Poker is among the most popular card games in the world. It was once known primarily as an American game, but today, poker is a global phenomenon. In recent years, Poker has transformed from a game played in casinos and basements to an online sensation. This innovation brought the game into the homes and hands of millions. It has also allowed the keenest players to join a table anytime, anywhere and even to play multiple games at a time. The creation of E-wallets and the recent rise of Bitcoin and other digital currencies has made Poker even more accessible. Bitcoin Poker Online These days many online casinos and poker websites accept Bitcoin and other digital currencies as wagers and payments. This process has been made even simpler since the integration of e-wallets. Using Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for online poker games allows you to make fast deposits and withdrawals, no matter the time and place. If you don’t currently own any BTC, you can easily create a wallet and buy some. Don’t worry – you won’t have to get and bet a whole Bitcoin! A MilliBitcoin (mBTC) is 1/1000th of a Bitcoin (0.001 BTC) and is the main unit online Bitcoin casinos are using. There are a variety of online exchanges where you can buy Bitcoin. Always remember to do your research and stick with well regulated, reputable and established exchanges. Once you have purchased your Bitcoin or other digital currency, you have to register at a Bitcoin casino and make a deposit into your dedicated Bitcoin address. This is the address you’ll send Bitcoin to from your personal BTC wallet. Remember to wait for the necessary Blockchain confirmations after your deposit. Now you’re ready to get out there and take your piece of the action! Types Of Poker Stud games – players are dealt a set number of cards (typically 5 or 7) and must try to make the best hand possible with their original cards. One example is Caribbean poker. Draw games – players can decide to trade in or replace some of their cards (generally up to 3) in an attempt to improve their hand. One example is Five-card draw. Community card games – players are dealt face down cards that belong only to the player holding them. “Community” cards that help all players are then dealt. Each player can use both their own cards and the community cards to create a hand. Texas Hold’em, probably the most famous form of poker today, falls into this category Player vs player and player vs dealer Most types of poker, including Caribbean, Three-card stud, Five-card stud and others, pit players against the dealer. Types of poker that pit player against player include Texas Hold’em, cash games and Hold’em tournaments. Most online casinos only host player vs dealer style games. Learning the Basic Principles of Poker The web is filled with crash courses and detailed tutorials that can help you to master the game of poker. The Stud and Draw styles of poker are the foundation for many formats of the game. To begin you will need a full deck of 52 cards and some playing chips, although in some versions of the game one or both jokers are included and occasionally, two packs of cards are used. The rules for all types are very similar. The basic strategy of poker involves players estimating the relative strength of the hands they’ve been dealt and then wagering chips accordingly. If one or more players is willing to match the highest bet, the remaining players show their cards and the best hand wins the pot. If a player does not ‘like’ their cards, they can fold. The player with the best hand can lose if somebody else bets an amount that no other player is willing to match and everybody folds. This tactic is called bluffing. In a game of draw poker, each player is dealt five cards and then a round of betting begins. After the first round of betting, players can improve their hands by trading-in up to three of their cards for three new cards from the deck. If a player has an Ace, they can choose to trade-in all four of their cards. Poker In-game Options Betting always begins to the left of the dealer, players have a variety of options: Raise – when a player believes they have a good or winning hand (or wants others to think that they do), they can raise the amount that all players must wager to stay in the hand. Fold – if a player feels they have a poor or losing hand and doesn’t want to lose more chips by matching the original bet or raised amount, they can choose to fold – meaning they exit that particular hand and lose any chips or money already wagered. Call – when one player raises the stakes, the rest must at least match that bet to continue the hand. Choosing to match the current highest wager is known as calling. This tactic can be used when you are not sure about the strength of your hand, the highest bet is relatively low or you believe you have a good chance of improving your hand should you stay in. l Check – in cases where nobody has increased the wager, or for the first player betting in a round, there is the option of checking. All players can check up until the point that someone bets. The Strengths of Poker Hands There are many different combinations of cards that can be used to make your hand. Put simply, the more difficult it is to make a hand, the stronger it is. The Ace is considered the most valuable card, after which the ranking goes in descending order from King to 2. This is important because it can determine who wins a round if two or more players have the same hand. Below are the relative strengths or rankings of the various hands that can be made in poker, from best to worst: Hands strength in poker High card – If nobody manages to