Online Poker FAQ

Even we’re not perfect.

When we write a review, strategy article or a guide to depositing, we try to anticipate what questions you’ll have in advance.

But sometimes we miss the mark. We don’t answer all your questions.

That’s why pages like this exist.

Below you’ll find questions from other readers like you. Maybe we answered your question?

Each question falls into one of five categories – beginners, strategy, poker sites, mobile and deposit options.

And we link to other pages (most of them on our site) when it makes sense – you’ll want to read these pages to get a more rounded, more in-depth understanding of that particular topic.

You’re welcome.

General Beginner Questions

What game should I play?

If you’re brand new the easiest game to learn is Texas Holdem. But even then it’ll take a few hands or sessions to get the mechanics down.

It won’t matter what variation or game type you play. Each game will have its nuances.

But the purest form of the game will be cash games. The blinds won’t change, you can come and go as you please, and the game relies more on skill than luck.

That said, tournaments will go farther in terms of entertainment value and your bankroll. For example, you can buy-in for $5 and play for hours whereas in cash games you can lose it in minutes.

What’s the best game for building my bankroll?

My opinion? SNGs are the best way to build your bankroll.

There are 2 reasons for this:

1 – You spend little money up front to win a lot of money (relatively speaking) a little while later. This keeps your bankroll under control assuming you don’t play too high for your bankroll.

2 – These games are easier to learn. There’s a process, a system. So once you get that down you should have no problem becoming profitable. From there it’s a matter of how good and how profitable you become.

Once you build your bankroll you might want to switch to cash games. These will allow you to improve your post flop skills. They have a higher ceiling – you can play for more money per hand or per session than you can with tournaments.

And you don’t have to run and play good to win tons of money in one shot. There’s less variance.

Can I play poker professionally?

That’s up to you. But you should know there’s a lot that goes into being a pro player.

  • You need a bankroll to play and for your living expenses.
  • You need focus.
  • You need a good work ethic. No one will tell you when to play.
  • You need to be dedicated (to getting better).

And a whole lot more.

It’s best to think of poker as starting a business. Not everyone is cut out for it.

I don’t know how to play poker – how do I learn?

Look around our site and see if you can’t find some how-to articles for the game you want to learn.

The next best thing is to check out the poker site you signed up to. Every poker site has the rules for the games and variations they offer on their site.

You can always do a Google search, too. You’ll come up with more responses than you know what to do with.

How much money can I win playing poker?

That’s up to you.

Some people lose money. Seriously. Not everyone walks away profitable.

Other guys make a few bucks per week. They just want some beer money.

And some guys I know make 6-figures or more each year. Then they take their profits and invest them into outside ventures. They stake other poker players. They start off/online businesses.

But the truth is, there are so many variables that go into whether you make money or not. You need to consider your skills, your skills relative to other players, the games you play, your playing style and more.

Is poker rigged?

No. That’s stupid. If poker was rigged, why would anyone play?

Is online poker legal?

That depends on where you live.

There are only 3 states I know of that has a clear set of laws legalizing online poker. Those are Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey.

Then there are several states that are clearly against it, like Washington and Utah.

Then you have the rest that don’t say too much either way.

The best thing to do is to ask the higher ups in your area what’s legal.

What do all the statistics in the lobby mean?

That depends on the stats. Most rooms will show you how many players area seated, how many players see the flop and how many hands are dealt per hour.

This should give you some insight as to how soft / loose the table is.

The problem with these stats is that they don’t tell you how many hands have been played up to that point – so the numbers can be skewed.

The best way to know a table is worth sitting is a waiting line. Chances are there’s a fish everyone wants to get a piece of.

Will poker sites let me cash out when I win?

Absolutely. I can’t imagine they’d be in business long if they didn’t.

Questions About Poker Strategy

What should my bankroll be to play .10/.25 NLHE?

That depends on who you ask, your playing style, if you’re playing for fun or for a living, if you can reload if you bust, if you have the discipline to move down and a whole lot of other factors.

As a rule of thumb, I would have 20 buy-ins minimum. Most tables have a max buy-in of 100 big blinds – in this case $25. So you should have $500 to play these games.

What’s the best way to deal with a table bully?

There are a couple of things you can do.

You can avoid them. Just don’t get involved if you’re not sure how to play against them. In the worst case scenario you can leave the table for another one.

Another way is to play the opposite of them. If they’re pushing you around, wait until you have a hand and let them build the pot for you.

In fact, that might even slow them down.

When should I move up in stakes?

