Poker is a casino game played with cards with chips operating as money. While poker is simple to learn, but much harder to master because of all its variations. Learn more about this popular card game and pick up some useful tips to improve your poker game.
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Getting started with online poker
Online poker is remarkably easy to get access too – part of what makes it so popular. Players only need a device to access the internet, to choose a site to play on and sign up. From that point onwards, players are ready to give it their best shot and have some fun. Depending on the player, there are numerous game options to choose from as well as various new casino casinos to play through. However, selecting these can be tricky so we’ll give you some tips on that later
Poker Popularity in the UK (2021)
Online poker has seen a significant increase in interest since the UK lockdown began, leading to an influx of new players for online poker sites, new research shows. This information comes to light following an in-depth analysis of Google trends and Analytics data conducted by online poker provider GGPoker. Cleary showing that more British punters are turning to playing the popular card game to help pass the time while lockdown restrictions remain in place.
Searches for ‘poker rules’ and ‘best poker hands’ rose by 87% and 282% in a month also supports the idea of new players becoming interested and involved in the game. Interest in Texas Hold’em poker has also increased by 292% month on month, while searches for ‘how to play poker’ have seen a 200% rise.
HOW BIG WAS THE INCREASE?
The month following the UK heading into lockdown saw a mammoth 282% increase in searches for search times like ‘best poker hand’, while searches for the top four poker hands are also up:
- Royal flush (47%),
- Straight flush (106%),
- Four of a kind (66%)
- and Full house (43%).
Looking at search trends over the past three months shows that interest in online poker has grown steadily since the end of February, with searches for ‘Texas Hold’em’ having increased by 292% month on month.
This increase is seemingly largely due to new players looking to take up poker, with searches for ‘how to play poker’ seeing a 200% increase month-on-month, ‘poker rules’ seeing a 98% rise and ‘poker hands’ seeing a 182% growth.
Interestingly, although players are no longer taking part in face-to-face tournaments, total searches for ‘how to bluff’ also increased by 144% in the first month, implying that players are keen to strengthen their strategy in preparation for when lockdown ends.
GGPoker’s own data shows that interest in online poker is up by 92% as measured by an increase in sessions on their UK site, which has led to a surge of 102% in new users.
Jean-Christophe Antoine, Head of the GGPoker Network, says: “With people looking for ways to pass the time and escape from the current climate, it’s no surprise that popular escapism activities like playing poker online have seen a substantial increase in interest over the past few months.
“We anticipate that poker engagement will continue to grow and we look forward to seeing how the market evolves as a result of old and new players alike continuing to refine, adapt and advance their online skills.”
Canadian poker sites have also seen a significant increase in interest over time among new players, as searches for ‘how to play poker’ have risen by 60%, ‘poker rules’ queries have increased by 21%, and ‘Texas Hold’em’ searches have grown by 42% month-on-month.
A brief history of poker
Poker as we know it has been around for quite some time as it was first developed in the early 1800s. However, there is speculation that the game began long before that, and might be derived from a French game or even a Renaissance game called primero. Whatever its origins, poker still stands apart in that the point of the game is the way the bets are placed, not the card play rules. By this definition, the game does seem to have begun in earnest in 19th Century Mississippi.
In the years that followed, the game evolved, spawning an ever-increasing number of variants that put twists on the game, testing players’ strategy. With the advent of TV and coverage of poker tournaments, the game exploded. However, the game was still relegated to backrooms until 2000 when the internet came along. As technology improved and secure online casino sites could be created, poker suddenly became more popular than ever before. Finally, people could easily access games and test their skills. That this game could also win them some money, was just the icing on the cake..
10 Poker Did you knows
From pistols to theatrics to mega millionaires, Poker has a rich history surrounding it; a world of interesting characters and many tales to tell. The combination of risk and reward, patience and aggression, draws in many aspiring players and makes it the most exciting card game today. Poker has come a long way since its inception in the 19th century. So for a better understanding of the game and its evolution, we’re giving you our top ten most interesting Poker facts.
