Table of Contents
- How Do Online Poker Sites Work?
- How to Choose the Best Poker Sites for NZ Players
- What Happens in a Round of Poker?
- Best Poker Games Online
- Popular Poker Tournaments and How They Work
- Poker Rake & Fees
- Online Poker Software
- Mobile Online Poker
- Online Poker for Beginners
- Security at Online Poker Sites
- Online Poker NZ FAQ
How Do Online Poker Sites Work?
There’s a wide variety of poker sites in NZ. Some have a dedicated poker room. Others have a collection of poker titles under the table game section of the casino. Poker sites will provide cash games where you can play with real money online and leave at any time. They also provide tournaments with prize pools, and this is where you’ll usually find the best poker entertainment.
However, whether you go for cash games or tourneys, there’s a large variety of game types and options, leaving room for players of different skill levels to find their comfort zone and excel. Poker generally offers wide betting limits that accommodate both low-stakes players and the top VIP high rollers. Limits usually range from NZ$0.50 to NZ$2,000 at online poker sites.
How to Choose the Best Poker Sites for NZ Players
Online poker is always a fun time, but where you play can significantly affect the quality of your gaming experience. Because New Zealand has such a competitive online gambling space, seeking out the best online poker sites may be challenging. That’s why we’ve narrowed the selection down. And how do we do it? Our experts use a list of criteria that are tried, tested, and fool-proof. Here are the major areas we assess:
Variety of Poker Games
Many poker variants are available, so a site that offers only or two wouldn’t cut it. Instead, where there’s a good variety, you can try out several kinds before deciding which gameplay format resonates best with you. Also, having a variety of poker games to choose from will ensure you don’t get bored with any single title.
Tournaments and Bonuses
Tournament excellence combined with big bonuses and promotions provide increased chances to boost their bankroll. Tournaments offer players a shot at major poker titles and large cash prizes. There are lots of prestigious online poker tournaments, and even the WSOP is now available online. Naturally, sites that allow entry into these competitions are high on our radar. The top sites will also provide freeroll bonuses for free entry into these tournaments, as well as regular welcome bonuses and ongoing promotions like weekend sales for major buy-ins.
Poker software providers are another crucial variable in determining the best poker sites because only top providers will guarantee the best gaming experiences. The software quality is even more crucial for a challenging skill-based game such as this. Game companies like Evolution and Ezugi are some of the leading developers for online poker. They boast a solid track record and offer a great variety of poker options, too.
All-Round User Experience
The site’s overall experience is another fundamental aspect we consider. How friendly is the layout? Can you easily find games? What’s the deposit and withdrawal process like? Players shouldn’t have to waste time looking for their preferred games or navigating the site. The payment processes must also be swift and reliable so that you don’t miss out on limited-time buy-ins or have trouble cashing out your winnings. We also test out the customer support to ensure there’s an experienced and readily available team behind the scenes.
The top sites offer unique tournament features like a smart HUD poker tracking tool to help gain an edge over the competition and in-built staking to stake on another player’s action for a fraction of the buy-in.
What Happens in a Round of Poker?
There are lots of poker variants, which we’ll cover further down this guide, and there are slight rule variations for each one. But you should know the typical proceedings in a poker round before you start this game. Below is the classic poker gameplay according to Texas Hold ’em, one of the most popular forms of online poker.
- Players join a virtual table and are seated randomly.
- Two players post small and big blinds to initiate betting. These are mandatory bets to start the process.
- Each player receives two private, face-down cards (hole cards).
- First betting round starts left of the big blind; players can fold, call, or raise.
- Three community cards (the flop) are revealed.
- Second betting round occurs.
- A fourth community card (the turn) is revealed.
- Third betting round ensues.
- A fifth community card (the river) is shown.
- Final betting round takes place.
- All hands still in play are revealed in a showdown; the best hand wins the pot.
- Dealer position rotates, and a new hand begins.
Note: Poker is a strategy game, so you’ll need to learn the art of bluffing and other cool ways to increase your winning chances in this game.
Best Poker Games Online
Here are some of the most popular poker games you can find online:
- Texas Hold ’em – Texas Hold ’em sees players dealt two private cards with five community cards placed face-up on the board. Players use the best five-card combination to make their hand. This is the main event game of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) and the most common game on online platforms.
- Five Card Draw – This is one of the simplest forms of poker. Players receive five cards each and can exchange any or all of them for new ones. It’s all about creating the best five-card hand possible. This is the standard game variation in video poker.
