Once a game for the upper echelon of society, poker is now a ubiquitous and trendy sport of wits and strategy. Indeed, it’s become so popular that scores of poker-themed movies have made a splash in Hollywood.

Poker is often presented as a high-risk, high-reward game that is as exhilarating as it is precarious. But this dramatic Hollywood representation is greatly embellished. Poker can be a safe and affordable game for everyone, which is why more people are switching to online casinos and learning how to play online poker.

So, what does it take to start playing poker online? We’ll answer this and many other questions today. Poker is a seriously entertaining game that pushes your wits to the forefront and encourages you to develop strategies. Bluffing is only a tiny part of the game; knowing when to open and fold is the key to success in poker.

Online casinos exist to provide a friendly atmosphere and responsible gaming for all. You can enjoy both online and live poker, and we’ll explain the differences between the two. We’ll show you how to play poker online for money, or simply for the fun of it.

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History of Online Poker

Online poker sites have a longer history than you might expect. The first online poker sites were established way back in 2000, but they gained worldwide fame in 2003 when Chris Moneymaker earned $2.5 million by winning the World Series of Poker (WSOP) having qualified via an online tournament. Journalists labeled this watershed moment the beginning of the “Moneymaker effect,” when online poker became famous.

After this meteoric rise to fame, online poker sites invested heavily in their security and accessibility infrastructure. The aim was to provide a friendly and fair gambling environment that would rival live poker venues and once and for all answer the question: Is online poker legal? When Greg Raymer won the $5 million top prize at the following year’s World Series of Poker, the online poker craze was here to stay.

Online poker is practically the same as playing poker in a casino; the only real difference is that you can enjoy it from the comfort of your home. The types of poker you can play online are also the same as poker games in live casinos. The poker rules for these games are the same, but online poker offers some unique benefits.

mary difference between online poker vs live poker is that online poker games are much quicker thanks to sites’ streamlined design. They are also safer, since all reputable sites have advanced encryption and protection protocols. Finally, you can play without worry, since online poker sites accept small amounts of money for bets. This is how players around the world make real money and why online poker is in such high demand.

US Players and Online Poker

Online poker is prevalent around the world thanks to its accessibility and security, and some of the best poker games take place in video poker casinos. But for US players, the situation is a lot less rosy. If you’re wondering how to play online poker in the US, we’re here to answer that question.

Even though online poker is legal in the US on a federal level, each state seemingly implements regulations differently, which can cause plenty of confusion. It also doesn’t help that the laws regulating games like poker are often vague and obsolete.

Case in point: the Interstate Wire Act of 1961. The wording of this legislation implies that betting games with a “wire communication facility” are governed by this law. But online poker relies on internet communication, which was wired 20 years ago but is predominantly wireless these days. When readers ask how to play online poker, they’d never even consider whether or not their connection can be deemed “wired.”

The act also refers to “bets or wagers placed on sporting events or contests.” This wording was used in 2002 in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to argue that the act “does not prohibit internet gambling on a game of chance.”

In 2006, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) declared that any games subject to chance and the use of the internet are “unlawful under any federal or state law.” While poker is a game of skill, it also contains significant elements of chance. And with such strongly worded legislation, it’s no wonder people ask how to safely play online poker.

The industry disputed the UIGEA Act in 2011, but the major victory for online poker came much more recently. This year, the New Hampshire State Lottery Commission successfully separated online poker from the Wire Act, giving the gambling industry new wings.

Every state has its own specific legislative quirks, so coming up with a surefire list of states where online poker is regulated is nearly impossible. While some states have now legalised gambling, all of this could change in the future.

Michigan and Pennsylvania are leading the online poker charge, not only in terms of regulation but with the online poker options available. The question in these states is not whether you can, but how to play poker online. The states with regulated online poker are Delaware, West Virginia, New Jersey, and Nevada.

The states where the discussion of regulations is progressing are New York, Colorado, Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Ohio.

Starting with Online Poker

If you’re itching to try out online poker, the good news is that the cost of playing is meagre. All the data required for these games is stored on online gambling sites, which means the hardware requirements are very low. Poker games will run on pretty much any machine, so long as you have a stable internet connection. You can also play without any problems on your phone, since most gambling sites have dedicated apps for Android and iOS-based smartphones.

If you’re wondering how to play poker online with friends, don’t fret; most online poker sites offer private games where you can invite your friends. As long as you and your friends have an account on the site and none of you are from restricted countries, playing together shouldn’t be a problem. For example, 888poker has greatly simplified the process of playing with friends to top off an already excellent service.

