Poker - Play Online for Free
There is a group of similar games which are referred to as Poker, with broadly similar rules (apart from some exceptions) and a strict hierarchy of winning combinations of cards. One player may be familiar with one particular variation of the game, while a second player may be acquainted with another version. In all cases, it is best to make sure which Poker game is being played and with which rules. At NeonSlots you can learn about all the different varieties of poker and play online for free.
The Basic Rules of the Game
For practically all types of poker there are a number of basic rules:
- A 52-card deck is used for the game. In the variants of the game in which the Joker can be used there are 53 or 54 cards, accordingly, in some variants of club poker there are 32 cards, but this is not generally considered a standard game
- Hands must be composed of a maximum of 5 cards. Most commonly five cards, except for three-card poker and some other variants
- There is the principle of hierarchy between card combinations, so that the highest combination beats the lower. Except, for example, Poker Omaha High-Low
- The hierarchy of suits is of no importance in Poker
- Players compete for the sum of money or tokens that is drawn between them, which is often referred to as the 'pot'. In casino poker the role of banking is developed by the casino
- The hierarchy of cards is classified from two to the ace, the ace being the highest card. The ace in some combinations can be counted as one
Combinations or Poker Hands
- Highest card – When none of the players has any of the hands listed below, the winner is the player with the highest card. If two players have the same high card, then the second card decides the round, and when the second card is also of the same value then the third, then forth and finally the fifth is considered
- Ace-King (AK) – This combination is used in most casino games and is, perhaps counterintuitively, the lowest of all possible combinations, consisting of an ace and a king in a hand
- Pair – Any combination of two cards with the same value, for example, two threes or two aces. If two players have the same card pair, the one with the highest remaining card wins
- Two pair – any combination of four cards in pairs of two cards with the same value, for example, two sixes and two queens, or two tens and two jacks
- Trio (three of a kind or 'trips') – any combination of three cards with the same value, for example, three sevens or three kings
- Straight – any combination of five cards of different suits in order, for example, 8-9-Т-J-Q or А-2-3-4-5
- Flush – Any combination of five cards of the same suit, for example, 3-7-Т-K-A of hearts
- Full House or Full – any combination of three cards of the same value plus two cards also of the same value, for example, 5-5-5-9-9 or 2-2-2-К-К. With it, the hierarchy of a Full House goes according to the highest trio, ie that the Full House 5-5-5-9-9 is greater than the full House 2-2-2-К-К
- Four of a Kind – any combination of four cards with the same value, for example, 8-8-8-8
- Straight Flush – Any combination of five cards in order of the same suit, for example, 5-6-7-8-9 of spades
- Royal Flush – is the highest combination in most poker variants, it consists of the five cards of highest rank in order and of the same suit, for example, Т-J-Q-K-A of diamonds, of clubs, of hearts and of spades
- Poker – is the highest combination possible, and with versions of poker that including The Joker, consists of four cards of the same value and the Joker, therefore it is a combination of five cards, for example, 2-2-2-2-Joker
Types of Poker
There are three general types of poker: Club Poker, Casino Poker and Video Poker. A general definition of each follows, below:
- Club Poker, is a game between the players who play against each other for the 'pot'
- Casino poker, is a game between each player and a licenced casino or gambling establishment and in which players do not compete against each other
- Video Poker, is a game in which the player forms poker combinations and receives winnings. In this game, the player's cards do not compete with the cards of other players or the cards of the gambling house. This type of poker is more reminisce of Solitaire, and is played for free or for real money at a game terminal or from an online casino
Club Poker is a game of skill. In addition to luck, an essential element in all gambling games, are very important elements of mathematics, psychology and intuition. A player who is just beginning to get acquainted with the rules of the game, has virtually no chance against an expert opponent. In addition, the novice will have even less hope in this game given the greater number of hands played against each other in Club Poker.
