Pilot Heidi Kennedy
Head of Casino Operations
Head of Casino Operations
The whole betting universe has changed as a result of the take off of online gaming at the turn of the millennium. None though, has seen more of an impact than poker. It’s the one game many of us associate with what a classic, real-life casino should look like. We know for us personally, poker immediately conjures up images of certain smoky cinema scenes. We’re sure you have your own pictures you see when you think about this beloved game.
To take that world into the online realm seems like such a gravity-defying leap. Nonetheless, poker is one of online gaming’s biggest success stories. Not only has it changed its surroundings, but it’s fundamentally changed the game. With the body language aspect gone, it has become much more about probability and logic. How you feel about that is a personal thing, but certainly, millions are happy with that, as suggested by the popularity of online poker. And we think it makes a lot of sense.
Finding a game now takes mere clicks, and the variety available is beyond what any real-life casino could offer. Plus, the gap in ambience is also being bridged, with live options and better software. All these advancements are great, but it does leave us with a problem. There are now so many options, you may not know where to start.
Well, we’re here to help. We’ll be breaking down everything we consider to make a poker comparison. We’ll also be explaining how you can best take advantage of those comparisons. Carry on reading if you want to join us in opening up a whole new galaxy’s worth of poker possibilities.
Before you explore a galaxy, you’ll need to figure out a few coordinates. When it comes to poker, you probably don’t realise just how much is out there. Those Hollywood images we talked about before? They’re just the tip of the iceberg of what you can expect from poker. Here, we’ll take you through the key versions of poker that are available online.
We’re not going to be breaking down all the rules here. To put it simply, all versions of poker are fairly complex, and we don’t feel like a quick overview here would do them justice. However, we’ll be talking about their key attributes so you can get an idea of what they’re like. This way, if they sound like something you may be interested in, then you can check them out in greater depth at your leisure. Think of this as a brief mission blueprint for the start of your poker exploration.
Some version you’ll likely have heard of, some probably not. What we hope from this though is that it can open your mind to the possibilities. Who knows, maybe there’s a version of poker you’ve never heard of that will become your favourite. Anything is possible in this vast unknown.
We could hardly start with anything else. The most famous and popular version of poker is, of course, Texas Hold’Em. It’s the version that James Bond plays. It’s the version astronauts are most likely to play, giving a whole new meaning to ‘the Float Play’ strategy. Maybe you don’t know much about any version of poker. Perhaps it’s pure curiosity that has brought you here. If that’s the case, welcome!
We think that aside from being popular, Texas Hold’Em is also a great place to start. It’s easy to learn but difficult to master, which is what you want from any game really. It’s also the most common type of poker. This means it’s accessible as long as you find the right game. There’s plenty of beginner and advanced options, and everything in between. It’s essentially so popular that you can find whatever level of play you need if you know where to look.
The downside for some will be its volatility. The same thing which makes Texas Hold’Em so interesting also makes it very high risk. Obviously, you can negate this by betting low, but ultimately, there are more effective options for the slow and steady.
There’s a good chance this is the first type of poker you ever played. Five Card Draw is a simple, classic version that relies heavily on bluffing and calling bluffs. It’s really interesting how this has transitioned into the online world. Obviously, calling bluffs in real life has a lot to do with body language. With that removed, it’s instead based on how competitors play the game. If you’re making the switch to online poker, it pays to understand those differences too.
Ironically, considering it was once such a live hit, it is now rare to find a live game. That means it has found a new lease of life online. This is a perfect one to learn for newcomers, with the basics being understood with limits. Even if you have another favourite, we’d still say it’s worth a look.
After Texas Hold’Em, this is the most popular version of poker. The ‘Hi’ refers to the highest hand getting all of the pot at the end of the showdown. It’s very similar to Texas Hold’Em meaning that there’s an easy transition if you want to expand your horizons. It’s the perfect way to rekindle your interest in the game if you play and love Hold’Em, but things have gotten a touch stale.
There’s tons of action and plenty of bluffing, with a lot of chances to make more hands thanks to the use of four cards. It is, however, a tough game to get very good at, so you’ll only want to go into games with a high level of play if you’re very confident in your abilities.
A big part of the fun of 5 Card Omaha is that it provides a high probability of delivering strong hands. It makes you feel strong, like the captain of your own intergalactic mission and allows for bold play. It’s primarily played online and due to its fast-paced nature, can see money move around very quickly.
It’s fairly easy to learn from a strategic point of view. This is especially the case if you’re already familiar with Omaha Hi, as a mere card separates these games. That said, you’ll need nerves of steel to deal with the meteoric speed of momentum, and a tendency to go big with your hands.
In our opinion, this is one of the most interesting versions of poker out there. Indeed, we think it’s one of the most interesting card games out there, bar none. As the title would suggest, the pot is split between high and low hands. The downside, of course, is that this game can be a bit trickier to learn than some others.
