Poker Rules & How Online Poker Works

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Online poker works like a well-oiled machine, and the truth is, there are many things that go on behind the scene that make it one of the most loved past times throughout the world. Long gone are the days that poker games are limited to casinos hundreds of miles away or dependant on when the guys could all get together and play in someone’s basement. Now anyone can play poker any time of day from anywhere in the world (well almost anywhere). Within cyberspace at any given time there are millions of people sitting in front of a computer screen waiting to be dealt in. So if you feel like playing poker, all you have to do is log on to an online poker site. But what really goes into making an online poker site successful? There’s, rake, networks, security, collusion, and many other pieces of the puzzle that have to all be in sync for an online poker site to run.

How to Play Poker - Holdem - Omaha - Stud - Draw - Mixed

This guide is intended for beginners and as such you should have a solid understanding of how poker works and the rules to the various games you will be able to play online. Below are the five main games people tend to play. We also offer a strategy guide for new players with topics covering pot odds, outs, hand ranges and even how to play specific sets of hands like AK. If you still have questions, we also have a section which covers answers to commonly asked questions by players here.

What is Rake?

First of all, an Internet poker site has to make money; therefore, they take a little out of every pot. This fee is called rake, and it’s not a new concept. Land-based casinos have been taking a rake since day one for the same reason that online poker sites do—to make money. Although a little from one pot doesn’t amount to much (anywhere from a few cents to a few dollars), when an online poker room collects rake from every hand played, it adds up. Consider PokerStars. They’ve dealt 70 billion plus hands and have collected rake from every one. This is where the online poker sites make their money.

Rake varies from site to site, but in general, it averages about 5% of the pot, or a max of $3. This industry norm was ironically set by the very first online poker room, Planet Poker, and while Planet Poker didn’t make it, it did make its contribution to online poker as we know it today.

There are two types of rake: dealt rake and contributed rake. Dealt rake is collected from every player who is dealt into a hand regardless of whether the player folds, bets, raises, or goes on to win the hand. Contributed rake on the other hand is only taken when a player contributes to the pot. You can see how both methods would have their own advantages. Some rooms take dealt rake, others take contributed.

What are Poker Networks

Most online poker rooms are part of a larger network of online poker rooms, with the exception of some of the bigger sites like PokerStars, Bovada Poker, and a couple others. These stand-alone poker rooms use a proprietary software platform, meaning unique to their brand. They do not share players, poker software, promotions, tables, etc. Poker rooms that do share a network are more or less simply just a skin. They license the software, share players, and put their brand name on it, so if you are playing at Revolution Poker or Merge Poker Network, chances are some of the players you are playing against are playing from their computer at Intertops Poker.

Skins on the same network typically also share promotions, which makes sense for tournament schedules, etc. because players from multiple different sites are coming together to play on one common network. Another popular network is the iPoker Network, which is made up of at least a dozen different online poker sites including William Hill Poker, Mansion Poker.

Are Online Poker Sites Secure?

Online poker security is a fairly broad topic, but it’s come a long way, and problems have been dealt with as they have come up over the years. As it is now, online poker is safer than online shopping. First of all, there are outside agencies that are hired by online poker sites to audit games and such to ensure their fairness and security. These companies also monitor any suspicious behavior by players, which brings us to cheating and collusion. This issue is the number one concern for any reputable online poker room. Hand-history databases are always kept so that site officials can go back and review any hand in question. This is useful when two players are suspected of colluding, which means playing at the same table and sharing information about their hand in order to obtain an edge over the other players. Complex algorithm systems scan these databases and can automatically detect if two players play at the same tables often and immediately sending a red flag to staff.

Another big phrase in online poker security is Random Number Generator, also referred to as RNG. This system is used in both online poker rooms and in online casinos, as well as land-based casinos, as it is a widely accepted method of ensuring that game results are fair and honest. It is exactly what its name implies: a number is randomly generated and determines the outcome of a deal of cards, a roll of the dice, a slot game spin, or even a lottery quick pick. So when you are dealt cards at an online poker site, the cards you get are not predetermined by anyone or anything. They are simply random and would have been completely different had they been dealt even a split second later, which makes it fair for everyone.

Another question of security lies within providing online poker sites with your personal and financial information and allowing their systems to access your bank account in order to fund your online poker account. First of all, sites ask for your personal information because they have to verify that a) you are a real person, b) you do not already have an account, and c) you are old enough to play online poker. They also need to be able to pay out to you when you win. Therefore, you shouldn’t be weary of providing such information to online poker sites because they are secure and are just as safe as, if not more so in some cases, than providing your information to an online shopping site.

As far as providing your financial information to an online poker site goes, as long as you use a reputable payment processor or go directly through the poker site to deposit funds straight from your bank account, you can rest assured that all of your information is transferred over secure and protected encryption systems. In fact, online poker has one of the best reputations of any online industry when it comes to customer protection whether it’s financial protection or identity protection.

Finally, the software applications that require you to download them to your computer are perfectly safe as well. They do not come with hidden add-ons that could potentially harm your computer. For anyone concerned with this, there are sites that offer no-download poker, so you don’t even need to put any software on your computer to play if you really don’t feel comfortable.


While an online computer site may look like just another website/software app, there is a lot going on that makes the site function properly, whether it collects dealt or contributed rake, or whether it uses its own proprietary software or shares skins with multiple other online poker brands. One thing that is pretty consistent across the board though is that online poker has come a long way; any of the popular online poker sites, by definition, puts player safety first, including cheating/collusion, fairness, and security.