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If you’re new to poker, it may seem like a complicated game at first. However, once you understand the basics, you will soon find it’s a thrilling and fascinating card game.

Historians believe modern-day poker is based on the ancient Chinese game, domino cards, invented in the tenth century by Emperor Mu-Tsung as a New Year’s Eve game of chance. Over the years, the game evolved through many other civilisations. It was the Spanish, in the 17th century, who first played what we recognise as modern-day poker, with their game, primero. This involved three cards being dealt to players, who could “bluff” if they held a poor hand.

As bluffing is an integral part of poker, it is widely believed its origins in its current form came from primero. French gamblers soon began playing primero and it became France’s national card game. Over time, it became popular throughout the world, eventually reaching the USA.

Gentlemen, cowboys and soldiers played poker in the 19th century. It was documented as being played by Confederate and Union troops during the American Civil War. It was the American casinos which developed the game of poker into its current form. Today, online live poker is as popular as games played in bricks-and-mortar casinos. Millions of people across the world enjoy playing from the comfort of their own home on their computer, or from virtually any location on a mobile device.

In order to begin playing live online poker, as a beginner, you will need to familiarise yourself with how to play this gripping card game. Read on for a brief guide on how it works.

Terminology used in poker

There are a number of words used in poker which may be alien to you as a beginner. The word “ante” refers to the first amount of money that you wager in a poker game. Each player must put up an ante to be dealt into the game. It’s not usually a massive wager to start off with.

Once you start playing, you can “call” to wager the same amount of money as another player. As soon as the other player bets, you “call” to put up the same amount and go on to the next round. You can “raise” when you think you have a fantastic hand. If another player bets an amount and you think you can beat him or her, when you “raise” it means you match their amount and then bet some more on top of that.

If you don’t have a great hand, you can “bluff” by betting a larger amount, to make other players think you have a good hand and influence the way they play. Some players work this the opposite way when they have a very good hand, to try and convince players that they don’t. It’s great when it works, but can be a risky strategy, of course.

If your game is subject to “capped betting”, this will mean you can’t wager any more at a certain point. This can occur after four raises, or if the casino’s limit is met. In the worst case scenario, if it’s going badly, you can “fold”. This means you’re getting out of the game to save any further losses. You can do this at any point during a game.

Winning hands in poker

When playing live poker, it’s important to know if you have a winning hand. These are the winning combinations of cards, from the lowest value hand to the highest.

  • The lowest winning hand is a pair, such as having a pair of fives, or two aces, for example; next is a two pair, which is when you have two different pairs in your hand, such as a pair of fours and also a pair of sevens; three of a kind is when you have three like cards, such as three sixes, or three nines; a straight is when your cards are in numerical order, such as three, four, five, six and seven. An ace can be played as high or low.
  • You have a flush if all your cards are the same suit, such as all hearts; it’s a full house if you have any three cards that have the same face value or number, plus any two other cards of the same face value or number, such as three eights and two fives; you have four of a kind when you have four cards the same, such as four eights, or four aces. The latter would be an ideal combination!
  • It’s a straight flush if you have all cards of the same kind in numerical order; for example, if you have all clubs and their numerical value is seven, eight, nine, ten and the jack; a royal flush is the most difficult hand to get in poker and consists of an ace, king, queen, jack and ten of the same suit.
  • In a game where no player had a winning hand, the player who had the highest card would win. If two players had the same winning hand, then the player with the highest card would win, except when the hand was a full house. In this case, the winner would be the player who had the highest value of their tripled cards.

Playing online live poker

In recent years, live online poker sites have become extremely popular. Many players don’t relish the thought of going out to a crowded casino and perhaps having to queue for a table. Perhaps you’re feeling like relaxing on your settee with a glass of wine, playing a poker game in the comfort of your own home. Maybe you’re on a train journey or sitting in a bar waiting for someone and feel like having a quick game.

It’s a very simple process to go online and play poker for money. If you want to play online live poker, UK casinos on the whole have a relatively simple sign-up process that can be completed very quickly, giving you access to the tables right away.

Before you sign up for the first time, check out more than one casino online to see which one appeals to you most. Make sure you read the terms and conditions, where you will find out important information such as payment methods, how to receive your winnings and the house rules. Check whether there are any sign-up bonuses or reloads, when you’re paid another free bonus, under certain conditions.

