Texas Hold’em, Pot-Limit Omaha, Seven-Card Stud, 2-7 Triple Draw, Razz, Badugi, Crazy Pineapple, Chicago, Chinese, Open-Face Chinese, Guts, HORSE … the list of poker games is, truly, a mile long.
MTTs, Sit-and-Go’s, Hyper Turbos, Six-Max, Heads-Up, Double or Nothings, Fast-Fold Poker… likewise, the formats of poker games you can find on poker sites is more diverse than ever.
Whatever kind of poker game you're looking for, you can find it online. If you need some suggestions for which poker game to try first find a quick sampler of the most popular poker games online below.
If you already know your preferred poker game, click directly through to any of the best online poker sites listed, download the software and get the highest sign-up bonus available online!
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Poker Games Online
Throughout most of its storied history the game of poker was primarily one that was played "live" - meaning face to face with other players seated around a table.
From its early days on steamships and in back rooms of dusty saloons, poker emerged as a popular activity in California card rooms in the 70s and 80s and spread across the US in casinos and home games over the 80s and 90s.
When things really began to take off was in 2003, though, when Tennessee accountant and amateur poker player Chris Moneymaker won the WSOP Main Event and kicked off a "poker boom" still reverberating around the world today.
Running alongside that boom was the ascendance of online poker games, which went from a few computer nerds trading hands back-and-forth on IRC to the rudimentary Planet Poker to the global behemoth that became PokerStars.
It's been a fascinating progression that has seen its fair share of peaks and valleys but there's no doubt the accessibility of online poker has changed the game's course forever.
As rules and regulations for online poker games differ across countries and continents, there's no one "universal" player pool for online poker but with just a a few exceptions online poker games in some form should be available to you in the country you live in.
Check our toplist above to see which are the best poker sites operating in your country or state and read on for a quick introduction to the myriad poker games you can learn and enjoy.
Free Poker Games
If you're hesitating at the idea of putting your money into an imagined world teeming with sharks and grifters online, we can assuage your fears. The world of online poker games is far from a den of inequity.
In the UK, US, Europe and Asia, for example, major online poker companies are publicly owned listed on the stock exchanges.
They are licensed and regulated by government oversight agencies like the UK Gambling Commission or the New Jersey Department of Gaming Enforcement.
Online poker games are certified and guaranteed to be fair and secure and your online transactions are protected by the latest ssl encryption, just as any online transactions are. As long as you're playing on a licensed and certified poker site, online poker is as safe as it gets.
For many people, though, a very enticing entry point are the free poker games which online poker sites offer without ever needing to create an account or make a deposit.
Free poker games can be found on any major poker site and can be accessed with any Internet browser or smartphone. Simply look for the "play money" or "Instant Play" options on the website.
Once you register an actual account you'll still be able to play free games but you'll be able to build your own virtual bankroll and access great real-money rewards like freeroll tickets and satellite seats.
If you'd like to learn how to make bets and play hands on an online poker interface, free poker games are a great way to start. Once you get used to the speed of the software and how hands play out in real time you'll be much more comfortable playing for any amount of real money.
Once you get your feet wet we'd bet you'll even find it as good or better than live poker itself with the freedom to play whenever and wherever you like and more poker hands per hour than you've ever imagined.
Online poker even offers amazing variants like Fast Fold Poker, where every time you fold your hand you're instantly moved to a new table with a new table. Find the best places to play free poker online here:
Poker Games - Texas Holdem
The most popular poker variation in the world by a large margin, Texas Hold’em is the game you’ve most likely seen on TV or in recent movies.
With two hidden hole cards for each player and five exposed "community" cards shared among the players, Hold’em is a back-and-forth mental tug-of-war packed with great action and strategy in all of its formats.
"No-Limit" Holdem in particular has captured the world's imagination with the opportunity for any player to shove all of their chips in the middle at any point and put their opponent to the ultimate test.
It's the signature format of the $10,000 World Series of Poker Main Event and if you've watched even a moment of it on the famous ESPN broadcast you know it's never shy on heart-stopping (or heartbreaking) moments.
If you're interested in playing No-Limit Holdem yourself, there’s always a game available online, 24 hours a day, no matter your budget or skill level. In fact almost 95% of all online poker games play at stakes under $5 so it's a very accessible pastime for any poker player.
If you’re just getting started playing Texas Hold’em we recommend checking out some basic articles for a simple understanding of the rules and etiquette of the game and a few of our tips for solid beginner Holdem strategy.
- How to Play Texas Hold'em | Texas Holdem Rules
- Texas Hold'em Strategy - A Complete Beginner's Guide
- Best Texas Holdem Poker Sites Online
Poker Games - Omaha
If Texas Hold’em poker is considered “high-action” poker, Omaha has to be considered “really high action” poker. Growing a ton in popularity over the last few years, Omaha poker is similar to Texas Hold’em in rules and betting structures but has one major difference: In Omaha you get four hole cards compared to two in Hold’em - although you can still only use two to comprise your final hand.
