The History of Online Poker
It is said that the first hand of online poker was dealt back in January 1998 following the launch of Planet Poker. The first couple of years saw these poker rooms struggle with limited network technology and connectivity problems. However, by the turn of the Millennium, sites such as Paradise Poker, Party Poker and PokerStars were able to launch propriety poker client software that catered for the rise of dial-up and early-stage broadband users.
The online poker industry has recovered from April 15, 2011, which is known as Black Friday, when some of the leading sites were seized and frozen following the enactment of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). Fast forward to the present day and the industry is becoming increasingly regulated across many US states, providing a safer, more transparent environment for poker players across the globe.
What Games Can You Play at an Online Poker Room?
The best online poker rooms offer a broad spectrum of poker variants that go beyond the household favourite of Texas Hold’em. The following six poker niches are usually covered by the top online poker operators:
Texas Hold’em Poker
The most popular form of online poker, Texas Hold’em ushered in the original online poker boom in the mid-2000s. Each player is dealt two hole cards face down. Using the five community cards from the flop, turn and river, players must make the highest-ranking hand.
Omaha Hi tends to be the second most popular game at the leading online poker rooms in terms of traffic. This is often played as a ‘pot-limit’ game, which restricts player bet sizes to pot-size bets only. It’s easy to pick up as there are distinct similarities with Texas Hold’em.
Often known as Omaha 8-or-Better, Omaha Hi-Lo is not as popular as Omaha Hi, but most leading online poker rooms will run cash games and periodic tournaments for this variant. It’s harder to get to grips with as low qualifying hands are in-play as well as high qualifying hands.
7-Card Stud used to be the only form of poker people knew before the emergence of Texas Hold’em. Like Pot Limit Omaha, 7-Card Stud games have capped betting structures, which may prove frustrating to some but it’s still one of the easiest forms of poker given that you only have to focus on making the best five-card hand.
A unique combination of five poker variants – Texas Hold’em, Omaha Hi-Lo, Stud Hi, Stud Lo and Stud Hi-Lo – HORSE is one of the hardest poker games to grasp. This is more common at high-stakes tables, but its popularity is based on the fact that single-game specialists cannot dominate.
Razz is another type of Stud poker that requires you to make the lowest possible hand. Think of it as a ‘lowball’ form of poker with limited betting structures.
How Do You Play Online Poker Games?
What’s great about the best online poker rooms is that you can get started wherever you are, providing you have a reliable Wi-Fi or 4G connection. Whether you’re hooked up to your desktop computer or on the go with your tablet or smartphone, the best online poker clients design intuitive poker lobbies that make it easy to log in and filter available poker tables.
Within the lobby of your online poker client, you’ll be able to filter by the type of poker games you wish to play. Whether it’s Texas Hold’em or Omaha Hi-Lo, heads-up cash games or multi-table sit ‘n’ go, or any other variant, you should be able to highlight the available tables at the touch of a button.
Each online poker client will also have a ‘Cashier’ section, allowing you to set up deposit and withdrawal methods to enter tournaments and transfer any winnings quickly into your bank account or e-wallet.
What to Look for in an Online Poker Room
If you are excited to get started with your online poker journey, we can help you understand what is important when choosing an online poker room you can trust and feel comfortable playing at. For us, it all boils down to the five following credentials:
- Welcome Bonuses
If you are someone looking to build a poker bankroll, you’ll want to choose a poker room that offers the most lucrative welcome bonuses. You can get bonus funds credited to your poker balance once you meet certain wagering requirements based on how much your wager at the tables. Some sites may also offer rakeback to high-volume players, giving you between 10%-50% of your rake back.
- Level of Competition
It’s important to be mindful of how many professional players are active at your chosen online poker room. If you want to be a long-term winning player, it’s a good idea to choose a site containing more ‘fish’ (novice) players than ‘shark’ (highly-experienced) players.
- Site Traffic
Of course, it’s all well and good playing at an online poker room which is considered ‘soft’, containing weaker players, but if you don’t have enough active cash game tables and tournaments running when you want to play, what’s the point? You need to find a poker room that offers a sweet spot between competition and traffic.
The last thing you want is poker room software that’s unreliable, forcing you to sit out and fold good hands in crucial spots. Our list above reviews the best online poker rooms that offer dependable poker clients for both desktop and mobile use.
- Customer Support
The best online poker rooms offer 24/7 customer support on tap, whether it’s telephone helplines, live chats or email. The last thing you want to do is deposit your hard-earned money in a poker room that’s unresponsive and cares little about its players.
Now that you know what to look for in a reputable online poker room, be sure to check out our ratings and reviews of the leading poker sites!