The Nuts and Bolts of Online Poker

Poker, particularly Texas Holdem, has taken the gaming world by storm in recent years and one of the reasons behind this enormous expansion in the industry has been attributed to online poker rooms and casinos.

In the past the brick and mortar casinos did not go out of their way to promote the card game as they simply did not earn sufficient cash to make it viable. Many casinos prefer to enlarge their slot machine capacity to the detriment of the felt tables.

Turning a Profit

Obviously running a poker room in cyberspace is not as costly as the real deal and the online poker bosses have added ways of making a profit:

  • Every online poker room has a predetermined commission fee or ‘rake’, and although each poker room determines their own rake, it generally falls in the region of 5% – 10% of the pot of each hand. A maximum commission is fixed at about £3 – £4 in most instances.
  • At most online poker multi-table, sit-and-go and prescheduled tournaments an entry fee of about 10% of the tournament fee is added to the total cost.
  • Many online poker rooms offer side bets or bonus bets where the player plays against the house. Generally the odds are heavily stacked in the house’s favour, so beware!
  • Like all businesses, online poker rooms invest the money deposited by players and they have the added advantage of not having to pay them interest!

Disparities between Online and Conventional Poker

1. Combatants do not sit opposite, or anywhere near each other whilst playing online and as a result the traditional strategy of deception does not form part of the game plan. So instead of looking for tell tale signs in body language, as one would do in an effort to detect bluffing, the online punter concentrates on variables like betting patterns, the flop and fold percentage, speed of play and reaction time.

2. Largely due to the fact that online poker rooms cost relatively little to maintain and are equipped to accommodate far more players than their brick and mortar counterparts, they are able to offer stakes as low as 1p, whereas conventional gaming houses will not be able to offer stakes lower than £1.

3. Many online poker rooms offer poker schools which teach the basics to poker wannabes, and several of the more successful poker rooms provide free virtual money or chips so that beginners can practice without the threat of losing.

4. The rate of play will obviously be markedly different online compared to that of brick and mortar casinos where the dealer physically has to collect the cards, shuffle and deal them. On average 30 hands are contested per hour. Online, everything happens instantaneously and an estimated 90-100 hands can be played per hour.

5. At land-based casinos the only way to increase earnings is to increase the limit, whereas online the punter has two options – he or she may increase the limit and play more tables. The vast majority of online poker rooms allow punters to play multiple tables whereas playing more than one table at the casino is strictly forbidden.