With that said, the average level of play is lower than some more popular options. This means that if you are willing to put in a little extra time, this could be a very rewarding game for you to learn. Not only that but it’s not complex for complexities sake. This is a game full of depth and with a whole lot to enjoy, even if its charms aren’t as immediate. It’s like the movement of the sun: it takes a while, but its effects shine brightly.
How times have changed. Seven Card Stud was once the most popular version of poker in the United States and in many parts of the world. It’s a slow, complicated game. Much like Omaha Hi-Lo, it’s one which will take a little while to get used to. However, it’s more considered nature does make that process easier as it’s a less aggressive option.
This is a version that requires patience. we’d say that you have to really consider what kind of player you are. If you enjoy the more fast-paced options, you may find this tiring. If you can slow down and appreciate the depth of the game, it may be the most rewarding. Seven Card Stud isn’t perfect for everyone, but it could be perfect for you.
The reason we’ve put Razz after 7 Card Stud is that the rules of both have a lot in common. Most people recommend learning 7 Card Stud before Razz, as it makes the latter so much easier.
What makes Razz stand out is the value of the hands being reversed. That’s right, you want the lowest possible hand you can. This, like 7 Card Stud, is great for more observational players due to the numbers of cards being utilised. In general, it’s a relaxed, slow-paced game, which is ideal for certain kinds of players.
Last is one that may have flown under the radar of even our most varied poker fan out there. That’s the very interesting Chinese Poker. This is a very distinct version. It features 13 cards and requires four players, for standard. These 13 cards are arranged into three different poker hands. Although this sounds complicated, the rest of the rules are pretty straightforward.
The main reason people don’t know it is because it’s probably the most distinct poker version. It also has a good following, meaning there are more online games than you might think. It’s absolutely worth a look if you’re seeking new discoveries.
The reason we broke down all those different poker versions wasn’t because we think an operator needs all of them to be good. If you’re only interested in one version, that’s absolutely fine. It was more so you could be as informed as possible before we moved forward. You can’t pick your favourite planet if you don’t know what’s in the solar system, after all.
This does bring up an interesting point though, which is that people have different priorities. That’s something we always consider deeply when making comparisons. For sure, some poker operators are better than others. However, that’s not always the case.
Let’s say, we have two poker sites and they offer different versions of the game. Both of them do an equally excellent job. In this instance, we couldn’t say which is better. Indeed, neither would be objectively superior. That’s just one example. One site could focus on more casual players, another on a more serious audience. It all comes down to personal preference. So, is one operator objectively the best?
We don’t think so, as part of it is personal. You may be wondering then, how we navigate this conundrum. We think there are two ways of accounting for this when making poker comparisons. One is to understand the benefit of variety. While one reader may not be interested in the addition of some versions of poker, it means more people can enjoy their offering. That’s why we view it as a positive in our comparisons, even if its individual merit is down to you personally.
The other is to consider who each site would be best for. It’s not just about comparing sites, but comparing them with an eye on the individual. We don’t know who is reading these comparisons, or what their preferences are. So, what we try to do is suggest who may find certain poker sites useful. That way, you can utilise the information we provide in the best way possible.
On some betting sites, poker can be a bit of an afterthought, and for some people, that’s just fine. For instance, many people simply want a few video poker options and nothing more. Like we said before, a lot of this comes down to preference. Of course, if this is the case, then poker may be overlooked when it comes to promotions. This is really the only scenario though in which a lack of poker promotions can be viewed as acceptable.
Considering you’re reading this article though, we think it’s unlikely this kind of bookmaker would be right for you. It’s possible, but in the same way a meteor strike in the next five minutes is possible.
If you have a bookmaker with a decent poker product, promotions should be expected. They often have their own welcome bonuses and loyalty schemes. Tournament entry is also a regular bonus option, as are things like instant wins and matched deposits. Really though, anything the operator can think of could be a promotion. These are just some typical options. What’s really important is that your expectations for poker bonuses should be every bit as sky-high as any sportsbook or casino option.
There’s a whole lot that goes into making a great poker operator what it is. Far from just being a platform to play basic computer editions of Hold’Em, today’s best poker sites are full-blown communities. Many of them double as casinos, sportsbooks and more. They’re incredibly technically advanced and need to offer world-class service to have a chance of standing out in the deep space of online gaming.
Just to be clear, by poker operator, we mean any site with a dedicated poker product. This means if a casino has a few very basic poker options, they wouldn’t be considered. However, if they have their own dedicated poker page with software and the ability to play against others, that would count. It’s just common sense really. If we can see an operator has made a reasonable effort to give poker fans a viable product, they can be considered.
What’s good about this is there is so much choice out there. The issue is not finding a good poker site, but finding the best for you amongst a Milky Way of wonderful options. Well, join us to find out exactly how we go about achieving exactly that. This is a step-by-step breakdown of the key things we consider in a poker comparison.
No matter which type of betting we’re talking about, nothing matters more than you being able to trust the site. Betting on an untrustworthy site is like getting on your starcraft without a helmet: you’re going to have a bad time.