In this variety of poker, the casino has no preference as to which player wins or loses. Legal casinos receive a commission from each pot (the total sum of all bets made by the players) or a fixed payment for the time spent in the game. Players play against each other.
Classic Poker is a game in which each player is dealt five cards, places bets into the pot and tries to beat the other players by producing the highest final combination of cards in each round or make other players fold. Furthermore, any player at specific moments can exchange any of their cards for new cards. This version of poker today is generally only seen in old books and films about the Wild West. However, the most played poker variants in the 21st century are the following two games, Texas Hold'em and Omaha.
In Texas Hold'em, two cards are dealt to each player at the beginning of the game and the remaining cards are placed in the centre of the table face-up as 'community cards', which is to say, they may be used by all players in the game, maintaining five cards each which is a basic requirement for the formation of combinations in Poker. Although the player has seven cards available, they must create a combination with only five cards. The game in Texas Hold'em proceeds in the following manner:
Before the cards are dealt, the player or the two players seated in the first and second position after the dealer (determined by a special button, aptly named "button") perform the obligatorily 'blind bets', which are 'forced bets' which in effect serve to invest players in the game prior to them knowing their hand, then each player receives two cards face-down which in turn begins the first round of bets.
Once all the participants of the round have made their decision, either to match the bets or to pass, cards are placed on the table, three cards face-up, the so-called Flop. These are the three community cards which are available to all players. The second betting round starts with the player sitting next to the 'button' and at the end of the round, when everyone has already matched the bet or passed, the next card is turned over, the Turn or Fourth Street.
Another round of betting begins and the fifth card, the 'River' or 'Fifth Street' is revealed. Then the last round of bets is placed and finally the 'Show Down' takes place, that is to say, all players show their cards. The five community cards at the table are called 'Board'. It is not necessary for it to be 12 noon for the Show Down to take place.
The Show Down is the moment in which the winner is determined. All players who have matched the bets in the last round of bets must show their cards face-down to settle the winning combination. The combination is strictly composed of five cards, either the player's two cards and three board cards, a card from the player and four from the board or even five cards from the table, excluding the player's cards. The highest combination of poker wins the pot after which the special button moves one position in a clockwise direction, the players place the blinds and the next hand begins anew, hurrah!
Omaha Poker is rich in a wide range of alternative game combinations and is popular among both advanced poker players and professionals alike. The rules of the game in Omaha are identical to those of the Texas Hold'em, except for two principle differences:
- Players receive four cards face-down during the first deal
- When forming combinations, the players must strictly use two of their secret cards and three cards from the table
Other than this, absolutely everything else in this version of Poker is carried out in exactly the same way as Texas Hold'em in terms of gameplay, betting rounds and how the winner is determined.
Tournaments and Poker Championships
As has already been alluded to, Club poker is a game which requires skill, knowledge, cunning, guile and a little luck; which is precisely why there it is so highly popularity in tournaments all around the world with poker championships running at both regional and worldwide levels. The World Series of Poker (WSOP) is the best-known poker Championship in the world, and is still located in Las Vegas where it was established in 1970. The real boom for poker and poker tournaments came in 2003 when the hitherto unknown Christopher Bryan Moneymaker won the Las Vegas WSOP tournament playing Texas Hold'em. Moneymaker fulfilled the dream of many when, with just 40 dollars, he won 2.5 million dollars thanks to a mix of good fortunes and tactics.
Since then, many new championships have sprung up across the world in legitimate, licensed and legal casinos which while providing a friendly and pleasant atmosphere in which to play together with the excitement of potentially life changing prizes, also takes care of security and guarantees all winnings will be paid, which is precisely why licensed casinos are so important. In addition, as the Internet has matured and its use became commonplace the scale of participation has grown exponentially into massive championships. Many players like poker because they can play it in a relaxed atmosphere among friends, others may sometimes prefer to play in the comfort of their own home albeit online at a legal casino where potential winnings might exceed even their wildest dreams, and where prizes can be even greater than in land-based casino tournaments.
