Steps For Playing Poker Online


As we spoke to in a prior piece on poker, this popular game was once “fundamentally a recreational movement” that was “kept to little gatherings of devotees,” for the most part. Over the course of the 20th century though, it evolved into a game enjoyed by countless people. And today, the numbers of players are only going up, with most estimates suggesting well over 100 million people play poker online.

Before you join the ranks though, consider some of our guidance for getting started….

Decide Where To Play –– And Consider Free Options

First, decide if you want to play for free or for real money. The standard meaning of “online poker” typically involves money, but today there are numerous platforms supporting free play. The following are some to consider:

Governor of Poker

Taking a more playful approach to the game, Governor of Poker is set in small towns across the Old West. The user can unlock cosmetic items and new areas, and enjoy mini-games, all making for a just-for-fun atmosphere. There’s still extensive poker gameplay though, and it’s fun to play and improve in such a relaxed environment.


The official app for the most popular poker tournament on Earth, WSOP revolves around two of the most popular poker variants: Texas Hold’em and Omaha. The game also offers numerous rewards that add a sense of competition and achievement to the game. For instance, players can earn rings and bracelets to show off their status in an immense multiplayer community.

Poker Club

Poker Club allows users to face a combination of AI and real human opponents in a stylish 3D environment, complete with 4K resolution and advanced visual technology. The result is a gorgeous experience in which the player begins in a basement and advances through more exclusive rooms. There are also plenty of player customization options and tournaments to choose from.

Approach Real-Money Gaming with Care

If you do decide you’d rather play for money, meanwhile, there are some specific considerations to bear in mind. First and foremost, to play cash poker online you need to be in one of five states: Delaware, Nevada, Michigan, Pennsylvania, or New Jersey. Even between these states however, regulations vary.

In Delaware for instance the rules are very simple: As long as you are 21 or older and the device you play on is located inside the state, it’s legal to play online poker. The state of Nevada has similar rules, but adds a significant limitation: The only website authorized for hosting online poker games is World Series of Poker (affiliated with the same WSOP app that also facilitates free play). People in Michigan can also play at WSOP, as well as PokerStars and BetMGM, and those who live in Pennsylvania can add the Borgata platform to the list. And in New Jersey it is also legal to play at any online casino affiliated with a physical casino operating within the state (of which there are many).

All in all this is somewhat limiting, but other states are making slow progress toward legal online poker –– with Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Nebraska, and Missouri in particular thought to represent a likely next wave.

If and when you do find a reputable and regulated platform you’re legally able to play on, the process is typically simple. You’ll need to create an account, set up a means to deposit funds (most sites accept major credit cards and transfer systems like PayPal), and in some cases provide in-depth identification details (like a social security number).

Prepare to Play

Poker is fun to dip your toes into casually (particularly on a free app), but if you’re going to make it a regular hobby –– or play for cash –– you’ll want to study up and learn the game before you get started. Fortunately, there are many easy sources that can help. Here are just a few to look into:

David Sklansky’s “The Theory of Poker”

Once you know the fundamentals, one great way to improve your skill is by reading a poker book. David Sklansky’s “The Theory of Poker” details a variety of insights and strategies that are widely used in the game in a clear and engaging manner. It also serves as an excellent introduction to the mathematics behind poker, which you’ll study as you advance.

Daniel Negreanu’s YouTube Channel

Daniel Negreanu is regarded as one of the top pros in history, with a running list of major WSOP and World Poker Tour accomplishments to his name –– and he’s more than willing to share his knowledge. On his YouTube channel, he breaks down famous plays and releases vlogs on the World Series of Poker tournament every year, consistently providing invaluable insight for aspiring players.

Phil Ivey’s MasterClass

With a record 10 WSOP bracelets, Ivey is one of few players who may exceed even Negreanu’s ability. And he too has put out instructional video, in the form of a seminar for the Masterclass platform. In said seminar, Ivey recounts much of what he’s learned in the game –– from how to use fundamental concepts like position and ranges to increase your odds of winning, to how to implement complex strategies before and after the flop in Hold’em.

Online poker can be a complex space, and can take some time to get used to. But if you consider where you want to play, pick a platform with care, and study up on the game, you’ll be well positioned to enjoy it as a fun (and potentially profitable) new hobby.