Reason I like Bovada #5:

Simple Bonuses

Many online casinos give you a big matching bonus when you sign up and make a deposit.  For example, deposit $100, get a $100 match bonus, so you have $200 to play with.  They also give smaller bonuses for subsequent deposits.

Of course there's a catch.  You can't just deposit $100 and then cash out for $200.  You have to do a lot of betting before cashing out the bonus.  Playthrough requirements vary from casino to casino (and bonus to bonus), so check the rules.

Here's what I like about Bovada's bonuses vs. the other guys'.

  1. Most games count.  At many casinos, play on the most popular games doesn't count towards the wagering requirement.  Sometimes the only thing that counts is slots.  At Bovada, everything counts except craps and live dealer games, though with anything but slots the playthrough requirement is higher (and clearly spelled out in the terms).
  2. The terms are right up front.  You don't have to hunt for them, the summary is right there on the bonus page, with a link to the nicely-formatted complete rules.

What I don't like:  Like many casinos, Bovada can cancel your bonus if it looks like you were trying to just meet the play-through and then cash out, or if you strategize your play to maximize the bonus potential.  (See the terms for examples.)  This could hurt players who weren't trying to game the system if their play looks suspicious.  I haven't heard of any such cases but it's possible.  My advice: If you accept a bonus, play normally, as though the bonus wasn't really there.

See Bovada's current Welcome Bonus

Gambling problem?

  1. Call the 800-522-4700 hotline or get online help
  2. See these horror stories.
  3. Know that Parkinson's drugs encourage gambling.

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Gambling problem?

  1. Call the 800-522-4700 hotline or get online help
  2. See these horror stories.
  3. Know that Parkinson's drugs encourage gambling.

Poker Hand Rankings

How to figure which hand wins in poker

Name of Hand Example
Royal Flush 10♦ J♦ Q♦ K♦ A♦
Straight Flush 7♦ 8♦ 9♦ 10♦ J♦
Four of a Kind 3♦ 3♠ J♦ 3♣ 3♥
Full House 9♣ 9♥ 4♣ 4♥ 4♦
Flush 9♣ Q♣ 10♣ 4♣ 6♣
Straight 6♣ 7♥ 8♣ 9♦ 10♠
Three of a Kind 5♣ 5♥ 5♠ 9♦ 8♠
Two Pair 4♣ 4♥ 7♣ 7♦ Q♠
Pair 9♣ 9♥ 5♣ 4♦ 3♠

In each of the examples below we'll compare just two hands at a time to keep things simple. But in real poker there are often three or more players left standing at the end of the round who compare hands to see who won.

The cards can be in any order. It doesn't matter what order the cards are dealt. A pair of nines dealt as (9 3 8 5 9) is just as good as a pair dealt as (9 9 3 8 5).


1. Card Ranks. Two is the lowest card, Ace is the highest. The face cards from lowest to highest are Jack, Queen, and King, which we abbreviate J, Q, K. When each hand has the same high card, you look at the next-high card. If both hands have the same top two cards then you look at the third card, etc.

Queen beats Jack        

K9 beats K7        


2. Pair. A pair is two cards of the same rank. If multiple players have pairs, the high pair wins. If two players each have the same pair (e.g., 5,5 and 5,5), then you look at the highest card in each hand, as we saw above with Card Ranks.
Pair beats a single card,
even if the pair is ranked lower.

High pair wins        


3. Two Pair. If one pair is good, two pair is better.
Two pairs are better than one        

This is a tie.        
Both hands are equal.        

4. Three of a Kind.
Three of a Kind beats two pair.        


5. Straight. Consecutive cards. An Ace can count as either the lowest card (A-2-3-4-5) or the highest card (10-J-Q-K-A). If both hands have straights, the higher straight wins. Remember that the order of the cards doesn't matter. We showed them in order below just to make it easier to see.
Straight beats three of a kind. When comparing multiple straights, the highest straight wins.        


5. Flush. All cards of the same suit. If both hands are flushes then you look at card ranks, as usual.
Flush beats a straight        


6. Full House. A three of a kind plus a pair. When multiple players have full houses, the highest rank wins.
Full House beats a flush.        


7. Four of a Kind. Just what it says. With competing four of a kinds, the highest one wins.
Four of a Kind beats a full house.        


8. Straight Flush. Hand is both a straight and a flush..Very rare. Ranks break ties, yada yada yada.
Straight Flush beats four of a kind.        


9. Royal Flush. A straight flush composed of the very highest cards. Extremely rare. If you got this on a video poker machine you'd win the jackpot, usually 4000 coins.
Royal House beats everything on the planet.        

More Poker Resources

That's the basics. Here are some more resources to continue your study.

Texas Holdem crash course.  Our own guide to learning Texas Holdem.

Charles Bloom's Beginner's Guide. Mr. Bloom has an excellent introduction to Texas Holdem which picks up where this guide left off. A plethora of articles for beginning, intermediate, and advanced players. Good stuff.

Bovada Poker. The best way to learn is to play. At Bovada you can play for free so you don't have to risk your own money while you're still getting the hang of it. When you're ready to graduate to real money play, they have cheap $0.10/$0.20 limit games that just about anyone can afford. And the software works on both Mac & Windows.

Poker Listings. All the online poker rooms analyzed, reviewed, and compared. Highly recommended.

The Wizard's tips. There is no more respected authority on gambling strategy than the Wizard of Odds. Check out the Wizard's excellent advice for beginning players.

Strategy for 6-person Holdem. offers a wealth of strategies for playing six-person Holdem games. They sorely need a good editor, but hey, it's extensive, and it's free.

See also how to play:

Practice gambling with play money

Before you throw down your hard-earned cash in a casino, PRACTICE FIRST!  Learn the games with play money where it doesn't cost you anything if you lose.  Seriously.

I like Bovada's practice games the best, because you can play right away without registering for an account.  Most every other online casino makes you give up your email address just to play the fake-money games — ugh.  That's why Bovada is the only online casino that gets space on my site.  I hope other casinos will eventually start treating their visitors like human beings rather than walking wallets, but until they do, there's Bovada.  One click and you're in.

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