Chapter 1: Introduction to Poker

There are few games in the history of casinos that are as popular and as iconic as poker. In both online and land-based casinos, poker remains one of the most widely-played games in the world.

This is partly due to the unique combination of luck and skill that allows players to bring their own winning strategy to the table. It is also partly due to the special place that poker occupies in popular culture.

There are countless movies, TV shows, novels, and even video games that have provided iconic depictions of the many different variants of poker. Cool Hand LukeCasino RoyaleRed Dead Redemption, and Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, are just a few of the examples where the drama, tension, and adrenaline of poker have proven integral to the plot.

However, you don’t need to be a gambling genius to be a skilled and successful poker player. If you’re new to the game of poker and are ready to start playing for real jackpots, read this essential introduction to poker to prepare you for when you next step up to the gaming table.

What you’ll find on this Page

Poker in a Nutshell

A typical poker hand

Before we get into all the many different variants of poker available at online casinos, it is worth briefly going over the basic tenets of the game. Traditionally, poker is a ‘one-pack’ game, meaning that only one deck of cards is typically used when playing poker.

However, in many casino online versions of poker, you might find that multiple packs of colour-coded decks are used to speed things along. This is especially true if there are lots of players gathered at a single table.

While the different variants of poker tend to have vastly different rules and plays, some central elements remain the same across the board. Each round begins with the dealer shuffling the deck and dealing out a hand to all players present at the table.

In most variants (but not all), a hand consists of five cards. In between each round, players will have the opportunity to bet, raise the stakes, or fold. In some games, an initial stake might be required at the beginning of the game, known as an ‘ante’.

The goal is to secure a winning hand, of which there are many possible combinations. Here are some of the winning hands that you will find in virtually all variations of online poker:

  • One Pair: As you might have guessed, this is when you have a pair of cards in your hand, such as a pair of threes. 
  • Two Pairs: This one is when you have two separate pairs in your hand. 
  • Three of a Kind: You guessed it, this is where you have three cards of the same type in a single hand. 
  • Four of a Kind: Same as the above, but with one extra card of the same type. 
  • Straight: This is when you have five cards in the same numerical sequence, but not all a part of the same suit. For example a three of diamonds, four of hearts, five of spades, six of clubs, and a seven of clubs. 
  • Full House: This is when you have a three of a kind and a pair in the same house. For example three kings and two aces.
  • Flush: This is when you have five cards all from the same suit, but not in a numerical sequence. 
  • Royal Flush: The most valuable hand in poker. This is when you have a king, queen, jack, ace, and ten all from the same suit. 

Variants of Online Casino Poker 

Table position in poker

When you enter an online casino, you will quickly notice that there are many different versions of poker. Each one has its own unique strengths, so it’s all about finding the right game that suits you. Here are the main variants of online poker that you should know about. 

Texas Hold ‘Em

This is the most popular variant of poker around the world today and the one you are most likely to encounter on casino online platforms.

It’s a five-card version of poker in which players are initially dealt two “pocket cards”, and then wait over the subsequent four rounds for the five “community cards” to be revealed.

The goal is to use the cards that are dealt to you to create a winning hand of five. You will find Texas Hold ‘Em at virtually every online casino, and you will always be able to find other players at the table. 

7-Card Stud

This is another hugely popular variant of online poker, although one that differs significantly from Texas Hold ‘Em. There are no community cards and there are usually pre-fixed betting limits and buy-ins.

Over the course of the game, each player is dealt a total of seven cards. The goal is to make the best possible hand of five from the seven that they receive. 

Omaha

Omaha, also known as Omaha Hold ‘Em, is similar to Texas Hold ‘Em in that it is a community-based variant of poker. In Omaha, each player is dealt four cards, but can only choose two of them to construct a winning hard.

The remaining three cards must be chosen from the five ‘community cards’ laid out at the beginning of the round. There are also more high-stakes variants like Omaha-Hi, where the entirety of the jackpot goes to the player with the highest hand.

2-7 Triple Draw

This is a ‘low ball’ form of poker in which the goal is to construct the best ‘low’ hand possible. Players are initially dealt the full five cards, and subsequently have three draw attempts to try and construct the best hand.

There are no ‘face-up’ cards in 2-7 triple draw, meaning that you are the only person that will be able to see your own cards, and no other visible cards will be on the table at all. 

