Best Online Poker Sites in NZ

  • bet365 100% Matched Bonus up to $100
    • Safe and Trustworthy
    • Massive Jackpot Slots
    • Fast Withdrawals
  • Guts Casino 100% Up To $500
    • Great Welcome Offers
    • Wide Range of Games
    • 24/7 Customer Service

Online Poker for Kiwi Players

It’s no secret that several generations of youngsters in Aotearoa New Zealand had been exposed to popular films, including Spaghetti Westerns, that made gambling a sexy activity for them to engage in during adulthood. Many childhood days had been spent watching their card-shuffling cowboy heroes tame villains across smoke-filled tables of back rooms at saloons when high drama hit town. That era also had ushered in a rash of Hollywood films that couldn’t resist the seductive lure of gambling, especially poker, in the fight for viewership numbers.

Who can forget author Ian Fleming’ main secret agent character, James Bond, wowing the world’s filmgoers with his gambling prowess from the 1960s. While baccarat was the fictional OO7 Thunderball’s game in the 1960s, over the years the popularity of poker had eclipsed other forms of gambling. He plays Texas Hold’em, a popular variant of poker, in the most recent version of Casino Royale in the 21st Century. Bond movies remain in the pipeline for younger generations to idolise their hero.

Such impact through film theatres and television nowadays goes a fair way in explaining why online poker is an easy preference among Kiwis who enjoy wagering. No doubt, it was the Chinese immigrants who had brought card games to New Zealand in the 1800s when the then government here had invited them to our shores to work during the Otago gold rush. It isn’t farfetched to trace the roots of the early variants of the poker game to the Chinese immigrants before Americans had started glamourising it.

Today, the six brick-and-mortar casinos in the country have licence to host poker games but that hasn’t stopped legions of gamblers from stepping through the iGaming doors of online casinos to play poker in cyberspace. That the likes of American-born, NZ resident Lee Nelson, David Yan, Sosia Jiang, Daniel Francis, Thomas Ward, Tae Hoon Han, and Jan Suchanek have pocketed more than a million kiwi dollars each playing professional poker is giving Kiwi enthusiasts itchy fingers, too. They may not be household names yet, but among some of the elite professional players are the likes of the odd accountant, doctor, and mathematician whose accomplishment is on the lips of other ambitious gamblers.

With the land-based casinos hosting some marquee poker tournaments and festivals — such as the Asia-Pacific Poker Tour, the home-grown New Zealand Poker Championships, and the WPT New Zealand — an increasing number of Kiwis seem to be opting for online gambling platforms to play poker at simultaneous virtual tables to see if they also can claim similar lucrative purses. The buy-ins — that is, the sum of money players have to invest to be in the mix for million-dollar windfalls — have been modest, around a few thousand dollars each at the land-based events.

However, this where the multibillion-dollar online poker industry adds value to the total experience that Kiwi gamblers yearn for. Buy-ins on some platforms can be as low as $NZ50 a virtual table. With the NZ Problem Gambling Foundation understandably taking a hard line on exposure to online wagering, some players are defending the virtual platforms for providing a poker fix for free or joining a bongo hall-variety pub league involving small sums of money. Others say it isn’t just about making money but also stimulating mental challenges that require working out changing odds in smart time.

That’s why we’re taking an in-depth look via this post to identify a top list of online poker sites that may suit not only your individual requirements but also the difference between live poker and online poker, as well as why it’s important for Kiwi players to become familiar with the “rake”. Our dedicated crew has gone the extra mile to create a glossary of online poker terminology that will help you get up to speed, so you can invest more time playing the game than trying to figure out the jargon. Our desire is to ensure that after you’ve read our comprehensive post, you won’t have to go trawling for another review site to not only waste your time but also stray on to a land of confusion.

Best Sites To Play Online Poker In NZ

Just like selecting your favourite online casinos, New Zealand gamblers must consider what variables suit their individual requirements when they try to identify their best online poker sites. No one knows better than our dedicated review team of experts on how difficult and frustrating that exercise can be for many Kiwi players. Hit the Google engine for best online poker sites in New Zealand and you have a whole swag of review sites pitching its list.

So who do you trust? It’s okay to scratch your head to ponder why there is so much contradiction on who the top 3, 5, or 10 best NZ online poker sites should be. Do the reviewers have a vested interest? Well, the answers may surprise many of you but definitely not us. That’s because our team of astute reviewers is in the business of putting New Zealanders in the driving seat. We want you to be in control of what makes you feel better so you can tick your boxes.

