This is a question that is frequently sent to us by poker beginners. They are not ready or comfortable enough to go to the casino and play live poker. Yet, the only way they can familiarize themselves with the game is to play alone and they are eager to know if that’s possible.
You can play poker alone. There are a number of single-player poker games you can play by yourself. Choose the format you like and you are good to go.
The idea of playing poker alone may seem laughable to some people. After all, poker is a social game and the real thrill of the game is competing against other players. But someone new to the game will not feel this way. He/she has to learn the basics of the game, then practice to improve his/her game. Practice makes perfect, right?
You can’t get this practice in live poker or even in online poker rooms. You aren’t ready to face them yet. What you need is an avenue to learn the game and become familiar with it at your own pace. Hence, the need to play the game by yourself.
Playing Poker Alone
Beginners aren’t the only ones that play poker alone. You may visit some popular online poker rooms and find out you can’t join a table. Yes, it’s rare but it does happen occasionally. And it could be really disappointing if you are fired up and eager to play some poker.
Whatever your reason for playing alone is, there are a couple of single-player online games for you to choose from.
Perhaps you’ve heard of video poker. It’s very similar to live poker and is essentially a single-player Five Card Draw with some minor/slight modifications of the rules. The first modification is that there are no betting rounds, which is logical. You are playing alone and not betting against anybody. Here, winnings will be paid based on the value of your hand. The better the hand, the more the value.
The other aspects of the game are the same. Cards will be shuffled, dealt, held, and discarded as in normal poker. You’ll also notice that the game is very fast due to the absence of the betting rounds. You’ll find a lot of variants of video poker on many online poker websites. Some variants use jokers, others do not.
This might surprise you, but some people are professional video poker players. More about it in this article.
Triple Pocket Hold’em Poker
This format of poker is an interesting take on Texas Hold’em. The usual 52-card deck is utilized In Triple Pocket Hold’em Poker. Also, this format doesn’t make use of jokers.
Here, the dealers will be given or dealt using poker language three hands of two cards each. After being dealt the hands, the player has to decide whether he/she wants to discard the hands or hold on to them. However, the player must keep one hand if he/she is to remain in the game. Any discarded hand will be sent to the dealer, who will also have two hands.
After dealing cards to all parties involved, five community cards will then be dealt on the table. The aim of the player now is to use both his hands and the community cards to come up with a poker hand that outranks that of the dealer. Standard poker hand rating is used here and for a player to win, his hand must outrank both of the dealers’ hands.
Three Card Poker
This version of poker was introduced in 1994 and is now being played in many casinos in the world, be it live or online. The rules of this game require players to make an ante bet for them to play. If you so desire, you are also allowed to make a Pair Plus side bet, in which your winnings will be based on the value of your hand. All the players will be dealt three cards each after placing the ante bet. After receiving and checking their cards, players have the option to continue playing or fold. You lose your ante bet if you decide to fold.
The dealer’s hand will only be revealed after you’ve made a decision.
Progressive Caribbean Stud
Unless you are new to poker, you’ll know that you can pay a small buy-in and still stand a chance. It’s one of the many things we like about this game. You have a chance to win a lot more than you’ve paid for.
Generally, online casinos’ progressive prizes are closely related to the slots. Progressive Caribbean Stud is just like normal poker. We must mention that there are ante bets too.
Can You Play Poker With Just Two People?
This is a question most people become increasingly interested in as the popularity of poker begins to grow. Imagine a scenario when it’s just you and a friend, family member, or significant other on a weekend. The two of you both love poker and are in the mood for some poker action. But you two are wondering if you can still play the game. Wonder no more, dear friend. We’ll be giving you a definitive answer today.
The answer is yes, two people can play poker. And when only two people are playing poker, it’s called ‘heads-up’. This format of poker has its own set of rules.
When there are only two people playing poker, the players will take turns being the dealer. Here, the dealer is always the small blind while the other person will post the big blind. Also, who goes pre-flop and post-flop is clearly defined. The dealer goes first pre-flop while the other player goes first post-flop.
What Are the 2 Player Poker Rules?
2-player poker has its own set of rules which cater to the unique nature of the game. We’ll be talking in detail about the basic rules of the 2-player poker that you need to know. If you don’t learn the rules, you and your partner will be doing things the wrong way.
We advise that you keep this page open in your browser. That way, you quickly check for clarity if you are confused or for answers if you have any questions.
How do the blinds work in 2 player poker?
This is probably the most confusing aspect of heads-up poker. The rules of heads-up poker are different from that of 6-max or full-ring poker. But rest assured, you’ll get the hang of the blinds to work in no time. Then, you can show off this knowledge by educating your friends.
Just remember this – any player that’s acting as the dealer (i.e has the dealer button in front of him) can’t be the big blind. And that means the dealer is always the small blind.
There is also the issue of who will serve as the dealer at the beginning of the game. Thankfully, there’s an easy and fair way to do this. Both players will have to draw a card from the deck. The player with the highest-ranking card will first serve as the dealer. Problem solved.
For more explanation on the small and big blind in heads up poker and how to play it properly, check this article: Heads Up Poker: The Blinds and Button Explained With Examples.
How Are the Cards Dealt in 2 Player Poker?
This is another confusing aspect for people in heads-up. There is the issue of which blind gets dealt with first before the flop? Also, there’s an easy solution to this. Just remember that the dealer cannot deal to himself/herself first. So that means the player (big blind) always gets dealt the first card and the small blind (dealer) will get the second card.
Can the Same Person Deal Every Hand?
