Looking for a skills-based social game that’s competitive, mobile-friendly and potentially profitable? Then look no further than online poker! Around the world, more and more people are discovering what virtual poker has to offer, with more than 60 million players in the US alone at the last count. But how to get started? Poker can seem intimidating for beginners because, after all, it’s for real money. One way to get into the game is to play online poker with friends, either for free or with real money. All you need to do is choose a platform, select a game type and get playing! Let’s break it down.
Pick your virtual poker platform
A cursory search will reveal there are multiple online poker setups out there, so how to choose between them? The best online poker sites are legal and free to download. Some of them, such as WSOP, allow you to play online poker for free with friends regardless of where they live. Others offer the option of both free and real money games. For security reasons, it’s important to make sure that any real money poker site is licensed, regulated and generally trustworthy.
Another consideration in choosing a poker site is whether it offers all the options you’re interested in. Does it have cash games as well as multi-table tournaments (MTTs)? Cash games are fine for most social players, but it can be a great deal of fun to host an MTT! Ultimately, it comes down to the preferences of your friend group.
Then there’s the mobility factor. Are you okay with playing on a desktop or do you prefer the freedom of mobile? Not all poker sites support mobile play so be sure to check.
One more thing. There are some poker apps that will attempt to force you to complete in-app purchases in order to keep your games going. Avoid them like the plague! No legitimate poker site would ever do such a thing.
Choose a format
Poker games fall into two major types: Cash games and tournaments.
In cash games, you can buy in, leave any time you want and stay for as long as you like. If you bust your stack, no problem, just add more money. For argument’s sake, imagine a $1/$2 No Limit Hold’em cash game with a minimum buy-in of $50 and a maximum buy-in of $200. This means you can buy into the game for anything between $50 and $200 and rebuy as necessary. The main reason why cash games often have maximum buy-ins is that it levels the playing field somewhat.
In tournaments, everyone buys in for the same amount and gets the same value of chips. Once you’re bust, you’re eliminated from the competition and have to go home! You have to commit to playing for a certain period if you’re going to go all the way.
Cash games and tournaments: Pros and cons
Cash games are perfect for private online poker (especially if you’re beginners) because nobody’s ever knocked out. They’re also a great way to transition from live to online poker. The only downside is that if you’re not playing for real money, there’s no incentive to play properly. Players often tend to get silly and make reckless decisions that no serious poker player would ever make. You can circumvent this by giving everyone a specific number of chips, although this would necessarily involve elimination. A solution would be to, say, give everyone a “bankroll” of 1,000 chips and allow them to rebuy until their stack is depleted. The trick would be to figure out how big a stack makes sense for your friend group.
The advantage of tournaments is that they bring out the competitive side in everyone, which makes for great fun and potentially good poker. The downside is that it’s not much fun to be the first one to get knocked out! To get around this, your friendly tournament can have rebuys at the early blind levels. Say what? That’s right, online poker tournaments are more complicated than cash games because the blinds keep going up at intervals. This forces players to “gamble” more instead of waiting for premium cards like a bunch of nits. You may have to do some homework on how to set up a poker tournament online! Luckily, the best poker sites make things easy with a list of options.
Set up a private online poker game
So you’ve chosen a platform and figured out what kind of poker setup you and your friends will enjoy. Now it’s time to set up a game. First, you and your friends will need to download your chosen app or software and register an account. The procedure differs slightly from one platform to another, but it’s largely intuitive. Here’s how it works on PartyPoker, the software that powers BetMGM’s poker rooms. First, find the Club Games tab and click on “Create Club.” Next, choose a name for your club, a password and a description for your friends to see in the club lobby. Bravo, you’ve created a private online club! Now invite your friends. Simply open your Club Lobby and hit “invite” at the top-right of the screen. There’s no limit to the number of friends you can invite to play poker with you online!
Pump up the jam
Online poker with friends should be a memorable experience. To boost the social element and make your poker party pop, you could have everyone join in on a conference video call, so you’re all on screen while you play. Or you could take things up a notch and hire an atmospheric venue from a virtual events platform. Glamorous bars, sultry lounges and sweeping ballrooms are all out there if you look for them. You can even get staff. For added edge, you could have a dress-up theme and even choose a menu of food and drinks to complement your theme. The only limit is your imagination!
Online poker without limits at BetGMG
Keen to play poker online with friends and meet like-minded players? Register at BetMGM and download our app for an online poker bonanza! Enjoy Texas Hold’em, Omaha and Seven Card Stud cash games and test your skill in our fun and competitive MTTs, held daily and weekly. Looking for something to relax with between sessions? Our online casino has entertaining games galore, from online slots to the tried and trusted casino classics such as Blackjack, roulette and baccarat. Play them in virtual format or bring our professional live dealers inside your home! Play it your way at BetMGM.