The different formats of online poker

The leading Australian poker sites cater for all tastes and skill sets with hundreds of real money games available every day, covering everything from freerolls and micro-stakes cash games to scheduled tournaments with huge guaranteed prize pools.

Here, we’re looking at the smorgasbord of options on the table for AUD players. We will also explain how and where you can play the best online poker games on PC, Mac, smartphones, tablets and even iPods, including a few unique gameplay formats you won’t find in any land-based casino.

Desktop and mobile poker platforms

The first thing you must decide is how you want to access your favourite online poker rooms. Our recommended AUD poker sites offer three options:

Windows PC download – All the top online hold’em sites offer a free poker client which you can install on your computer’s hard disk. This gives you access to every game, tournament and special feature available.

Instant play poker – In recent years, operators have met the growing demand for Mac-friendly interfaces with the addition of a no-download poker platform. Using common coding languages like Flash and Java, this mode allows you to play straight through the Web browser on any computer.

Mobile poker sites – Yes, you can even play real money hold’em poker on your smartphone or tablet device. At, for instance, you can choose from an extensive range of mobile cash games, scheduled tournaments and sit-and-go poker, all available on iOS and Android products.

Multi-Table Tournaments (MTTs)

If it’s big cash prizes and possibly a major live tournament berth you’re after, scheduled online poker events are the way to go. There are dozens of different MTT formats to choose from, each of which caters for both high-stakes poker players and those who can’t necessarily afford to play for sheep stations.

Freezeout – This is your regulation multi-table poker tournament, as seen in traditional live competitions such as the WSOP Main Event. There are no second chances here – when you run out of chips, you’re out of the game.

Sit & Go – SnG poker tournaments have no scheduled starting times; play begins as soon as all the seats are filled. Leading real money poker sites like 888, Full Tilt and host hundreds of sit-and-go events every day.

Freerolls – Sometimes you won’t even have to pay to enter a real money online poker tournament. With no personal funds on the line, freeroll events are an especially good way for beginners and intermediates to build up their skills and bankrolls.

Satellite – Instead of spending hundreds of bucks on a tournament buy-in, you can enter a poker satellite for a fraction of the cost. Satellite winners can even qualify for major live poker tournaments like the World Series of Poker and the Aussie Millions.

Guaranteed – When you see a real cash poker event with a guaranteed prize pool, the figure advertised is exactly how much will be in the kitty. Even when there aren’t enough entrants to fund the prize money on buy-ins alone, the operators will make up the difference. Guaranteed MTT poker tourneys can offer in excess of AUD $1 million.

Rebuys – Here, players have the option to buy back their seat after busting out. Many rebuy tournaments give you only one life, but sometimes you get multiple chances to refill your chip stack.

Re-entry – While rebuys allow you to keep your seat, re-entry tournaments require you to start again at a new table. You can rejoin the event straight away, or else go back through the tournament lobby buy into a later flight.

Shootout – In most MTTs, players are shuffled from table to table to balance the numbers. In shootout tournaments, however, every table plays out until all but one player is eliminated.

Knockout – Also called bounty tournaments, this format rewards cash incentives for dumping opponents out of the game. Sometimes the buy-ins go solely towards the bounties, so the only way to win anything is to take someone out.

Heads Up – Much like a soccer or tennis tournament, heads-up poker is a one-on-one affair where two players take the field but only one progresses. Keep winning your match-ups to move from bracket to bracket until only one pair remains.

Deep Stack – More starting chips and longer blind levels make for a more grinding pace which suits the tight-handed purists out there. We highly recommend the Mega Deep and Turbo Mega Deep tournaments at

Turbo – Shorter blind levels speed up the play and lead to more quick exits than in regular tourneys. Super turbo and hyper turbo events cut the levels even shorter, sometimes to the point where blinds increase after every hand.

6-max and 4-max – While standard poker tournaments allow for a full ring of nine players per table, many online events cut that number to six or four. The 4-max and 6-max gameplay formats are often used in sit-n-go poker, especially in turbo and super turbo tourneys.

Online cash games

For many, the old-fashioned ring game remains the preferred mode of online poker play. Unlike scheduled poker tourneys and SNG events, here you can buy in and cash out whenever you like – just as you would at most of the hold’em and stud tables at a brick-and-mortar casino.

Unlike those land-based poker rooms, however, Internet cash games cater for players of every stripe with an enormous range of stakes and styles. Indeed, 888 Poker ring games start at real money micro-stakes of just $0.01/$0.02, which is great for new players who want to dip their toes in the water without risking a whole heap of coin.

The other cool thing about cash games is that they run around the clock and rarely require a full ring of players, so you can play hold’em poker, stud and draw games for real Australian dollars whenever you like – 24/7/365.

ZOOM Poker & Adrenaline Rush

These revolutionary fast-fold poker formats cut waiting times by shifting you to a new table as soon as you end your hand. This makes for extremely rapid gameplay, the likes of you which you will never find in a traditional Australian poker room.

Rather than joining a specific table, you enter a large pool of players. You are then randomly assigned to a table, and you play just as you would normally play. As soon as you fold out or complete the hand, however, you are then immediately seated another table, ready to start a new hand.

Our favourite fast-fold varieties are ZOOM Poker (PokerStars) and Rush Poker (Full Tilt), which can be played as sit-&-go tournaments, MTTs and cash games. For even faster play, you can try Adrenaline Rush at Full Tilt – a range of 4-max Texas hold’em ring games where all the betting happens before the flop.

Available poker styles

Texas hold’em – The most popular poker game on the Web. Players receive two hole cards each, while five community cards are dealt across four betting rounds: the pre-flop, the flop, the turn and the river.

Omaha poker – Similar to Texas holdem, except players take four pocket cards and must exactly two of those to form a five-card hand. There is also Omaha hi/lo, where both high hands and low hands are in play.

Stud poker – In both seven card stud and five card stud, each player is dealt a combination of down-cards and up-cards across up to five betting rounds. Stud hi/lo and razz (lowball 7 card stud) are also available at PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker.

Draw poker – Probably the easiest poker style to learn, in which players can exchange unwanted hole cards for new ones. Popular versions include five card draw, 2-7 single draw and 2-7 triple draw.

Mixed games – Many of the leading Australian gambling sites offer mixed poker games where the format changes after each round. The most common is HORSE, which switches between Texas hold’em, Omaha high-low, razz, seven card stud, and seven card stud hi-lo.

Betting structures

Fixed limit – All bets and raises are limited to preset amounts. For example: a $2/$4 limit holdem games feature a fixed $2 small bet for early rounds and a $4 large bet later in the hand. Players can only raise up to four times per betting round.

Pot limit – The maximum wager is equal to the size of the pot, including all live bets. There is no cap on the number of times you can raise per round.

No limit – Players can bet as much as they like at any time, up to an entire chip stack. Unlimited raises.

Mixed limit – There are a few online poker games which rotate between some or all of the above betting rules. The format might change after a certain number of hands, or at the end of each blind level.

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