The Beginners Guide to Playing and Winning at Online Poker
You’ve seen the high rollers on televised poker tournaments winning big and rolling large. Unlike slots or roulette, poker is a game of pure skill. Sitting down at the real money tables without having a basic understanding, at minimum, of the game is not advisable. You simply cannot win without learning how to play. That’s what we’re going to help you with. The rules, strategies and know-how of poker can become very in-depth. For the sake of this article, we’re going to simplify the basics of playing online poker. Once you’ve finished you can test your newfound knowledge at any of our recommended online casinos’ poker games.
Who is this online poker guide for?
- South Africans interested in poker, but have no idea where to begin
- Players who have not yet made a deposit at an online poker room
- Poker enthusiasts who have a basic skill set, but don’t know where to play
What is poker?
In a nutshell, poker is the name for a multitude of card game variations in which a player's hand is ranked by the cards they hold or that are shared by other players. Each poker game variant differs in rules, number of cards dealt, hand rankings and rounds of betting available. The winner in a hand of poker is the person who holds the best ranking when all hands on the table are displayed
Large poker rooms tend to have more inexperienced players and are easier to win at.
How to play online poker
You can play poker online for real cash or play money. Due to the variations in online casinos’ poker games, it is advisable to understand the specific rules of each type. The following is a general layout of the basic rules of poker.
Once the cards are dealt, moving in a clockwise fashion around the table, players like yourself, will be asked to make one of the following actions.
Check- You can only check when there is no bet on the current round. By checking, you pass the play to the next person. If all players check, the round is complete.
Bet – You may bet if no one else has made a bet during the round.
Fold – If you cannot win or act upon a current hand during the round, you fold.
Call – You may call on another player who has made a bet during the round. However, you must call on the player to match the highest bet made.
Raise – You may raise if other players have bet. This will require you to not only match the highest bet, but also make a subsequent bet.
Visible and in-hand “hidden” cards may also be dealt once a round has come to an end. This allows all players to receive new cards and further their chance of winning real money.
Once all bets or raises are called during the final round, a showdown happens. All players still in the game must display their hands. The player with the best hand wins the money. If multiple players win, they will share the pot.
Played with a 52-card deck, poker hands are pretty straightforward. An example of each hand follows the description.
- Joker- May be used when playing ‘Draw’ games. Not used when playing Texas Hold 'em or Stud.
- Cards are ranked with the ace being the highest, followed by the king, queen, jack, ten, nine, etc., all the way to the two or the deuce. Some poker games allow the ace to play below the two, essentially as a “one”.
- Straight flush - Five cards of the same suit in sequence; ex. 87654. The AKQJT is known as a royal flush and outranks a straight flush.
- Four of a kind – Four cards of the same rank followed by a kicker; ex. 77772. Make note, the numeric values of the card do matter in ranking. For example, 77772 would outrank 33337.
- Full house – Three cards of one rank with two of another; ex. 888QQ. Again 88844 would beat 77755. However, 777AA would beat 777KK.
- Flush- Five cards of the same suit. The highest card determines the rank; ex. AJ842 of hearts.
- Straight – Any five consecutive cards of different suits. Aces can count as a low or high card; ex. 5432A
- Three of a kind – Any 3 cards of the same rank; ex. 8882J
- Two pair - Two cards of the same rank with another set of two cards of the same rank; ex. 44QQ5
- One pair - Any two cards of the same rank; ex; JJ285
- High card – Any hand apart from the above poker hands; ex. AJ852
Avoid repeat mode with different poker variations
When it comes to playing at casinos’ online poker games, you have a lot of selection to choose from. Texas Hold’em, Omaha Hi, Omaha Hi Lo, Razz, Stud Hi, Stud Hi Lo, 5-Card Stud and Draw Poker are just a few of the SA poker variations. Rest assured, you can have a go at any one of these free or real money poker games by following any one of our gambling room recommendations.
Best bets to win poker
Determining what to bet can become more detailed than what we have listed here, but to start your online poker playing, try this basic principal. The size of your bet should be relative to the size of the pot. This means when you make a real money bet, you consider how big or small the pot is.
Now you’re probably wondering how much you should bet. Apart from the fact that it should coincide with how much you can afford to play with, there is another poker betting rule to follow. Known as ‘The 75/100 Rule’. This means your bets should be between 75% and 100% of the size of the pot. By following these simple poker rules, you will put players in a position where they will fold on a draw. At the same time, you will not be risking too much should other players have a better hand.
Be careful to stick with low blind tables until you’re winning consistently or you’ll blow through your bankroll quickly.
If the percentage rule is a little too complicated for you, aim for the sweet spot. Do not bet too little and do not bet too much.
A short beginner’s guide to poker strategy
When you play at an online casino, South Africa poker games will include an element of luck. But, realistically, online poker is a game of strategy. Without having a skill set, you risk running into some issues, which can be costly. The following basic principals will help you develop your own strategy to playing poker and have you winning real cash in no time.
Play tight – In other words, play the cards that have the best statistical probability of winning the hand.
Play your position – The first to act should never raise without a great hand to back it up. The last to act has the upper advantage as they know where all players potentially stand. If you’re in the forefront positions, act passively, if you’re trailing behind, a little game “aggression” is okay.
Learn to analyze – Analysing your opponents is different online from that of land based casinos. Pay attention to how tight or loose hands are played. Are they playing aggressively or passively? Watch for patterns and eventually you will be able to predict the outcome of a player’s hand.
Take notes and study – You can’t “un-improve” your skill. You can only make it better. During your online casino poker game play, take notes about playing styles, different hands or your own outcomes.
Follow a bankroll – This is absolutely crucial to being a successful South African poker player. Choose stakes within your budget and if you notice you’re starting to chase your losses, take a break and recuperate.
We bring you the best poker sites for South Africans
We have searched far and wide and bring you the best internet gambling sites for South Africa poker players. Not only can you choose from an immense selection of action packed poker games, you can have your pick from low or high stakes tables as well as, those which are suited to beginners and those for the pros.
Our recommended online poker rooms are the best you can find on the web. They welcome SA players and accept deposits in Rand. Add in the top-notch security, 24-7 support and impressive graphics and you are in for a wild ride of poker entertainment. So get off the rails and join the action.
How does online poker work?
Online poker works by dealing out electronic cards to one or more players and putting them against each other or the dealer with standard poker rules.
Where can I find the best games?
The best games are available at leading poker rooms. These are the locations with large player bases that offer the most popular poker variations.
What variations are popular?
Texas Hold’em and Omaha are two of the most popular poker variations played online today. Draw and Stud are two other variations that are often found at online poker rooms around the world.
How many players to a game?
The number of players to a game depends on the game being played, but usually between 2 and eight players will participate in a game.
How does it compare to live casino poker?
Online poker is a bit less personal than live casino poker because you aren’t face to face with other players or a dealer. That being said, online poker is more fast-paced and provides more opportunities to bet and to play the game.
Is it popular in South Africa?
Poker is quite popular in South Africa, but it is played offline more than it is on the Internet.
How much is it possible to win?
It’s possible to win more than R100,000 in a single hand when playing at a high stakes poker table online. Players bets are often limited to R1,500, but many bets are made during a single hand leading to large amounts over time.
Is it fixed?
Reputable online poker is not fixed at all and the player hands are determined randomly. Casinos don’t need to fix poker hands because they receive a rake for every hand played anyway.