Our challenging task is to provide you with all the variations, on the foundation of solid research, to ensure you make meaningful choices before settling for the best online poker operators in New Zealand. We have created an entirely different section to reveal what to look out for below. Note that like any review we’ve ever posted, we recommend sites that are legally registered to reputable countries and are trustworthy on account of how transparent they are in their operation.

We are not listing the actual bonus and promotional figures for the simple reason that online casino and betting operators tend to update those even following each month. For now, here’s our list of the best online poker sites, with a nifty description of each platform and what features it offers, including the advantages and disadvantages:

888poker

Around since online poker became a thing shortly before the turn of the century, 888poker is a subsidiary of online casino heavyweight 888 which had extended its poker arm to Kiwis in 2002, after opening as Pacific Poker in 1997. Enter 888poker’s iGaming doors to the tune of a generous welcome bonus; low deposits; micro stakes of cents; iOS and Android app downloads as well as browser access; a return-to-player (RTP) of more than 96%; good game variety; great options to shift smartly to other virtual tables if your luck has run out at one; a webcam variant that enables Kiwis to see in real time who their poker opponents are; a huge number of players (10 million registered ones) as one would expect on the second biggest poker studio in the world (several lengths behind PokerStars); a “soft” platform where many other newbies compete; free-play option; PayPal is among the top e-Wallet options; etc.

The biggest disadvantages for us includes New Zealanders’ inability to use kiwi dollars, so that means converting to bullish US dollars; the customer support service isn’t up to our standards with just an online web form to fill out and up to a three-day wait; and a VIP programme that requires an exceptionally high level of engagement to have the opportunity to scale the tiers for some benefits.

PokerStars

Every so often, Kiwi players will come across a website that feels just right. Well, we feel PokerStars falls in that category of online poker platforms, albeit it one that attracts the biggest number of players in the world. PokerStars comes under the management of Flutter Entertainment plc, a trusted iGaming enterprise accredited for spawning some industry-defining brands. Listed publicly, like our other recommendations, on the London Stock Exchange, the company assures Kiwis that PokerStars, launched in 2000, is among its entities that undergo rigorous regulations to ensure its clients are safe and secure.

What appeals to us most is that PokerStars, despite its popularity as one of the online poker frontrunners, embraces beginners in the hope that they’ll go on to become champions, if that’s their wish. On the day we had checked the site, more than 35,000 players had been engaged with more than 2,000 tournaments. Other key gains from PokerStars include marquee tournaments (including Sunday Million, SCOOP, and WCOOP) among daily and weekly ones; apps for Android, desktop, and iOS portals; elite iGaming software; games start “every second”, so there’s no delays; let’s Kiwis not only watch their Team PokerStars Pro in action but also join them at the tables as opponents; game selection is varied with popular ones such as Texas Hold’em, Omaha; deposit limits; swift withdrawals; player fund protection with segregated accounts; player forum help; PayPal among payment methods.

Downsides are fewer but crucial, such as no live chat unless Kiwis login, or phone contact, never mind an 0800 number; welcome bonus could be better; the hectic numbers landing on the platform can put off Kiwi newbies; like other rivals PokerStars is allergic to kiwi dollars.

partypoker

A member of the Entain (LSE: GVC Holdings plc) multinational gaming family, partypoker offers a good comparison to 888poker. In more than two decades of service, partypoker wants to ensure other elements “don’t suck the fun out of poker”. Enough said of a sociable site whose number of players is not too far off 888sport. Some advantages that stuck out for us include an enticing cashback incentive; bumper online poker tournaments (including Millions Online) that are up there with those of 888sport; progressive jackpots; affordable buy-ins; iOS and Android app downloads as well as browser access; a return-to-player (RTP) hovering around the 96% mark; good range of payment gateways; some popular online poker game variants; intuitive interface and software; sportsbook convenience; incentives for high rollers; excellent customer service, including around-the-clock live chat, phone contact, and email.

The drawbacks are worth noting, including some of those that made us do a retake — a changing, modest welcome bonus; cross section of sought-after games for Kiwis can be better; loyalty programme known as Diamond Club will be beyond many Kiwi gamblers’ reach with the demands of a six-figure investment spread over 12 months before access is granted to tidy perks such as cashbacks; no PayPal; kiwi dollars not accepted, so currency exchange will cost with fees.

Titanpoker

This is one of the many online poker sites affiliated to the iPoker network. Despite the popularity of other online poker sites we have listed here, we know that New Zealanders feel safer when landing on equally raving European platforms. Therefore, Titanpoker is one of many software developing giant Playtech’s babies born out of that desire to cater to a specific market. Established in 2005, Titanpoker is making all the right noises with its bells and whistles.