The best players are those who win first place in Championships, and are included forever by the Poker Society in their halls of fame and are forevermore considered as authorities to the game by other players. Their acclaim is such that even books are written on their lives, tactics and philosophy. Even films are produced outlining their individual stories. And who knows, maybe the next greatest player will remember reading through these pages at NeonSlots while writing the book describing their road to success.
Casino poker has practically nothing in common with club poker. The main difference is that the gambling house always plays the role of opponent against all players. The casino is represented by the dealer who always acts according to a predetermined, strict strategy and it is therefore impossible to bluff given that legal casino dealers do not have a choice in how they play.
The first recorded games of casino poker took place in the United States, where they became known as Stud Poker, but often the classic variant of this type of poker is often referred to as Oasis Stud Poker or Caribbean stud poker. The rules of Stud Poker are simple.
All participants in the game make an initial bet, the first bet is called the "open" bet. Then each player and the dealer receive five cards each all cards face-down. Only the dealer places his fifth card face-up in the sight of all players. After that, the players take the cards and study them, looking for poker combinations. Players make the decision to continue playing or leave the cards and leave the game. If the player does not surrender, he will place the cards in front of him and make another bet equivalent to two "opening" bets. When all players have made their decisions as what to do next, the dealer will place his cards face-up, comparing combinations: losing hands are removed and winning hands are paid. The "open" bet is always paid at 1 to 1, while subsequent bets are paid strictly according to the house rules, for example:
- Ace-King: pays 1:1
- Pair: pays 1:1
- Double pair: pays 2:1
- Trio: pays 3:1
- Straight: pays 4:1
- Flush: pays 5:1. pays
- Full House: pays 7:1
- Poker: pays 20:1
- Straight Flush: pays 50:1
- Royal Flush: pays 100:1
Stud Poker is not played with the Joker, so there is no combination of poker with this card.
In this variety of the game there is also the concept of the dealer's "minimum game" which is to say, the dealer pays all bets other than the first "open" bet only when the dealer has the ace-king combination or higher, otherwise, regardless of the player's card, the player will not be paid. After the dealer has paid all winnings and collected the losing bets, the cards are shuffled again and the gameplay is repeated as before.
Based on Stud Poker, casinos around the world invented dozens, perhaps even hundreds of specific varieties of poker and often named them in honour of the legal casino from which they originated and are played, as is the case with, for example, Imperial Poker and Royal Stud Poker. But this was particularly noteworthy in the gambling houses of the former Soviet Union. As a rule, the classic rules added the possibility that the player would change one of his cards to another from the deck for a bet equivalent to the "open" bet. Some casinos included the possibility of not changing the card, but of buying another one, that is, a sixth card, or of changing two, three or even five of the player's cards.
Concepts such as "insurance" against the possibility of the dealer not making a minimum game (described above) were developed, the "game purchase" (when the dealer changes one of his cards, when his hand does not produce a listed combination, for a new one in the deck) or other miscellaneous add-ons. All of these alternative rules contributed to making poker a more appealing game than ever before and in this context Russian Poker was born in Moscow, quickly spreading throughout Eastern Europe. This variant of the game includes all the additional rules listed above and also the possibility of receiving higher payments for double combinations. For example, if the player has bought a sixth card and has in his hand the 2-3-4-5-6-7 combination, a double flush: the first from 2 to 6 and the second from 2 to 7 and both flushes are paid accordingly.
Texas Holdem Casino
In addition to Russian poker, the Texas Holdem Casino game, which was invented by Stephen Au-Yeung in 2001, also enjoys great popularity. In this variety, similar to club poker, the players receive only two cards per hand and the rest are placed on the board being community cards available to other players. But players make "open" bets and subsequent bets according to poker varieties against the casino. The dealer's minimum game at Texas Holdem Casino is two fours. If the dealer has a combination or minimum game, he pays the bet at 1to 1, and "open" bets according to the following:
- Straight and lower combinations: paid at 1:1
- Flush: Paid at 2:1
- Full House: Paid at 3:1
- Poker: Paid at 10:1
- Straight Flush: paid at 20:1
- Royal Flush: paid at 100:1
At Casino Texas Holdem, even if the dealer has no game or combination, "open" bets are paid, which attracts those players who prefer all winning combinations to be paid every time.