1. POKER VERSION 1.0 USED A 20-CARD DECK
We play the Poker we know and love today with a 52-card deck, but this was not the way before 1834. Initially, you just dealt four players into the game and they each would get five cards. The players would then start betting on who had the best hand or whose hand was worth the most. This 20-card Poker was a relatively simpler version of the game. Eventually, the whole 52-card deck made its way into the game, creating more variations like 7-card Stud, straight and split Poker.
2. TEXAS HOLD’EM DID ACTUALLY BEGIN IN THE US
New Orleans is not only the birthplace of Jazz, but surprisingly Poker too. There were many variations of Poker over a thousand years, but the five-card game we know today has been around since the early 1800s. Texas Hold’em only started to dominate the scene in the 1970s when the annual WSOP came into play. Ironically, you can’t play Texas Hold’em in Texas because Poker rooms are actually illegal there. However, there is one Indian reservation casino that has exploited a loophole and has an active card room.
3. “THE NUTS” ORIGINATED IN THE WILD WEST
When a player has “the nuts”, we’re not talking about cashews – they have the best hand, but who came up with that anyway? Apparently, in the American West, Poker players would even bet horses and wagons. To make sure they would not make a run for it after losing, players would remove the wheel nuts from the wagon and set them on the table. So it became known as “betting the nuts” and everyone assumed no one would do it without the best possible hand.
4. TOURNAMENTS MADE POKER POPULAR
It wasn’t until the 1970s that Poker saw a huge spike in its popularity. The shift happened when the first tournaments started taking place – and yes, WSOP was one of them. These tournaments turned Poker into a spectator sport and cast a spotlight onto the glamorous high rollers that played for thousands. The second major wave in Poker happened at the turn of the 21st century when the online casinos came into play. Suddenly Poker was more accessible than ever before, both as a fun activity and professional choice.
5. ACES DON’T MEAN AUTOMATIC VICTORY
First off, you’ve only got a 6% chance of being dealt a pocket pair in Texas Hold’em, so players can feel quite confident when they actually get one. Still, many Poker pros like Daniel Negreanu have said that pocket pairs, even Aces, are often just good pre-flop. Interestingly, in all WSOP history, the final winner has never won the World Series of Poker Main Event title with pocket Aces. However, there have been two runner-ups who have held pocket Aces in a final hand and lost.
6. SOME TELLS ARE HARDER TO MASK
Many tells can give away the strength of your opponent’s hand. Online, strong players may use seductive female names to trick opponents into thinking they are fish. Also, trash talk in the chat is usually a sign of weakness. Meanwhile, at live tables, bluffers like to use the classic “staredown” technique to get you to fold. On the other hand, leaning forward or backward indicates a strong hand. Similarly, if your opponent suddenly bolts upright, without being pinched – then, they have the goods.
7. POKER IS NOT JUST A MAN’S GAME
The women of Poker are multiplying and making quite an impact at the tables. The first female to win two gold WSOP bracelets, in mixed events (not ladies only), was Jen Harman. Then Barbara Enright won three and went on to be the first woman celebrated in the Poker Hall of Fame. However, Vanessa Selbst turned heads when she landed on the Poker scene in 2008. With 21 live rankings and over $10 million in earnings, she was the only woman to reach number 1 on the Global Poker Index.
8. THE RECORD AMOUNT OF WSOP TITLES TO BEAT IS FIFTEEN
Phil “Poker Brat” Hellmuth holds the current record of 15 WSOP bracelets from 1988 to 2018. His latest was $485,082 at the $5,000 No Limit Hold’em event. Phil has been playing for over 30 years and is known for his short fuse at the tables, especially after a bad beat. Although he cashed WPT 14 times with almost $1.6 million in winnings, he never won. Five final tables, two third place finishes and a runner-up position at WPT, but a championship title is still on his bucket list.