Titanpoker include a handsome 200% welcome bonus for new signings; a “soft” player base in its poker room; more than enough numbers to endorse its safety and security; swift transactions as well as within one-day withdrawals; multilingual software that should appeal to European and Asian immigrants living and working in NZ; mobile app; “freerolls” that don’t require deposits or buy-ins; good selection of payment methods; outstanding 2012 award-winning customer support, including toll-free phone. The biggest shortcoming is no kiwi dollars, so expect a conversion fee although it can be a smaller percentage, depending on your choice of payment gateway. Other minuses include the stifling range of games; if there’s a PayPal option we couldn’t find it; and fewer assurances on a minimum amount of money in the prize pool.

William Hill Poker

With so many Kiwi gamblers — especially those who love online sports betting and online casino engagement — comfortable with an online platform, we feel it’s important to give them options to remain in that happy place while having the opportunity to indulge in online poker only if it suits them. While we have selected William Hill Poker as our example, because of its longstanding reputation as a British entity in New Zealand, other online poker rooms with an online casino or sports betting foundation include sites such as bet365 Poker, or LeoVegas Poker. William Hill Poker and other online casino types haven’t created exclusive individual game investment to online poker as some of the poker network sites, but it offers that convenience and dedication to staying put for those who feel challenged going through the registration process numerous times on different sites.

William Hill Poker’s pros include generous welcome bonus; free download apps and instant play via HTML5 for those who can’t be bothered waiting; affiliation with the iPoker network; Kiwis having the convenience to use accounts across online casino sportsbook; award-winning customer support, including an 0800 phone number and 24/7 live chat; a players’ club that enables New Zealanders to exchange points for cash as well as freeroll status; player concentration is built around low-stake and micro-stake games; Speed Poker/Twister Poker offers Kiwi gamblers the opportunity to move between different virtual tables if players “fold”, as well as sit-and-go tournament options; impressive range of payment gateways, including PayPal. Disadvantages include no availability of kiwi dollars, so expect a currency conversion fee; limited online poker game range of Hold’em and Omaha; loyalty programme has potential for improvement; rewards for top players can be better.

Our Criteria For Picking Best Online Poker Sites

When the foundation of a house isn’t steady, no matter how many fancy chattels you add to it or how flashy the paintwork is, the home will always be shaky. That’s exactly how we feel about anything we post on our website as recommendations to New Zealand gamblers. The list of our best online poker sites is no different.

Just as it has done with the best online casinos and sports betting sites, our team of experts has come up with as many key factors as possible to help Kiwi players maximise their iGaming experience. We reiterate that while our first four are locked in order of importance as part of that solid foundation, the others are interchangeable on account of what suits Kiwi players’ preferences when prioritising their individual needs.

Here is our list of criteria that online poker operators must meet before we endorse them as worthy of recommendation:

Registration and regulation

This is what we refer to as the most important factor that New Zealand gamblers must consider before taking another step in the direction of playing online poker. Like it or not, some countries have established more stringent rules and guidelines for their iGaming operators to adhere to in order to ensure the bar is always set high. These nations establish watch dogs that regulate their actions on digital playgrounds. The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) and the United Kingdom Gaming Council (UKGC) are among some of those policing bodies. The upshot of that is a reliable licensing procedure that online poker operators must comply with and which, in turn, protects the interests of Kiwi players in a cyberspace riddled with cowboy merchants. Should you find yourself tangled in a dispute over a claim or consider an action unfair, you can rest assured that you’ll be offered an impartial hearing to table your case.

Reputation

This comes in next for us, so we advise Kiwis to take ownership of that. Any operator can slap a verification certificate on its website, but that doesn’t mean the online poker merchant will live by it. As far as we’re concerned, operators must have their reputation intact at all times. We trawl the internet for other trustworthy player-based review sites for feedback on any online poker operator who passes our first step. That, of course, doesn’t mean that if someone unleashes a scathing attack on an operator we take their word for it. Players make mistakes. So do operators. Consequently, our hawk-eyed team looks at how the operator responds to complaints and goes about opening channels for Kiwis to table their side of the story before reaching a conclusion. That’s how we define reputation.

Customer care and support

We know very well how detrimental the impact of gambling can be on the vulnerable sectors of the New Zealand community. Addiction can affect not only the mental health and bank balance of gamblers but also ruin the lives of their families. We know that and so do online poker operators with integrity. Those who are genuinely concerned about player welfare and make themselves accountable receive our endorsement. The trustworthy ones tend to provide around-the-clock live chat and even make available a 0800 free phone contact irrespective of the difference in time zones. The conscientious online operators go the extra yard to establish a rapport with gambling welfare groups, providing one-click points of contact on their websites for players. On the playing perspective, Kiwis who encounter problems, such as a quirky transaction or accruing points via the rewards and VIP programme, will want smart-time assistance. The fire often goes out of the belly if they’re asked to file a digital complaints form, then wait for a within-48-hour clarification.