Something that’s often overlooked by other reviewers is the pool of players. Now, one of the great things about poker is that it’s popular. That means you should be able to find people to play with pretty easily. It’s not like you’re setting up a game on Mars, after all. But that’s a bare minimum.
What we’re looking for here are different types of player pools. That’s because you may be a casual player, wanting to have some low stakes larks. Or, you may take things more seriously and have much more experience as a player. Ideally, we want as many types of player pools as we can get. The more there are, the wider an appeal the site has.
This is directly tied to the last section. For quality poker sites, a great selection of tournaments is vital. You’ll want a wide range of player pools here, not to mention a whole lot of variety in the risk involved. Tournaments can be very cheap to enter or even free in some instances. They can also cost a fair bit more than that. Variety is absolutely paramount here.
And speaking of which, yes, variety is important in tournaments, of course, but that’s just because it’s so vital for poker sites in general. We already discussed the selection of poker games available, and that isn’t even all of them. They’re just ones you can commonly find online. Ideally, we want to see as many games as possible.
We also want to see as wide a variety of pots as possible too. If a site can provide this and can back it up with enough players to hold it all up, then you have a real standout. As sure as the setting sun, variety is key to a quality poker comparison.
There’s a reason a lot of betting sites choose not to dedicate much space to poker. You may find some video poker options, for instance, but not dedicated tournaments or anything like that. It’s because quality poker software is a difficult thing to pull off.
In order for the games to work appropriately, it needs to be seamless and work as smoothly as if you were there in real life. Jitters, slow down, lag, all these things can severely impact your ability to play. And we’re talking about real money games here, that’s no small flaw. In addition, the quality of any live poker options provided also needs to be top-notch.
There’s another element to design too and that’s the look and feel of a site, its app and any software it uses. When poker first made its way online, we think it’s fair to say it lacked a little of the Earth’s atmosphere. It felt a great deal more like being lost in some online vacuum of space.
Today though, things are vastly improved. Quality poker options go above and beyond – not just to provide a game that’s technically sound, but one which as closely resembles and reflects the real game as possible. Or, if you prefer, there are options that go a little more left-field. They try to get creative to best utilise the possibilities of the internet. In any case, we’ll be comparing how well they execute their chosen style and ambience
We talked about promotions a lot earlier in this article. However, we would be remiss not to also bring them up here because they’re indeed an incredibly important part of a poker comparison. Let us go into a touch more detail about what we’re looking for.
Firstly is what promotions are initially available. If there’s nothing to analyse, we can’t go much further. Assuming there are, there are several things to consider. One is the kind of variety they provide. Are they all one kind of promotion or are there several genres of options? On a similar note, we’re always looking out for creativity. Great promotions don’t just offer value: they reflect and expand an operator’s personality.
Into the nitty-gritty now and we’re looking at what value the promotions appear to offer. You can think of this as an overview, like we’re looking at all the continents from a rocket ship. Then, when we’ve got an initial impression, we make our landing. This means checking out the terms and conditions and seeing how those two impressions synch up. Obviously, we’re looking for overall value but, in addition, we’re looking to see whether that first impression of Earth gives an honest reflection of what’s down below.
These two things are quite different, and they obviously have to be checked separately. That said, the reason we have put them together here is that they have a similar meteor-like impact. If you’re not able to find a banking option, the site is useless to you. And if you can’t get on the site due to your location, the same thing applies.
Of course, we don’t necessarily view this as the fault of the site. Often, restrictions are beyond their control. Sometimes their banking options simply reflect a target audience. Remember what we said earlier though, the more people the site can appeal to, the better. So, we take this into account when we compare who that poker site can be useful for. In addition, banking options have other considerations. These include things like fees, transaction times and reliability. All should be trustworthy and adhere to standard (or better) fees and transaction times.
No matter how good an operator is, we all need a little bit of help sometimes. Customer service is the ground control to your Major Tom – your helping hand when you need it. Most people think customer service starts at the team but we disagree. We first check out the Help section to see what questions we can get answered before we talk to anyone. After this, we see what options are available. Live chat is ideal for most people, especially if it’s available around the clock, but we also look out for things like email and phone options. At this point, it’s time to try them out, assessing their speed and helpfulness
Finally, even when it comes to poker comparisons, we’re seeing what else is available. we don’t miss the stars for the moon. We understand a lot of people want multiple elements from their betting sites. So, while it’s not our main priority with poker comparisons, it’s something worth noting so we can best tell you what kind of person that site is right for.
We’ve talked a lot about how the right poker operator is personal – and it is. That’s why we put so much emphasis on not just finding the best poker sites, but the best for different audiences. Ultimately though, we can only go so far. We can’t tell you if you like a certain site. We can only suggest which ones are worth exploring. So, if you’re not sure what you’re seeking, have a good think about what you want from a poker site.
We hope you have found this enlightening and that you have a better idea of what goes into a poker comparison. In addition, we hope you can think of this as a partnership to find you the best possible poker site to send your online betting experience into space.