Online poker

It’s never been easier to play poker online and there’s rarely been such a wealth of sites to choose from as there is now. Every poker operator worth playing with has an app for phones or tablets too so if you are away from your desk or your laptop you’ll still have no problems playing, especially with 4G mobile coverage so prevalent and 5G on the way.

Each poker site has its own strengths and weaknesses, some are standalone, e.g. entirely independent while others are part of networks where a number of gaming companies have pooled their player base in order to offer the biggest prizes and the widest variety of games. For most that will be plain old no limit Texas Hold’em but as players become experienced they often look to games such as Omaha for a more complex and rewarding challenge. Where you play will depend on a number of factors, the most important of which will be looked at in more detail below.

Game selection

Each site you look at will have its own mix of cash games, sit-and-go tournaments (S&G) and multi-table tournaments (MTT). If you’re a cash game player you’ll be looking at what stakes are offered, are the buy-ins high enough or low enough to suit you? Would you rather play against 5 opponents or more, or perhaps heads up one-on-one? Do they offer Omaha maybe, or 7 Card-Stud? Is there a speed poker option?

The same will apply to S&G players too along with the option of Jackpot tournaments. Some like them, some don’t but the rewards for winning them can often be huge so if you’re a fan you will want a site that offers them and that also offers the biggest prizes.

For MTT players the above also applies but you’re going to want to how big the guaranteed prize pools are and how often they run. You’ll also want to check out whether they offer rebuys or freezeouts, deepstacks or turbos or even qualification tournaments to live events such as the World Series of Poker.

Software

The beauty of playing online is that you can come and go as you please, play one hand or hundreds of hands and this can take place at any time of the day or night. Online software doesn’t have the restrictions of ‘bricks and mortar’ poker so there is a lot of freedom with regard to what can be offered. One crucial advantage is the speed of the game, the deal is instant, you can act instantly even if it’s not your turn and you don’t need to count pots or your stack or trek back and forth to the cashier.

The look of the poker tables can also be completely divorced form a physical table, there are fun avatars, animations and any number of other graphical and gameplay customisation options whether you’re playing seriously or just for fun. A site with good software will run smoothly and quickly on your device, will have clear and easy to use banking options and will crisp graphics and fast, intuitive gameplay. You want to be free to get your poker fix without distractions.

Activity

Of course a poker site can have a great mix of games and stake options, it can look beautiful and offer the smoothest gameplay of them all, but without you and everyone else – the players – they would be nothing. Unlike casino and sports betting which are played against the house the game of poker requires human opposition. If it’s going to be worth investing your time and money you’ll want to know that at the times that suit you there will be enough people online to give you a game. Different operators are based in different locations and can attract players from all over the world so a site that works for you will need to have its peak times in line with your free time.

One way that a site can attract and keep a big player base, and ultimately attract and keep you is with their bonuses. These can be through welcome offers initially and continue through to free tickets and competitions. One of the most popular themes in online poker right now involves completing challenges, similar in a way to how many mobile games reward players. The more you play the more you’ll get but achievable challenges are available for everyone, sometimes for simply logging in on a daily basis!

With all of the above in mind there will normally be a number of poker sites that suit your needs so it shouldn’t be too hard to find a natural fit. They will almost always have a free play section where you can test the software and have a look around before you make a deposit, should you decide to.