The Best Online Poker Sites in the UK Today
The world of online poker is very different to that of online casinos. When playing blackjack or roulette on the internet your foe is the house. It’s the player vs. the operator. Online poker is player vs. player, or PvP as it is known in gaming. This changes everything. Let’s take a look at some of the finer points on poker online, the strategy involved and the best places to play in the UK today.
- Free Play & Real Money Games
- Cash Games, Tournaments and Satellites
The most popular form of online poker is Texas Hold’em. There are other variants, such as Omaha Hold’em, but for the moment lets focus on the market’s bread and butter. The game enjoyed a boom in the early 00s during which the online player pool doubled in size year on year. In 2006, when the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was passed in the United States, the game’s popularity plummeted across the pond. Over here though, poker has retained most of its player base.
Texas Hold’em tournaments are still held in Las Vegas and casinos all over Europe, but unlike land-based games where buy-ins remain expensive, play is often slow and players are bound by casino schedules, poker online is an accessible environment suitable for both beginners and professional players.
Train Your Poker Skills Online for Free
The learning curve for online poker is certainly longer than that of blackjack or other casino card games. Jumping straight into real money play is risky, as more experienced poker players will be able to pick off those who make rookie mistakes. The beautiful thing about playing poker online is that you can begin developing your skills for free. Before the internet, groups of friends would sit around playing poker for fun using matchsticks or plastic chips. It was a great way to learn the game, but it was slow.
The strongest argument for doing your training online is the huge increase in speed. Every hand is experience gained, and with no shuffling or moving physical chips around you will see a lot more hands online over the same period of time as you would playing live. Pilots measure experience by hours spent on the equipment they are flying. Poker players measure experience by the number of hands they have played. It’s a basic principle – increased exposure leads to increased skill. Playing poker online is the best way to get good quickly.
Taking Advantage of a No Deposit Poker Bonus
Free play is perfect for learning the game but it is a very different animal to online poker real money. Poker is a game where you don’t have to have the best hand to win the pot. Psychology, table position, bluffing and acting all play a key role in determining the winner of any given hand. Therefore, when real money is at stake the game flows differently to when it’s just for fun. Opponents will play more carefully, and will be less willing to risk chips with weaker hands. Bluffing becomes a little easier – in free play mode bluffs are notoriously hard to get through as it’s too easy for players to call – but cashing in on your strong hands is also more difficult.
The best way to experience online poker real money is with a no deposit bonus. This gives you the best of both worlds. Playing for real money ensures the play will be true to that of cash poker, but it removes the risk of damaging your bankroll in the event of a bust.
What’s So Special About Online Poker for Real Money?
The biggest advantage of poker online over land-based casino poker is variety. Tournaments and cash games in casinos carry significant overheads for the operators. Dealers need to be paid, and there is limited space for a 200+ entrant poker tournament. Thus, buy-ins and entry fees are kept high to cover costs. The internet solves these practical problems and as a result, buy-ins for online real money poker tournaments can be as low as 10p with a 1p fee for the operator. It’s also much easier to stage a tournament with 1,000 entrants, and it won’t take three days to complete.
- Blend skill and experience in the ultimate battle of psychology and wit!
- Free play can be chaotic, real money play is more considered!
- Grow with your bankroll – plenty of table options for all levels of player!
- For maximum excitement and a true test of nerves, it has to be real money play!
Satellite tournaments provide another opportunity for players. A satellite tournament is an excellent way to access high-stakes games without stumping up a buy-in. In exchange for a cash prize, satellites offer winners entry to a more lucrative tournament instead. When stacked, players can soon find themselves in games with enormous prize pools from a relatively small, or free, initial buy-in. In 2003, Chris Moneymaker rode his luck all the way to the top when he won the World Series of Poker main event, taking home $2.5 million. He had gained entry to the biggest poker event at the time by winning a $39 satellite on PokerStars.
Online Poker Deposit Bonuses
All the best online poker sites the UK market today will kick-start your bankroll with a nice juicy bonus. This allow players to register for tournaments with higher buy-ins. However, that doesn’t mean upon receiving a free £100 bonus it’s a good idea to spend it all in one go. A good rule for managing your bankroll is to only risk a maximum of 10% of your total bankroll on any one game. A nice welcome bonus of 100-200% can open a lot of doors to a player managing their bankroll effectively.
How to Play Poker Online: The Basics
In Texas Hold’em, players receive two cards face down called ‘hole cards’. In both land-based casinos and online, a large dealer chip is used to indicate where the cards are to be dealt from. This is an important part of the game as it controls the order in which players act. The two players immediately to the left of the dealer are required to put in blinds – obligatory bets to get the action going.