Caribbean Stud

Caribbean Stud is a popular form of ‘stud’ poker in which the player plays his hand against the dealer, or the ‘house’, rather than against other players. This is a game of pure luck, in which the dealer deals out five cards for themselves and five cards for the player.

After the first round, the dealer flips one of their cards face up. After this, you must decide whether to raise or to fold. At the end of the four rounds, whoever has the highest hand is the overall jackpot winner. 

Chinese Poker

Chinese poker is a more complicated variant of Texas Hold ‘Em that is definitely recommended for more experienced players. In the game, each player is dealt a total of 13 cards at the outset of the game.

They then must divide these thirteen cards into three separate hands; their ‘highest strength’ top hand of five cards, a medium-strength hand of three cards, and their weakest hand consisting of three cards.

Everyone then shows their high, medium, and weak hands in that order, winning different chunks of each other’s jackpots according to who has the best hand in each round.

Razz

One of the oldest forms of poker around and still hugely popular at a variety of online casinos, Razz is a form of lowball poker in which the lowest, or ‘worst’ hand in a round is the winning one.

Players are dealt a total of seven cards across the game and must construct the best five-card lowball hand out of what they are given. Other players are able to see your cards, adding an extra element of intensity to this classic poker variant. 

HORSE

Rather than being its own distinct variant of poker, HORSE is actually an acronym that stands for ‘Hold ‘Em’, ‘Omaha’, ‘Razz’, ‘Stud’, and ‘Eight or Better’.

If you find HORSE on any online casinos, you can usually expect it to be played in a chronological sequence. Each round consists of a different variant of poker, with five rounds in total and a single, progressive jackpot. 

Three-Card Poker

This is another poker variant where you face-off against the dealer in an attempt to construct the best hand.

Unlike other variants of poker, three-card poker only utilises three-card hands, as you might have guessed. The winning hands are simply stripped-back versions of the ones we covered above, and you need at least a pair or better in order to up the ante. 

Live Casino Poker

Finally, there is the hugely popular variant of live casino poker, available at any major online casino platform. This is a form of online poker where you play with a real-life casino dealer via a live-stream setup.

Live casino poker typically has an on-screen interface that allows you to bet and play, and you can usually interact with the professional and knowledgeable dealers via a chat function. All of the poker variants listed above are available as live casino poker games, allowing for a truly immersive experience. 

What Makes Poker Special? 

A Combination of Skill and Luck

One of the main reasons why many casino gamers often prefer online poker over games such as blackjack, for example, is because there is a significant degree of skill and strategy involved. To win at a game of poker, you need to be a master of deception.

You will need to bluff successfully to fool other players. You will also need the levels of perception required to make the right playing decisions. Success at poker comes with practice and strategy, as well as good luck. 

A Hugely Versatile Game

As you have probably realised by now, poker is a game of many stripes. There are dozens of different variants of the game, offering completely different experiences that suit every type of online casino player.

As well as the standard variants listed above, there are many different types of live casino games, as well as video poker and more. No matter how many games of poker you play, there is always a new version waiting just around the corner. 

Perfect for Low and High-Stakes Players

Whether you’re a high roller that likes to play for fast, big jackpots, or a more low-key player that prefers to keep things chill, there is a poker game for you.

A major appeal of online poker’s versatility is the fact that you can play variants where you play for thousands of euros on a single hand or variants where you play for pennies.

You can also set your wagers and betting levels according to whatever you are comfortable with. This is something that not all online casino games offer. 

A Truly Social Gaming Experience 

If you’re the kind of online casino fan that prefers to play in the company of others, then poker is perfect for you. Rather than some of the more solitary games out there, poker has plenty of opportunities to engage with other players from all around the world.

Many live poker games even come equipped with chat boxes that allow you to communicate with other players that are sat at your table, adding a uniquely modern social element to this classic card game. 

A Huge Global Following 

One of poker’s biggest advantages is just how popular and established it is in casinos around the world. There are tens of millions of regular poker players out there, which is why you will find so many variants of poker at virtually any online casino site.

This huge following also means that there are plenty of resources to help you improve your strategy, as well as plenty of content in the form of televised poker tournaments, poker YouTube channels, and online poker competitions to take your pick from. Few other casino games can boast the kind of reach that poker has. 

Poker is equal parts classic and contemporary. In its purest form, it is an elegant and simple game that has been enjoyed for centuries. Since then, online casinos have used technology and creativity to enhance it over the years, creating poker experiences for every type of player.