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It's social online poker. Play with your friends, not random Internet donkeys!
* We're working on expanding our game lineup!
Customized game rules
Cash games and tournaments
Why play against random people you don't know? Bring your home poker game online!
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Play with friends—you can even voice chat with them!
This ain't your run-of-the-mill online poker game. Spice things up with..
Raise the stakes with a straddle
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Bluff Avenue is free! We're U.S-based so we couldn't legally take your money even if we wanted to! :) *
* Congressman Barney Frank and the Poker Players Alliance are fighting to change that though.
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Playing poker against your friends is easy in 2018. There are many reputable poker sites that will cater to virtual home games, where you can invite friends to join you at the table. You can also face off in a series of heads up matches for real money or fake chips.
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There are all kinds of nifty guides and tutorials out there in cyberspace that tell the average gambler where he can play for massive pots against stubborn competition, but very rarely do you come across a simple explanation of where the average person can go play a few rounds of poker just for the heck of it. Even though it is my personal opinion that adding real money to the equation makes games like Texas Holdem and Omaha more exciting, it’s long overdue for the net to have a comprehensive guide to all forms of online poker. For better or for worse, we will show you how to play poker against you friends in 2018.
Below you’ll find a brief history of how online poker has evolved in today’s society plus the gaming destinations that seem to draw the most attention from the average fan. Please note that we are not affiliated with any of the free-play websites listed in this article, so do not get mad at us if any of the information turns out to be inaccurate. As of 7/2011, all information is current and we will try our best to keep this list updated throughout the years. Likewise, if we happened to miss one of your favorite poker sites, shoot us an email and we will get it worked in with the next update.
Online Poker- The Basics
The popularity of online poker can be traced all the way back to the late eighties. It started pretty much as you’d suspect; a couple of smart computer fellas said, “Hey, let’s set up a port between our computers where we can play a few hands of poker over the telephone.” Back then it really wasn’t even called the Internet quite yet because you didn’t have fancy webpages with high-end graphics; it was actually just letters and numbers appearing on a command prompt and your mind turning them into playing cards.
Sure, it may sound primitive and silly now, but in 1989 this was state-of-the-art, mind-blowing technology that was never before possible. The important thing to remember, however, is that online poker actually came almost a decade before sites like Google, Amazon, and Facebook were ever even imagined; to me that seems pretty darn neat.
Well, before you knew it, the dot com explosion kicked in during the early 1990’s and people were building sites about anything and everything. To play online poker with friends back in those days, consumers could simply hop on Yahoo or Games.com to play a few rounds with complete strangers in a great looking poker room after a small download took place. Before you knew it, there were thousands of sites that were almost identical to these…which actually hurt the online poker industry at first.
The problem was that since all of the graphics were pretty much the same and the dealer was just as random at any of the available poker sites, you had hundreds of thousands of poker fans visiting about a thousand different poker sites at once. Now, there wasn’t any type of tournament play back then and the World Series of Poker hadn’t really become popular yet in mainstream society, so it really didn’t matter if there were a hundred players at a particular site or a hundred thousand.
What did cause quite a stir, however, was that there were many die-hard gamblers that simply wanted to face off against quality competition. Instead, they ended up facing a group of amateurs that would go all-in every hand…which is not quite the same as real poker. I’m sure you’ve sat at a table or two like that; you have 6/9 offsuit and the person before you raises. Now, you do not want to appear weak, so you raise his butt right back just because the chips really do not mean anything. Before you know it, the entire table is all-in…But you’re still sitting there with 6/9 offsuit. The good news is that once you lose, there’s a reload button that let’s you start all over again…woohoo!
Online poker also saw a huge boost in popularity in the late 1990’s with the invention of Flash, which is an Internet language that allows programmers to code things like videos and animations directly into websites. For the world of online poker this meant that those 15 MB downloads suddenly became a thing of the past; most of today’s online poker games are played directly through a browser window. Of course, that’s also what led to so many other forms of online gambling…which we will get to a little bit later.
Free Online Poker with Prizes
On the other side of the spectrum, online poker rooms like PokerStars (which is no longer available for US players) started popping up and way too many true amateurs decided that they were just as good as the professionals. Before you knew it, there were players playing those all-in games just like they did at the free sites, and within days there were millions of players who truly ended up having their feelings hurt. It was fairly obvious right from the start that those little cartoon icons made people completely forget that they were actually gambling; the world was not quite ready for full-blown online poker for money just yet. Gosh, it was fun though.