make a combination of cards that create a hand, the player with the highest card wins. If two players have the same high card, then the second-highest card is used to break the tie. One pair – A pair is simply any two cards with the same value or picture. This does not apply to cards of the same suit (e.g. Two Kings make a pair, two Spades do not). Two pairs – in the case that more than one player happens to have two pairs, the player with the highest pair wins. Three of a Kind – When a player has three cards with the same value or picture. (Again, suit does not apply) Straight – This is a five-card hand made by creating a running sequence of cards, irrespective of suit. If two or more players have a straight, the straight that ends in the highest card wins (e.g. 6,7,8,9,J is better than 2,3,4,5,6). Flush – This hand is formed using five cards of the same suite. As with a straight, if two or more players have a flush, the one containing the highest card wins. Full house – This is when somebody has three cards of the same value and another pair. Four of a kind – You’re probably understanding by now. Four cards with same value (meaning all the cards of that value in a 52 card deck) form this formidable hand. Straight flush – The odds of landing this one are long! It consists of five consecutive cards all of the same suite. Royal flush – The best hand in poker! It is formed by creating a Straight Flush that ends in an Ace. The probability of being dealt this hand is somewhere around 0.000154% per round and many players will never get one! Online Poker Online poker has become a popular pastime for experienced players and novices alike. These days, it is even more accessible because of the creation of E-wallets, Bitcoin and other digital currencies Since its inception in the late 1990s, this branch of betting games has been responsible for the enormous increase in online casino revenues and attracted millions of new players. Differences Between Online and Real-World Poker An obvious one is that players don’t sit at a physical table online. This removes the possibility of observing other players’ reactions and body language. Online poker players have to learn to focus more on betting patterns, reaction times, speed of play, the use of checkboxes or auto play functions, opponents’ fold/flop percentages and any other behavior which provides relevant information. Although they are the same game, the small differences between online and real-world poker change the way the game is played. Below are some of the most important differences explained: Speed Real-world poker in brick and mortar casinos moves at a slower pace than its online counterpart. If you are entering the world of live-action poker after learning online, you may need to learn to play in a lower gear. When playing online, you can participate in several virtual tables and can thus be seeing 50+ players’ hands at a time. You might later find analog poker boring. Conversely, this might help you to better concentrate on the things happening at the table and you may find it easier to collect valuable information on your opponents’ style of play and behavior – which is essential in a game of poker. Variety By staying at home and playing online you’ll have access to a far greater variety of poker games compared to brick and mortar casinos. Online casinos are also more likely to host regular tournaments. Ability to Learn When playing online, you have access to the entire World Wide Web. This can come in handy when you have to make a decision or wish to learn new strategies mid-game. Players can also view opponents’ stats during a live game. Social interaction Online poker is perfect if you prefer a quiet night at home to a bustling casino. Of course, most poker websites and online casinos have in-game chat functions in case you get too lonely. Expenses Aside from your investments in the game itself, at a brick and mortar casino you will need attire suitable for the environment, need transportation to and from the venue and will spend more money on food and drinks than if you were at home. Most Popular Online Poker Games In Bitcoin Casinos Many of the traditional favorites from brick and mortar casinos have also found widespread popularity in the online space. Below are some of the most popular online poker formats: Caribbean poker A popular casino table game, Caribbean stud poker is a derivative of five-card stud poker and one of the oldest formats of the game. While the rules are similar to the five-card stud, where you play against other players, in Caribbean poker, you compete against the dealer. Caribbean stud poker specifics You have to play the ‘ante’ – meaning that all players must make a bet before a hand starts. The game is against the dealer, not other players. Each player is dealt five cards before each round begins. The dealer also deals himself five cards, with one of them face-up. The aim is to get the best hand possible according to the above strength of poker hands. A player can either fold their hand or make an extra bet equivalent to that of the Ante to play their hand against the dealer. When the dealer plays his hand, he must have at least Ace-King or higher to qualify to play. If the dealer fails to qualify, players win their ante wager and the raise is pushed. In some versions of Caribbean, players are allowed to replace one card for the price of their bet. Texas Hold’em Texas Hold’em is probably the most popular poker game worldwide. This version pits players against each other in cash games or tournaments. Key specifics include: A single 52-card deck is used for the game. Aces can be considered high or low when forming sequences. The role of dealer alternates each round between each player, always moving to the left. This person does not have to physically deal any cards but it is an important symbolic position that determines the order of betting in each round. Players are dealt two cards each, starting with the person to the dealer’s left. The player sitting on the dealer’s left has to make the ‘small blind’ bet. Then the player to the left of the small blind must make the ‘big blind’ bet. The small blind is always half of the big blind and both are designated in advance and increase as the game progresses. The aim of the blinds is to keep the game moving by ensuring there is always money in the pot. Essentially, the big blind is the minimum bet for players to participate in the next round. The player on the left of the big blind has to either call or raise the big blind bet. Each player then decides whether to match the highest bet (or big blind if nobody has raised), the ‘action’ always moves left. Table rules will fix eventual limits on the size or number of allowed raises. The game proceeds when betting is complete and three community cards are dealt face-up in the center of the table. This is called the “flop.” Another round of betting commences, starting with the player sitting on the dealer’s left. When the corresponding round of betting is complete a fourth community card is dealt face up in the center of the table. This card is called the “turn.” Another round of betting then begins. Once again, it starts with the player to the dealer’s left. Once the fourth round of betting is complete, a fifth and final community card is dealt face-up in the center of the table. It’s called the “river.” The final round of betting takes place and then players show their cards to determine a winner. If all players fold before these five rounds are completed, the player that has placed the highest wager wins the pot. Each player left in the round at the end of all five rounds of betting makes their best 5 card poker hand using their two cards and the communal cards. Players don’t need to use both of their cards. Texas Hold’em betting restrictions There are four types of betting restrictions in Texas Hold’em. They are: Fixed limit – utilizes predefined betting limits for each round of wagers. No limit – players can bet all their chips at any time. Pot-limit – players can bet as much as they want, up to the size of the pot. Mixed – a mix between fixed-limit Texas Hold’em and No-limit Texas Hold’em. Texas Hold’em Betting Options Texas Hold’em betting options mirror the general betting options described above. Meaning players can check, raise, fold, or match the minimum bet already on the table. Each round can only commence once all players have an equal wager in the pot or have folded. If one player makes a bet that nobody else calls, they take the pot. Three Card Poker Three card poker combines two games into one. In the Pair Plus game players can wager on whether they will be dealt a Pair or better, or not. The Play/Ante game lets players wager against the dealer or house to see if they can make a better hand. Here is how a typical game might progress: 1. Play – the table is divided into three circles per each player. Pair Plus is the circle where a player can place bets for the Pair Plus game. The other circles are labeled Ante and Play. For the game to begin players must place a wager on the Ante and/or the Pair Plus circle. 2. The deal – After players have placed their wagers, they receive a three-card hand from the dealer. The game starts with the player on the left of the dealer and the action moves clockwise. All players and the dealer have three cards. 3. Play or Fold – Once players see their cards, they can choose to fold or to play. If a player doesn’t like their hand, they can fold and lose their Ante wager. If they choose to play, they must place an additional bet equal to the Ante wager on the Play circle. 4. Hand comparison – Once all players have decided what they wish to do with their hand the dealer reveals his three cards. If the dealer has a Queen or higher he automatically ‘qualifies’ his hand. If you get a better hand than the dealer, you win money even from your Play and Ante bets. If the dealer doesn’t have a strong hand with Queen or Higher, all active players will have their Play bet returned, including their money for their Ante wager. Seven Card Stud In some variants of Stud poker, cards are dealt in a predetermined combination of face-down and face-up, these are known as ‘streets’. There is a round of betting after each. The most popular format of Stud is Seven-card, where players aim to make the best five-card possible out of their seven cards. Seven-Card Stud Gameplay Each player pays an Ante and gets three cards, two of them face down. The lowest face-up card, the door card, is obliged to ‘bring it in’. For example, if the Ante is $1, then the ‘bring it in’ is usually $5. The player with the lowest door card could also ‘complete’ by paying $10. Betting moves clockwise around the table. Each player can fold, bring in (call), or raise. After all players have had a turn, each player is dealt another face-up card. This is known as ‘fourth street’. Betting then begins again with each player showing their highest hand with their up-facing cards. The game continues and all players receive another face-up card on the so-called ‘fifth street’ and then another on ‘sixth street’. On ‘seventh street’ all players receive their seventh and final card face-down. All players still in the hand after the last round of betting then show their cards and the best five-card hand wins.