Poker is a card game that’s easy to learn but a lot trickier to master; it’s a game of strategy, knowing when to bet, when to bluff, when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em.

Ante, fold, raise, the river, the flop – the stakes are high and the game is poker. Not just what the devil plays for souls in the Chris de Burgh song Spanish Train but the most popular card game in the world.

One of the harder skills to acquire is the poker face: making sure your face and your words communicate the same message without giving the game away. Many poker players have spent hours in front of the mirror practising different expressions in an effort to perfect the bluff. So it’s a good thing that online poker bypasses this entirely!

The popularity of poker has grown exponentially since the advent of online gambling, since you no longer have to dress up for a trip to your local casino, or spend weeks planning a friendly game on a date that works for everyone and doesn’t clash with Dave’s PTA meeting or Sheila’s pottery class.

Whether you’re playing online poker or video poker, you now have instant access to multiple variations at the click of a mouse. This can be daunting, but it helps to start by learning poker hands and how they’re ranked in terms of what beats what. Here’s a table to fill you in on winning hands, from highest to lowest.

The handThe cards
Royal flush10, jack, queen, king, and ace of the same suit – so, all clubs, diamonds, hearts or spades. This hand cannot be beaten but it can be matched by a royal flush of another suit.
Straight flushFive consecutive cards of the same suit
4 of a kindFour of the same value across the suits – eg, four aces
Full houseThree matching cards plus two matching cards of another value – eg, three kings and two 2s
FlushFive cards of the same suit
StraightFive consecutive cards from more than one suit
3 of a kindThree cards of the same value
2 pairsTwo matching cards, plus two matching cards of a different value
PairTwo cards of the same value
High cardIf no player has even a pair in their hand, the highest single card wins

We advise learning at least the basic rules of poker using our online guide before diving head first into your maiden game.

Poker has more variations than Joburg has e-tolls; Texas Hold’em is the variation that most people know as it features prominently in movies and television, but this is only the tip of the poker iceberg. The name of the game changes according to the number of decks, the type of deck, number of cards dealt, and how they are dealt, amongst other things. Here’s a short list of some of the more popular poker variations. 

  • Texas Hold’em
  • 7-Card Stud
  • 2-7 Triple Draw
  • 5-Card Draw
  • Omaha Hi
  • Omaha Hi-Lo
  • 5-Card Omaha
  • Badugi
  • Razz
  • Chinese Poker
  • Short Deck
  • Pineapple

1: Casino Stud Poker by Play’nGO

  • Varient: Stud
  • RTP: 94.78%
  • Why we like it: Two words: progressive jackpot. 1% of your ante goes directly into the jackpot as you play. This adds an extra dynamic to the game and encourages you to play several hands.

2: 3 Hand Hold ‘em by Play’nGO

  • Varient: Texas Hold ‘em
  • RTP: 94.34%
  • Why we like it: This is a classic game of Texas hold ‘em with the exciting addition of two extra hands being dealt. This gives you three chances to beat the dealer rather than just the one of traditional hold ‘em.

3: Pai Gow Poker by Play’nGO

  • Varient: Double Hand
  • RTP: 97.15%
  • Why we like it: An unusual variation of poker, based on the Chinese game Pai Gow. It’s a welcome change from the typical variants. It’s also simple to play and a lot of fun.

Honestly? It sounds hella’ cool when you tell people that you play poker; it earns you a certain amount of street cred while still being easy to learn – at a basic level – and a lot of fun to play.

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors
Search in posts
Search in pages