So before we knew it, a middle-ground of online poker was formed. These were sites that were completely free to play at but they also rewarded the players great prizes that were donated by sponsors. One great early site that never quite got off the ground was Rounders Poker over at ijji; gamblers could use their chip winnings to bid eBay style on items like televisions, GPS devices, and luxury watches. Heck, that’s where my current HP printer came from (I wish they’d send me more ink though). For whatever the reason, however, the site was shut down almost as fast as it started.
There were plenty of other online poker rooms ready to step in and grab those freebie players looking for gifts, and before you knew it the National League of Poker (NLOP),No Pay Poker, and Ujogowere being flooded by slightly above-average players who really wanted to step up their overall game. If they won a small tournament then a $20 check or a $50 item would show up in their mailboxes a month or two later, which was all that was required to convince gamblers to play halfway seriously. These original sites were the stepping stone for the rise and fall of the entire online poker industry, so they’re a great place for you to sharpen up your skills.
Free Online Poker on Xbox
Then again, there was another console in town that was gaining just as much popularity for online gambling; the Xbox. Since it was the first of its kind with true online play against serious opponents, kids of all ages were introduced to the wonders of online poker against rivals with similar skills. Of course, there was no money involved but millions of parents completely freaked out anyway…even though they usually hopped on the console for some online poker action after the kids went to bed.
While this is a little off-topic, here’s a friendly message to parents. Although it would be easy to imagine that kids playing free poker could easily lead to a lifetime of gambling addiction, multiple studies indicate that this simply is not the case. Think about it; most of your child’s games are blowing stuff up and killing opponents…even in purely G rated titles like Shrek or Madagascar. We grew up watching stuff like Willie Coyote strap dynamite to a cliff-face in order to lure the Roadrunner into a trap…have you ever felt a compulsion to do this? Please let your kids play free online poker with friends; like anything in life, as long as they play supervised and in moderation, it will probably not lead to an addictive habit.
Free Online Poker on Social Networks
Of course, we can’t forget about social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, where millions of people play online poker from their computers or smartphones throughout the day. Like some of the other sites mentioned here, the gambling on apps like Zynga are completely free to play and there is no gambling involved…sort of. Believe it or not, any type of Facebook game is highly addictive because you’re not only trying to beat the computer or the people who are online at the time, but you’re also passively competing against friends and their recent high scores.
Add to that the different hooks used to convince you to invite your friends and to share your own personal information, and playing poker on social networks becomes more about advertising someone else’s product than anything. Then again, it has also allowed millions and millions of people play premium online games that they seem to really enjoy; they just pay for it in advertising blocks instead of cash. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, as long as you know what you’re getting yourself into and can play responsibly.
Free Online Poker on Smartphones
Likewise, Internet apps for smartphones are also growing by leaps and bounds in terms of popularity. It’s hard to argue with instant access to great online poker games while you’re on the go, and players all across the world are quick to take in a hand or two on lunch breaks, waiting in traffic, or in-between appointments. Even though smartphone poker is clearly still in its infancy, within the next few years it will likely topple the number of daily players found on PCs and Xbox consoles combined. Currently, Zynga is the most popular online poker app out there to play poker against friends.
There are currently several real money poker room apps currently in the works as well, but legislation is stalling it in most areas. In the near future, gamblers will be able to visit their favorite gaming destinations from almost anywhere, and that has various governments around the world simply terrified. Gambling actually provides huge tax dollars for various areas of the world and online casinos have always been their toughest competitor, which is why so many traditional gambling towns have banned online poker for real money. For now though, any of the above smartphone apps are perfect for players who wish to play for free against others throughout the world.
Online Poker for Real Money
For those of you that were thinking, “When is this idiot going to talk about online poker for real money?”…that would be right about now. In all honesty, playing online poker for cash is sort of like wielding a double-edged sword. You can practice with it all day, become proficient with footwork and blocking, plus learn all kinds of neat ninja-like attacks, but until you actually step out on a battlefield then you never really know how good (or bad) you really are. Then again, since you’re not very likely to lose a limb while playing online poker, it may not be a very good analogy after all…but it’s close.