You’ll need to open a user account to start playing online. Always be sure to check the terms and conditions so you can confirm whether or not your location is not on the list of restricted countries.

So, how old do you have to be to play online poker? You must be at least 18 years old to participate in online gambling games, and you must also be of legal age in your country. For that reason, you might have to submit some private information to prove your identity to the site owner. When you create an account, the last step is to deposit cash you’ll use to bet on online poker and other available games.

We recommend that you start small. Begin with low-cost tournaments and games, where you can participate for $1 or less. You’ll be doing this to consolidate the funds in your gambling account and get off to a strong start with an excellent welcome bonus. But there’s more to it when it comes to how to play online poker for beginner players. It’s not so important how much you deposit to your account as how you use it. Gambling sites generally accept credit cards and eWallets like PayPal as deposit methods. Some of the top online poker sites accept PayPal.

Gambling sites offer welcome bonuses for new players that typically match up to 100% of your deposit, up to a certain limit. For example, if you deposit $50, the online casino will put $50 worth of bonus funds in your account. You have to play that money through a specific number of times before you can withdraw it. This is called a wagering requirement, and it typically ranges from three times to 50 times the bonus amount. The lower the wagering requirement, the better for you.

If you’re wondering how to play online poker tournaments, you’ll be glad to know that online casinos offer weekly and monthly tournaments where the best player or players can win and share the prize pool. Always check several sites before you settle on the gambling venue with the most favourable welcome bonus, lowest wagering requirement, and the best balance of entry price and rewards for the tournaments.

Tips and Tricks for Playing Online Poker

Our first tip is to check the site of your choice for freerolls. These are free tournaments reserved for selected players. You might not be able to participate right away, so you should check several gambling sites to find the most accessible freeroll requirements. It’s best to start slow and small, which is why risk-free tournaments like freerolls are great.

So, what if you’re wondering how to play poker for a living online? Well, Texas hold’em online is the most played variant of poker, which is why we’ll focus on this game. Remember that online poker games are much quicker than playing live poker, so if you’d normally start betting in real poker with a $1 deposit, you should start with $0.10 or $0.20 bets online. The main reason for this is the overwhelming number of online players compared to live poker participants. Many are regular players with lots of experience up their sleeve; you’ll meet them more frequently as you increase the value of your bets.

If you start small but steady, you’ll also improve your self-discipline and learn which types of games work best for you. This is an integral part of learning how to play online poker successfully. The smallest bets or micro stakes can go as low as $0.01, and these are games where you’ll mostly play with poker beginners. This is the perfect place to hone your poker skills and consolidate the funds in your account.

You’ll also work on perfecting multi-table poker, which means playing on two or more tables at the same time. It might sound daunting at first, but controlling two hands of cards isn’t that difficult. You’ll usually wait for the perfect cards to land, then you’ll strictly focus on playing that hand well.

When you’re ready to advance, you’ll immediately meet the next most significant obstacle: the regulars. If you can handle this category of experts, then you can say you truly understand how to play and beat online poker games.

As you move to the $10-$50 no-limit bet categories, you’ll meet most seasoned players. Playing for higher stakes, such as $200 or $300 bets, will naturally involve fewer regular players, which is why it’s a good place to use analytics and measure your winnings and losses. Most sites implement in-house overview results in the form of a heads-up display (HUD) that you can analyse. If there isn’t one, you’ll have to get some HUD software for yourself.

You might be wondering how to play online poker if you do not have an SSN. Well, for starters, having a Social Security number is only an issue for US players; those in other countries will need to provide whatever form of local ID the casino is willing to accept. If you are in the US, the casino site might ask for your SSN, but that’s simply to confirm your identity and make sure you’re not an underage person trying to play free online poker.

Ready to Play

We hope that you’ve found this article informative and that you now feel you know how to play poker online. While we’ve focused mainly on US gamblers for the purpose of this article, UK punters also have some of the best poker apps.


Is it legal to play poker online for money?

Yes, it’s legal to play poker online, so long as you’re of legal age and not living in a restricted country or region.

Where can I play poker online with friends?

Many online poker sites offer you the chance to pair up with friends. Sites such as 888poker can hook you up with friends in a few easy steps.

How do I set up online poker at home?

As mentioned in our “How to play online poker” article, start by creating a user account, entering your SSN if the site requires it, and depositing funds to begin playing online poker.

How do you play poker for beginners?

Everything you need to know about playing poker as a beginner is in the guide above. Enjoy!