Much of the rise in poker’s popularity is due to online poker. Playing poker on the Internet is a million-dollar industry and has become a serious business, with millions of players around the world taking part in cash games and tournaments each day. Playing online has several key advantages which are unavailable at land-based venues, such as frequent and large bonuses, constant free-entry real AUD money tourneys, game and format variety, strategy, tips, and more.
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Over the past decade, it has become one of the most popular card games worldwide, most notably the version of Texas Hold’em. This game format has its own international televised tournament (the World Series of Poker), which sees some of the best players win stacks upon stacks of cash each year. Australia has certainly played a large part in the boom, especially since Joe Hachem won the 2005 WSOP Main Event and pocketed a cool $7.5 million in prize money.
If you are familiar with the rules, transitioning in to the world of Web-based poker is not difficult. Even if you are a beginner, playing over the Internet can often be the best way to learn the basics and hone your skills, with low limit (as small as $0.01 and $0.02 blinds) beginner tables available, as well as free play-off comps.
How Online Poker Works & Where to Play
Considering how important player and dealer interaction is in poker, it might surprise you to find out the game translates extremely well to the online world. Poker on the Net is played exactly like it is offline, with a couple of short cuts and changes made possible by the World Wide Web.
AustralianGambling.com.au recommends Aussie players play at www.888Poker.com. Not only does 888 offer a great sign-up bonus and other promotions, an excellent rewards program, and loads of high-quality tournaments, but it also has one of the fastest growing player bases in the industry. Publicly endorsed by famed Australians such as Shane Warne, the site is a well-trusted and secure platform to indulge in this coveted activity.
Software Download or Browser Play
If on your desktop computer or laptop, most websites will give us the option to either download their software on our hard drive, or play instantly via our browser. The difference between the two is slight, and it really comes down to personal preference. At 888, if you want to take full advantage of the software, which includes latest features such as the PokerCam (a webcam to view other players), private games (create tables for just you and your friends), and 3D poker, then downloading the full package on to your computer is the way to go.
But if you wish to save space, maybe share your computer with others whom you don’t wish to access your software, and are keen on playing through any browser and any operating system (anytime, anywhere), then the instant play version might suit you better. 888′s elegant and compact user interface is near identical in both, and you can read AG’s review of the website here.
If playing from a mobile or tablet, most sites will automatically recognise your device’s OS (operating system) and either instantly redirect you to their instant play mobile-compatible version, or provide an app suited to your platform, in which case you may be required to allow the installation of non-market applications. For more information, our 888 mobile poker review explains exactly how to get started on any compatible device, and the features available to us.
Opening an Account
Once you’ve decided how you’d like to play, you will be asked to create an account. While people are often hesitant to release personal information such as phone numbers and addresses, AG only recommends websites which protect such information by keeping it private, and DO NOT hand it over to any third-party companies. If you like, you can use a secondary email (must be valid) to keep any promos or advertisements associated with the site separate from your primary or work email address. Setting up an account should take no longer than a few minutes.
Websites such as 888, once logged in, bring us directly to their lobby, where we can easily navigate to the real cash games or tournaments you are searching for, browse over your promotions/bonuses, learn the rules, play for practice money, and even indulge in other casino favourites such as blackjack.
Internet Game Play
Online poker is considerably cheaper to run than the live format at traditional land-based venues, because Internet operators have significantly lower overhead costs. Therefore, Internet operators are able to let members play for low stakes, and regular free tournaments.
There is no live dealer when we play over the Net, rather we are dealt cards by Random Number Generators (RNGs). This tested and trusted technology ensures the fair and random distribution of cards.
At the table, players have several options to enhance their game-play such as changing the style of their cards, their avatar, game settings, and more. When playing a hand, buttons will appear on screen to inform you of how to act (fold, check, call or raise). You have a certain time limit before your hand is automatically folded (varies from table to table), and you can also choose to make a decision ahead of time, however be careful with this option, as the betting throughout the hand could force you to change what you originally planned on doing.
The Online Formats: Tournaments & Cash Games
The three main styles of Internet poker are as follows:
Cash Games: Available for six to 10 players per table for fixed limit, no limit and pot limit betting. Bet real money each hand and join or leave at any time. Blinds/stakes for cash games range from $0.01 and $0.02 all the way up to $500 and $1,000.
Scheduled Tournaments: Referred to as multi-table tournaments (MTTs), these are the equivalent of the major tournaments you see on television or the smaller tournaments held at your favourite casino. They are scheduled ahead of time, with set buy-ins and entry fees, and prize pools determined by the number of registered players. All players receive an equal amount of chips (no cash value), and are eliminated if they run out of chips. The last player remaining wins overall, though others who survive late in the tournament also often win prizes. 888 Poker offers a number of public and private tournaments which you need to register for in order to play.
Sit-and-Go Tournaments: These tournaments, also known as SNGs, can start whenever there are enough interested players available to fill one (minimum two players required). SNGs usually feature one table worth of players, though multi-table SNGs are also available. Like MTTs, players start with equal chip amounts and battle until one players remains. Those who place second, third and even fourth are often entitled to prizes, too.
Sit-and-Go contests & MTTs can also be played with fixed, no and pot limit betting. Buy-ins and entry fees for these formats of play can range from free to more than $2,000.
Here the different betting styles are explained:
No-Limit: These games allow bets of any size each round, so long as they are at least the size of the minimum bet and/or the last bet placed in the current round.
Pot-Limit: In pot-limit games, players may make bets or raises equal to the size of the pot. This allows for large wagers, but does not allow people to simply move all-in at the beginning of a hand.