9. MOVIE STARS MAKE GOOD POKER PLAYERS TOO
Poker attracts celebrities to the scene like Jennifer Tilly, Bride of Chucky. She won a WSOP bracelet in the Ladies event of 2005, cashing $158,625. Tobey Maguire also uses his Spidey Senses to make calls at the Poker tables. Before starring in the famous 1998 movie Rounders, Matt Damon prepared by playing $25,000 in tournaments. He has since played WSOP twice and done well. His besty, Ben Affleck, also proved his worth on the felt by winning the California Poker Championship and $356,400.
10. EVERYONE STANDS A CHANCE OF WINNING
Gone are the days where only high rollers could participate in major Poker events. Tournament fields for WSOP, EPT and the like keep getting bigger each year as players have increasing opportunities to join, like through satellites and freerolls. Players can easily rub shoulders with the top Poker professionals at such events, who won’t have more than a 5% edge against them. They will both be dealt winning and losing hands, but it is their play, which maximises wins and minimises losses. This is the beauty of Poker.
The first time you sit down for a game of Poker it’s easy to be confused by the language barrier. From an Ace in the Hole and playing Blind to someone being a Shark, the terminology can be tricky. But with our guide, you’ll quickly master Poker talk.
CORE POKER TERMINOLOGY
To get started, you need to know how poker works. The dealer will deal three face-up cards, known as the Flop after the first betting round, then deal two face-down cards for each player. Ace in the Hole signifies that one of the latter cards is an ace.
Players are then free to Act – which means any action taken on their turn. Two will have to make a forced bet – a Blind – to start the hand. Then each player takes it in turn to Call – make or raise a bet – or Fold, throw down their cards.
UNDERSTANDING YOUR OPPONENTS’ ACTIONS
It’s important to get to grips with the actions that your poker opponents make and react accordingly. To do this you need to able to spot the Tells, those changes in behaviour that indicate a potential action and the strength of the player’s hand.
Good indicators of a strong hand are players who go All-In by betting all their remaining chips, while a player with a bad hand is Behind. However, be wary of the Bluff, when a player bets on a weak hand and pretends they have a strong one.
POKER GAME TERMINOLOGY
Some poker games require players to place a bet, the Ante, before cards are dealt. While going Back In means a player initially Checks (doesn’t bet) then meets another player’s Call (bet) in the first round. Whatever you decide, always be wary of Sharks or professional poker players.
EXAMPLES OF POKER SITES
ADDITIONAL POKER ACTIONS TO BE AWARE OF
Beyond using Blinds and Bluffs, having an Angle suggests that a player is engaging in a tactic that is widely considered unethical, but just about tolerated. This is often done to misguide or deceive an opponent and is commonly used against players perceived as being inexperienced.
Players can also Add-on before they go bust by buying more chips. While Air is the term used for a player announcing they plan to draw at least one more card – often aimed at an opponent who is about to fold in an attempt to make the call.
POKER RULES AND RESTRICTIONS
There are several rules regarding poker hands. For example, a Dead Hand signifies an illegal hand such as one having the incorrect number of cards. The Limit designates the smallest and largest amounts that can be wagered while a Cap restricts the number of raises allowed per round.
Further restrictions include a Misdeal, where the deal contains some kind of error and must be re-dealt. A Flash occurs when a card is seen by another player so the dealer must show it to all players and place it in the discard pile.
ADDITIONAL POKER TACTICS
Other terms of note include a Bleed, which means a player consistently loses through bad play. Placing a Blocking Bet discourages big bets from an opponent, while a loose-aggressive player, or LAG, plays lots of their starting hands, making small initial bets and raises to and try out-play opponents.
Different types of poker
While there is a large range of poker options online, it’s undoubtedly Texas Hold’em that is the most commonly offered and also the most popular option. In particular, no-limit Texas Hold’em is hugely popular although players need to be aware of their bankrolls if they are settling in to play for any length of time. This game sees players hold just two cards in their hand whilst they try to make the best possible five-card hand using five additional community cards. Other poker variants offer slight differences to this.
