Online Poker

Online poker is a great introduction to the game Photo by PokerNews Used with permission

If you’d like to have a go at playing poker, but don’t relish the idea of facing off across the table with slick seasoned pros in an intimidating casino, then online poker is a great way to play. Online poker is hugely popular across the world, with the total online gaming market estimated to be worth $550bn globally and growing fast. The virtual game has many advantages over the physical game, and there are some novel variations emerging as different poker sites try to attract new customers.

The advantages of playing online
As discussed above, one of the biggest advantages of playing online is being able to play from the comfort of your own home, without having to visit an actual casino. This not only avoids the intimidation aspect, but will also save you a fortune on travel, entrance, drinks and snacks, and you won’t ever have to tip the dealer or your waitress. You don’t even have to get dressed out of your pyjamas!
Of course, you don’t have to play from home; you can play from almost anywhere using your smartphone or tablet. You can join a table on the train on your way to work, play some Texas Hold ‘em at half time at the big match or even sneak a few hands under the desk during that tedious lecture or boring business meeting.

More chances to win
Online poker gives you more chances to win, because the games happen so much faster. You’ll find a game starting almost every second around the clock, and because they are not slowed down by shuffling, dealing and chip counting, they progress much faster than the live version. Online poker also allows you to play several tables at once, which would be impossible at a live casino. Chris Moneymaker (right) started out online and went on to win the World Series of by Equipo Unibet CC BY 2.0

Many poker sites stage what are called satellite games, in which online players can win the chance to take part in major poker tournaments. This was the route used by the legendary Chris Moneymaker in 2003. He won a place at the World Series of Poker by entering an $86 tournament online, and he ended up walking away with a cool $2.5m. The feat was repeated the following year by 2004 winner Greg Raymer.

Less chances to lose
On the other hand, online poker also has less opportunities to lose, because the stakes can be much lower than you will find in a traditional casino game. Casual online players can play just for fun, with minimum stakes of just a few pennies, or even take part in free games where you neither win or lose. Most sites will even teach you how to play better, to improve your chances of winning, with free tutorials and poker schools to help you master the game. Try asking for advice from a traditional casino dealer and you’ll be laughed off the table.

Any game you like
Online poker offers you the chance to play any variation of poker you want, rather than having to settle for whatever game is on offer at the real life tables. This means you can play Texas Hold ‘em, five card stud, seven card stud, Omaha or dozens of other variations of poker. Whichever game you prefer, you’ll always find a table waiting. What’s more, with the online poker market so competitive these days, you’ll often find lots more than just the traditional variations on offer.
Poker sites are being forced to innovate and offer a unique experience to attract and keep customers, and this has led to some fascinating ideas emerging. One site allows you to play using crypto-currency, adding a speculative element to your game, while Power Up from PokerStars offers you Superman-style powers to see through the top of the deck, change your hole cards and even destroy any community cards you don’t need, so your opponents can’t use them against you.

Unfold Hold ‘em
The latest innovation to emerge in online poker is Unfold Hold ‘em, also from the creative team at PokerStars. If you’ve ever kicked yourself for folding too soon, only to see the flop fall perfectly for you, then this is the game for you. Anyone who folds can join the Unfold game for a separate pot, making the hand they missed out on after all. Not only will you have a second chance of winning, you’ll also avoid sore shins from kicking yourself so often.
Whether you’re a novice player or a dedicated pro, online poker has lots to offer compared to the traditional game. But don’t take my word for it; with so many introductory offers around, you can try it for yourself for free and see what all the fuss is about. With so many advantages, you’ll soon understand why millions of players every day are logging on to take their seat at the virtual table.