Navigating the Online Poker Room Lobby Area

Now that you have chosen an online poker room and have created an account – you’re almost ready to play online poker! Yes, almost ready, because there are still a few things you’ll probably want to know before you start playing poker online. So in this section we’ll walk you through using the lobby area to find the right online poker games for you!

The Lobby Area

The lobby is a common feature of all online poker rooms. It’s where you can view all the poker games that are running and open for registering, deposit/withdraw funds, set your preferences, and so on. For new players, an online poker lobby can be more than overwhelming. To help you out, we will give you some pointers to help get you on your way. And since most online poker rooms are pretty similar, once you get one of them down, it doesn’t take long to get familiar with any online poker room.

Here’s an screenshot of the online poker lobby area for PokerStars:

Lobby Area

As you can see in the above screenshot, it’s packed with information. Let’s explore the features that are common to all online poker rooms…..

The Cashier

Before you can play poker for real money you’re going to have to deposit money into your account. Each online poker room has a cashier section, where you can deposit money into the site. The cashier button is usually clearly visible from the main lobby area, and when you click on it a new window will open. Here’s an example:


Obviously, to play online poker for real money you’re going to need to buy some chips. The deposit methods will differ depending on the online poker room, and which country you’re from. Choose the payment option you prefer, make payment, and wait for confirmation that your request has been approved, which usually only takes a few seconds.

Navigating the Lobby

There are all kinds of poker games to choose from, at all different buy-in levels. We’ll explain more about the different types of poker games you can find later on in this online poker guide, but for now let’s focus on navigating the lobby area, starting with ring games (cash games):

Ring (Cash) Games

A good online poker lobby area will offer easy methods of splitting the games up by their format and the cost of the buy-in. In the example below you’ll notice we’ve used the tabs to drill down so we’re only viewing the no-limit/pot-limit hold’em games for low stakes:

The information in the main table window will change depending on which options you’ve chosen. So if you want to find more expensive games you’d simply click “high”, and if you’re looking for cheaper games you’d click on “micro”. The main table window will then refresh and show only the games you want to view.

The main table window will generally list the name of the tables, the stakes, the limit, and the number of players sitting at that table, along with the players that are waiting to play. Other statistics are usually listed, such as; the average value of each pot, the percentage number of players seeing the flop, and the number of hands that are being played per hour. But we’ll talk more about what these statistics mean later on in the cash game section of this online poker guide.


Finding a tournament is very similar to how you would find a ring game, but with some subtle differences. Let’s examine those differences…

Firstly, you need to click on the tournament section of the lobby. The main table window will then display the available tournaments – showing the name of the tournaments and the buy-ins. Unlike ring games, online poker tournaments start at a particular time (except sit & go tournaments), so the table window displays the date and times. The times listed are when the online poker tournaments start, so you’ll need to register before they start.

You’ll also notice that the lobby will display the current state of the tournament – whether it’s announced, registering, already running, or completed. If it’s registering, you can see how many players are currently signed up. To join a tournament simply double click on the table name and register for the game.

Using Filters

Sometimes the lobby area of an online poker room can get cluttered. This is where the use of filters comes in very handy. You can use filters to make the lobby show only those games that you’re interested in.

There are filters for both ring games and tournaments, and you can simply check (or uncheck) the game options that you prefer. This makes it easier and quicker to find the right game for you!