Security

We don’t want our New Zealand gamblers to have sleepless nights worrying about whether the online poker iGaming lounge they’re frequenting is safe. Uncluttered minds lead to unrivalled playing experiences. The ease with which Kiwi players register, the handsome welcome bonus and other such bells and whistles pale in comparison when you’re nervous about how well an online poker site is protecting your personal information and financial records. The increasing ease with which cyber terrorists are taking hostage of major organisations, including government bodies, is alarming for Kiwis. Our diligent team makes sure that online poker operators have the reliable certification on their sites as a guarantee of protecting players’ sensitive data and accounts. The reputable operators subscribe to idiot-proof protection protocols such as secure socket layer (SSL), transport layer security (TLS), and the transmission control protocol (TCP) systems to ward off cyber hackers. We also check to ensure online poker operators have stringent procedures that don’t accidently disclose your confidential information to third-party merchants during transactions.

Payment method

This didn’t make our top-four pillars of a trustworthy online poker site, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an important variable for Kiwi players. Akin to online casinos, you want to opt for payment gateways that make life easier with swift withdrawals, given deposits are almost immediate on any platform because the operators want you to enjoy the engagement as soon as possible. While immediate withdrawals would be godsend, most New Zealanders understand that it’s in their own interest for online poker operators to double check that they are the rightful recipients of any windfall. On the flip side, they also make allowances for the fact that the online merchants need to protect themselves from rogue or ineligible players. From our perspective, online poker sites that add e-Wallet provider PayPal to their comprehensive list of payment methods have their finger on the Kiwi pulse. Our advice to Kiwi gamblers is to read the terms & conditions surrounding hidden fees, processing time, and such, before committing to a provider because most of our selected online poker sites tend to approve withdrawals in smart time.

Bonuses & promotions

How often have Kiwis found fliers dropped in their mailboxes of slim models displaying garments. What about cool clothing items dressed up on mannequins at a retail outlet’s shop window display? Having tried the items in the fitting room, they’ve come away disappointed. Well, we advise New Zealanders to adopt a similar caution towards online poker sites’ offering bonuses and promotions. Just because an operator offers the biggest welcome bonus, it doesn’t mean that will necessarily suit your individual requirements. In picking our best online poker sites for Kiwis, we’ve done some digging to see if they are all they’re made out to be. Is there a wagering requirement-type of clause that poker players must meet? How easy is it for players, especially newbies and beginners, to enjoy benefits from the rewards and VIP scheme? Sometimes, such perks are geared towards everyone and, at other times, just the high rollers. We try to distinguish such variables to establish the worth of promotions, so Kiwis can make better choices.

Slick software

Having read to this stage of our post, we realise Kiwis who have accompanied us in this exciting journey so far recognise the magnetic pull the online poker industry has on players. That means, once they decide to sit around the virtual tables of an online poker room they’ll yearn for an out-of-this world experience. It has to be a level of engagement that brings them back … again and again, not for just the thrill but also to whet their appetite in making some money. Consequently, any online poker operator who is serious about making our best list won’t be cutting corners or pinching pennies. They’ll invest in elite software developers. To have an intuitive interface that is easy to navigate is great, but online poker rooms require specialist attention. That’s why we identify networks such as iPoker to whom industry leaders are affiliated to in the hope of enlisting award-winning software developers such as Microgaming and Playtech. We also try to make it easier for you to isolate online poker sites that accommodate mobile devices such as Android, desktop, iOS, and such, for seamless playtime. We know nothing puts off Kiwi gamblers more than frozen, sticky moments. Even those who have outdated portals should be able to access the online poker sites via the browser or have the option of a swift download app.

Game range & player skills

Many iGaming review sites often try to convince their readers that the more choices they have, the better off their site is. Yes and no. Our team doesn’t totally agree with that philosophy. In picking our top online poker sites, we take into account other variables on top of the variety of games offered. Sure, having a smorgasbord of games can be a crowd puller to the virtual poker tables, but we know New Zealand players better. More isn’t always better. Fewer can be more. That means those Kiwi gamblers who want to focus on a handful of favourite or popular titles may find sites catering to that more appealing. It won’t be distracting or time consuming sifting through other titles. Besides, those who are new to the game not only don’t want too many games to overwhelm them, but also to play against opponents of similar taste and abilities. We look at the traffic going through an online poker site because it instils Kiwis’ faith and trust in an operator. We also look at whether the merchants are happy to embrace New Zealand time zones. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean more players equals more enjoyment for the casual gamblers who tend to seek “softer” engagement to claim wins, albeit smaller ones.