After the initial round of betting comes three community cards – dealt in the middle of the table that can be used by any player – known as ‘the flop’. A second round of betting commences before a fourth card, the turn, is added to the board. More betting ensues before we see the river, a final card to complete a board of five community cards. A final round of betting completes the play before players reveal their hands in a showdown. If, during any round, there is only one player remains in the hand the pot will be awarded instantly and no further cards are dealt.
There is plenty of jargon to describe the game of poker that can cause confusion to new players. Let’s have a look at some of the more essential language of the game.
|The Most Important Poker Terminology Explained|
|Button||The button indicates the position of the dealer. Play continues immediately to the left of the button.|
|Blinds||Blinds are the compulsary bets placed at the start of each hand by the two players immediately to the left of the dealer.|
|Ante||A bet that every player must place at the start of a round. Not compulsary in every game.|
|Bet & Raise||A bet is the first stake placed in a round. A raise is a bet bigger than the previous stake.|
|All In||When a player bets everything they have, it is called going all in. If the bet is called cards are immediately turned on their backs.|
|Check & Call||A check is like a bet of zero. If there has been no bet so far in the round, the option to check is available.|
|Bluff||A bluff is a bet placed in order to trick an opponent into thinking a strong hand is held.|
|Fold||Folding is the act of surrendering your cards and any previously placed bets in the current round.|
|Hole Cards||The two initial cards received by each player are known as hole cards.|
|Pocket Rockets||A pair of aces in the hole is known as Pocket Rockets, the best possible starting hand.|
|Community Cards||The cards dealt to the middle of the table that can be used by any player are called community cards.|
|Hand||The best five cards available by combining hole cards and community cards is known as a hand.|
|Preflop||All action conducted before the community cards are dealt is called preflop action.|
|Flop, Turn & River||The flop is the first three community cards, the fourth is called the turn, and the fifth the river.|
|Fish & Shark||A beginner player is known as a fish. An experienced player is a shark. Sharks enjoy playing against fish!|
|Suited||Two or more cards that are the same suit (clubs, hearts, diamonds or spades) are suited.|
|Straight||A run of five cards in numerical order. The best possible straight is 10, J, Q, K and A.|
|Flush||A flush is any five cards of the same suit. They do not have be in a running order.|
|Straight Flush||A combination of a straight and a flush, a straight flush is a run of five cards that are also suited.|
|Limit||The maximum amount a player can bet in a single move, although most games are no limit.|
|Loose & Tight||A loose player takes a lot of risks and is very unpredictable. A tight player is more careful but easier to read.|
|Nuts||The best possible hand that can be created depending on the community cards out is called the nuts.|
|Outs||Any card that could give a player is a winning hand is called an out. Players calculate the number of outs to determine the future strength of a hand.|
|Blank||A community card that is not likely to improve a player’s hands or affect the outcome of a pot is known as a blank.|
|Pot||All of the money bet so far in a round of poker is gathered into the middle of the table and labelled ‘the pot.’|
|Bad Beat||Players who lose from a very strong winning position are said to have suffered a bad beat.|
|Tilt||If a player suffers a bad beat and then begins to play irrationally as a result, they are said to be on tilt.|
A Guide to Playing Poker Online: Tips & Tricks
Online poker players require a mixture of skill and good fortune to be successful. Unfortunately, I can’t do anything about your luck at the tables, but I can help you to improve your knowledge and make you a more skilful poker player.
Position, Position, Position
The number one mistake that amateur players make is ignoring their position on the table relative to the dealer chip. Watch professional poker stars on TV and notice how they play the exact same hand completely differently depending on position. There is no better or worse position to have at the table. Being first to act or last to act each comes with its own advantages and disadvantages, but failing to adapt to the changes is suicide. For example, a big bluff in first position is risky as it must get through everyone at the table and you don’t have any information – your opponents could have anything! The same bluff placed in last position – made after everyone else has played providing much more information about potential strength – is far less of a risk. Pay attention to position at all times.
Be Flexible, but Rational. Strategic, but Unpredictable.
It sounds a little oxymoronic, but the key to playing poker at higher levels is to be both rational and irrational at the same time. A mathematical poker player analysing the percentages and betting accordingly can maximise his chances of winning, but he would be predictable and therefore exploitable. Likewise, as chimpanzee placing bets at random would be impossible to read, but would ultimately be unable to maximise wins and limit loses. The very best players are flexible, sometimes making ‘poor’ or irrational moves to mix things up. Don’t be afraid to take a few knocks along the way to hitting that huge pot.
Online poker can be frighteningly quick. Turbo tournaments have risen in popularity and can give players only seconds to make a decision. There are times in poker when you will feel cheated. You might trick an opponent into risking everything with a weaker hand, only to be beaten on the river by a lucky card. It happens to everyone. Avoiding what the pro’s call being ‘on tilt’ is especially vital online. Chasing pots or playing aggressively to avenge bad luck is the quickest way to go bust in this game. Take a minute, and keep your cool.