Given the amount of added variables and hand combinations with four hole cards instead of two, you can see how Omaha has action potential on every street. Pot-Limit Omaha is probably the most popular Omaha variant online. You can find out more about its betting structure and game play in our Rules section and check out our beginner strategy series “How to Not Suck at Pot-Limit Omaha.”
- How to Play Omaha Poker | Omaha Poker Rules
- How to Not Suck at Pot-Limit Omaha
- Play Omaha Poker Online
Poker Games - Seven-Card Stud
The "granddaddy" of poker games, Seven-Card Stud is what most people were thinking of when they said "poker" in the past. The dominant game of our grandfathers, you might have learned it at the kitchen table from one of them.
It's definitely not as popular today as it once was - Texas Hold'em is certainly the dominant game of choice now - but you'll still find it in lots of cards rooms (particularly in California) and at the World Series of Poker.
It's also a regular component of Mixed Games like HORSE and 8-Game. A lot of poker die-hards like to think of 7-Card Stud as one of the "purist" of poker games and if you take a couple minutes to try it out online you'll find yourself drawn in with its classic poker feel.
Learn the basic rules of Stud poker right here; if you're looking to play it online you'll find Stud games spread at all of the major poker sites listed above including 888poker, party poker, Tiger Gaming Poker and PokerStars.
Mixed Poker Games
A "mixed" poker game is a game that rotates through different variants and changes after every orbit around the table. The most popular Mixed Games is likely HORSE, which is a combination of Holdem, Omaha, Razz, Stud and Stud 8-or-Better.
8-Game and 10-Game mix are also becoming more common in the live arena at major tournament series like the World Series of Poker. These mixed-game variants will add in even lesser known poker games like Badugi, Badeucey and 2-7 Triple Draw. Read more about all the different poker games you can play in our Poker Rules section:
Casino Poker Games
Casino poker games, or casino table games that feature poker hands or poker elements, are an entirely different animal. Primarily, of course, you are not playing against other players at the table.
You're playing against the house - like you do with every other casino table game such as Baccarat, Roulette, Craps, Blackjack, etc. And as everyone knows about playing against the house, the house is set up to win. Not win a lot, necessarily. But still the odds are in the house's favor.
When you play a standard poker game like Hold'em or Omaha you can build your own edge into the game by how hard you study and just how good you are at outsmarting your opponents. In casino poker games you can't do that. But you can play an optimal strategy for each game that does reduce the house edge substantially.
With a game like video poker, for example, with perfect strategy you can even turn the house odds slightly in your favor. At the very least you can get all your drinks for free in Vegas.
To learn more about the most popular casino games that involve poker check our individual game pages here:
Want to learn even more poker games for your home game? Watch this video to learn how to play Pineapple Poker and Open-Face Chinese Poker:
Incredibly popular over the last 10 years, poker tournaments of all shapes and forms appeal to poker players for several reasons. To start with, the potential return on your investment is always remarkably huge compared to your initial buy-in.
In a small-stakes tournament you can turn a $1 or $2 buy-in into several hundred with nothing more than a lucky run of cards. In a larger buy-in tournament, like the Sunday Million on PokerStars, you could turn $215 into $200,000 or more.
It’s that kind of potential that keeps players coming back for more and more tournaments in between their poker cash games. New players also love the fact that if the cards don't go your way, you know exactly how much you stand to lose (which, generally speaking, is not much).
Multi-table tournaments, sit-and-gos (one-table tournaments that start as soon as the table is full), double-or-nothings, shootouts … the number of tournament variations these days is massive and always growing. See our list below of some of the most popular poker tournament formats you'll find online. Learn more about free poker tournaments online here.
Poker Games for Beginners
Online poker used to be relegated to just Limit Hold’em cash games and the occasional 7-Card stud game but these days there are literally hundreds of poker games variants available to poker players. Here’s a quick look at some of the most common types of poker games you'll encounter online.
Poker Cash Games vs. Poker Tournaments
Every poker game offered online can be labeled as a "tournament" or a "cash" game (also known as a "ring" game). These two different poker games are vastly different in format and strategy.
Players buy into a tournament for a one-time entrance fee and receive a select number of starting chips (always the same for all players). Blind levels continually increase to keep the pressure on players to get in the action.
When a player's tournament chips are gone, the player is out of the tournament. Those who last into the top 10-15% of all players entered "make the money" and receive a cash payout. The lowest level of payout is typically slightly more than the original buy-in while the top payout is typically 20-50% of the total prize pool.
In some smaller single-table tournaments they can also be "winner take all" and the winner gets the total amount of the prize pool.Tournament buy-ins online vary from as little as $.10 all the way up to $25,000-$100,000+ at the highest of stakes in the world.
Freeroll tournament are also a popular offering at most poker sites to bring in new players. These tournaments have no entry fess but pay out in real-money (or equivalent) prizes. Read more about freerolls here:
In poker cash games players buy in for a minimum or maximum at each table and play with that amount of money on the table.
