Online poker is a card game where players use software to play for real money. It’s legal and highly regulated in states that offer it, with strict consumer safeguards and oversight to ensure the games are fair. But it’s important to be wary of offshore poker sites that operate without basic consumer protections and may shut down at any time.
The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in an increase in online poker traffic, with many casual players who normally prefer live gaming turning to the virtual platform. This is expected to have boosted the long-term profitability of online poker rooms and paved the way for future growth, especially among those with larger player pools.
Some players also use third-party tools to improve their online poker skills. These include hand database programs that save, sort, and recall hands played online. Others use software that scans active tables for known players and displays past statistics from previous hands with them next to their name (also called a heads-up display or HUD). Still more advanced poker software analyzes the odds, equity, or variance of individual hands.
Depending on the software used, there are several ways to make money playing online poker. One is to earn rakebacks, which are rewards that poker rooms give to their best customers in exchange for the rake they contribute. These can add up to a substantial amount of money over the course of a player’s lifetime at a particular poker room.
The other main way to make money is through tournament play. While this can be a huge grind, it is a very lucrative and potentially life-changing way to play poker. However, it’s important to be aware of the time commitment required for tournaments online, as many can take up to an entire day to complete.
In the not-too-distant past, there was a clear distinction between “live” and “online” poker players. You’d hear stories of live pros venturing into the world of online poker and not doing so well, and vice versa. Today, however, most top players and even some recreational players regularly play both live and online poker.
While most online poker players do not play a large number of tables at once, a typical player that makes solid decisions consistently at four or more tables can expect to earn about $4 an hour after dealer tips and other incidental expenses. This is a much higher payout rate than most casino players can hope to achieve.