My opinion is you’ll know well in advance when you’re ready to move up. You’ll be a winning player with plenty of data (hands and games played) under your belt.

Another way to know for sure – hire a coach to review your game. They’ll tell you if they think you should take a shot.

How do you beat the micro stakes sngs?

These can be tricky because the players here are so bad. They play lots of hands and don’t fold to all-in shoves often. So these can be frustrating to beat.

The best way to beat these games is to always bet with the better hand, avoid shoving the bottom part of your range and take caution when wanting to abuse the bubble.

In other words – play ABC poker. It sounds like cliché advice – and it is – but it works. There’s no need to get fancy here. If anything ‘fancy’ will cost you money.

How do you win a guaranteed tournament?

You need a combination of luck and solid strategy. The larger the field the more luck you need because of all the times you’re going to race (coin-flip) for your tournament life.

You need to understand basic tournament strategy, too. The best way to develop that is to play SNGs. Most of the principles will crossover to MTTs with a few subtle changes.

You can also read some of the articles we have in our strategy section.

How do I steal the blinds?

The best people to steal the blinds against are nits. The guys that only plays the nuts. It also helps if they understand the importance of position.

The worst guys to steal the blinds from are maniacs and most fish. Basically anyone that doesn’t like to fold.

What poker books should I read?

The classics are Super System (Doyle Brunson) and The Theory of Poker (David Sklanksy). But it also depends on what games you want to play.

The Harrington on Holdem (tournaments and cash games) is good too – outdated, but a good foundation nonetheless.

I’m losing every hand – even with aces – what do I do?

You might just be having a streak of bad luck. It happens to every one. Just keep playing and stay patient – you’ll get through it.

Push come to shove you can have a friend watch you play and/or review your hands with you. They might see errors or mistakes you don’t realize you’re making.

What’s ‘push or fold’ in tournaments?

This strategy refers to the situations where you have 10 big blinds or less. The default strategy is to either push ‘all-in’ or fold.

The reason for this is simple – you don’t have enough chips to raise or raise and fold. It’s a bad play equity-wise, and you don’t have any fold equity. Chances are you’ll get your stack in anyway.

You’ll have the most fold equity if you push all-in. Otherwise you should fold until you find a good spot.

What’s a good amount to raise?

We can write several pages on this topic.

The truth is – it depends on the game you’re playing and the situation you’re in.

You can’t go wrong with a 3x big blind raise. For example, if the blinds are 2/4, a raise of $12 would be fine.

Lots of guys raise 2x to 4x. Anything more than 4x is excessive, no matter what game, variation or stakes you play.

The same rule applies when someone raises in front of you.

And when there are lots of limpers, a good rule of thumb is to raise 3x plus 1 big blind for every limper.

For example, say that there are 4 limpers in front of you at 2/4. I would start with $12 (3x + 4) and add $16 ($4 for every limper). My raise would be $28.

And if the amount you need to raise ever exceeds say, 15-20% of your stack, just shove all in.

How to Find a Poker Site FAQ

How do I know the site I’m joining is safe?

Here are two things you can do:

- Read our reviews. Trust our recommendations. We only recommend rooms we know to be legit.

- Join and visit forums. You’ll hear firsthand what rooms are legit and when a room appears to be going south. And you’ll find out before it’s too late.

What’s a deposit bonus?

A deposit bonus is an incentive from the poker site. They offer to give you free money when you create an account and make a deposit. These are usually ‘match’ bonuses – they match your deposit a percentage up to so many dollars.

For example, if they offered a 100% match offer up to $500, every $1 you deposit will get you $1 in return. You can deposit $500 and get $500 from the site for $1,000 total.

Are bonuses free money?

In a way, yeah. But it’s not like they just give you money and you can withdraw it. That’d be too simple.

You need to play games and generate so much rake for the room first, and then you can withdraw it.

Each room has their own terms and conditions. You’ll want to read them before making a deposit. You can also read our reviews.

What’s a skin?

A skin is a poker site on a network. They usually do not use proprietary (one-off) software. Most everything they use from marketing, software, banking, etc comes from the network.

What’s a network?

This is a company that provides a business in a box for wannabe poker operators.

The most popular network I can think of is Merge. If you compare Carbon Poker and side-by-side, you’ll see that their software is identical. The same games. The same graphics. Even the same promotions.

What’s the difference between an offshore site and legal poker site?

An offshore site is not licensed to operate in the United States. (Yes – they’re operating illegally.)

A legal site is like the ones you see in Nevada, New Jersey or Delaware. They obtained a license from the state(s) so that they could offer online poker to the state’s residents.

What’s a rogue site?