These include games such as Caribbean Stud, Omaha, 7 Card Stud, Razz and even Chinese poker. Depending on the casino site, these options will vary. Players should know the specific rules of each variant though before attempting to play, as things can go pear-shaped pretty fast. Each option has differences in how many cards are held on hand, whether or not there are community cards as well as having variations on the way the bets are run. All of these offer a different challenge, enabling players to hone their skills.
Is Bluffing in poker a good idea?
Whilst each specific variant has it’s own rules, here we will focus on some overarching points to think about when playing poker – especially if you are looking to win. One of the most important aspects of poker is being focused on. With this in mind, it is crucial that a player never joins a table in a negative emotional state – drunk, sad or angry. This can severely affect judgement and lead to a poor game – the outcome of which is usually lost money. Focusing on other players is also important.
Despite what many people think, bluffing isn’t the only way to play poker. Top players rarely bluff at all. As a new player, bluffing is usually quite obvious and will make you stand out even more, potentially to your great disadvantage as the tables get turned. Keep an eye on your own hand and don’t be afraid to fold – folding often at the start will make you a better player. Playing within your bankroll is another must, as is learning to walk away when the going gets bad.
Virtual versus Live Poker
As technology has improved, so too has the online gaming platform. What started as simple video poker options and virtual games have now expanded into detailed live casino games. So what’s the difference? With virtual games, punters are simply playing against the computer. This is an ideal way of getting to grips with the rules of the game, how to place bets and to practice strategies, for instance. But it doesn’t really evoke the thrill of the big poker tournaments or bustling casino atmosphere. This is where the live games come into their own.
Live dealer games feature a table set up with a real dealer in a studio. This dealer communicates directly with the players and will deal the cards in real-time. Players can communicate with each other, and the dealer via live chat and the dealer will perform the necessary folds, bets and more. These live dealer games offer players the chance at a much faster-paced, adrenaline-fuelled look into online poker. Be warned; these games are often rapid, so you will need to be well-versed in the rules and on your toes if you plan to score.
Choosing where to play poker
Now that the basic rules are out there, it does come down to where to play. As we have mentioned, there’s a lot of choices when it comes to poker, but it’s also important that players looking for a trusted casino site. There are a number of clear indicators players can look out for to ensure that they are playing poker at a reputable online venue. Firstly, the site should be licensed. Various jurisdictions will do this, and their license will be found at the bottom of the homepage.
Players should also check what the payment options are as these will also indicate if the casino is to be trusted. Sites should also have SSL encryption in place to prevent third parties from getting access to private player data.
Once the security issues are out of the way, it’s a good idea to see if the casino offers any lucrative bonuses. For avid poker players, there is no point in choosing an online casino that does not offer casino bonuses for poker games. Other important questions to ask: Are there any tournaments to join? Are these free to join? Are there Rakeback bonuses so that you can cash in a little even if you lose?
Top 10 Tips for Playing Poker
As we said poker is a tough game to master, but it is possible. Up your game and avoid making basic mistakes by checking our top tips.
- Stick to your bankroll
- Only play poker games you understand
- Use a strategy
- Use bluffing wisely
- Don’t feel pressured to stay in a hand
- Pay attention to the other players
- Know when to fold
- Remember that tilt only hurts you
- Show respect to the dealer and other players
- Only play at licensed casinos
Poker is a fun and strategic game that entices players from all walks of life. Knowing where to play and which game variant are essential things to know before settling in for the long haul. Better yet, find a casino with a decent bonus that can propel the game further ahead in terms of winning. It’s also important to know the rules like the back of your hand if you’re expecting to succeed. Lenny pro tip, let’s not forget, bluffing isn’t the only way forward, and no, that’s not a bluff either.
Lastly before signing up to any casino or bonus always check the wagering requirements.