What are the Best Online Poker Sites in the UK?
There are hundreds of online casinos operating in the UK, the best of which offer various types of virtual Poker, Video Poker, and Live Poker.
The below are a number of online casinos that come highly recommended for their choice of games, promotions and services.
All of these operators are licensed within the UK with excellent reputations to back them up.
What is Online Poker?
The term online Poker refers to the whole range of Poker games and those variants which can be played online.
Poker players are likely to come across two different kinds of online poker, one referred to as poker rooms and the other as poker games.
This guide is focused on the latter, however, it is important to recognize the difference between the two.
Online poker rooms require each participating player to download the software to gain access to a special space where they can play against other players.
Online poker games don’t require any kind of download and are launched in instant-play mode, just like Blackjack and Baccarat games.
Unlike poker rooms, however, players can only play either against the computer or the dealer.
Live Dealer Poker vs Virtual Poker
The best casinos offer a selection of virtual poker and Live Poker. Although in essence, the games are the same, there are some major differences between these two, which determine player preference.
In virtual poker, players are faced by a computer program, which generates random card draws.
This RNG version is a one-player game, which is available at any time of the day or night. Players can also choose between the play for fun version or go straight for the real money game.
Live Poker is a more authentic version of the game, which is streamed live from a provider’s studio. The game involves a real flesh and blood croupier, who sits at a proper poker table and deals real cards in real-time.
The players can place bets digitally through the on-screen interface, and can even interact with the dealer.
Although other players might be sitting in on the game with you, your adversary will always be the dealer.
This type of poker is favoured, in particular, by players who prefer the authentic casino experience and these days, there are various variants of Live Poker to choose from.
Virtual Online Poker Games
Virtual poker games online are abundant at the best online poker sites, and UK players will discover variants like Hold’em Poker, Omaha Poker and even Video Poker games.
The latter can be found either under the Table games tab or else under a separate section of the casino entitled Video Poker Games.
We’ve taken a look at the online poker games offered by Videoslots Casino, one of our favourite gambling platforms, to give you an idea of which poker games are available online.
Virtual Poker Table Games
- Pai Gow Poker
- Caribbean Poker
- Ride’em Poker
- Triple Edge Poker
- Oasis Poker
- Poker 3 Head’s up Holde’em
Video Poker Games
- Aces & Eights Poker
- Bonus Poker Deluxe
- All Aces Poker
- Deuces and Poker
- Tens or Better
- Jacks or Better
- Joker Poker
- Multihand Deuces Wild Poker
Live Poker Tables
Live Poker is a more recent phenomenon, however, the selection is by no means poor.
Major Live Casino studios like Evolution Gaming and Playtech have taken this popular game to a new dimension by adapting it to the live studio.
Each poker variant they’ve come up with has its own set of particular rules with exciting twists to the game that keeps players hooked for hours.
We’ve visited LeoVegas Casino, a platform with a well-established Live Casino, and focused our attention on the Live Poker selection.
- 2 Hand Casino Hold’em
- Live Ultimate Texas Hold’em
- Live Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker
- Live Three Card Poker
- Live Caribbean Stud Poker
How does Online Poker work?
Online Poker is the classic game adapted for the online world, where players from all over the world can play either against the dealer or against other players in a virtual context.
Whether you are a beginner or someone rediscovering an old favourite, our Casinohawks poker guide will help you brush up the rules and formulate the best poker strategy.
Our guide is a great place to start recognizing the different types of online poker which share the same common trait where the winner is always the player with the best combination.
Online Poker rules
Let us start with some basic poker rules first. Unlike Blackjack where multiple decks of cards are used, in poker online, the game makes use of a single, standard 52-card deck.
In some occasions, one or two Joker cards might be added, commonly referred to as the wild. The game starts when each player is dealt 2 cards while 5 cards are dealt for the centre of the table.
These are referred to as the Community Cards and each player must use 3 of these cards to combine them with his own to form the best 5-card poker hand.
The 5-card poker hand is shared amongst almost all online poker variants, and players can form the below hands.
The list starts with the strongest hand and continues on to other lesser combinations.
- Five of a kind – 4 ten-value cards and a Joker
- Straight Flush – 5 cards belonging to the same suit in sequence eg. 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 of hearts.
- Four of a Kind – 4 cards of the same value and suit eg. 4 kings and a 2.
- Full House – 3 cards of the same value while the other 2 have an identical value eg. 3 Aces and two 8s.
- Flush – 5 cards of the same suit but not in sequence.
- Straight – 5 cards of different suits but in sequence
- Three of a Kind – 3 cards of the same suit together with two cards of a different suit
- Two Pairs – a pair of cards of the same rank, together with an additional pair of cards of the same rank, and a completely different card eg. 2 Queens, 2 nines and a 4.
