Types of Online Poker Games

Poker is a game that encompasses many different variations and formats, and this is particularly true when it comes to online poker. It can be hard to know where to start. Should you play online poker cash games or tournament poker? Well, we’ll get to that in a moment or two, but let’s start by looking at the most basic question for beginners to online poker – play money or real money?

Play Money vs. Real Money

Before online poker existed you generally had to pay for a poker education. Sure you could play with your friends for fun, but online poker allows you to learn the game for free and to test your poker skills against other thousands of real players, without risking any money at all. You can even win real money without investing any yourself!

Yes, most online poker rooms offer the ability to play their various games free of charge. Free online poker comes in the form of play money cash tables, play money tournaments, and online poker freerolls. There are both benefits and drawbacks to playing online poker for free. Let’s see what they are…

The Benefits of Play Money Poker

Lots of beginners to online poker like to take advantage of the free poker games offered by online poker rooms. Here are some of the main benefits of playing poker for free:

  • There’s no need to risk any of your own money.
  • The ability to test out a new online poker room’s software to see if you like it.
  • Try out different poker variations you might not have played before, again…risk free.

The Drawbacks of Play Money Poker

While we recommend that complete beginners start out on play money tables, there are some drawbacks…

  • Most poker players don’t take free/play money poker games seriously.
  • It gives an unrealistic perception of the ways in which online poker is normally played.
  • There’s no money to be won! (Excluding freerolls).

We’ll discuss play money poker games and freerolls later on in this online poker guide, because they are very useful for beginners. But our advice is to move onto real money games as soon as you’re comfortable. And you might be surprised at the small amount of money you’ll need to start playing in real money poker games. But for now, let’s discuss the types of games you’ll find at most online poker rooms.

Rings Games vs. Tournaments

It’s assumed that you’ve read the beginner lessons in our poker school section, and are aware of the differences between poker formats, namely ring games (cash games) and tournaments. So rather than recap what you probably know already, let’s just focus on the types of ring games and tournaments you’ll find when you play online poker.

Online Poker Ring Games (Cash Games)

In addition to play money tables you’ll find a huge choice of real money cash games to suit all budgets, starting with stakes as low as $0.01/$0.02. Online cash games are grouped into different levels such as micro stakes, low stakes, medium stakes, and high stakes. The grouping will differ depending on the online poker room, but here are typical groups for hold’em ring games:

No-Limit/Pot-Limit Hold’em

  • Micro ($0.01/$0.02 to $0.05/$0.10)
  • Low ($0.10/$0.25 to $0.50/$1.00)
  • Medium ($1/$2 to $4/$8)
  • High ($5/$10 +)
Fixed Limit Hold’em:

  • Micro ($0.01/$0.02 to $0.25/$0.50)
  • Low ($0.50/$1.00 to $3/$6)
  • Medium ($5/$10 to $10/$20)
  • High ($15/$30 +)

You’ll find a variety of cash game formats (heads-up, shorthanded, and full ring games), and while Texas hold’em is by far the most popular variation of poker to be found online – there are plenty of other games too. You’ll find exciting cash games, such as; Omaha, stud, draw, razz, and many more. We’ll talk more about online poker cash games later in this guide.

Online Poker Tournaments

If you like playing poker tournaments then you’ll love online poker. There are so many different tournaments to choose from, but the two most popular poker tournament formats to be found online are as follows:

Sit & Go (SNG) – This is an extremely popular tournament format for online poker rooms as it allows tournaments to start play as soon as enough seats have been filled. Sit & Go tournaments may range from one table to a multi-table tournament spanning hundreds of players.

Multi-Table Tournaments (MTT) – While a Sit & Go can be played across multiple tables, scheduled multi-table tournaments start at specific times and usually involve far more players. Many multi-table tournaments attract thousands of players and offer huge guaranteed prize pools.

Just like online poker cash games, you’ll find a variety of poker tournament formats when you login to an online poker room. You’ll find rebuy tournaments, shootouts, double or nothings, double stack, super stack, knockout, bounty, steps, cashout, satellites, and many more unique tournament formats. One thing’s for sure – you won’t get bored of online tournament poker!

Where to Start?

Some people prefer the challenge of playing cash/ring games, and others prefer the buzz of playing in online poker tournaments. It really comes down to personal preference, so you should decide for yourself if you prefer poker cash games or poker tournaments. But if you’re unsure then don’t worry – we’ll discuss online poker cash games and tournaments in more detail later on in this guide. Anyway, before you decide what types of games you want to play, you’ll first need to find a suitable online poker room, which we’ll cover in the next part of this guide.


Next >> Choosing an Online Poker Room