While we’d love to recommend several great real-money poker rooms for our readers, there are very few left out there worth talking about for global audiences. As most of you probably already know, Absolute Poker, Ultimate Bet and PokerStars (three of the top names at the start of 2018) are all permanently banned from soliciting US players. Full Tilt Poker also faced the same charges and recently had its gaming license suspended indefinitely pending an investigation, so all four of these popular poker rooms are out of the picture entirely in most regions. The same goes for other popular poker sites as well; at the moment they’ve completely backed out of most major markets while they await the dust to settle over in the US.
The one bright note left in the world of online poker for real money is PokerView, and this live gaming room is truly the first of its kind. Users actually play poker over their webcams so that the action takes place face to face, just as it would inside a traditional casino. While this poker website is still fairly new and not established enough yet to be called world-class, it is currently the most popular online poker destination in the world for real money.
Online Gambling Laws around the World
Back to the United States for a moment, any from of online gambling is currently banned in a total of nine out of fifty states, plus thirteen more have some sort of partial ban in place as well. Now, that leaves 28 states where online poker is completely legal and a few of them are even looking to fully regulate online gambling as well. There are currently two bills in the Senate to legalize online poker on the national level with a vision of eventually having a North-American poker network, but so far there is no definitive word on which way the voting will go.
Of course, online poker in Canada also falls into a grey area, but there are currently no huge efforts to block outside providers from soliciting Canadian residents. Full Tilt Poker was actually granted access to Canadian gamblers after the entire domain seizure incident that happened in the US, which seemed a bit strange if the plans were to completely outlaw online gambling from the territory. Some regions in Canada offer regulated online poker to its citizens.
The laws in Europe when it comes to online poker vary by region, but for the most part it is a completely acceptable past time. There are some deposit restrictions within some provinces though so be sure to check to make sure that you are in full compliance with local laws. Online gambling is banned in Germany, Poland, India, and several other countries as well, however, and some regions employ very strict enforcement.
Any form of gambling is strictly banned in China, which seems kind of strange since this culture was the one that invented most forms of modern gambling to begin with. Almost every country in Asia is all for any type of online gambling though, and online poker seems to be surging in popularity over the past few years.
Online gambling is specifically banned in Australia…sort of. It is not against the law for residents to place online wagers, but the government makes it illegal for any online poker room to accept one of their citizens as a member. This law does not appear to be enforced, however, because over a quarter million Aussies are playing online poker for real money daily.
The rest of the modern world really doesn’t care either way if you decide to play online poker for real money, which means that there are either no laws currently on their books or that they went ahead and legalized it. Many smaller countries (especially in the Caribbean Islands) are quickly learning that online gambling can produce massive tax revenues if it is regulated properly, which is why so many online casinos flock to these areas to setup shop. Online poker is also very popular in South America as well, and it is expected to be one of the fastest growing markets over the next decade.
The World of Online Poker
No matter if your favorite poker game is Texas Holdem, Omaha, Seven Card Stud, Five Card Draw, or Razz, there are multiple places online that you can log into and play against friends and strangers alike. Although the modern world has definitely seen better days when it comes to online poker for real money, the times are definitely changing as our governments are becoming strapped for cash and realizing that they are missing out on the taxes from a multi-billion dollar per year industry that has almost just as many fans.
If online poker (for money) is currently banned in your area, the only way to change it is to make your voice heard. Be sure to contact your local lawmakers so that they know exactly how much this online sport means to you, or check to see if your region has some type of players alliance (for example, in the US it’s the PPA). After all, poker is one of the world’s most popular past times in the history of mankind, and we gamblers really have to stick together in order to keep all of our poker options open.
Ensuring You’re Playing Against Real People
A lot of concern over whether or not the opponents faced in online poker are real people comes from a handful of highly publicized accounts of so-called “poker bots” that were discovered to be playing on some online poker sites. Essentially, these bots were programmed to play poker according to simple rules, usually in sit-and-go tournaments. In some cases, the poker rooms figured out what was going on themselves, while in other cases, players alerted the room managers to the bots.
While such stories can be scary, there are two reasons that you should feel confident that you’ll be playing poker against real people, not robots. For one, online poker sites have become much more diligent about rooting out poker bots and shutting them down. When a bot is discovered, players are customarily refunded any money they lost playing to these bots.
