Poker is an appealing mixture of skill and luck and its one of the few games where skill and strategy can make a really significant difference to the outcome. While poker has been around for hundreds of years, online poker is a relatively new invention but it’s rapidly growing in popularity.

Online poker has a number of benefits for players, the main one being you can play anywhere at any time and you don’t have to wait for other players. The other one is that you don’t need to have a good poker face to bluff your way through!

Here are our top recommended online poker casinos where you can start playing poker online today.

Rules of poker

While there are multiple variations of poker, the principle is basically the same across them all. Players are dealt a number of cards and the player with the highest value hand wins. The cards are ranked differently in value depending on the version of poker you happen to be playing.

For the purposes of this article we will look at Texas Hold’em as this is the most popular variation of poker and the one found most frequently at online casinos.

In Texas Hold’em, players get dealt seven cards each. Two of these cards are only visible to the player (hole cards) while five are face up so everyone can see them (community cards). Once the cards have been dealt, bets are placed, starting with the player to the left of the dealer.

The first player is required to play a “small blind”. This is a bet worth half the minimum bet. The next player around is required to bet the minimum bet and then the remaining players can choose to either call the minimum bet, raise the bet or ‘fold’ their cards.

Once the bets have been made, the dealer will lay three cards face up on the table. This is called the ‘flop’. Players now have to put together the highest ranking hand possible from their seven cards and the three that are face up on the table.

The next step is to undergo another round of betting and then the dealer will flip another card face up on the table followed by a third round of betting. After this the players are required to reveal all their cards, including those that are face down. The player with the best hand will win all the money.

Different varieties of online poker

Like most casino games you’ll find online these days, online poker has a number of different variations. While the basic premise remains the same, the details change and it’s important to be aware of the differences if you want to give yourself the best possible chance of winning.

Here are some of the main variations of online poker that you’ll find at most NZ online casinos:

  • Texas Hold’em: This is the most popular variation of online poker and the one that you’ll find at most online casinos. With Texas Hold’em, players are dealt five main cards with two hole cards that only they can see.
  • Omaha: This variant of poker is very similar to Texas Hold’em but players receive four cards to keep hidden from the other players instead of two. They are also required to use two of those four cards along with three of the community cards.
  • Seven-card Stud: Players are dealt two facedown cards and one face up card. The player with the lowest face up card starts the betting. There are no community cards dealt and betting goes through to seven rounds.
  • Razz: Players are dealt a total of seven cards, with the first two and seventh face down. The lowest hand wins in Razz, unlike other variations where the highest card wins.
  • Five-card Draw: Players are dealt five cards face down and they are allowed to draw cards from the deck by putting one of their cards at the bottom of the deck and replacing it from the top. Before and after the draw players can bet and the player with the highest hand wins.

Different online playing options

There are two main ways you can play poker online – by participating in a tournament or playing a sit and go.

  • Tournament: This is where a group of players begin with the same number of chips and play against each other until one player is left with all the chips. Depending on how many players you have involved, tournaments can go on for a long time, as some have potentially thousands of players while others limit it to a single table of seven or nine players.
  • Sit and go: When you play at a Sit and Go (or SnG) table, you get to decide how much money you play with and you can leave whenever you decide to – there is no pressure to wait until a single player is left.

Casino poker games

Online poker is hugely popular the world over and this has led to a growth in the number of online poker games featured in casinos. These games are great fun to play and often don’t require more than one player as you can play against the computer or a virtual dealer.

Some of the most popular online poker variants include:

  • Casino Hold’em: Unlike Texas Hold’em, players challenge the computer rather than other players in this version of poker. The player’s hand is scored against the dealer’s based on the highest value of the two hidden cards and the five community cards.
  • Pai Gow: This online variant of poker is played using a 53-card deck. The joker acts as a wild card. Players divide their seven cards into two hands – one of five cards and one of two. The five-card hand must have a higher value than the two-card hand but both hands should be the highest value possible.
  • Caribbean Stud Poker: This is similar to five-card stud but the player is pit against the house instead of other players. This means there is something of a house edge in this game, which it’s good to be aware of.


Online poker is very similar to the physical version of the game but it does have the added convenience of being able to play from your own home at any time of day or night. Poker is a fantastic game that combines strategy and skill with simple luck and with so many great online variations, it’s a game that never gets boring. If you’re keen to give online poker a try, why not take a look at one of our recommended online poker casinos today!