Online Poker for Real Money

pokerstarsThe poker world saw its explosion back in 2003 when a man named Moneymaker won the Main Event at the World Series of Poker. His win would spark under everyone with an internet connection to try their luck at making it big, and the masses flocked online to play poker for real money.

We in the poker world like to refer to those days as the good ole times when it seemed the money was falling from the sky. One only needed a tiny bit of knowledge to succeed at online poker. While the games have gotten a little tougher over the years, there is still plenty of money to be made, and if it weren’t for the Moneymaker effect, I likely wouldn’t be writing this article today.

The online poker industry is at its peak, and millions of players from countries around the world take their seat at the virtual felt every day. There’s a game running 24/7, and if you’re looking to join in the excitement, you’ve come to the right place.

This article will serve as your guide to playing online poker for real money. Topics that will be covered include:

  • How to pick a site
  • How to deposit and withdrawal
  • Games available
  • Differences between live and online poker
  • Basic strategy to get you started

How to Pick a Poker Site

The first step to playing online poker for real money is to find a place to play. With endless options, this shouldn’t be too difficult. You’ll want to pick a reputable site that has plenty to offer its players. More importantly, make sure the site is licensed and regulated.

The latter aspect shouldn’t be a problem, as most sites are licensed, and it’s near impossible to operate online without some type of regulating body. It’s always best to double check though. Look on the sites “About Us” page to find all the information you need about regulations, licensing and history.

When it comes to what the site has to offer, you’ll want them to meet a few criteria. First being the bonuses and rewards you can receive for playing there. You can always find a deposit bonus at almost every site these days. But once you’re a member, how you will be rewarded?

A decent site will offer some type of VIP or loyalty program that rewards you in many ways. Most of the times this reward will be in the form of cash, but can also include points that can be used to purchase special items in a loyalty or VIP store. The products that you can purchase will range from electronics, clothing, books and even cars.

Game Selection

Next, you want to make sure the site you’re playing on has a decent game selection. Most players prefer Hold Em and this is offered at every site. But it’s nice to have more than just Hold Em available. If you prefer games such as 5 Card Stud or Razz, not all sites will offer these games as they are less popular. Be sure to check what games are on tap before signing up.


Having plenty of games to play is awesome, but you need to have players to compete against to make it worthwhile. Your larger sites will have plenty of traffic that may exceed 50,000 players online at any given time. But when you start playing at smaller sites, the traffic may not be enough to sustain many tables. Most sites will have how many players are online on their home page. However, I recommend downloading the software and seeing for yourself if you are ever in doubt. Often times these numbers account for play money tables and can produce a skewed number.


Now that we picked a site, we need to get money online to start playing poker for real money. To do this you will need to navigate to the sites cashier system. Inside the cashier, you will find all the options available to you for deposits and withdrawals. Once you find an option that suits you, select it and deposit how much you want to play with.

When you go to cash out your winnings, you will repeat the same process. There may not be as many options to cash out as you had when making a deposit, but you will still have more than enough to fulfill your needs. I should note that some methods of withdrawal will have a small fee. It’s best to check with the poker site if you are ever unsure.

Games Available

You can play just about any form of poker online for real money. Texas Hold Em, Omaha and Omaha Hi/Lo are by far the most popular and featured on every site. Depending on which site you’re playing, you will be able to play a variety of games. More obscure games like Badugi, 2-7 Triple Draw and Razz are found online as well. If the site you play at doesn’t offer it, another one will.

Cash Games

Cash games are offered round the clock at every site at a range of limits. You can find a penny game going at 2 A.M. or a $100/$200 mixed game with some top pros going at it. Most action is at the mid to micro limits with the larger sites holding the majority of high stakes games.

Poker Tournaments

Tournaments are the big thing in poker and every site will have them. The formats that will be offered are far too many to list, but you will have no shortage of selections. Many of them have guaranteed prize pools for relatively small buy ins.

Sit N Go’s

A Sit N Go is a tournament-like game that starts once the prescribed number of players registers. They have become one of the more popular forms of poker online and if it was not for online poker, Sit N Go’s would likely not exist. All sites will carry a selection of SNGs ranging in players and buy ins.

Stakes range from $.10 buy ins, to over $1,000. With the number of players in each one going from 1 on 1 heads up matches, to 180 man SNGs with some decent first place prize money.


Real money online poker is much different than live in a brick and mortar casino. The obvious difference being that you can’t see your opponents. Although, some newer sites now have webcam tables that allow you to see your opponents faces. And while some may say that not seeing a person’s face is not a way to play poker, tell that to Tom Dwan. Yes, not seeing a face is a disadvantage, but no one can see yours either so it all works out.

What online poker lacks in face-to-face battle, it makes up for with technology. There is a wealth of information at your fingertips to help you become a better player. You can even use in-game software that will give you detailed stats on your opponents. It’s safe to say that you can get to know more about an online player than a live one.

Online poker is also faster paced. There is a time limit for each person to act and the games run much smoother. You can also play multiple tables at a time. If you’re a decent player, this means taking your winnings and doubling, tripling, quadrupling, or more. Basically the more tables you can successfully play at a time, the more money you can make.


To any newcomer looking to start their online poker career, I always start off with this piece of advice; advocate a tight style of play without trying anything fancy. Most of us start at the lower stakes where players are not so good. It won’t take much skill to beat them and you only need to be better than a few players, not everyone.

The next bit of advice is to use proper bankroll management. I’ve seen many good players go broke by playing outside their bankroll. What I mean is, if you only have $200, you shouldn’t be playing a $150 tournament.

A good rule of thumb is to have at least 50 buy ins for cash games and sit n go’s. If you have $500 to play poker with, you should only be playing as high as $10 buy in sit n go’s, and no more than $10 no limit.

For tournaments, you should use a 3% rule. This means only use 3% of your bankroll to buy into a tournament. If you have $500, the highest buy in you should go for is $15. Tournaments are volatile and long stretches of no cashes are common. But one win puts you way ahead and makes you feel like a poker god when it happens.

February 1, 2013 - Offer valid as of date published. T&Cs apply.