Freerolls & free tutorials

Nothing breaks the attention span of people than the word “free”. Online poker players are no exception in New Zealand. They love free things and why shouldn’t they? Our review team has considered operators who offer Kiwi gamblers entry to free tournaments, albeit selected ones. Put another way, it means loyalty yields free rewards that require not using one’s money and still come away with some cash. Most reputable online poker sites provide the basics of the game, but it’s understandable for Kiwi players to want to become more knowledgeable. A sound grasp means top quality entertainment as well as the promise of bigger and better things to come. It’s okay to want to subscribe to poker tutorial sites but do your homework because it can hit you hard in the pocket. Overall, our advice is to read our reviews for our picks, but if you want to surf outside our comfort zone, then make sure you’re getting better bang for your buck.

Live Poker Versus Online Poker

Some of the popular variants of online poker, such as No-limit Hold’em, and live poker come under a similar set of rules and principles of strategy, but there are some major differences between them, too, that New Zealand players must become familiar with. That can make life easier for those Kiwis who have had a taste of brick-and-mortar and now want to make a smooth transition to the online poker rooms.

Accessibility

Online poker rooms are open around the clock for Kiwi gamblers, especially at popular sites, no matter how busy the traffic is. Live poker rooms tend to crank up the action on their tables from the afternoons and through to the night. Weekends tend to be popular, so good luck with a perch around a table.

Pace

Online poker tables flow at a much quicker speed than live ones. For example, live tables require croupiers to shuffle decks and allocate cards manually to players. Ditto sorting out chips, so players are subjected to social butterflies who can be a distraction for some. Online poker cuts through the chase with the processes that are often carried out in the blink of an eye. Sure, online poker rooms may have chat rooms, too, especially via online casino platforms, but it isn’t the same level of social interaction.

Convenience

Kiwi gamblers who frequent land-based casinos in the country know all too well that they are expected to adhere to a dress code. That includes torn, worn-out clothing items, sunglasses, hats/caps, dirty footwear — and all of that even before you travel to your destination. No such drama with online poker rooms. You can stay in your onesie after breakfast. Feel free to slip on your lucky beanie for good luck while keeping snug in your “ugg boots”. You don’t have to shave or put on your facial foundation if you aren’t in the mood.

Variety

Online poker rooms offer a wider range of games and variations than live ones. The simple logic to that is the software’s capacity to reach out to players, as opposed to live poker needing the space and time to viably sprawl to cater to growing demand.

Body language

Whether Kiwi gamblers are letting down their guard or calling the opponents’ bluff, live poker rooms have a distinct advantage over online ones in this department. That can guarantee higher levels of thrills, especially among recreational gamblers trying to add to their strategies.

Multi-tables

Online poker offers New Zealand players, especially newcomers, the handy option of “folding” their bad hands to move to other tables. Multi-tables aren't an option at live poker sites. Land-based casino players can consider themselves extremely lucky to find another table should they decide not to tough it out after a bad hand or two.

Tools & tutorials

Online poker players have the luxury of subscribing to or drawing from internet resources to improve their knowledge and prowess of the game. Live poker counterparts have access to those resources, but not in real playing time. Online poker players also have the opportunity to consult software trackers that can analyse their performances to suggest ways to improve their strategies.

Hi/lo stakes

The stakes are low and so are the windfalls, but that’s where online poker has an advantage over live poker regardless of whether it’s cash games or tournaments. No doubt, it’s easier to play live poker when making some quick money on higher stakes, but online poker offers an ideal platform, especially for beginners, to hone their skills while taking up different challenges in a bid to become better gamblers

Free Versus Real-Money Online Poker

To become an expert in anything in life, one has to start somewhere to craft and hone their skills. Online poker is no different, regardless of whether Kiwis want to play for fun or for keeps. That’s why it would be foolish for budding New Zealand gamblers to risk their hard-earned cash against seasoned opponents or unfamiliar games.

Common sense suggests they should learn the ropes before entering the iGaming lounge of any online poker rooms. It’s quite common to find seasoned online poker players debating the merits of whether free or demo games are useful or a complete waste of time. You’ll find one group arguing it’s a pointless exercise because with no money at stake, players seldom ever express rational reactions. They’ll maintain that even the smallest stake will add more value in helping players develop meaningful strategies, which will pay dividends in the long run.

Our review team believes free or real-money online poker has its own share of pros and cons. Consequently, Kiwi gamblers must draw their own conclusions based on what they hope to accomplish from the experience. If it’s for entertainment, then you are under less pressure but do remember that your level of enjoyment always rests on how well you understand the ins and outs of the games. If making money in the long term is your preoccupation, then mastering the skills requires you to learn the basics from the word go in building solid strategies.