- One Pair – one of the easiest combinations to get, it consists of a pair of cards of the same rank but a different suit, together with 3 other cards.
- No Pair – a hand where there are no matching hands. When a player has a No Pair, the highest combination of cards is determined by the highest card. Eg. An Ace ranks higher than a king.
Online Poker betting rounds
Some of the poker variants, both off and online, consists of betting rounds such as is the case for Omaha Poker and Texas Hold’em, two of the most popular poker variants.
Both games are made up of 4 betting rounds, known as the pre-flop, flop, the turn and the river.
Below we elaborate a little further on each betting round and what is expected from each player.
- Pre-flop – This is the initial round of betting and takes place right after the players get their hole cards. With the term ‘hole cards’ we refer to the 2 cards dealt to each player.
- Flop – This is the second round of betting that takes place only after the first 3 community cards are turned face up.
- The Turn – The third betting round, it takes place after the fourth community card is revealed.
- The River – the final round, it only takes place when the 5th and final community card is revealed.
Each of these four betting rounds has a significant role in games like Texas Hold’em and Omaha Poker, as they determine how many players will make it to the end.
Each round must go on until every player has matched or folded.
Finally, once the river has been completed, those players who are still in the game will lay down their cards for everyone else to see, and the player with the best hand wins.
Poker betting systems and strategies
With its easy rules, online Poker is a simple enough game for anyone to learn. However, it takes a lot of practice to become a truly good poker player.
Throughout the years, the best poker players have come up with various strategies to help other players play better and win more.
Some of these devised strategies can even be used for various poker variants and in the next section of our guide, we are going to share some of the most popular poker strategies.
In some online poker variants, like Texas Hold’em Poker, the starting hand consist of 2 hole cards.
If you wish to play poker to a certain professional degree and even if you seek to play just for fun, it is important to learn which constitute the strongest hands so you always know which action will incite the maximum advantage.
Poker strategy dictates that it is wiser to fold before the flop if you’ve been dealt a weak hand, hence avoiding unnecessary losses.
Professional poker players have grouped together starting hands based on their strength, to help them formulate decisions based on that strength as well as on the starting position.
A Starting Hands Chart is a useful tool to have since it helps you determine the odds of your hands and make the right decisions.
Value Betting is a technique applied by skilful poker players and its purpose is to fool your opponent into believing that his hand is stronger than yours and incite him to call.
It takes a lot of skill to apply such a technique successfully, especially as it involves manipulating your adversary so he calls with the second-best hand, unwittingly increasing your chances of having the best hand.
This technique requires the players to be aware of everything that is happening during the game, particularly during those 4 betting rounds we’ve mentioned further up in this article.
Care must also be taken when placing the bets, as large bets, might present more of a motivation for the opponent to stay in the game instead of calling.
It takes a lot of practice for players to use this strategy successfully, and it is more effective when playing in a land-based casino, where physical presence makes it easier to assess your opponents.
Bluffing can be quite an effective strategy if done correctly, however, it is one strategy that cannot be employed when playing online.
It is based on the player’s capability to fool their opponents into believing he’s got a better hand than they have.
This is put into action when the hand you have is really poor and the prospect of winning is almost null.
In a deceiving act of utter bluff, the player raises the bet, causing players with a better hand to fold on the belief that they’ve got the worst deal.
Poker playing styles
Poker players who have been enjoying the game for a while tend to adopt playing ‘styles’.
Professional poker players learn to distinguish between the 4 different ‘styles’ and place their opponents in one of the below categories:
- Loose – A loose player’s actions are hard to predict as he tends to play with a diverse range of hands.
- Tight – A tight poker player will focus on playing only his best poker hand
- Passive – A passive poker player tends to be focused entirely on the fear of losing. There are two types of passive player: tight-passive player and loose-passive player. The tight-passive player will hardly ever play any pots, but when he does all other players will opt to fold on the belief that he must have a strong hand. The loose-passive player is afraid of taking big chances so he keeps calling out.
- Aggressive – As the name suggests, this is the risk-taker. This kind of player is more likely to raise and re-raise hands with hardly ever calling. An aggressive player can be either tight-aggressive or loose-aggressive. The former will try to stay away from pots, but when he finds the right opportunity he won’t hesitate to play. The loose-aggressive will focus on re-raising a number of different hands pre-flop, and will always bet on the flop.
When playing online, it is harder to determine each players’ style, however, acquiring this knowledge can help you adopt the style that works best for you.
Why play Online Poker?