This is another way of saying a bad poker site. This is a poker site you want to avoid.

What’s the best room for tournaments?

My opinion – Carbon Poker. They guarantee $6 million worth of prize pools each month, and even more when they run their tournament series. More than $200k is guaranteed on Sundays. Then they run 10s, if not 100s of thousands worth of tournaments every day.

What site has the most unique games?

The sites on the Winning Poker Network. They have what they call The Cage.

This is a cash game and MTT hybrid where there are 3 levels and 3 hours of play, but you buy-in dollar for dollar, and whatever you’re left with when the tournament ends – assuming you didn’t bust first – is what you walk away with.

What’s a freeroll tournament?

A freeroll is a tournament that lets you play for free. You pay nothing out of pocket (or your account) to participate.

Many freerolls have real money prize pools added to them by the poker site. They aren’t very much, but it’s enough to give first place a few bucks. That’s enough to get your real money career started.

Other freerolls will have tickets to real money tournaments. They might always award points or other prizes.

Questions About Playing Poker on a Mobile Device

Can I play poker for real money on my phone / tablet?

Yes. All rooms I know of that offer mobile apps or instant play games let you play for real money.

What’s the difference between mobile and desktop poker?

The biggest difference is size. Everything is (obviously) a helluva lot smaller on your phone or tablet.

Next to that would be your game options. You’ll have a much smaller selection of games and variations to choose from on a mobile device.

You might have fewer features too. For example, don’t expect to see a hand history replayer on your phone. At least not any time soon.

What games can I play?

You can play any game you can find online. The real question is whether the site you’ve joined has the games you want.

The largest selection I’ve seen thus far is at Carbon Poker. You can play cash games, SNGs and MTTs. There are tons of variations to choose from too like guarantees, steps, turbos, double or nothings, knockouts and more.

The bottom line, though, is it depends. I suggest reading our reviews to find out which rooms have games you want to play.

What stakes can I play?

I’ve seen up to 5/10 for fixed limit holdem cash games. You can play up to around $500 for MTTs and $1,050 for (heads up) SNGs.

Is mobile poker legal?

Where do you live? Is it legal to play poker there?

That’s really the only way to know.

If it’s not legal to play where you live (local or online) then chances are it’s not legal to play from your mobile device.

Is mobile poker safe?

Yes, poker sites use encryption technology to encode your private information.

The rest is up to you.

If you’re out in public you’ll want to be mindful of your surroundings. Make sure you don’t lose your phone. You’ll want to be on secure connections. And I wouldn’t be punching in your credit card number and/or passwords in public either, unless you have your back to the wall.

Can I multi-table?

At some sites, yes. But I don’t think you can at any American sites. Carbon Poker only allows you to play 1 table at a time – for now.

If you want to play for play (fake) money you can play up to 4 tables (I think) at PokerStars.

Questions About Depositing and Withdrawing

Can I deposit from my phone?

This depends on the site.

Most sites will let you. The process is the same – just go to the cashier, choose your option and follow the directions.

What’s the best deposit option for Americans?

Credit cards by far. They’re the fastest and most convenient option. They also have good min/max thresholds for both players on a budget and high stakes players.

What’s the fastest deposit option for Americans?

Credit cards (or debit and prepaid cards). Your money should hit your account almost instantly.

Echecks are your next best bet, followed by money transfers.

How can I cash out my money?

You’ll have several options including paper check, wire transfer, money transfer and in person at legal poker sites.

What’s the fastest way to cash out?

In person for legal poker sites. Other than that, money transfers followed by bank wires.

How much will I pay in fees?

This depends on the site. Some sites don’t charge fees at all for either deposits or withdrawals. Others give you one deposit/cash out free, and then charge you. It just varies.

You should expect to pay a fee for withdrawals at most places though. This will vary from $35 to $100 depending on the option, and sometimes how much it’s for.

My debit card was declined – what can I do?

You have a couple of options. You can try again. You can contact support and ask that they run it through manually. You can just try a different option.

My (paper) check bounced – what do I do?


Let the poker room know. Sometimes it’s just an accounting error or an issue with the processor. Any decent site will cover the fees – and usually kick you a few extra bucks for the trouble – and send you a new check (that will clear).

But, beware; sometimes this can be a sign that a poker site is having financial problems. If it happens too much you might try to pull the majority of your money off so to avoid losing it altogether if the site tanks.

Do I need a credit card to make a deposit?

No, you can use other options like an echeck, bank wire, prepaid card, debit card or money transfer.

Have any questions we failed to answer here? Let us know – send us an email!