Here are some of the pros & cons of playing online poker:

Free Online Poker

  • Advantages
    undefinedundefinedundefinedundefined
  • Disadvantages
    undefinedundefinedundefined

Real-Money Online Poker

  • Advantages
    undefinedundefinedundefined
  • Disadvantages
    undefinedundefinedundefined
    Overall, we believe Kiwis will find the pros outweigh the cons when juxtaposing free online poker with the real-money version. Read our posts thoroughly before selecting what suits your personal requirements.

What’s Poker Rake? Why Is It Vital?

A poker rake is what an online operator takes as a percentage of every player’s pot contribution to meet its operating expenditure. Those who have watched or gambled at a brick-and-mortar casino will have noted how the croupier takes a chip every time a hand is played. Well, that’s what an online poker room software does automatically for every pot. At poker tournaments, the rake comprises a fraction of the buy-in costs, whereas in cash games it constitutes the percentage sum of money the dealer drops from each pot.

Our advice to New Zealand players is to become familiar with our glossary in the next section below, so that all the terminology riddled with poker jargon doesn’t leave you bamboozled. Wherever possible, our team of reviewers will attempt to explain things as much as it can in layman’s language. That’s because it’s important for all Kiwi players to become familiar with the impact of poker rake before they find a perch around a virtual table.

Because poker is a card game where one individual gambles directly against another, the online poker room operator needs to create an income to remain viable. Kiwis who understand business will not begrudge online operators making a reasonable profit from providing them a platform to find their cardroom happiness. At a land-based casino, the deduction from the percentage of players’ cash poker game winnings is used to pay for floor staff’s wages as well as other house costs, such as electricity, equipment, free drinks, insurance, rent, etc.

Online poker rooms have markedly smaller costs but their operators, especially the marquee ones, still have to meet the expenses of providing platforms that can cater for busy traffic, lucrative bonuses, software upgrades, IT staff, 24/7 help desk, licensing, etc. No business can carry on providing such a service without establishing some sort of house edge. For that reason, Kiwi gamblers can bank on us to do some research on which online poker rooms have transparency with charges.

Our goal is to ensure New Zealanders don’t come away feeling like checking their bank statement at the end of the month to find they have been charged fees they didn’t know had existed because they had failed to read the six-point-sized terms & conditions. It tends to be a scaled amount akin to a commission, usually hovering between the 2.5% to 10% mark. No doubt, there’s nothing stopping online houses from employing other means of levying a poker rake. It can be a flat rate, regardless of the size of the pot.

Technically, poker rake is deducted from cash games only, but the host levies a similar charge during tournaments. Indicated clearly alongside the tournament fees, online operators tend to claim a percentage of the players’ buy-in for overhead costs for hosting events. In turn, some operators offer a “rake-back” — which is a percentage of the rakes they collect — to players in the form of loyalty rewards and bonuses. Therefore, we consider this tournament levy to be no different to a poker rake, even though they don’t strictly qualify as cash games.

Here are some of the main types of poker rake:

  • Pot rake: This is the most common form of commission fees online poker rooms levy. A percentage of the pot from cash poker games goes towards the charge. Where a dealer collects the fees as chips in live poker rooms, at online poker rooms the software is programmed to automatically make that deduction. Some platforms display the incremental deductions after each round while others simply subtract the percentage of the final amount, before depositing the balance to the winning player’s account.
  • Dead drop: Here is a form of poker rake that is found at land-based casinos. Primarily, everyone pays the same rate of fees before the croupier deals the pack of cards to players. Gamblers favour the dead-drop method because, unlike the pot-raking one, it spreads the fees among everyone around the table, as opposed to targeting the winner.
  • Fixed fees: This is the initiative of land-based poker room operators following protests from winners, especially high rollers, who didn’t want to be saddled with a pot-rake type of levy for every other player in the mix. The hosts agreed with their cries of unfair payment, coming up with a structure to slap a fixed fee on every gambler who pulls up a chair around the poker table.
  • Timed pots: Also referred to as “table charge”, “timed collections”, or “timed rake”, this form of set commission fee can be extracted in different ways. Typically, the house collects as a set amount from each player, say, for argument’s sake, every 30 minutes of time invested in a game. Some poker rooms prefer to base it on the number of hands played. Alternatively, a timed pot can also be levied as an established sum of money from the first pot to a certain amount. Timed collections tend to be ideal for high-limit games, hovering between the $NZ10 to $NZ20-and-above threshold.
  • Tournament fee: While this doesn’t fall in the category of cash poker games, our review team considers it a form of rake. Those Kiwi gamblers who enter a poker tournament will be charged a fee. Regardless of whether they play Texas Hold’em, Omaha, or Stud, online and live-poker players can face a levy in the vicinity of 10% to 20%, depending on whose house it is.

So why do we believe every New Zealander who loves online poker should become familiar with the poker rake? It’s because we know no wagering Kiwis want to find out after a windfall that they have to lose a higher percentage of their spoils. Our advice is to select a house that has a reasonable poker rake. In fact, most trustworthy online poker operators don’t charge any fees for tournaments. They offer what is known as “freerolls”, whereby players enter for free, and have the chance of claiming a prize money.

If you find an online poker site that doesn’t have a rake, snap it up. Kiwi players are more likely to spot low-rake incentives at land-based casinos wanting to lure more gamblers around its tables. 888poker, Bet365 Poker, and William Hill Poker are among some of the marquee houses that offer a 5% cash rake, as well as none-to-20% tournament fees. Subtracting the rake from each pot offers a realistic picture to gamblers when they’re developing their strategies. Read our posts before doing your homework when trawling the internet for online poker sites that suit you.

Poker Jargon In Layman’s Terms

We live increasingly in a world of acronyms and jargon. That is words and phrases that the gambling industry uses akin to salt-and-pepper grinders. Unless New Zealand players live and breathe in the wagering world of poker thrills, they’ll be lost in the sea of terminology.

Consequently, our dedicated team members have put their heads together to come up with a comprehensive glossary of terms and phrases that will keep New Zealand poker players in the loop. We do emphasise that trustworthy sites we’ve reviewed often have a glossary, so it’s something Kiwis should keep an eye out for.

GLOSSARY

  • Ace high: A decent hand where the ace is the supreme card, minus at least a pair.
  • Action: It signals a player’s turn during a hand to carry out a passage of play that entails actions, such as “bet”, “call”, “check”, “fold”, “raise”, etc.
  • All In: This happens when players have to put their last remaining chips into the pot but forfeit the right to make any action calls.
  • Backing: When a gambler lends money to another, with the view of collecting a percentage of windfall.
  • Bankroll: Is the total sum of money a player has at his/her disposal for wagering on poker.
  • Bluff: Players call the bluff when they make a bet on a weak hand in the hope their opponents will bail out, even though they may have a superior hand.
  • Buy in: A term to denote the sum of money a player needs to sit around a poker table. That buy-in sum varies in cash games but tends to be a fixed amount in tournaments.
  • Call: When a player is expected to match the existing wager on a betting round.
  • Calling your bluff: This transpires when a player who suspects an opponent is bluffing with an inferior hand, so the caller goes on to make a correct prediction with a better hand.
  • Check: When a gambler forgoes the turn to make a wager and passes that action to an opponent on his/her left.
  • Dealer: Also referred to as the croupier, a dealer is a non-player who shuffles the cards before dealing them.
  • Dog: An abbreviation of underdog, defining a gambler/hand less likely to win on account of overwhelming statistics.
  • Downswing: A reference to a player on a losing streak.
  • Flop: The first three community cards a croupier deals face up in the second round of games, such as Hold’em and Omaha.
  • Fold: Players sidestep a round by placing their cards face down on the table. In doing so, they forfeit bets wagered up to that point.
  • Freeroll: A tournament where no buy in is required. It can also be a reference to where a hand can either split a pot or win it, but it’s highly unlikely to lose it.
  • Flush: A hand of cards comprising five from the same suit.
  • Grinding: Someone who invests countless hours to eke out a profit at a slow pace.
  • Gutshot: Also referred to as “inside straight draw” where, for example, a player holds the card numbers of 2,3,4,6, so needs to score a 5 to complete a numerical sequence.
  • High roller: A term for gamblers who engage in the highest stakes. It’s also a general term for any elite casino player.
  • Hit: When falling cards give a respectable hand.
  • House: The online or land-based operator who runs the poker room.
  • Insurance: When a player makes a wager on the side with an opponent but if the hero’s hand comes up shy, the player will collect an insurance pay out from his opponent.
  • Jackpot: In poker, it refers to a “bad beat jackpot” where the house offers a pay out to a player who has a very good losing hand.
  • LAG: Also referred to as “loose”, LAG is an acronym for “loose aggressive” to describe a gambler who has a habit of starting hands in a reckless manner.
  • Limit: A wagering structure where all betting and raises are carried out in fixed increments.
  • Monster: Poker slang for a bullish hand.
  • Muck: When a gambler returns a losing hand face down to the dealer, without the rest of the table seeing it.
  • Nits: Players who take high risks because they refrain from playing most of their starting hands in the hope of waiting out for a big pay out.
  • No limit: Reference to a wagering structure that permits players to bet or raise any sum at any given time.
  • Nuts: Players who can never lose on account of the best possible hand. They can only chop/split.
  • Overlay: When the house injects additional money to cover for shortfalls in a pot because the buy-ins fail to deliver the guaranteed payout.
  • Pot: The Manhattan piles of chips in the middle of the poker table that players compete for.
  • Preflop: The first wagering round in community card games, such as Hold’em and Omaha.
  • Rags: Cards that fail to improve your hand.
  • Rake: A small percentage of the pot that the house deducts from poker to meet its overhead costs.
  • River: The final betting round in games such as Hold’em, Omaha, and Stud.
  • Sit and go: A form of tournament that proceeds the minute it registers a certain number of players.
  • Split: Poker variants where 50% of the pot is allocated to one type of hand while the remainder of the pot is awarded to another type of hand. The hi/lo split variant is a classic example of that.
  • Tell: A term that reveals clues of what an opponent’s hand entails without the opponent realising it. It enables other players to “read” the opponent’s body language, such as a good hand or poor one.
  • Tie: When two hands of equal strength surface, prompting the house to chop or split the pot between the players.
  • Turn: The third wagering round in poker variants such as Hold’em and Omaha.
  • Upswing: A winning streak over a lengthy spell, especially ones that project a higher win rate than what had been anticipated.
  • Variant: The term to describe the numerous brands of poker, such as 5-card draw, Hold’em, Omaha, Stud, etc.