Every pot they win from other players they can keep and either keep on the table for play or get up and leave the table with a profit. Players can't take a portion off the table and continue to play with just the winnings, though; you'll need to leave the table and then return to a seat later with another set buy-in amount within the minimum or maximum
If a player loses all of his or her money, (s)he can rebuy into the table with another buy-in.
Poker games stakes you can find online are much wider than those you can find at a live casino ro card room. Whereas the smallest stakes at a live casino are usually $1/$2 blinds with a minimum buy in of $20, online poker games range from $.01/$.02 blinds all the way up to $2,000/$4,000!
Below are a few of the poker games variants that can be played in tournaments or cash games - and in some cases both.
Short-Handed Poker Games
"Shorthanded" usually means 6 players at a table or less (a full ring game will have 9 or 10). Short-handed poker games tend to be more action-oriented than a table of nine or 10 players. Sometimes these games are also offered with a maximum of four or five players or, in the case of jackpot sit-and-gos like PpkerStars' Spin & Gos can have just 3 players.
Short-handed poker games can be found in both tournament and cash game formats.
Limit or Pot-Limit Poker Games
Poker cash games can also be played with limits in place to restrict the betting. In other words it’s impossible to lose your entire stack in one hand (unless you have a very small stack). Limit games are available in cash games or tournaments.
Pot-Limit games (most commonly found in Pot-Limit Omaha) restrict the bet amounts to the total in the pot at anyone time. Read more about Limit and Pot-Limit betting formats here:
Heads-Up Poker Games
Many consider heads-up poker to be the most pure form of the game. Heads-up is a one-on-one poker game where one player wins and the other loses. It can be played in a sit & go style, across multiple tables in a shootout tournament or in cash games.
Sit & Go Poker Games
A Sit & Go is a short tournament is usually made up of one table, although some include multiple tables. The game begins as soon as there are enough players signed up. Many players prefer this form of poker game because it's perhaps the least time-intensive variant.
Online you can find sit & go poker games starting up virtually every minute and at every possible stake level. Once you've created your poker account, simply navigate to the "Sit & Go" lobby to find all the games available to you.
When you've found the buy-in level you want to play and a table with an open seat, just click the "register" button and you'll be seated at the table and in the action momentarily!
Jackpot SnGs (Spin & Go's)
A Jackpot Sit & Go, or "Spin & Go" as they're branded on PokerStars, is another exciting new form of poker game developed entirely by online poker sites (although now updated to be played at live tournament series, too).
These are 3- or 4-player hyper turbo SnGs where the prize pool is automatically multiplied by a random multiplier before it begins. Buy-ins can range from just $1 or less to up to $500 or so but the multipliers can reach up to 10,000x the original prize pool so they can be quite lucrative.
Most are winner-take-all but at the highest jackpot levels every player at the table splits the jackpot. Read more and play Spin & Gos here:
A multi-table tournament (MTT) lets players sign up for a certain registration period beforehand and when that time has expired the tournament begins. These tournaments usually take more time than Sit & Go's but the prizes are usually much better. These tournaments can range anywhere from 20 players up to 50,000.
Bounty tournaments are simply MTTs where there is a bonus for busting certain pre-designated players. Many online poker rooms put bounties on their pros in select tournaments to help generate interest.
Turbo or Super Turbo Tournaments
Turbo tournaments are exactly what they sound like – sped up versions of regular Sit & Goes and MTTs. Starting stacks are usually very small and the blinds escalate at a rapid pace. These can quickly turn into a shove-fest.
Shootout tournaments are essentially a series of Sit & Go's where the winners move on to the next round. For example in certain Shootout tournaments if you make it through five rounds you get to the final table where there is serious money to be won.
Fast Fold Poker (Zoom Poker)
Another increasingly popular poker game variation you can find online is Fast Fold Poker, or Zoom Poker as it's known on PokerStars. The concept is simple: When you register for a Zoom Poker cash game or tournament you are pooled with all of the other players who are playing Zoom as well.
Whenever you fold your hand you are immediately whisked to a new table with a new poker hand in front of you. No waiting for a hand to finish or for players to make long decisions. Just fold and bam, you're reseated with a new hand.
Fast Fold Poker games are offered by every major poker site under a different brand name (Zoom, Rush, Speed, Snap etc) but they all play more or less the same. They're perfect for mobile online poker apps as well. Read more about Fast Fold Poker and how to play optimally here:
Short Deck Hold'em (6+ Hold'em)
Short Deck poker is a new poker game format made popular in Asia but increasingly gaining ground with high-stakes and low-stakes players alike.
The format is simple: All cards under 6 are removed from the deck. As you might guess, this dramtically ups the value of the hands you do hit and can change strategy substantially. Learn more about the game and where to play it online here:
Try Out Great Poker Games Free with No Download Poker!
Want to try out a few different poker games and get some practice in before playing for real money? Free no download online poker games are a great way to learn the ropes of online poker software and try out new game variations without any risk.
All the major poker sites offer an "Instant Play" or no download free version you can play without downloading any software. All you need is a major Internet browser (Safari, Firefox, Explorer, Chrome etc) and the latest Flash update.
Learn more about playing free no download poker right here: