How to Play Poker
Written 29th October 2019
Poker has many variants and it’s always providing something new and engaging for players, making it one of the most popular amongst all casino games in the UK. However, before you dive into the world of poker, it’s best to get to grips with a more basic version like Casino Hold’em. You can play Live Casino Hold’em here at 21.co.uk whenever and wherever you like, offering the perfect opportunity to practice playing the game before you delve into more complicated poker variants. Casino Hold’em is a simpler form of poker which offers a whole lot of action. It can, however, be a little confusing to new players, so we’ve provided a detailed guide to the game and explained each stage of a typical round.
What is Casino Hold’em Poker?
Casino Hold’em is a popular poker variant of Texas Hold’em poker. The main difference between Casino Hold’em and Texas Hold’em is that Casino Hold’em is played against the house rather than against other players. This makes is the perfect poker game to get started with, as it’s easier to follow and also happens to be the most popular online poker game currently here at 21.co.uk. There’s also huge player scalability online as an unlimited number of players can place their bets and play against the dealer at one table simultaneously. You’ll find this poker variant is played in a classic UK Online Casino environment and bears resemblances to other card games like blackjack and baccarat, hence why it’s named Casino Hold’em.
To be able to play poker we must first learn the basics of the game. The first point of call is to place your bet. Just like in a real casino, Live Hold’em requires you to do this by placing chips on the relevant sections of the poker table, which is the circle labelled Ante. You may also wish to place an additional AA or Bonus side bet, but this is not required. The AA side bet is placed on the poker value of your own two cards and the first three community cards if a pair of Aces is found. The payout is dependant on the rank of the poker hand.
Once bets have been placed you and the dealer will both be dealt two cards each - yours will be facing up and the dealers will be facing down.
Three cards will then be laid in the centre of the table, face up. Cards in the centre of the table are known as community cards, as both you and the dealer will use these to try and form a winning poker hand.
Another round of bets are placed at this stage. A fourth community card will then be placed in the centre of the poker table, referred to as the ‘Turn’, alongside the initial three.
After the fourth community card is drawn, another round of wagering will occur before a fifth community card is placed on the table, called the ‘River’. You can then place your final bet and the dealer’s cards will be revealed. Each player’s hand will be compared with the dealer’s and any winnings will be credited according to the paytable.
The Aim of Casino Hold’em
The aim of this poker variant is fairly straightforward - form the best poker hand you can. In Casino Hold’em, this will be done using your two cards and the five community cards. Since this poker variant is played against the house, the objective is to beat the dealer’s hand. There are ten possible hands, which are ranked in order of value, from the famous Royal Flush all the way down to the High Card. Check out the infographic below to see the poker hands ranked.
As you can see, the most valuable hand you can possibly form in poker is the Royal Flush, which involves all face cards plus an Ace and a 10. This makes a consecutive set of cards from Ace down to 10, and all five of these cards must be the same suit. Less valuable hands involve three cards of the same rank, pairs, sequences and lastly, the High Card, which is played if you haven’t made any of the nine poker hands.
Check, Call or Fold?
When playing poker, there are three options available to you - check, call or fold. Let’s take a look at these in a little more detail.
Checking means to pass up the opportunity to bet whilst still being able to remain in play. Players are able to check if they are the first player to bet or the previous players have opted to check in this betting round. You signal you want to check by tapping on the table and saying 'Check'.
If you choose Call, you are choosing to continue the game and place the Call bet, which is double the Ante. The Call bet will then be placed on the Call bet section of the poker table automatically if you are playing poker online.
If you choose to fold, you will lose all wagered chips and sacrifice the current hand. You will essentially quit the round. You can still watch the rest of the game if you want to, but you cannot participate until the next round.
Whether you choose to Call or Fold is entirely up to you. You can make this decision with each new round of wagering, and decide whether you want to progress to see if you can beat the dealer or call it quits there and then. The convenient thing about Live Casino Hold’em is that you can see your own two cards alongside the community cards, as the game will show you the best poker hand you can currently form. This is a great feature which you can use to make a decision on whether to Call or Fold. The catch is that you cannot see the dealer’s cards, which is what makes this game interesting. You can make your next move quickly and easily using clearly marked buttons which will be visible on your screen at the appropriate times.
The Rules of Casino Hold’em Poker
Below are a few basic rules that you should brush up on before playing poker:
Casino Hold’em is played with a standard 52 card deck, excluding the Jokers. Only one game is played with one deck of cards, which are shuffled after each round has concluded.
The dealer must hold a pair of fours or higher to qualify. If the dealer doesn’t qualify, you win automatically. In this instance, the Ante bet pays according to the paytable.
Wins are determined using five out of the seven available cards. The highest paying hands are formed and compared to determine winners.
Bonus bets are separate to the Ante and are therefore not affected by the Call or Fold decision. Bonus bets are evaluated on the first hand of five cards only. If you hold a pair of Aces or a more valuable combination, you will win the Bonus side bet and paid according to the Bonus paytable.
Play Poker Online at 21.co.uk
So there you have it - a complete guide to the popular and easy poker variant, Casino Hold’em. You can play this epic poker variant right here at 21.co.uk, complete with professional live dealers and all of the features you need to get the most out of your online poker experience. If you want to venture out and try other poker variants, check out Live Ultimate Texas Hold’em and Live Caribbean Stud Poker.
Poker has long been regarded by many as a somewhat complex casino game. This can often lead to careless moves being made and a definite lack of decision making. With online poker, in particular, it can be hard to pin down a distinct poker strategy due to the nature of the game. There’s no need for bluffing or deception like in a real-life poker game against other players, but we’ll cover all aspects of basic poker strategy in case you fancy facing off against friends or even in a tournament.
Top Tips for Playing Poker
Let’s start with a few tips that are easy to put into practice.
1. Don’t throw money away
It may seem like we’re stating the obvious, but you’d probably be surprised at how many players waste money by playing terrible hands in poker. The aim, of course, is to keep your losses to a minimum and stretch your bankroll as far as possible, so if you’re dealt a hand that’s very unlikely to take you very far, it’s best to fold. We’ll cover when to call and fold in more detail later. If you’re new to poker, we highly recommend starting with low stakes until you get to grips with the game. Betting small also helps when you want to bluff, offering a certain level of protection in case it doesn’t pay off.
2. Read the other players
This only applies if you’re playing in a land-based setting. Poker has long been associated with perfecting a ‘poker face’, but it’s not just facial expressions you need to pay attention to. Hand reading is common, but the term is often misinterpreted as trying to work out the exact cards in a player’s hand. It’s actually more of a process of elimination, trying to narrow the possibilities down to a range of probable hands. This is based on the previous actions of the other player, during both the current and previous hands. Pro poker players think about their opponents' hands in ranges - you’ll almost never be able to guess the specific cards someone holds.
3. Keep it consistent
It’s a good idea to adopt a consistent strategy when playing poker. Just because your lucky number or a favourite hand comes up, doesn’t mean you should play it. Boredom also isn’t sufficient reason to call on a terrible hand - stick to your guns and keep gameplay sensible. A chaotic poker strategy will only lead to a depleted bankroll.
4. Play against the House
Playing one-on-one against the house is a great way for novice poker players to practice before going against other players. All of our online poker games are played against the dealer or the computer, with user-friendly controls, so you can get to grips various styles of poker without the pressure of numerous opponents. Live Casino Hold’em, for example, even displays the highest hand you can currently to make gameplay simple and seamless.
Poker Strategy: the Basics
The only real way to play poker the smart way is to learn when to call and when to fold. These are essentially the only options you have, and your decision may determine how successful you are at poker. Of course, there’s always a large element of luck involved in poker, as you never know which cards you’re going to be dealt. What you do with those cards and how you interpret them, however, is vital.
When to Call
The aim of any poker game is to form the highest hand possible. This may be achieved in different ways depending on which poker variant you happen to be playing, but much of the time it will involve a combination of your own cards and community cards (or “board”), which are placed in the centre of the table.