Playing poker in a land-based scenario, with other players sitting next to you, is a lot easier than playing online.
The virtual environment makes it impossible to evaluate your competitors and it is impossible to use strategies like bluffing and value betting.
We also have to point out, that in most cases when you play online games like RNG Poker and Live Poker, you are playing against the house.
Nevertheless, there are still some advantages to playing online that are worth exploring.
Play Online Poker from your home
Playing online poker means you no longer need to dress up and head to the nearest casino for a good game of poker.
Conveniently these days, you can play the best poker games from your living room, or anywhere you happen to be really, as online poker games can be launched in Instant-Play mode from your smartphone.
Furthermore, online casinos are open 24/7 allowing each player the freedom to play their favourite games any time of the day or night.
Playing online also means you have a bigger betting range, making poker online affordable for everyone.
Claim Online Poker bonuses
The best UK online casinos offer a generous welcome bonus which in most cases can be used on online poker games.
However, we recommend our visitors to always read the terms and conditions of any promotion before signing up as there might be wagering requirements, betting limits and even some game restrictions.
Play Free Online Poker
Play virtual poker and video poker for free to sharpen your skills!
The demo version of these two types of online poker is an excellent way for beginners to practice and learn some valuable tactics to put into action when playing for real money or at one of the Live Poker tables.
No land-based casino will offer you the opportunity to play poker for free so don’t miss out on those free practice sessions!
As we have mentioned several times by now, online poker offers a number of variants, all of which come with their own specific rules and surprise twists.
Below are some of the online poker variants you can try when playing from the UK.
Texas Hold’Em Poker
Texas Hold’em Poker is perhaps the most popular variant of poker online.
In this version, each player is dealt two hole cards, hence commencing the 4 rounds of betting we’ve mentioned further up in this article.
These days you can either play an RNG version or else you can enjoy Evolution Gaming’s Texas Hold’em live table at the recommended casinos in this article.
Omaha Online Poker
In terms of rules, Omaha Poker is very similar to Texas Hold’em, with the only major difference being that in Omaha each player gets 4 hole cards instead of two.
The game still involves the 5 community cards and each player must use two of those four cards with 3 of the community cards to form the best poker hand possible.
The game still takes place over 4 betting rounds, with the winner determined during the showdown or else because everyone else folds.
Three Card Poker
This is a completely different version of poker from Texas Hold’em and Omaha, but nonetheless, it is one of the most popular variants.
Here, the game is played solely against the dealer, and requires the player to place a bet before any cards are dealt. The player receives 3 cards face up, while the dealer gets 3 cards face down.
Before the dealer’s cards are revealed, the player must decide whether to place a second bet that is identical to the first, fold or forfeit the game.
If the second bet is placed, the dealer reveals his cards to establish who has the best hand, while if the player folds, the dealer collects the initial stake.
Jacks or Better
Jacks or Better is a video poker game that is available at most UK online casinos.
In Jacks or Better, players are dealt 5 cards, the best of which must be held, while the others are discarded in favour of others which will reach the player’s hands during the second dealing.
The hand that has a Jack or a Queen, King or an Ace wins.
Is Online Poker Legal in the UK?
Poker is certainly legal in the UK, and it is one of the staples of land-based casinos all over the country.
There are hundreds of online casinos offering online poker, however, we recommend our visitors to always choose to play with an online gambling platform that has sought to obtain a license from the UK Gambling Commission.
This is the government body that regulates online gambling and ensures players have a safe and fair environment to play at.
Are Online Poker games rigged?
If you choose to play with a licensed online casino, you don’t need to worry about their poker games being rigged.
Such operators would have partnered with equally licensed game developers, whose RNG computers are checked frequently both by the provider and an independent auditor.
Furthermore, if you opt to play at one of the recommended casinos on Casinohawks, you’d be joining a platform that has been operating internationally for many years and with great success too.
Moreover, if you play live poker by a reputable studio, like Evolution Gaming and Playtech, you can rest assured that no rigging will take place during the game, as these are highly reputable companies with licenses from various gambling jurisdictions.
Can you play Online Poker for free?
If you opt for virtual poker or video poker, you can enjoy as many free games as you want, by clicking on the play for fun option.
The game is carried out with fake money, to allow you to experience the game to its fullest extent.
The demo version is a marvellous opportunity for beginners to learn the rules of the game and experiment with strategies.
Regretfully, it is not possible to play Live Poker for free. Live Casino tables are streamed live from real studios and employ real croupiers to deal the cards and manage the game.
On the other hand, you can find a casino bonus that can be used on Live Casino games, allowing you a few free rounds on your favourite Live Poker game with the possibility of winning real money.