a bit. And makes for two important changes to the standard poker hand rankings:
- A flush now beats a full house
- Three of a kind now beat a straight
It might sound a bit weird but it makes sense once you play it.
Mixed Poker Games – HORSE
A “mixed” poker game is a game that rotates through different variants and changes after every orbit around the table. The most popular Mixed Games is HORSE, which is a combination of:
- Eight-or-Better Stud
Standard HORSE games run 8-handed and work by playing one rotation (a complete orbit around the table) of each game; the order is always the same (Hold’em, Omaha, Razz, Stud, Stud 8) as you might have guessed from the name of the game itself.
All the games are played in Limit format, which may take some getting used to for those coming from a No-Limit Hold’em background.
HORSE is a very esteemed game in the poker world, especially among the high rollers, and it’s seen as a poker game that’s a true test of your overall poker acumen. The $50,000 Players Championship at the WSOP used to be a HORSE event and it’s original winner, Chip Reese, is considered one of the best poker players to ever live.
A big advantage of learning how to play HORSE and all of its games well is you’ll find most players don’t do the same – meaning they open up plenty of profitable spots in the lesser-played games.
Casino Poker Games
Casino poker games, or casino table games that feature poker hands or poker elements, are an entirely different animal. Primarily, of course, you are not playing against other players at the table.
You’re playing against the house – like you do with every other casino table game such as Baccarat, Roulette, Craps, Blackjack, etc. And as everyone knows about playing against the house, the house is set up to win. Not win a lot, necessarily. But still the odds are in the house’s favor.
When you play a standard poker game like Hold’em or Omaha you can build your own edge into the game by how hard you study and just how good you are at outsmarting your opponents. In casino poker games you can’t do that. But you can play an optimal strategy for each game that does reduce the house edge substantially.
With a game like video poker, for example, with perfect strategy you can even turn the house odds slightly in your favor. At the very least you can get all your drinks for free in Vegas.