Whilst much of the time these decisions are down to your own judgement, there are several scenarios when you should always call:
- When you have a pair or higher
- When you are holding A high or K high, with your hole cards (your starting cards)
- When you have two overcards (hole cards of higher rank than any card on the board)
- When you have two overcards (hole cards of higher rank than any card on the board)
- When you have Q high or J high - as long as the board is not suited and you do not hold that suit in your hand
- If you only need one card to complete a Straight or a Flush
When to Fold
Knowing when to fold is perhaps a little easier - fold in almost every scenario that is not mentioned above. We recommend folding on paired boards unless you hold a card higher than 10.
The Art of Deception
Last, but by no means least, is the most iconic poker strategy of all - good old deception. Also known as bluffing, or displaying a poker face, attempting to deceive other players in order to affect how they play their own hand. The aim is usually to mislead opponents into thinking that your hand is much better than it actually is by betting strongly on weak hands and presenting a confident attitude. A semi-bluff is when a player does not hold a particularly strong hand but there’s potential to improve it in later rounds - these players bet strongly in order to induce players to fold their “weaker” hands. This isn’t a strategy you’ll be able to employ in online poker, but you can certainly give it a go when playing with friends or in tournaments.
Put Poker Strategy Into Action at 21.co.uk
If you fancy a few rounds of poker, whether it be Ultimate Texas Hold’em, Three Card Poker or a classic game of Casino Hold’em, 21.co.uk has plenty of tables - all streamed directly from premium casinos across the globe. Simply take your seat and the dealer will take care of the rest, all you have to worry about is making your next move. If you want to brush up on how to play poker, head over to out casino blog, where you’ll find poker tips, guides and more.
Online poker, in basic terms, is simply poker played on the internet. Rather than travelling to a real, brick and mortar casino or a friend’s house to play, you can simply log into your 21.co.uk account and have instant access to a range of epic online poker tables. Go up against live dealers and see if you can form a winning hand - will you play your cards right?
About Online Poker
Online poker has been popular for years, allowing poker players access to a whole host of poker variants from the comfort of their own home. The first-ever web-based poker room was available at Planet Poker back in 1998, and players have flocked to online poker games ever since. The basic concept remains the same, whether you’re playing poker online or in a land-based setting. Poker games can vary in the number of cards dealt, the number of community (shared) cards, the number of cards that remain hidden and the betting procedures - different variants have different rules, and that’s what keeps things interesting. However, the aim is always to form the most valuable hand possible - the ways in which you do this may vary from game to game. The winner of each hand is determined by the combination of each player’s cards - the qualifying hands are ranked in accordance to value, from a Royal Flush down to a High Card, which is only played when you can’t achieve any of the other hands. What appeals to many online poker players is the fact that you tend to be playing against the house and the house only, so there’s no need for trickery and you can certainly leave your best poker face behind.
Whilst earlier forms of online poker were simulated, 21st-century technology allows us to play poker online in new and innovative ways. Live poker is as close to real as it gets when playing online, as it allows players to interact with live dealers and other players. Streamed from some of the world’s most luxurious casinos, you’ll be dealt real cards at a real table, and you’ll play with a real croupier. If you favour a specific poker variant, you’ll more than likely find it in our live casino collection, as we host four different but equally engaging poker games. Check out our Live Poker Guide for more information on all things live poker.
How to Play Online Poker
Playing poker online is a fairly straightforward process. The first thing you need to do is decide which style of poker you want to play. Once you’ve chosen, the first stage of a poker game is to place your bet, which is often referred to as the Ante. Placing bets is done via an overlay, whether you’re playing a live poker game or a virtual product. This makes placing bets and making your next move easy. The betting sections of the poker table will always be labelled, so you’ll know where to place your virtual chips. Once all bets are placed, it’s time to get down to the action, which means cards will be dealt. The details of how many and who to will depend on which type of poker game you’re playing. Once you’ve got your cards, it’s decision time - will you call or fold? Choosing the latter will result in sacrificing your hand and losing your bet. If you decide to call, you are committing to your hand and continuing the game, which requires a Call Bet (double the Ante). All moves are made via buttons that will appear on screen at the appropriate time.
