There are many variations of poker, most of them played with a standard deck of 52 cards.
Online poker games involve rounds of betting into a common pot and rounds of replacing or receiving cards. The number of betting rounds and card draws depends on the particular variation of the online poker game you are playing and each betting round ends when all players have contributed to the pot equally.
There are two different types of game play in a pokerroom: "Ring Games" and "Tournaments".
A ring game is a poker game that is confined to a single table. At any time between hands players may freely sit down and cash out of a pokerroom at any time. Players can come and go as they please and sit out when they need to take a short break. Beginners tend to start by playing ring games, and then progress to tournaments later.
Choosing your game: Betting Structures and Table Limits
You'll probably already have a good idea of what style of poker you want to play. We currently offer Texas Holdem, Omaha, Omaha Hi/Lo, 7 Card Stud, 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo and 5 Card Draw and so when you start up the software and go to the poker lobby, your choice of game will probably depend on the "Betting Structure". It's an indication of how much you can bet and the kind of action you'll see in a ring game or tournament.
When playing poker online, any ring game or tournament can use any betting structure, applied to any style of poker. For example you could play a "$2/$4 Fixed Limit Texas Hold'em Ring Game" for a while before joining a "$10/$20 Pot Limit Omaha Tournament". MANSION's software displays this kind of information for every table and tournament offered in our pokerrooms. There are three types of betting structure:
In Fixed Limit poker there can be one bet and three raises maximum in each round of betting. During the first two rounds of betting the lower limit is used to start the betting and the higher limit is used for the second two rounds. The raise can only be the size of the previous bet or the previous raise. The minimum buy-in amount to a Fixed Limit ring game is 10x the "big blind" (for what that is, see below) with no maximum limit.
Pot limit poker is similar to Fixed Limit with one bet and three raises maximum in each round of betting. The minimum raise is the size of the previous bet or the previous raise. The maximum allowable raise is the size of the online poker pot. The size of the pot is calculated as the pot plus all the bets on the table for that round plus the amount the player must call for the current bet.
The minimum buy-in amount to a pot limit ring game is 20x the "big blind" (for what that is, see below). Maximum buy-in amount is 100x the big blind. A "sliding scale" in the software display allows you to bet between the minimum and maximum range.
In No Limit poker, the method of play is the same as pot limit, however there is no maximum number of raises for each round of betting in a pokerroom. The minimum raise is the size of the previous bet or the previous raise. The maximum allowable raise is all of your chips. The minimum buy-in amount to a No limit ring game is 20x the big blind. Maximum buy-in amount is 100x the "big blind" (for what that is, see below). A "sliding scale" in the software display allows you to bet between the minimum and maximum range.
Choosing your game: Blinds and Antes
To make sure that there's always money in the online poker pot for each hand of poker, the table limits dictate a compulsory bet made by some or all of the players at the table before anyone has even seen their cards. These are called "Blinds" and "Antes".
Blinds are a compulsory bet placed in the poker pot to start the betting and to give players an incentive to enter the hand. You'll see this in Hold'em, Omaha and Omaha Hi/Lo style games. It also means that the winner of the hand will always collect a pot rather than nothing at all. Before the first cards are dealt, the player immediately to the left of the dealer button must post the "small blind". The player to the left of the small blind must post the "big blind". The small blind is usually equal to half the minimum bet. The big blind is equal the minimum bet. So in a fixed limit game a $1 small blind, $2 big blind would be described as a $2/$4 game and in pot limit and no limit games a $1 small blind, $2 big blind would be described as a $1/$2 game.
Before the beginning of a 7 Card Stud game, every online poker player must place an 'ante', a compulsory small bet similar to the "blinds" found in Hold'em, Omaha or Omaha Hi/Lo. Their size is dictated by the table limits, e.g. on a $5/$10 table, there is an ante of 50c. Likewise, on a $10/$20 table, the ante would be $1.
Once you've downloaded our software and logged in, all our Ring Games can be found in the main poker lobby under the Games tab. To view any table, double click on your chosen game. Alternatively you can click the join button in the bottom right corner of the lobby window.
To sit down at the poker table, click on any open seat. The cashier page will appear and prompt you to purchase poker chips for the game. The minimum buy-in amount for the game will be shown in the amount box.
Please note: depending on the betting structure of the game there is a minimum and maximum buy-in to ring games in the pokerroom.
Your choices: Bet, Check, Raise, Call or Fold?
Depending on the situation, you'll have a choice of at least two actions when it's your turn. To make things easier MANSION's software will only show you the options which apply to your situation.
To put chips into the pot indicating the confidence you have in your hand. The more you bet the more the other players will have to risk in order to stay in the game.
If the betting comes around to your turn and there have been no bets or raises, you have the choice to check, taking no more action. If another poker player has bet or raised, you do not have the option to check, if you wish to stay in the hand you must "Call" or make an even larger bet ("Raise") to stay in.
Increase the previous bet made, meaning your opponents will have to "Call" your bet to stay in the hand or "Fold".
Match the previous bet and stay in the hand.
Decide that your cards are not good enough to continue, discard your hand and not take part in the current hand or the current pot.
Most online poker players start by learning Texas Hold'em. Now that you've read the basics, check out the rules of Holdem and don't forget our Glossary and Hand Rankings pages.