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Online poker rooms are big business, with millions of players competing against each other every single day.
Some of the best casinos online have tried to cash-in on this popularity by offering a number of top poker games and in this article we’ll look at the best of the best, while also showcasing the sites that offer them.
Casino Poker vs Poker Rooms
There are many variants of poker, and the most important differences concern who the game is played against.
If you visit a poker room then you are playing against other players and the house merely takes a cut from each pot. For instance, in a tournament of 1,000 players with tickets of $100 each, the house may take $10 from each ticket to cover the staging of the tournament, with the additional $90 being used to create the pot.
There is no bias, the house doesn’t care who wins, and everyone has an equal chance of scooping the top prize. It’s a similar story with cash games, only instead of taking money from the buy-ins, the house takes a percentage of each pot.
With casino poker it is a different story. You’re playing against the house, and as the saying goes, “The house always wins”, so the edge is always in their favour.
They don’t take a cut from each pot. Instead, they tilt the odds in their favour to ensure that for every 100 games that are played, they can expect to win at least 51.
This isn’t always easy to do with Hold’em, Omaha and other popular variants, so they get around it by offering new types of poker and by making changes to the rules.
Casino Poker Variants
There are typically three games of poker that you will find on online casinos. There may be minor differences concerning how these games are played and what they are called, but ultimately they are all based on these three basic formats:
Caribbean Stud Poker
Caribbean Stud Poker is a variant of 5-Card Stud Poker that is played against the house. In many ways it’s just like any other game of Stud, but it’s modern (likely invented in 1982) and was created solely as a casino game.
Players win even money if they beat the dealer’s hand and they also get more money depending on the quality of their hand, with most variants offering a maximum payout of 100 to 1. There are also some progressive jackpot games of Caribbean Stud Poker that pay out 100% of the jackpot for a royal flush and 10% for a straight flush.
The most popular variant of online Caribbean Stud Poker can be found on the Microgaming software, where it is attached to a huge progressive jackpot.
The three-card variant is even newer than Caribbean Stud Poker as it was created in 1994. The goal of the creator was to develop a game that had a big payout to attract players, but a big house edge to ensure profit for the casinos. He also designed it to play quickly and be easy to understand, and these days it is the most popular form of player vs house poker in land-based casinos and one of the most popular in online casinos too.
As the name suggests, Three-Card Poker involves three cards, which are dealt to both the player and the dealer. There is an ante bet, with the player then deciding to play or fold, before cards are shown and bets are settled.
Video poker predates both of the aforementioned games of poker and exists in both online and offline casinos. As with Caribbean Stud Poker, the most popular forms can be found on the Microgaming software, but they are also offered by many other developers.
Video Poker games use a Draw variant, with five cards being dealt to the player, who must then choose how many they want to change before bets are settled. There are big jackpots paid for a royal flush, and some games allow players to play as many as 100 hands at once.
The Best Casino Poker Sites
Most casinos have the aforementioned games of poker, so really it’s all about finding a casino that offers big bonuses, top security, and everything else that you expect from top online casinos.
Our online casino reviews have covered these subjects in depth and are well worth a look, but we have highlighted some of the top dogs on this page to make your selection easier.
What to Look Out For
Now that you know how to find the best casino poker sites and what you need to look out for, it’s time to focus on the negative. These are the things that you should avoid, because while scam sites are rare, they do exist and they can cause you a lot of stress, not to mention financial loss, if you encounter them.
Always make sure that the casino you are using to play your poker games is 100% regulated. If you are in the UK then they will need to be regulated by the UK Gambling Commission, but they may also be regulated by the Malta Gaming Authority.
You always want to make sure that the site has an SSL certificate and all the other certification needed to ensure your complete safety online
There can be huge differences between one casino poker game and another, even if they are both based on the same variant. The developer can tweak the rules, and the casino can tweak the payouts (in some cases).
If you want a developer you can trust, focus on Microgaming, NetEnt, Playtech and other big names. Developers like Realtime Gaming can still be trusted to an extent, but they allow the casinos (their licensees) to tweak the payouts and that leaves them more open to scammers than other developers.
Another good way to check whether a casino and the games they provide are legit, is to see if they are audited or not.
Audits are often done by developers every now and then. But while this is the case with major developers, it’s not true for all of them. Look for casinos that bear the eCOGRA brand to make sure they are audited regularly.
You can even click the logo to look at details of the audit.