Playing Online Poker

Online Poker Software

When you go to Las Vegas (or Atlantic City, etc.) and wander into a new casino, you don’t just automatically sit down at a poker table and start playing. At least most of us don’t.

You want to feel comfortable.  You don’t want it to be too hot or too cold, too crowded or too empty, too noisy or too quiet.  You may want plenty of cocktail waitresses coming around to get your drink order, or you may not want to be bothered.  You may want the room to have televisions so you can catch up on sports, or you may not want the distraction.

Online poker is similar in that the look and feel of a given site is very important.  You are going to want to make sure you are comfortable with your surroundings before sitting down.  This means making sure you are comfortable with the software. Fortunately, in the online poker world you are able to adjust many features to suit your preferences (unlike a live poker room!).

Each online poker room is going to have a different look and feel; each is going to have its little quirks.  Some rooms take more getting used to than others.


Quick Tip: If you’ve played in a poker room where you really liked the software, the first thing you can do is check and see what other rooms we offer on the same network. Poker rooms sharing the same network typically have a very similar design, making your adjustment to the new room a lot quicker and easier.


If you want to find out more about the software for an online poker room, just read our review of the site on  In the Software Review section, we list the pros and cons of the room’s poker client. The truth is, poker rooms have taken advantage of the vast technology improvements in bandwidth as well as the latest security features, so there are very few sites which crash or where you will encounter problems on a regular basis (and we don’t promote the really small rooms where this is likely to be an issue). So it really comes down to personal preference in terms of look and feel – where do you feel most comfortable playing?

Getting Started

If you’re at a poker room that is completely new to you, you will probably want to start out slowly, at low stakes (or possible even a play money table) and only playing one table at first. This way, you can figure out all the bells and whistles and let your brain acclimatize itself to your new virtual surroundings.  Playing poker is hard enough sometimes – you don’t need to feel uncomfortable, too. You don’t need to do this for very long, perhaps a few hands or a few passes of the “puck” (i.e., the blinds).

But first…

Ok, so you have chosen an online poker room. Now what? Most people’s first instinct would be to deposit some money, find a real money game, and pull up a virtual chair at the first table they find. We suggest you tread a little more lightly.

Get the ‘lay of the land’ by first acquainting yourself with the poker room ‘client’ – that is, the proprietary software that enables you to connect to the network which your poker room is associated with. Poker is a hard enough game at which to succeed – it doesn’t need to be more difficult just because you are not used to the software.

Download Options

Not that long ago, there was only one way to play online poker – you would go to the poker room’s website and download and install the latest version of their software, and launch it on your computer each time you want to play, much the same as any other type of program or application. Most poker rooms didn’t even provide Mac/Apple versions of their software until the last few years! Now, there are a number of ways to connect to most online poker rooms:


1)     Download and install the poker client software on your PC/laptop or Mac – As just described, the “old-fashioned way” is still the preferred way of playing poker online, at least for now. The main reason is because, while the other options may be more attractive and in some cases less time-consuming, they don’t necessarily provide you with the full range of features and games that you get by loading the software program directly onto your computer. The full download also tends to be less ‘glitchy’ than the other options.


2)     Play the “no download” version on a PC or Mac – In an attempt to offer online poker to players no matter where they are or what computer or laptop/tablet they are on, most sites now offer a ‘no download’ or instant-play version of their software. Basically, it’s a slimmed down version of the full download software package. It provides a direct connection from your web browser to the poker room’s network and usually offers the full suite of games available via the fully downloaded software. However, games that are not terribly popular (e.g., Stud, Omaha and all Limit Poker varieties) are often not included. Cash games and Sit and Go’s are easily found, but some tournaments may not be available. Also, in most cases the no download option is only compatible with Internet Explorer (for PC users). What the no download option does offer is a method for you to play if you are stuck behind a firewall and/or using a public computer, or any other situation you might find yourself in where you would otherwise not be able to install the full poker software package. And as long as you have a stable internet signal, you shouldn’t run into any connection problems.


3)     Go mobile – What started out as just the latest craze might eventually become the new normal for poker players, playing poker on your mobile device! Poker rooms need to keep up with the times and many of them have realized that with the addition of new game types – namely Speed Poker and its variants – some players love to just jump into a game while they are killing some time (think bus and train rides to and from work) and feed their adrenaline rush. So now, thanks to some nicely designed Apps, you can play online poker from the comfort of your Android or iPhone, anywhere anytime. Poker Apps can be downloaded from the poker room’s website as well as Google Play and all the usual places you can find Apps. The downside to playing on your mobile (other than the smaller screen size of course) is that most poker Apps only offer cash table games (i.e., ring games) and no tournaments. Some rooms are starting to offer Sit and Gos, but the mobile Apps are really tailored for ‘get in, get on with it, get out’ type players who don’t or aren’t willing to commit to a lengthy session of play. In addition, you will only find No Limit Holdem’ games. Perhaps, if the success of these poker Apps continues to grow, they might start adding tournaments and other game types… but only time will tell.


So, you’ve decided on your preferred method of playing online poker, and installed (or not) the poker client or App. Now, you are face to face with the poker room’s lobby.

→ The Online Poker Room