The landscape of online poker has changed many times since it first began, and we’ve watched the evolution of the game unfold in a relatively short space of time. What started as a fairly simple concept has had to adapt to keep things interesting, resulting in the introduction of features such as anonymous players, jackpot sit and go’s and fast fold games that eliminates waiting around for your next hand. We’ve even seen poker with webcams, although that didn’t really catch on.
What’s also been interesting is that online poker has had the opposite affect on live poker games than online bingo had on high street bingo, actually introducing more players into real world casinos to play, rather than sending offline players online. This influx was due to a new breed of players clearly eager to test out their online skills in a face-to-face setting.
But we digress. This section of the site is dedicated to poker, starting with a list of the best poker sites which you can find below. Like we’ve done in our other sections we’ve hand picked a series of recommended poker sites. For a bigger list, see our poker bonuses page.
Best Poker Sites For 2021
Features to Watch Out For
Bad Beat Jackpots
For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, a Bad Beat Jackpot is paid out when a player loses whilst holding a hand of four of a kind (10’s) or better. Both of the players hole cards must be used, so if there are 4 aces on the board and it comes down to the kicker in the players hand, then it isn’t going to pay out.
But it isn’t only the person with the losing hand that gets their hands on the jackpot, although they do take the lions share. The player holding the winning hand, as well as every player dealt into the qualifying hand, also get a portion of the jackpot. In fact with a jackpot as high as it currently is, every player dealt into the hand would receive at least €15k.
Poker With Webcams
If you’re an online poker player, you may start having to practice your “poker face”. A new breed of poker tables use web cams and video streaming to bring players literally into your homes.
The idea of using web cams for online poker isn’t a new one – Doyle Brunson discussed the idea in his book “Super System”, but for the first time this idea has become a reality at 888 poker. Using PokerCam, players aliases are joined by a video stream from their web cam – you can see a video of it in action below:
But this raises a number of questions – do you have to have a web cam to play? And what happens if your web cam is disconnected mid way through a game, either accidentally or intentionally?
We asked 888poker these questions and here are the (paraphrased) answers we got:
Q. Do you have to have a web cam to play on a PokerCam table?
Q. What happens if a players webcam is disconnected mid-hand?
A. The player is allowed to finish the hand, but cannot start a new hand until their web cam is turned back on.
This raises the small possibility of a player shutting down their web cam mid-hand to avoid showing any tells. However the act of shutting off their webcam may be more telling than the physical tells that they are trying to avoid showing.
It’s still early days for the technology so it will be interesting to see the players reaction, although my suspicions are that PokerCam tables will be used more by groups of friends who want the social interaction with each other rather than ‘regular’ groups of players who don’t know each other.
How Does Online Poker Work?
In the world of online gambling, perhaps nothing has encouraged its fans to get involved as much as online poker. The sites that run poker rooms see real people go up against one another in order to win money, whilst the cards are dealt courtesy of Random Number Generators. In essence, it’s that simple. There are countless different twists and turns added to the process, though, including which type of poker you want to play and the various games available.
Obviously the first thing that you’ll want to choose is which type of poker you want to play in an online capacity. There’s little question that Texas Hold’em is the most popular, but even within that you can choose limit or no limit Hold’em. The difference there is whether there is a restriction to how much money you’re allowed to bet, with no limit Hold’em often seeing big money bet by the participants in the poker room.
Omaha is another popular poker type in the online rooms, with stud poker and pineapple being rarer variations. The rule of thumb that should be used when heading to play poker online is that if you don’t know the game then don’t play and certainly don’t play it for big money. There are plenty of people who play nothing but Omaha poker, for example, and they’d like nothing more than to take money from you as often as possible.
Most of the poker rooms are networked together, meaning that you can be on one site playing in a room against someone who is on an entirely different site. It doesn’t make a difference to how the games are played and you obviously don’t get an advantage from being on one site over another, but it’s just worth knowing. It’s also important to know that there are some really big standalone poker rooms, so not all of them are on a network.
The cards that are dealt in online poker games are created thanks to a Random Number Generator, which is the same system that is used for the likes of slot machines and computerised versions of popular casino games. It’s an entirely safe and controlled way of playing online games, but it’s handy to have a concept of how it works. Whilst not 100% random, the algorithm used ensures that it’s impossible to predict which cards will be dealt.
