The Ultimate Guide to Poker

This complete poker guide provides everything you should know before joining. We’ve explained how it works, its terms, popular hands, gameplay, and more

Poker is one of the most popular casino games you can play on the leading South African online casino sites. Poker can be played and enjoyed by people of all experiences, despite being a skill-based game. The rules are pretty simple to master, and you can employ different strategies to maximize winning opportunities. 

Whether you are new to poker or an experienced player, we have gathered all the relevant information you need to know before you start playing this game. You will learn about the various game rules, popular variations, and much more. 

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A Brief History of Poker

Card games have been an excellent way to spend time for many years. Poker happens to be one of the widely played casino games. This exciting game is believed to have been invented in the 1800s in America. It was later taken to New Orleans by French traders and sailors before it evolved into a drawing game. The original deck with 20 cards was expanded to 52 cards, and an additional round of betting was also added. The most significant thing in the evolution of poker is the invention of Texas Hold’em, which accommodated up to 10 people in a single hand. Also, this variant features only two hole cards and five community cards. Today, you will find plenty of variations across the globe.

Guide Poker


If you are new to online poker, it is essential to understand the meaning of various terms before you get started. Some of the most important ones are:

Action: Used to describe the act of betting and raising in this game.

Ante: A small bet played by everyone on the table before a hand is dealt.

All-In: A wager where all chips are placed in the pot.

Blind: A generic term used to mean the big blind or small blind.

Board: Community cards used by every player together with their pocket cards drawn from the bet hand.

Call: Contributing a minimum amount of money to the pot necessary to continue playing a hand.

Check: Used to describe pass-on betting, where you don’t place a bet in the round.

Dealer: The person responsible for issuing cards, paying winners, and other activities in the game.

Draw: Staying in the hand with the hope of making it better. 

Fold: Giving up by placing cards face down on the table and losing anything you have bet so far. 

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Hand Ranking

Before you start playing online poker, it is crucial to know the poker hand ranking system. This basic knowledge will improve your opportunities of winning. Starting from the most valuable, these are the online poker hands:

Royal Flush: The highest hand containing five cards of the same suit in sequence.

Straight Flush: The hand has five cards of the same suit in sequential order.

Four of a Kind: This is a poker hand containing four cards of one rank and two matching cards of another rank.

Full House: This hand has three matching cards of the same value and two matching cards of a different value.

Flush: This hand contains cards of the same suit but not appearing in the same sequence.

Straight: This hand has three cards of the same value and two cards of different ranks.

Three of a Kind: The hand with three cards of the same rank and two cards of different values.

Two Pair: This poker hand contains two cards of the same rank and two cards of another rank.

One Pair: This is a hand with one rank and three cards of a different rank.

High Card: This hand is made of five cards that don’t meet any of the requirements in other hands.

Poker Hands

How to Play Poker – Basic Rules

Poker is a skill-based card game with pretty simple rules to follow. With so many variations available, the rules of each game vary slightly. However, there are fundamentals that apply across all variants. The objective of playing this game is to get the best five-card hand. 

The first thing is to decide whether you are in the hand or not. This first hand requires you to play a big blind before a small blind. Then two cards are dealt face down, and you can check to decide if they are worth playing. The available choices you can make are, check, bet, raise, or fold.

To start playing poker, the dealer will give out five community cards, before a round of betting starts. A final round of betting takes place before the final card is dealt.

Do understand that this game has special cards, like wild cards, that can stand for another card of the player’s liking. Also, there are burning cards that are dealt from the top of the deck, but it is not used by the player. 

Poker Betting Structure and Limits

Betting can be structured in different ways in poker games. There are three main structures that most variations follow:

Pot Limit (PL): Players are free to raise any amount up to the size of the total pot.

Fixed Limit (FL): This limit requires players to bet and raise by a fixed amount.

No Limit (NL): Players are free to bet all their chips when it’s their turn.

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Table Sizes and Number of Players

The shape and size of poker tables vary from one online casino to another. You will come across casinos with oval, octagon, or round tables. Of course, the size will determine the number of players a table can accommodate. For instance, a standard Texas Hold’em poker game can be played with a maximum of 22 people. But many casinos allow between 9 and 10 players per table for easy management.

The following are common table sizes and the number of players in South African online casinos:

  • Full Ring Table: A full-ring poker table accommodates nine to ten players, which is common in live casino sites. 
  • Shorthanded Table: A short-handed poker table can accommodate six or fewer players at a go. 
  • Heads Up Table: This is an automated poker table where two players can participate in Texas Hold’em Tournaments. 

Popular Online Poker Variations

One of the interesting things about poker is that it offers a wide range of variations to choose from. As mentioned earlier, there are slight differences in the rules and gameplay of types of poker games. 

The following are popular variations you can enjoy:

Texas Hold’em: This is a popular and one of the oldest variants. The game features 2 hole cards and 5 community cards, and it has four betting rounds. As the name suggests Texas Hold’em originated in the USA specifically in the state of Texas and quickly gained popularity.