This is another question that pops up about 2 player poker. Normally, the two players should take turns being the dealer. The two of them could agree to swap every two hands or so. Whichever works for you.
But what if one person is better than dealing? The better dealer could deal every hand both players agree to it. However, the dealer button must be moved each hand. While the same player deals the same card, both of them will take turns being the small and big blind. It would be highly unfair if the same person had to play the big blind every single hand!
Why Play Heads-Up Cash Games?
Below are some of the reasons why you should consider playing heads-up cash games.
- Blinds Do Not Rise – It’s a well-known fact that blinds go up after each round in tournaments. Luckily, you do not have to worry about this in 2 person cash games. Also, there is no need for a special tournament clock. All you have to do is to choose your stake level and then start playing. Unlike cash tournaments, you don’t have to worry about adjusting your style to the rising bets.
- No Need For Poker Chips – One of the benefits of two players playing poker is that there is no need for poker chips. There are a lot of alternatives to poker chips. You could use coins, fake money from games like monopoly, game board pieces like chess, scrabble, and so on.
- Cash Games Take More Skill – Cash games are good for those that want to practice as well as improve their skill at the game. The rising blinds in tournaments mean the game becomes determined by luck as time goes on.
If you wonder if heads up poker can be profitable or it is just luck, then you might be surprised but heads up poker has one of the highest win-rates possible. Some players even made millions from heads up poker alone. More about it in this article: Is Heads Up Poker Profitable or Just Luck?
What 2 Player Games Can We Play Besides Texas Hold’Em?
You could spice up your 2 player games by playing other formats of poker apart from Texas Hold’em.
- Pot Limit Omaha: Pot-Limit Omaha has the same heads-up rules as Texas Hold’em with only a slight difference. And that’s the fact that the two players in Pot Limit Omaha get dealt four cards.
- 5-Card Draw: This is the variant of poker that beginners use to learn the game in the past. However, No-Limit Hold’em has replaced it in that regard. This format also uses an ante, which both players must pay before they receive cards. After the ante bet has been placed, five cards will be dealt to the players. It must be mentioned here that there are two betting rounds in place of a flop, river, or turn.
The first betting round takes place after you’ve been dealt your initial cards. Then you have the option of discarding 3 cards (4 if you have an Ace). The discarded cards will be replaced by the dealer and another betting round comes up.
- 7-Card Stud: Here, you’ll start the game with two cards down and one card up. After this, a betting round will take place. The two cards will then be turned up one after the other with a betting round coming up after the first card has been turned up.
The betting rounds are over when both players have seven cards each and the showdown begins.
How Can I Learn Poker Fast?
We must mention that all methods of learning poker have one thing in common. And that’s the fact that they all require time, effort, and sometimes even money. You really shouldn’t make speed a priority when learning poker.
You’ll do well to focus on learning poker as thoroughly as possible instead of as quickly as possible.
That said, there’s nothing bad in trying to find shortcuts in your poker education or simplify the learning process. While learning poker isn’t exactly easy, we’ll be recommending ways you can speed up your learning process below.
Learn the basics through video tutorials and other online resources
The first thing you need to learn about poker is the basics as that is the foundation on which other knowledge will be built on. As a beginner, you shouldn’t worry your head about learning tactics or strategies. Your focus should be on mastering the fundamentals of the game. There’s a time for everything in poker. The time for you to learn tactics will come. Don’t learn to run without learning to walk first.
So what should you focus on? Learn the general idea behind poker, the different variants of the game, and how the game is generally played. Do this right or you’ll find yourself learning things that are difficult to unlearn later.
Read good poker books.
There are so many quotes about books that we do not know which one to use right now. We figure it’ll be cool starting this paragraph with some cool book quotes. Anyway, let’s move.
Books are invaluable tools when learning poker. Of course, you’ll have to read relevant books if you are to gain anything and improve your game. You’ll do well to read books about poker theory and other fundamental stuff.
A beginner will definitely have a hard time choosing a good book. To make things easy for you, check out our articles for the best poker books for winning more games.
Practice + coaching
After learning the basics, fundamentals, and other stuff from the books you chose, it’s time to have some practical experience. You need to start putting all you’ve learned into practice. But you are not ready to go to the casino. No, not yet. Instead, focus on playing low-poker games with your friends. It doesn’t matter how long you spent reading books and learning. Do not forget what you are for the time being – a beginner!
Going to the casino will end up in a disaster. You’ll lose and God help you if you are betting with important money like your house rent.
You should try to play with your friends if possible. It’s a nice transition from reading poker games to actually playing poker and having some hands-on experience. If you don’t have any buddies close by, don’t worry. There are a lot of social poker sites and apps on which you can play against your friends online. A little google searches and you’ll see the best of such sites.
I have a complete guide on how to play online poker with friends by using Zoom and online poker sites, where you can create private poker tables (some of them for free).
You should also consider signing up for online coaching for in-depth tutorials. You can check out our article on the best poker training sites.
Signing up with a well-known poker coach or expert has the advantage of you receiving some personalized training. However, it may be expensive. But it’s an investment you should consider if you really want to fast-track your learning and become great at poker. If you decide on one, then make sure to follow my tips, or getting a poker coach will only mean you are burning your hard-earned money!
When you are indeed ready to take on unknown opponents, you should acknowledge the fact there is an element of luck to poker and it is not only about skill. The reason why you are learning is to minimize the impact of luck on your game. Remember, good players don’t win all the time, they win most of the time.
Enjoy poker responsibly and good luck with your journey!