Arguably the key thing that users need to know about online poker is that other people cannot see your cards. It might sound simple, but when playing a game that involves bluffing and trying to out-think opponents, being sure that they can’t see what cards you’re playing with is crucial. That doesn’t mean that some people won’t call you on a hand despite not having much themselves, of course, but at least you know they’re doing so fairly.
There are a number of different game types that you can play in online poker, with each offering a different experience. Unless otherwise stated on the website you’re playing on, they’ll all be for money, with how that money is spent being the key difference. Here’s a look at each of them in more detail:
Cash games are the ones that you’ll find most often in online poker and are the easiest to get involved in. The name gives away the important detail, in that they are games of poker that are played for cash. You’ll need to add some stake money to your account, which will then be exchanged for the corresponding amount of poker chips. It’s obviously a similar experience to betting in a casino, where you use chips instead of cash.
The main reason that this sort of game differs from the others on the list is that the games have no pre-determined end time. Instead, as long as there are players willing to sit down and bet then the game will keep going. You can come and go as you see fit, though it’s not the done thing to remove part of your winnings. That is to say, someone who has £300 of winnings couldn’t remove £100 but instead would need to forfeit their place at the table.
There are both limit and no limit cash rooms, which is an important distinction. Sometimes an online casino will add a maximum buy-in for no limit rooms, but that doesn’t happen in limit rooms because the limit on stakes will ensure that there is already a limit in place regarding how much can be wagered on each hand. Regardless, it makes sense to have an amount of money in your head that you’re willing to lose and not going past that.
As the name suggests, a multi-table tournament is one in which numerous different players participate and are placed on different tables. As the tournament progresses and players get knocked out, the number of tables gets smaller. This sort of tournament is often referred to as an MTT online, but the fact that it’s an acronym doesn’t change how it works. Gradually the tables are removed until there’s only one table and associated players left.
Let’s imagine, for a second, that you have decided to take part in a tournament that boasts a £100 buy-in and a guaranteed prize pool of £10,000. One hundred and ninety-nine other poker players also sign up for the tournament, meaning that there are two hundred players sat on twenty tables with ten players on each table. The £100 you spent to buy-in to the tournament will be replaced with a number of chips and the tournament gets underway.
Most of the time, if you run out of chips then you’ll be eliminated from the tournament. Sometimes there will be a rule to say that people can buy back in, but it’s not common. The blinds for the tournament will gradually increase, forcing players out when they lost their money and gradually shifting to the final table of ten players. They will then play against each other to win the multi-table tournament and the prize of at least £10,000.
Sit ’n’ Go
Sit ’n’ Go games are essentially mini tournaments that get underway as soon as there are enough players for them to do so. Typically they require between six and ten players and they last between twenty minutes and an hour. Every player pays the same buy-in amount and receives the same number of chips as each other in exchange, being knocked out of the tournament once those chips have all been won by other players.
The prize money for Sit ’n’ Go tournaments is typically made up of the buy-in money minus any rake that the online poker room operator has removed for themselves. It is usually split between the last two to three players standing. You can play pretty much any type of poker in a Sit ’n’ Go format, so once again you’ll want to make sure that you understand the game you’re playing before sitting down in a tournament.
Fast Fold / Quick Poker
Introduced on Full-Tilt Poker back in 2010, Fast Fold Poker, also sometimes called Quick Poker, this variant of poker is one for people who want their poker experience to be one that is fast and frenetic. In short, you sit at a poker table and the second you choose to fold your hand you’re transported to another table where a brand new hand will be waiting for you. It saves you having to wait for the other players on the table to conclude the hand before you can play on.
On the plus side, it allows people to ditch rubbish hands that they don’t want to play with and get a different hand, which may be better, straight away. It also allows people to play more hands in less time, which is ideal if you only have a limited window in which to play poker. It was aimed at reducing the need to be on multiple tables at the same time for people that want to be constantly involved in a hand.
The obvious downside to this way of playing is that it removes the ability to get a read on the other people that you’re sat on a table with. Just as you’re starting to figure someone out you might fold a hand you’ve been dealt and find yourself on a totally different table with completely different people. Obviously if you’re not the sort of person who tries to ‘figure out’ other players and you just play the cards in front of you, if won’t make a difference.
What Are the Major Poker Networks?