- Three Card Poker – Three Card Poker pits a player’s three-card hand against the dealer’s. Players can either fold or double on their ante bet. The objective is getting a higher hand than the dealer, and side bets like Pair Plus are available.
- Pai Gow Poker – Based on a Chinese domino game, Pai Gow Poker deals players seven cards from which they have to create two hands – a five-card hand and a two-card hand. To win, both hands must beat the dealer’s corresponding hands. It’s slower-paced and offers a lot of pushes, making it popular among those who want extended gameplay.
- Omaha Poker – This is similar to Texas Hold ’em, but players are dealt four private cards and must use two of them in combination with three of the five community cards. Omaha often results in stronger hands, which makes hand reading and strategy even more crucial.
- Caribbean Stud Poker – This game is played against the house. Players receive five cards and can either fold or continue by making an additional bet double their ante. The goal is to beat the dealer’s hand. A side bet on a progressive jackpot is often available.
- Live Poker – Live poker is an exciting way to play this card game. Set in the live casino, you’ll be playing against a real-life dealer. Several of the above listed are available in live format. Compared to online poker, the experience varies due to factors like speed of play and other players’ behavior.
Popular Poker Tournaments and How They Work
Poker tournaments are competitions where you pay an entry fee and receive tournament chips. Play continues until one player has all the chips, and the prize pool, which may be fixed or progressive, is distributed among top finishers, often with the winner receiving the largest share.
Poker tournaments come in different formats. Some of the most common ones are given below:
Sit-n-Go Tournaments (SNGs)
Sit-n-Gos, or SNGs, are tournaments that don’t have a scheduled start time. Instead, they begin once all the available seats are filled. Once the designated number of players register, the tournament begins. Payouts typically go to the top 20-30% of finishers.
Multi-Table Tournaments (MTTs)
MTTs are the most common form of poker tournament, where players start with an equal number of chips, and play until one player accumulates all of them. These tournaments have scheduled start times and can involve tens to thousands of participants. The prize pool is created from the participants’ buy-ins. It is then distributed among the top finishers, with the winner receiving the largest share.
Satellite tournaments allow players to enter high buy-in events for a fraction of the cost. Instead of traditional cash prizes, the top finishers in a satellite receive entry tickets to more expensive tournaments. This way, players can parlay a small investment into a potentially large payday in a bigger event.
Freerolls are tournaments that are free to enter but still offer real money prizes or tournament tickets. They’re a popular promotional tool poker sites use to attract new customers or reward loyalty. Given the lack of entry fees, they often attract large fields.
In these tournaments, the blind levels increase much faster than usual, leading to quicker, more aggressive play. While standard tournaments might increase blinds every 10-15 minutes, turbos might do so every 5 minutes, and hyper-turbos every 2-3 minutes. They’re suited for players looking for fast-paced action, but the faster pace means that quick decision-making is essential.
Bounty tournaments place a “bounty” on the head of every participant. In addition to the regular prize pool, players earn cash rewards for each opponent they knock out. This creates an interesting dynamic and adds an aggressive dimension to the play.
In a shootout, players stay at their starting table until there’s only one person left. These winners then move on to combine with other table winners to form new tables. This process is repeated until there’s a final table and, eventually, an overall winner. It’s a blend of SNG and MTT strategies.
Heads-up tournaments are bracket-style competitions where players compete one-on-one. The winner moves on to the next round, while the loser is eliminated. This continues until there’s a single champion. It tests a player’s individual skills in the purest form of poker competition.
Poker Rake & Fees
Poker sites earn revenue by charging tournament entry fees or collecting a rake from cash game pots. The rake is a fee or commission taken by the poker room or online platform from each pot played. Rake can be calculated in multiple ways, but it’s usually a fixed percentage between 2.5% and 10% of the pot. For example, a 5% rake on a pot of NZ$100 would be NZ$5. It can go up to 20% on certain tournament events but most poker rooms will have a maximum rake cap to ensure massive pots aren’t overly taxed.
There’s also the fixed rake system, where a set amount is taken regardless of the pot size. This is less common and is often found in lower-stakes games. Some poker rooms offer ‘no rake’ on certain hands, typically when the hand doesn’t reach the flop in games like Texas Hold ’em.