Another type of poker popular in casinos around the world is three-card poker. All players as well as the dealer receive just three cards and must form classic poker combinations with just these three cards. The dealer doesn't show any of his own cards, all of which are dealt face-down. The minimum combination the dealer must have for this game is the Queen. If the dealer has does not reach their minimum game, the "open" bet is double (there is no subsequent bet in three-card poker). If the dealer has a game, all prizes are paid according to the following:
- From the Queen: paid at 2:1
- Flush: paid at 2:1
- Straight: paid at 3:1
- Trio: paid at 5:1
- Straight Flush: paid at 6:1
Three-card poker also includes the additional bet "pairplus", which will be paid to players as follows:
- Pair: Paid at 1:1
- Flush: Paid at 4:1
- Straight: Paid at 5:1
- Trio: Paid at 20:1
- Straight Flush: paid at 40:1
The bet "pairplus" loses if in the player's cards do not even have a pair of deuces and does not matter if the dealer has a minimum game or not. Three-card poker is one of the simplest and most dynamic varieties of poker. Many novice players begin their initiation into the world of poker with this version of the game.
As mentioned above, there are indeed a great many variations of poker and it is always wise to be absolutely certain as to which rules are relevant to the legal casino in question or even a particular table in question, be it an online licenced casino or land-based, as well as establishing exact payouts which can also vary. There are some types of casino poker that give even mathematical advantage to players who play with the right strategy.
At the end of the twentieth century and with the development of electronic games, developers made tremendous efforts to meet and even actively encourage the growing popularity of poker. Video poker can be played on games terminals as well as in virtual casinos, but never at the actual casino tables. Video poker is different because the player does not play for profit against the gambling house, nor against other players. In fact, the game solely focuses on the player's own cards with winning combinations paid as per each licensed casino's own paytable for the game concerned, be it at a land-based casino or online casino.
There are different versions of Video Poker, the most played is Jacks or Better, in which a winning combination with five cards may consist of a pair of Jacks or any high pair. With this, the player can change from one to five (all) of their cards in an attempt to form a winning combination.
As in any other game, the percentage return, being the mathematical advantage for the organizing establishment, is already predetermined before play. However, in some games this percentage is ridiculously small and often even exceeds 100%, thanks to which special strategies have been developed for the player to change their cards depending on their current combination. It is precisely in the United States, the place where the game was born, that video poker is most played.
There are countless fans trying to emulate their poker playing heroes, today. Players can make bets in online casinos, organising their cards from their computer or smartphone screen. They can play Texas Hold'em or Omaha with other people around the world, while online casinos offer different varieties of poker and other versions of this extraordinarily interesting game. Online poker is virtually indistinguishable from any of its versions in the legal online casinos.
Origins of Poker
Historically, poker-like games have been played in Britain and France since the 1800s, even with Tarot cards, as predecessors of modern-day Poker. However, the main rules of the current games of Poker were developed in America, when cowboys and gold-diggers began to kill their free time in saloons found throughout the territories of what now comprise the USA, Canada and Mexico. Various versions of the game evolved before more universal rules spread across the territories, a process which was compounded when, in America, licensed casinos appeared. Poker became a traditional casino game within these establishments before quickly spreading all over the world. Currently, poker is the best-known card game in the world, in general, thanks to a multitude of tournaments and championships, television and cinema. Even in the James Bond film, "Casino Royale", 007 does not play baccarat like in the Book by Ian Fleming, but poker. The game reflects the spirit of today's society: it symbolizes struggle, reason, psychology and calculus. So even in some countries certain types of poker are even considered a sport.