Online poker isn’t run by just one company that has control over the game in all senses. Instead, there are a number of different poker networks that control several sites each. This allows them to pool the stakes and buy-ins in order to provide large pots and prizes, which is obviously one of the key things that attracts players. The rake, the number of players in each tournament, the limits and the promotions on offer are the sorts of things that differ between networks.
Here’s a quick look at some of the biggest poker networks that are out there, giving you an indication of the sort of thing that you can expect to experience if you sign up to play on one of their sites:
Party Poker / Bwin Network
Party Poker and Bwin’s poker network has been built up over a number of years, meaning that it’s one of the best-known and most reliably around. As such, they know what works and what doesn’t, though you’re unlikely to find what doesn’t work on any of their sites. Everything from no limit Texas Hold’em tournaments to Sit ’n’ Go games are on offer here, as are micro limit games that reduce the amount of money it’s possible to lose.
888 Poker Network
888 Poker was founded around two decades ago, working hard to become one of the most respected networks online. That is displayed in the millions of registered users, to say nothing of a number of EGR Best Poker Operator awards. The network is primarily aimed at casual players rather than poker experts, which is part of its appeal. That, combined with the excellent user experience, is what makes it so popular with poker players.
Cash game lovers will want to head to a site on the iPoker Network, given that they’re on of the specialties on offer here. That’s not to say that you can’t play other varieties, such as multi-table tournaments. The fact that you can use programmes such as PokerTracker on iPoker Network sites makes it popular, whilst it is responsible for the poker offerings of many different nordic-based betting sites such as betsson.
Extremely popular with players in the United States of America, Chico Network offers cash games and Sit ’n’ Go ones more regularly than anything else. Tables often open sporadically, so it’s a network that you’ll have to want to head to rather than just stumble across. That being said, if you’re from the US or just like playing poker against Americans for some other reason then it’s definitely one that’s worth heading to.
Winning Poker Network
WPN is the acronym that many will know the Winning Poker Network by, which launched in 2001. It has evolved since it first came to the market and is now one of the most popular around, with Texas Hold’em being the poker game of choice for most sites on the network. Thanks to monthly promotions and regular cash games, the Winning Poker Network is one that welcomes people from around the world and accepts cryptocurrency for payment.
Good Game Poker Network
Known to most as the GG Poker Network, it is one of the fastest growing in the industry and is popular with European players. Modern software makes it a pleasure to play on a site on this network. It’s also a network that less experienced players are likely to use, thanks in no small part to the fact that additional poker programmes are not allowed here. That certainly makes the tournaments and cash games more interesting.
Qualification For Live Tournaments
One of the main appeals of online poker is the chance to make it big. We’re not just talking about winning plenty of money by beating other players that you’re pitched against, but rather qualifying for a real-life tournament thanks to your exploits online. Whilst some of the biggest tournaments around offer places to players who have won an online game, it’s also possible to make it into smaller local tournaments via the same method.
Often referred to as ‘satellite competitions’, poker tournaments online have been known to see players make their way onto the likes of the World Poker Tour, the European Poker Tour and even the World Series Of Poker. Not everyone either wants or needs to think that big, of course, so if you want to keep things simple with a local tournament then you can keep your eye out for the sites that promise the chance to do just that.
It’s not uncommon for tour sponsors to be the ones that are responsible for the ability to qualify for the tours. They’ll buy up big rooms and launch competitions to attract poker players, with a place at the table on offer for the winner. Equally, poker sites that want to attract new customers will also do the same thing, having made an arrangement with the tour operators. It’s a fascinating cottage industry within the world of online poker.
There are a decent amount of big poker tours that operate around the world, aside from just the best-known ones. Yes, it would be a joy to appear on the World Poker Tour or the World Series Of Poker, but they’re not the only ones that you have the ability to sign up to. Here’s a look at the biggest tours around, including information such as who sponsors them and where the run, if that information is applicable:
|Tour||Where Does It Go?||When Does It Run?||Sponsor|
|European Poker Tour||All over Europe||From March to December||PokerStars|
|World Poker Tour||Global||All year round||Various|
|World Series Of Poker||Global||Summertime, Often May to July||Various|
|PokerNews Cup||Eastern Europe||May||PokerNews|
|888Live||Europe||March to December||888|
|World Series Of Poker Circuit||Global||All Year Round||Various|
|Unibet Open||Europe||January to November||Unibet|
|Asian Poker Tour||Asia||All Year Round||Various|
|Kings Of Tallinn||Estonia||February||OlyBets|