5-Card Draw: This is considered the easiest variant, where each player is dealt five cards. They have the chance to trade in up to 3 cards. The winner is the player with the best five-card hand in a round.

7-Card Stud: In this game, each player receives 7 cards, three dealt face-down and four face-up. The objective is to make the best possible 5-card hand from the 7 cards. 

Follow the Queen: This is a 7 Stud poker variant, where the wild card is the next exposed card after flipping the Queen. But there can be no wild cards in hand if the Queens are not flipped.

Let It Ride Poker: This is a relatively new variant that is largely based on luck rather than skill. 

Badugi: This is a traditional card game similar to poker, but with the main difference being aces are low-value cards instead of high-value. Also, players receive four cards instead of five at the beginning of the round.

Chinese Poker: This is a new variant played by 2 to 4 people. The cards are split into two hands comprising five cards and three cards.

3-Card Poker: This is a popular game played with a single deck of 52 cards. It offers three different ways of playing: bet against a dealer with Ante and Play bets, play a Pair Plus Bet, or both. 3 Card poker usually is played against the dealer, which makes this game fast-paced and fun.

Caribbean Stud – Another great type of poker, you can find in real can online casinos alike, is Caribbean Stud Poker, It’s played against the dealer and players also can participate in the progressive jackpot, this is a feature that you barely see in any other type of this game.

Pai Gow Poker: This is a classic variant inspired by the Chinese Dominoes. It’s fun to play and provides great winning opportunities.

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Real Money vs. Free Play Poker

There are many differences between real money and free-play poker games. The following are key points to note:

Real Money Poker

  • It is possible to win big prizes, including real money.
  • Allows you to benefit from casino bonus offers. 
  • Players can bluff as cash is involved.
  • You can lose real money if you get a bad beat.
  • Some variants may not have enough tables to accommodate players.

Free Play Poker

  • Allows you to enjoy gaming without risking money.
  • You can try out new variations to increase your experience.
  • You cannot win real money, however much you play.
  • Allows you to enjoy a more laidback poker.

Playing Poker on a Mobile

Like many online casino games, you can play your favorite poker variations from anywhere. There are numerous online casino sites that are optimized for mobile devices, like smartphones and tablets. Some casinos have downloadable mobile apps that are compatible with Android, iOS, and iPad devices. 

Poker on Mobile

Live Poker vs. Online Poker

Playing live and online poker has some advantages and disadvantages for the players. In this section, we take a look at the differences between these two main types of poker games.

The most obvious thing is that live poker games are operated by real flesh and blood dealers who have the best experience in operating live games. Additionally, live casino games have a realistic gaming experience, and they come with amazing features and promotions. Another thing is that live casino games have fast-paced gameplay, and they are compatible with all devices. 

Nevertheless, you must understand that live poker games have some downsides you must watch out for. The first thing is that they require a high-speed internet connection to work efficiently. Also, there are a few variations of live dealer poker games to choose from, while online poker games are available in many variations. Lastly, unlike online poker, you cannot play live poker games in free mode, since they are operated by real human dealers, but online poker games are available in free mode and in real money versions.

Finding the Best Online Poker Sites in SA

With so many online casinos in South Africa, it can be quite challenging for new players to find a safe and reputable platform. We have shared the following factors to consider:

First of all, ensure the casino is licensed and regulated, and check the supported deposit and withdrawal methods in order to avoid scams. Give a look at the range of casino games you can play and the size and variety of casino bonuses and promotions. Moreover, it’s vital for the casino to offer appropriate customer support service via different channels. Finally, don’t forget to check the security system used to protect players’ information.

Video Poker – What is it?

Video poker is basically a fixed-odds slot machine game. The gameplay is based on five cards drawn on an online machine. The main difference between video poker and slot machines is the element of skill. Additionally, all the hands you are dealt in video poker must be played based on specific rules. Although video poker is relatively new, there are numerous variations available in SA casinos. The most popular games are Tens or Better, Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild, and Joker Poker.

Tips and Strategies

The following tips and strategies will help you to maximize your winning opportunities. They are suitable for beginner and experienced South African players.

  • Play Low Stakes: Start by playing low-stake poker games before advancing to high stakes.
  • Learn the Rules: Learn how rules work in different online poker games.
  • Bankroll Management: Learn how to manage your funds to determine losses and profits.
  • Practise: Practice playing poker in free mode before you bet with real money.
  • Bluffing: Master the art of bluffing as it maximizes your winning opportunity.


Overall, poker is a highly entertaining casino game that is loved by people of different budgets and experiences. Being a game of skill, you can employ different strategies to boost your chances of winning big prizes. Additionally, this game is offered in almost all online casinos in South Africa, and you can play for fun or for real money. However, make sure the casino is safe and fully regulated by a respected authority.


Sure, you can improve your skills and gain confidence by playing online for free

There are four types of poker games you can play - Stud, Draw, Mixed, and Community games

Yes, poker is legal in offline and online casino sites in South Africa. You can play and win big prizes

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