But in most cases, there aren’t all that many refunds to make. While the stories of poker bots who win money are the ones who get the most publicity, the vast majority of such bots have actually lost money – and in some cases, a lot of money! Programming a good poker program is hard work, as evidenced by the AI in any poker video game. The combination of the risk of getting caught and the time and expense that goes into creating a program that can actually win against competent players has made poker bots increasingly rare on most online poker sites.
All this means that when you play online, you can be confident that you’ll be playing Texas Holdem against real people. Online poker is filled with trustworthy sites that work hard to keep out bots and other cheaters, leaving the poker to real people – human beings only, no robots allowed.
Between the media twisting facts and dozens of misleading commercials on television, it is tough for players in the United States to know exactly what the limitations are when it comes to online gambling. Believe it or not, high stakes poker is still available right here within the United States and there are several great casinos for players to choose from. This article will discuss the current laws that affect US players and where they can go to wager on their poker skills.
As you probably know by now, playing online poker is still 100% legal within the United States. Certain areas have passed statewide laws that restrict players from gambling, but over 42 of the fifty states do not have any legal restrictions on playing America’s favorite game. The Safe Port Act of 2008 (which contained the little known provision of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act within its text) made it illegal for banks to transfer money to and from casinos, and that law is currently under review within the Senate to be repealed. The only thing it changes for gamblers is the way that they can deposit and receive money; nothing else was changed under the legislation.
Since the Safe Port Act was passed into law, several “poker websites” have popped up around the internet offering players a chance to earn free prizes or cash rewards. These are not to be confused with true gambling websites because the skill level of players can vary drastically inside these rooms; from players that call everything to some that go all-in each and every hand just for the heck of it. Playing in these types of environments actually makes players worse overall because they can not implement actual strategies; it is absolutely a true waste of time. A few of these poker websites have hired a few professional poker players to stop by every now and then to play within their tournaments; which literally speaks for itself- if the pros want nothing to do with them except when they’re paid, then there’s a pretty darn good reason not to play there.
Below are listings of actual gambling websites that offer various types of online poker play. Unlike other websites out there, we will actually give you the pros and cons of each site as well as how it benefits US players.
Ultimate Bet is a great place for US players simply because of the enormity of the website and the ease at which players can make deposits. They offer hundreds of tournaments per month plus plenty of normal table play, including huge payouts like the guaranteed $200,000 tournament every Sunday. If you’re looking for star power then this is also the website for you, because frequent appearances are common from Phil Hellmuth, Annie Duke, Adam Levy, and dozens of other easily recognized poker superstars. In fact, if you knock one of them out of any tournament, you’re paid a bonus right there on the spot.
Absolute Poker hosts millions of online players every month in both free play and live bets, which makes it one of the few quality exceptions for playing at a poker website designed for both amateurs and professionals. With more deposit options than any other on this list for US players, Absolute Poker makes it easy to get in the middle of the action with all kinds of tournaments and betting tables designed for players of almost every skill level. Their Royal Flush Jackpot tables also ensure that every player gets paid when the ultimate poker hand shows up, and to get in on a piece of the action you only have to be seated and playing when the Royal is dealt somewhere within the casino. With Sit and Go tournaments starting every few minutes, there’s not a better place to find a customized game that’s perfect for you.
While many players wouldn’t automatically think a sports book would focus on something like online poker, Sportsbook.com has actually been a great place to play since 1996. They offer both tournament and regular table play, plus their tables has customized features that will let you play up to four separate hands at once. The reason many players decide to go with Sportsbook is their above average acceptance rate on Visa Card deposits and the quick payout times through certified check; which is really the best a player can hope for under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. As far as the play itself goes, there are gamblers of all skill levels and several different poker variations to choose from.
Players Only is a popular WSOP sponsor that has sent thousands of players onto the main stage of poker’s greatest venue through freeroll and low ante tournaments. They have been considered one of the industry’s top online choices since 1997 and their $200 in completely free starting cash is literally unheard of for any type of poker site. One of the reasons that US players prefer this casino is their excellent customer service and proven track records for taking care of their players; including tons of free prizes, bonuses, and innovative new variations that allows players to make additional money while winning.