Understanding the rake is important for players because while it might seem small on individual pots, it accumulates over time and may impact long-term profitability for serious players. The best poker online sites will offer rakeback, a reward system where players get refunds on a percentage of the rake they’ve paid. This may be provided as part of loyalty or VIP programs and is a great way to mitigate the cost of rake over time.
Online Poker Software
Several leading software companies supply online poker games. Top providers include Playtech, Real Time Gaming, and Games Global (formerly Microgaming). Some big-name operators like Entain provide their own proprietary poker software, which means Entain brands will offer exclusive titles you won’t find anywhere else.
Evolution Gaming is another third-party developer with exciting poker titles. They’re known for live casino offerings, so players can join in live-streamed games with real dealers. Evolution live poker tables provide added excitement with slots-style progressive jackpots and unique side bets to double down on the thrill. Ultimate Texas Hold ’em, Side Bet City, and Progressive Jackpot Caribbean Stud Poker are some of the studio’s best releases.
Mobile Online Poker
Kiwis are fond of playing via their mobile devices, and fortunately, almost all poker sites now support gameplay on mobile devices and tablets. At the best poker sites you can play your favorite games on the go. Several operators invest in dedicated poker apps, while others simply focus on an optimized mobile site built on HTML5 technology.
While mobile poker is a convenient way to play, remember that a stable internet connection is necessary. Also, many features, such as multi-tabling and in-built staking may be unavailable or have limited functionality when playing on mobiles. Among the highlights is that you can often find exclusive promotions for mobile poker gamers.
Online Poker for Beginners
Poker is a pretty challenging game, especially when played in a tournament contest. However, it’s easy to pick up basic poker skills when you understand the game rules. Several poker variations are suited for beginners, like five card draw and Caribbean stud. For the latter, you’ll be playing directly against the dealer, thereby eliminating the fear of facing other pro players. So, it gives a similar feel to blackjack, which is a very beginner-friendly game.
Betting limits in poker can start from NZ$0.50, and this lower cap is great for novices who are not yet confident enough to place big stakes. So you can still enjoy the game at low risks. Better still, you can try online poker for free. This is a great way to practice poker rules and strategies or familiarize yourself with new games.
Security at Online Poker Sites
Any NZ poker site that’s worth your time must have a safe and secure gaming environment. This is an indispensable rule, as a lack of adequate security means you could lose your cash and have your personal details exposed to malicious parties.
First and foremost, security at online poker sites entails a reputable licensing certificate. The UKGC and the MGA are the most respected international regulators. They have the strictest licensing regulations to ensure players enjoy fair and safe gaming at their approved sites.
An internet encryption protocol like SSL or TLS is also important to guarantee your details are encrypted and secured. Finally, the quality of payment methods will also enable safe transactions, with credit cards like Visa and e-wallets like PayPal being some of the most secure ways to fund cash games or tournament entries at poker online casinos.
Is Online Poker Legal in New Zealand?
Online poker is legal in New Zealand, just like most other forms of gambling. Kiwis are lucky that although the Gambling Act of 2003 prohibits gambling platforms from operating (or hosting their sites) within the territory, all casinos and poker rooms based abroad can accept NZ players, and Kiwis are free to sign up and play as well. Still, on the topic of legal requirements, recreational players don’t have to pay tax on poker winnings. Professional poker players, on the other hand, may need to pay an income tax.
Online Poker NZ FAQ
Do I have to pay fees to enter a poker tournament?
Apart from free rolls, players can only enter poker tournaments at a cost, known as the entry fee. For more expensive tourneys, you can gain free tickets through satellite games that come with much cheaper entry fees.
Is poker played against the dealer?
Several poker games will let you play against fellow participants. Others will allow you to go up against the dealer alone. Caribbean Stud Poker is arguably the most popular version of the game played against the house.
Can anyone play online poker?
Playing real money poker online requires you to understand the basics of gameplay and the specific rules of your chosen variant. However, anyone can play this game thanks to the many free online poker options available.
Can you win real money on online poker?
Yes, you can. When playing real money poker, there’s always the opportunity to cash returns back if you’re lucky. Tournaments can offer the largest payouts, but poker games with a progressive jackpot will also pay handsomely, usually for players who hit the royal flush.
What is the best online poker site in New Zealand?
Our list of recommended sites reveals the top places to play poker online in New Zealand. The best site for you will depend on your preferences, but all our recommendations are safe, licensed, and trustworthy, so you’re in good hands anyway.