For a few tips from a pro poker player, check out our Poker Tips blog.
Online Poker FAQs
Is it Legal to Play Poker Online?
In a nutshell, yes. In the UK, it’s completely legal to play poker online as long as you do so via a fully licensed online casino. Online poker and online gambling, in general, is outlawed in some parts of the world, such as Japan and the American state of Washington.
Why Play Online Poker?
Playing poker online is a great way to practice before you play against real people, or if you happen to be more experienced, to sharpen your skills. Whilst the atmosphere of a real casino can be hard to beat, the comfort and convenience of being able to play at home or even on the go is something a land-based setting just cannot provide. With online poker, you can have the poker table in front of you within seconds of deciding to play, and this is what many players love about playing online.
Can Online Poker Be Rigged?
The idea that online poker games can be rigged is a myth that has long circulated online casinos. The fact is, it’s just not possible. In virtual poker games, all outcomes are determined by a random number generator, which the operator has no influence over. Live poker games are played in the same way as regular poker games - with a real pack of cards. The dealer does not have the ability to view or change the order of the cards prior to them being dealt.
Online Poker Variants
The term poker refers to a family of card games - all of which combine gambling, strategy and skill. There are various poker variants which fall under the poker umbrella, so there’s something to suit every player. When you play at 21.co.uk, you’ll be spoilt for choice. We have all of the classic online poker variants from Casino Hold’em to Five Card Draw.
Live Casino Hold’em
Possibly the simplest poker variant, Live Casino Hold’em is great for beginners. However, this doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice any of the action - Casino Hold’em is still an engaging game as you face off against the dealer. When bets have been placed, both yourself and the dealer will be dealt two cards each. Your card will face upwards, whereas the dealers will be facing down. Each round will see a number of community cards drawn and placed in the centre of the table - the objective is to use these as well as your two-card hand to form the most valuable poker hand possible. You can check out our How to Play Poker blog for the full rundown on how to play Casino Hold’em.
Ultimate Texas Hold’em
If you’re all about poker strategy, take a seat at the Ultimate Texas Hold’em table. This online poker game offers all of the anticipation and tactical gameplay of Texas Hold’em with modern gaming thanks to Evolution Gaming’s live feed. Take on the house in this highly popular variation of five-card stud, as you play through several levels of betting with a number of deals along the way. If you’ve played traditional Texas Hold’em in a land-based casino, you’ll know that this game is usually played against all other players at the table. Ultimate Texas Hold’em is different as all players are up against the house and the house only - this allows for mass multiplayer scalability, as a virtually unlimited number of people can play at any one time. You never have to wait around for a seat.
Live Caribbean Stud
Live Caribbean Stud is a fast-paced version of five-card stud poker. Created in the 1980s, this is actually a relatively new form of the game. Again, this is only played against the house. When all players have anted up, both the dealer and all players will be dealt five cards each. One of the dealer’s cards, however, will be dealt facing up, which is referred to as the hole. The hole determines whether the dealer qualifies for the round or not. In order to qualify, this card must be an ace or higher - if the dealer does not qualify, he forfeits the round and the player wins. What really sets Live Caribbean Stud apart from other live poker games, however, is the special features it offers. These special features come in the form of jackpots and side bets, which can really enrich gameplay and heighten the experience.
Three Card Poker
For a game which combines the speed of baccarat with the strategy of poker, look no further than Live Three Card Poker. Invented in the 1990s, this is a very new poker variant which has only risen in popularity since being adopted by land-based and online casinos. If you love poker but want something a little less complicated than the typical five-card games, this is for you. The simpler nature of this variant makes it a great option for both novice and experienced players alike, as it’s easy to follow whilst still offering substantial payouts.
Play Poker Online at 21.co.uk
We’ve given you the rundown on all things poker related here at 21.co.uk - now it’s your turn. Which is your favourite online poker variant? Will you beat the dealer and leave the table victorious? If poker isn’t your thing, fear not - we have a huge range of online roulette, online blackjack and Slot Games on offer, too.