Where Are the Best Places to Play for Real Money?
Options for playing poker online are numerous, but trying to settle on one can be a daunting challenge. A Google search for the online poker for real money yields over four million results. Among these results are some of the best poker site and some that are not the most ethical.
So how can you decide where to play poker for real money?
The answer starts with this website. We harness the experience of experts in the online poker industry to provide you with an unvarnished look at the pros and cons of the top poker sites to give you a fair and balanced look at where you should spend you hard earned money.
We take into account a number of considerations when evaluating poker sites. These factors include such elements as the overall site quality, the number of players the site draws, the pace of the games, bonuses and incentives offered, methods of deposits, how winnings are dispersed, how knowledgeable and friendly the customer service is and the overall integrity of the poker site. And unlike other sites, our evaluations are not second-hand.
All of our staff gained their expertise through hands on interaction with these sites. Our experts, in most cases, have been playing online poker for real money since poker sites first started making their appearance on the internet two decades ago.
Getting Started with Real Money Poker Sites
For a new player, the process of choosing a poker site start playing can be a tough one. But it is not an impossible task. We breakdown the process we suggest you use when selecting a real money poker site.
First, and we cannot stress this enough, set up a budget for your poker adventure. Stick hard and fast to it. It may seem like a common sense step, but when you are caught in the heat of the moment, the urge to add more money to try and win the next hand is strong. Remember, poker is a game of skill, risk and a bit of luck. Risking the rent money on trying to win back losses is never the way to go.
Next, you should decide how you want to play. There are a number of platforms on which you can play. These include:
- A poker room download for your Mac or PC
- Playing directly on your computer web browser
- Installing an application (app) for your iPhone/iPad, Android or Windows Mobile device
All of these methods have their advantages and drawbacks. For instance, playing on your iPhone can be done anywhere, whereas downloading software limits you to your computer or laptop. And while an iPhone can go wherever you like, the memory may be limited whereas most computers today have upwards of a terabyte (1024 gigabytes) of space to store the software. That’s 64 times the amount of the basic iPhone or Android device.
Because of this we recommend trying out the different options to see what works best for you. We go into more detail on these options on our Real Money Casinos page under The Different Kinds of Real Money Casinos Available Online section.
You may ask yourself “Can I try the different playing options before playing for real money?”
In most cases, the answer is yes.
Most of the more reputable and popular online poker websites have a “free play option”. While real play may work slightly different (for instance, the skill level of the players and the betting will be a bit more liberal since it is fake money) this is a great way to test the waters to see which method works best for you.
Among the factors influencing your decision should be your geography. Some jurisdictions have laws regulating or restricting online gambling. As a result, you may not be blocked from playing on certain websites.
And while you can try to use a VPN to make it look like you are logging in from another country, you will find that are unable to add funds or collect winnings due to your country’s finance laws.
One country where you will run into issues with this is the United States. Only a limited number of online poker sites accept players from the United States. Even if they do accept you, keep in mind it still may not be legal in your city or state, so check the laws where you are as well as the poker site you choose to patronize for any limitations of restriction.
Finally, when getting started find sites that offer great incentives. These can include introductory deposit bonuses, options to play in tournaments, both online and in physical casinos (such as the World Series of Poker) and VIP bonuses. We will discuss these a little later.
Real Money Poker Variations
Now that we’ve made the first steps in choosing the real money poker site that you want to play at, it’s time to decide what game variation(s) you want to play.
Most sites offer a number of poker options. Among the most common are:
- Texas Hold ’em (Limit, No Limit, Pot Limit)
- Seven-Card Stud
- Five-Card Draw
- Five-Card Stud
- Omaha (High and High/Low)
Texas Hold ‘em
In Texas hold ’em, the dealer doles out two cards to each play. These cards are placed face-down in front of the players. The players can look at these cards and the initial betting round begins.
Next, the dealer will place 3 cards in center of the table face-up. This is known as the flop.
After the flop, another round of betting begins. The goal is to get the best hand you can with five of the eventual seven cards that will be dealt.
This is followed by the fourth cards (known as the turn) and the final card, or the river card. There is betting before and after the final card. In each round of betting, you can decide to check, call, raise or fold.