While other poker sites merely have you play against top professionals, Bodog takes the experience to a whole different level. WSOP pros Evelyn NG and Amanda Musumeci are on staff to answer any questions that pertain to poker and to help you improve your overall game, so this destination is perfect for amateur players. The website also has a number of tournaments that offer sponsorship to live poker games around the globe, and their members have cleared hundreds of thousands of dollars alone just from these unique opportunities. Each hand played (win or lose) also earns poker points that can be traded in for cash, prizes, or special tournament entries, which is reason enough for many seasoned veterans to make this portal their website of choice. Bodog is a great overall place for US players to get into the action.
Texas Holdem is the most played poker game in the world and none of the other poker variations even come close in terms of the amount of players that play the game. Many online poker rooms cater strictly to Holdem although even the poker rooms with multiple poker games have most of their traffic on the Holdem tables. You can play Texas Holdem for free or for real money with friends or other people.
A lot of new players start out by playing Holdem against friends for free using fake chips. There are several poker rooms that have a play money poker room where you and your friends can join, so that you can play against each other. You and your friends will be able to play against 1000’s of other Texas Holdem players with fake chips, which means you’ll never need to risk any of your own money in the poker room. Free online poker rooms offer ring table games and a wide selection of tournaments including freeroll tournaments, which will give you the chance to try and win real money without spending any money on a buy-in.
Once you gain some experience on the play money tables you and your friends might want to try your new skills out on the real money tables. Thankfully the transition from free Texas Holdem games to real money Holdem games couldn’t be any easier. The free poker rooms we recommend also offer a real money poker room and are some of the biggest poker rooms in the industry. I always urge players to play with the big poker rooms out there while they’re new for several reasons.
* Your money will be safe with the larger poker rooms and you don’t need to worry about not being paid.
* The bonuses are typically larger then the bonuses offered by smaller, less known poker rooms.
* There are thousands of other players in the poker room at all times, so you never need to wait too play.
* A lot of the players are new just like you, which means you won’t be playing against a bunch of sharks.
We have three great options to choose from, which all offer play money poker and real money poker. All three poker rooms accept players from the United States and dozens of other countries around the world. The free Holdem poker games are always busy and you can even win free money potentially by taking part in the various promotions offered by the poker rooms. For instance, UB offers players $50 if they can manage to win 10,000,000 in play money chips in the free poker room.
AbsolutePoker.net is the free poker room for the Absolute Poker brand.
FullTiltPoker.net is the free poker room for the Full Tilt Poker brand.
UB.net is the free poker room for the UB brand.
When you decide to play for real money you can use the links in the table at the top of this article.
Most online poker players tend to shy away from playing heads up poker because it’s a lot more difficult then playing a full ring table game with 9-10 players at the table. Heads up poker is geared towards the type of players that enjoy mixing up the action with a lot of aggressive betting and bluffing. While most poker players shy away from the heads up poker tables, they can be profitable with the right strategy. A great way to work on your heads up poker game is to play heads up poker against your friends.
When you initially start playing heads up poker you may want to start playing for free rather then with real money, so that you can learn the strategy behind the game without it costing you an arm and a leg. Heads up poker is the most expensive type of cash game to play simply because every single hand you’re going to have to put in a blind bet. Since both players at the table need to put in a blind bet regardless of what they have, it’s very common in heads up poker to raise every small blind you have.
If you’re thinking about playing heads up poker against friends for free you need to make sure that you both follow a couple quick little guidelines. First of all you’re going to need to make sure that you both play as if you’re playing for real money. The reason you want to pretend you’re playing with real money is so that when you do actually play with real money you won’t need to adjust your strategy or gameplay much.
Best Heads Up Poker Site For Free
· UB Poker allows players to sign-up for a free account and play poker with play money for as long as you want. You can play heads up poker against your friends and learn everything you need to learn about playing heads up poker. If you manage to build up your play money chip stack to 10 million chips in the future, UB will reward you with a free $50 bonus that you can use to try out the real money tables.
The great thing about playing heads up poker against friends online for free rather then play with real playing cards is the fact that it’s so much easier. You don’t need to worry about shuffling cards, dealing with chips or finding a place to play. With UB Poker you can play online poker for free and use their state-of-the-art poker software. Some of the features of the software include a chat system that you can your friends can use to talk with each other as well as great graphics.
When you think you’ve had enough practice playing for free you should try making a small deposit into your UB Poker account so that you can try your luck at the real money games. UB Poker offers heads up cash games and tournaments with very small buy-ins so that everyone can try them out without risking too much real money.
Thanks for reading our poker tutorial, and hopefully your good hands will outweigh the bad ones !