Depositing money into your account and withdrawing winnings

Don’t feel overwhelmed at the prospect of signing up for an online poker site. It really is easy. One of the main queries from new players is how to upload money to play games and how to withdraw money should they win. If you’re playing live poker, UK online casinos normally have several options when it comes to depositing money into your account. Similarly, there are various methods of cashing out your winnings.

You will be able to deposit money into your online account by a credit or debit card, or via a bank transfer. Some casinos have facilities called ewallets. A player who is wary about divulging financial details online to a casino site can set up an account on an ewallet site and make payments to the casino using this. It’s aimed at providing greater security for customers’ financial details. Online live poker sites will normally allow you to pay with pre-paid credit cards, MasterCard and Amex.

Withdrawing funds is pretty simple too. When you win, the money is credited back to your online account with the casino automatically. Then, you usually have various options. You can either send money back to your registered payment method, whether it’s a Visa card or your bank account. This can normally take two to five working days, depending on your own financial service provider’s processing times. Alternatively, most online casinos allow you to make a withdrawal within the day if it’s to an ewallet or your PayPal account.

Assess the value of online live poker rewards

Many customers agree that the rewards you receive for playing live poker online surpass those received if you play in bricks-and-mortar casinos. There are several reasons for this. One is that poker rooms in real casinos historically haven’t made a massive amount of money for the casino. As a result, the rewards have tended to be lower than for some other casino games.

If you’re playing live poker online, the casino usually tailors rewards specifically for its customers and also offers many promotions that real casinos can’t due to the logistics of organising them. When you first check out an online live poker site, take a look at its rewards and evaluate its promotions.

Some sites will offer a first deposit bonus, where you’re given free money for signing up and making a deposit. Some offer reload bonuses, so that every time you make a deposit, the casino will give you another cash reward. Some online live poker sites run a VIP programme, which is an ongoing rewards system rewarding customers’ loyalty. The more you play, the more they pay. Others offer a “send a friend” reward, so that if you have friends who play poker too, get them to join and make a deposit and you will receive a cash bonus.

Basic security when playing online live poker

As with any other activity, when online and playing with real money, always take care of your account’s security. Unlike in a physical casino, where you’re likely to be keeping an eye on your poker stack, or putting money on the table, there’s no chance of someone physically stealing from you. However, always remember to take care of your virtual poker account too.

When you play, make sure it’s a secure connection. If you’re playing on a public connection, or an unsecured one, your activity may be visible to other people. In addition, try to keep your bank details separate from your poker finances. For example, you could use separate accounts and cards solely for your online poker playing.

All online live poker sites have security measures in place when you’re playing for real money. If you have any concerns or questions, simply ask. The response will give you an inkling of how good their customer security is. Their attention to smaller concerns will give you an idea of how competent they would be if dealing with larger issues.

Types of live poker online

If you check out live poker sites, you will see there are several different types of poker available. One of the most popular is Texas hold’em, made famous by televised poker, such as the European Poker Tour and the Poker Stars Caribbean Adventure. If you’re playing live poker online, it will be a real croupier, dealing in real time, which adds to the excitement and that “real casino” atmosphere.

In hold’em poker, the croupier deals each player two private cards. These are known as “hole cards”. Then, the croupier deals five community cards face-up. These form the “board”. Every player can use these shared community cards, in addition to their individual hole cards, to achieve the best five-card poker hand possible. When playing Texas hold’em, the player can use any combination of these seven cards.

You may notice there are some betting limits when playing that will be clearly defined on the casino site. These are specific to hold’em poker and may include: limit Texas hold’em, when the wager limit is pre-determined for each betting round; no limit Texas hold’em, enabling players to wager any amount, even all of their chips if required; pot limit Texas hold’em, when a player is permitted to bet any amount, up to the pot’s size; and mixed Texas hold’em, when the game will alternate between no limit Texas hold’em and limit Texas hold’em.

Always be a responsible gambler

As with all online casino games, always gamble responsibly when playing live poker. Set yourself a spending limit and once you have deposited it, don’t be tempted to spend more. Similarly, set yourself a limit of what you can afford to lose and never be tempted to spend more money in a bid to win back your losses. Simply leave the table and return another time if you’re losing. Similarly, if you have a big win, bank some of it so you don’t get carried away thinking you’re on a winning streak and spend it all again.

If you’re ready to try your hand at online live poker, click on one of the links above and welcome to the exciting world of online play!