Seven Card Stud
In seven card stud, each player is dealt two cards face down and a third card face up. The betting starts with the player with the lowest ranking card facing up and then proceeds clockwise. Going forward the dealer will deal one card to each player at a time with a betting round to follow.
Betting starts with the best hand showing, then goes clockwise. After the 3rd card, the next 3 cards are dealt face up then the final card face up for a total of 7 cards. After the 5th betting round, a showdown occurs (assuming there are still at least two players left in the game), where each player left in the game chooses the best five cards to make the best hand.
Five Card Draw
Five card draw is probably the most familiar game outside of Texas H\hold ’em. The initial betting starts with the player to the left of the dealer. The dealer then deals all five cards to each player face down, which the player can look at.
This is followed by a round of betting. Next, players are then given the option of discarding and requesting new cards. Another round of betting then occurs. Then a second round of betting, then the showdown. The player with the best hand wins the pot.
Five Card Stud
Five card stud is another popular poker variant. In this game one card is dealt face down and the other four are face up. Betting starts after the second card is dealt. The player with the lowest card starts the betting. Betting subsequently occurs after the third, fourth and fifth cards with the starting bet in each round coming from the player with the best hand showing. The winner is the person with the best hand after the fifth card.
Omaha (High and High/Low)
For the more adventurous players, Omaha is popular. Several variants are offered at different real money poker sites, the most popular of which are Omaha high and Omaha high/low
Because Omaha is a hold ’em game, there is a community set of cards with which the players will need to develop their hand with. Players are dealt four cards face down and five community cards. The player must use only two of the face down cards he is dealt along with three of the community cards as part of his hand.
In Omaha High, it works more like Texas hold ’em but the player must make the best hand from his 2 down cards and three community cards. In high/low version the pot is split between the best high hand and the best low hand.
Real Money Poker Site Bonuses and Promotions
Most real money poker sites offer a variety of bonuses and promotions to entice you to play with them. The most common of these bonuses include the following:
- First Deposit Bonus
- VIP Club
First deposit bonus
When you make you first deposit with the poker site, they will add money to your account. In these types of bonuses, a site may match you dollar for dollar (or more) for your deposit up to a certain amount. For example, a site offering a 150% bonus on your deposit would give you $150 for every $100 you deposit.
VIP Clubs can vary greatly in their offerings. These clubs are designed as a way of rewarding frequent players and high rollers. These clubs can include perks such as deposit bonuses, cash back offers, site merchandise and more.
Tournament promotions usually have a high dollar pay off for a one-time fee. For example, one can play in a $50,000 for $50. These tournaments provide the same amount of chips to each player and you keep playing until there is only one player left. You will have to actually play several games at several tables to win big jackpots as several hundreds or thousands can be competing again you for the grand prize.
Always read the terms and conditions of any bonus or promotion you take advantage of. Most of these have requirements or limitations that you need to be aware of. These can include a minimum amount of times played or specific requirements to withdraw deposits. If the terms are not to your liking, you can always decline the offer and simply play with money you deposit without any restrictions as to withdrawals.
Real money poker sites can be fun and rewarding. But there are a lot of decisions to make before playing that first hand. The expertise that is available here will provide you with a wealth of knowledge to make the right decisions on where to play.
Next, decide how you want to play. Originally, most players could either choose the software download or the web browser method of playing, but as technology advances, mobile device options are becoming more available (but are still limited compared to computer play due to memory and data accessibility limitations) and will continue to increase as mobile devices are installed with more memory and data advances such as 5G technology becomes available.
An important point to remember is that in order to be successful at real money poker, you must learn the games. We mentioned several variants that are offered by most poker sites, but there are many more. Learning the rules as well as learning the nuances of the game will help you enjoy the game much more (and be less costly) than if you just try to jump in and figure it out as you go along. As we stated previously, most of these sites offer free play options. Learn the games in these rooms. Your wallet will thank you.
Remember to get value for your money. Look for bonuses, promotions, and when you are ready, tournaments. As well as any other offers these sites offer. Just read the fine print as you don’t want to be penalized for not following their rules.
And finally, remember: online gambling isn’t legal everywhere.
Some sites will block an entire country from playing due to restrictions imposed by law or financial intuitions of the region you live in.