There are heaps of things you can do at most online casinos; you can play pokies until you’ve run out of them, or you can challenge yourself with a new version of Blackjack or Roulette. Playing what you know can be a lot of fun, but eventually you’re going to want to branch out to another game. Luckily, almost all casinos are also poker sites, and with so many different types and rule sets of online poker, you can spend heaps of time not only learning to play, but competing against other Australian players.
While playing online is a lot of fun, long-time poker players will no doubt remember 2011’s infamous Black Friday. This legal dispute between the United States and some online poker operators which caused huge ripples internationally and across the online gambling industry. Even though this was almost a decade ago, it stressed poker sites being compliant with the laws where they were offered, which continues to benefit us today.
Where can you play online poker in Australia for real money, and which sites are the best?
Black Friday made a lot of folks as cross as a frog in a sock, but there’s no doubt that online poker has grown and thrived over the last decade. International poker rooms like Americas Cardroom and Intertops feature huge regular tournaments, heaps of different versions to play, and vibrant communities. Online casinos can’t quite match the breadth or depth of what’s available at poker sites, but they typically has a number of types of games to play solo.
Another key difference between these two types of website is the ability to play for free or not. Since poker rooms are focused on the competitive experience, you’re not going to be able to play for free – though games with smaller stakes are always available. At online casinos, you’re usually only playing against the game itself, so free play or practice rounds are often available. That said, they’re still real money poker sites, since you can play with and win money on video poker machines and, if the casino offers it, you can have a more competitive experience with live dealer poker.
Both have their pluses and minuses; poker rooms are arguably the best way to have a pure experience, with dozens of poker tables open at a time, but they typically require you to download desktop software or mobile software, and they usually don’t offer anything else. Online casinos have a lot more variety and you can play poker in your mobile browser, but there’s not as much depth.
There is no right answer; where you choose to play online is up to you, and there’s no reason you can’t sign up at both a poker room and an online casino to enjoy the best of both worlds.
Online Poker Game Variants
No matter which poker site you choose to play at, you’re going to find there are heaps of different types, each with unique rule sets. Here’s what you need to know about some of the most common kinds of poker.
Straight poker is probably what you think of when you think of poker. The oldest variety of poker sees every player dealt a complete hand at the beginning of the game. Every player bets in a single round, with raising and re-raising allowed, and the best hand wins. As its name may hint, straight poker is very straightforward compared to other types of poker, so strategy isn’t as important.
Stud poker has been enjoying a bit of a resurgence online; amongst Australian poker players, it remains a popular, if somewhat complex, variety of poker. While stud poker is not as common at poker sites as some of the other types on this list, it should still be fairly easy to find.
Before the game begins, each player places an ante. Players are then dealt a mix of face-down and face-up cards. What follows this is the “bring-in”, where the player with the weakest face-up card is meant to place a small bet, though they are not forced to. If players have a similar card, the player closest to the dealer places the bet.
Rounds of stud poker in which players get new cards from the dealer are called “streets”. On the third round, “Third Street”, each player receives a third face-up card. The betting round is initiated by the player with the strongest face-up card. The game players out similarly in the next round, the “Fourth Street”.
The last round, where a punter gets their last face-up card, is called “the river”. This round follows the same pattern as the others, but it can end up being a lot more exciting. Players can challenge each other on a showdown, with the winner being the player who remains with the strongest hand.
Texas Hold’em is the poster child of the poker boom, with every poker site offering multiple tables of what has been the most popular game variety for almost two decades.
In every round, each punter is dealt two “hole” cards fade-down, as well as five face-up “community” cards. The game progresses as follows: a series of three cards (“the flop”), an additional single card (“the turn” or “Fourth Street”), and a final card (“the river” or “Fifth Street”).
The first player seated to the left of the dealer – “the blind” – places a bet, half of the bet limit, before the other punters can look at their cards. The second player on the left – “the big blind” – does this as well, but their bet needs to meet the limit. There are typically only two blinds, but there can be as many as three. After this, the remaining players place their bets. Each must either check, fold, call, or match the bets placed by the blinds.
After betting, the community cards are placed on the center of the table, which each player using them to add to their hole cards and make a full hand. In order to win the pot, players must have the strongest hand.
Omaha is very similar to Texas Hold’em, with the key difference being that punters get four hole cards instead of two. However, as with Texas Hold’em, they’re only able to make use of two of those four cards to make their hand – they must use three of the community cards.
Many poker sites offer a version of Omaha called Omaha Hi-Lo, a version of Omaha where players compete for both the high and low ends of the pot. The high end of the pot follows the same rules as normal Omaha, while the low end of the pot challenges players to use the lowest cards possible. An ace can act as the lowest card in the game, so the best hand when going after the low pot is an ace, a two, a three, a four, and a five.
Banking Options at Poker Sites
At this point, all you need to become one of the best Australian poker players is some experience, and there’s no better way to get it than by playing some hands of your game of choice. No matter which poker site you choose, there are many deposit options available to use, typically including credit cards, eWallet services, and cryptocurrencies. While every site is slightly different about the specifics, one or more of these types of payments will always be available. For example, can you imagine a website in 2020 that doesn’t accept Visa? We can’t either.
Poker sites also often offer welcome or deposit bonuses, though with poker rooms this works somewhat differently than it does with online casinos. At a casino, it’s typical for you to get an entire bonus as soon as you take the steps to claim it, though at poker rooms you need to earn your bonus over a certain window of time by playing and betting. While it does mean that whatever you don’t earn is forfeit, poker rooms typically don’t have wagering requirements in the same way that online casinos do.
When it comes to withdrawals, every poker site is different. The payout speed of your winnings might only be a few hours, but it could be a few weeks. Remember to always read the terms and conditions of whatever site you choose to play at, so you’re not left wondering when you might get your hard-earned winnings.
The only thing left to do is hit the poker tables and join your fellow Australian poker players!