Fixed Limit: Also known simply as limit, these games allow only a specific size of bet each betting round, increasing by set increments every round.
If playing a pot or no limit game, you will have a slider bar so you can change the size of your bets. You will also have the option to bet the minimum, half the pot, three quarters of the pot, the full pot amount, or the maximum (all-in). The speed of certain games can also be set according to your own preference; options include regular, turbo and super turbo. You can also play several tables simultaneously. These factors combine to make the online version of the game faster and more beneficial to the player than the game-play at traditional casinos.
Currency Conversion, Depositing & Withdrawing
In order to play for real money, at some point in time you will most likely want (and need) to make a deposit; Australians have access to a wide range of banking options. Note: most poker sites operate in U.S. dollars so funds of all players around the world are of equal value. Our AUD cash is converted to American dollars upon depositing (at the exchange rate at the time), and converted back when we wish to withdraw, at the same rate at which is was initially converted.
The following approved online poker room banking methods are available to Australians:
Credit and debit cards are the most common means to fund accounts, as doing so is a straight-forward process, and funds are processed and made available immediately. Maintain permanent records of your transactions on your card’s billing information. VISA, MaserCard and Diner cards are all accepted, and these cards can also be used for withdrawals.
Bank/Wire Transfer: Members can make deposits to and withdrawals from their poker accounts directly via their bank accounts. Using your Internet banking system by providing the correct bank name, BSB and account numbers. Players can also make offline deposits from their local branch.
E-wallet/Web-wallet services are another secure means of financing accounts. Platforms such as PayPal, Neteller and Skrill (Moneybookers) allow us to store funds in one account without fees, from where we can deposit our money to our poker accounts, without using any cards or banking information. We can also withdraw cash directly back to our e-Wallets. Acting as an intermediary site and an extra layer of security separating our banking services from our poker accounts, e-Wallets are a convenient all-in-one solution.
We can also use prepaid deposit options if we wish to avoid sharing any personal information such as bank or card details online. The most common prepaid method is Ukash, a voucher which can be purchased at local retail outlets with cash (or any other payment method). That voucher contains a number which is then use at any Internet retailer which accepts it, including Web casinos and poker sites. The value of the voucher is instantly transferable.
UKash, Instadebit, Diners credit cards and POLi are available options for deposits only.
Different Poker Titles Available on the Net
There are many Web-based poker titles which are hard (or impossible) to find in live casinos, and this is one of the key benefits to playing for real AUD money (or practice) over the Web. Here’s a quick run-down of the kinds of games you can find:
Texas Hold’em: The so-called “Cadillac of Poker,” Texas Hold’em is the most popular form of the game in the world, where players each receive two cards, and can use up to five community cards to form the best possible hand
Omaha: Omaha is similar to Texas Hold’em, except players receive four cards and must use exactly two of them in making their final hand. This game is also largely popular, especially in pot-limit format.
Seven Card Stud: Once the gold standard of poker, Seven Card Stud has fallen somewhat out of fashion since the rise of hold’em. However, there are still plenty who enjoy and play this title and it is still largely offered on the Net, where each player receives seven of their own cards (three face down cards only viewable to the individual player, and four face up cards, for everyone to see) to make a hand.
Razz: This fun game is Seven Card Stud “in reverse,” where the goal is to come up with the lowest hand possible.
Draw Poker: Players receive hands completely hidden from the rest of the table, and have at least one chance to exchange – or draw – more cards. There are several variations based on what kind of hand players are trying to make, as well as the number of draws allowed.
Mixed Games: A true test of any player’s skills, a mixed game is one in which several forms of poker are played on a constant cycle. The most common of these is H.O.R.S.E. which consists of:
- Seven Card Stud
- Seven Card Stud, Eight or Better (Hi-Lo)
Understanding Rake, Bonuses, and Loyalty Programs
One of the more confusing aspects of poker has to do with the rake. In all cash games – online or live – players compete against other players, rather than the house. However, the casino or card room still needs to make money. It does so by taking a small amount of cash out of most pots. This amount is known as the rake.
In most cases, rake will only be taken out of a pot if at least one round of betting has been completed. Generally, rake is calculated by taking a certain amount out each time the pot reaches a certain level, up to a maximum amount. This ensures the rake never rises above a set percentage of the pot, and that it never grows too large, even if the pot becomes huge.
Here is an example of how the rake works at a typical no-limit hold’em table:
At a $1/$2 table, the pot will be raked one cent for every $0.20 which goes into the pot – or in other words, at a rate of five per cent. The maximum rake amount however, is $4.00. If there is a $20 pot, a rake of $1 will be taken out. If there is a pot worth $500, five per cent of that pot is $25, however only the max of $4.00 would be raked.
The rake you pay is also an important part of most bonus and reward programs. When you sit at a table and rake is taken from a pot, a percentage of that rake is attributed to you (how much and how often depends on the rake allocation method used by the site). The rake you generate helps to clear bonus offers and earn points for your loyalty program.
While there is no rake in tournament play, the tournament host will still make money by charging an entry-fee and a buy-in. Tournament entries prices are thus often expressed as two numbers, such as $10 (the buy-in: the money which goes to the prize pool) + $1 (the entry fee: the cash which goes to the hosting party), however many tournaments simply include the entry fee in the buy-in fee.
- Poker Stakes and Bankroll Requirements
- Is Online Poker Safe?
- The 888 Poker Rewards Program
- General Poker Strategy
- How to Play Poker
- Is Online Poker Legal in Australia?
- How to Play Video Poker – A Tutorial
- Omaha Poker Strategy Tips
- Texas Hold’em Myths