Note: This isn’t an exhaustive list of glossary but more what our team has cherry picked as common terms most Kiwi players may encounter in their search for ideal online or land-based poker rooms.

Know Your Poker Hands

This is our final item on playing poker on this post but becoming familiar with what constitutes the different types of hands a gambler can have and, more importantly, recognising them are essential to becoming a sharper player. New Zealanders who know how much power they are wielding in their hands, regardless of whether it’s a five-card draw or a seven-card stud, are in a better position to arrive at better decisions.

Astute players analyse their hands and keep a tidy record of them, despite having little or no knowledge of what their opponents are in possession of around the table. While strategies may become complex later, the basic grasp of knowing your poker hands remains a constant. It pays to know that the ace can be the highest denomination with “2” the lowest. However, an ace can also be used to denote the lowest value of 1 in poker.

Here is a compact outline of strength of hands from a 52-card deck comprising four suits of 13 ranks with no one suit superior to another in poker:

  • Royal flush: A hand that comprises five cards in a sequence, all of the same suit (for example, A, K, Q, J, 10 of diamonds).
  • Straight flush: This pattern of a hand that yields five cards in a sequence, all of the same suit (for example, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5 of spades).
  • 4 of a kind: All four cards in the hand are of one rank and the fifth one is of any other denomination (for example, 7 spades, 7 hearts, 7 clubs, 7 diamonds; and a Q of hearts)
  • Full house: Made popular in films, this hand comprises three matching cards of one rank and two matching ones of another rank (for example, J spades, J diamonds, J clubs; and 8 hearts, 8 diamonds).
  • Flush: Here, all five cards are of the same suit but out of numerical sequence (for example, A, Q, 9, 5, 3 of clubs).
  • Straight: Gambler musters five cards in sequence of rank and they contain at least two contrasting suits (for example, J hearts, 10 spades, 9 diamonds, 8 spades, 7 hearts).
  • 3 of a kind: Three cards of the same rank define this hand, including two not of a similar rank nor similar to each other (for example, K clubs, K diamonds, K spades; 4 hearts, 6 clubs).
  • 2 pairs: Two cards each of similar rank and another two of another rank matter here (for example, Q spades, Q diamonds; 10 clubs, 10 hearts; 2 diamonds).
  • 1 pair: Two cards of the same rank and three others that are not the same and don’t have a similar rank as the pair (for example, 5 diamonds, 5 clubs; K spades, J clubs, 10 hearts).
  • High card: This hand comprises any five random cards that don’t meet any of the requirements listed above (for example, K spades, J hearts, 8 spades, 5 diamonds, 3 clubs).

We’ve also gone the extra yard to offer our New Zealand faithful some terms to describe the weight of hands useful at the height of games to gauge your or opponents’ strengths:

  • Marginal hands: This scenario comprises straights or flushes — that is, five cards in a sequence or the same suit, respectively.
  • Medium hands: This category tends to group four or five cards in a sequence, as well as multiple pairs at the same time, such as a full house comprising three jacks and two aces.
  • Starting hands: They signal promise with any number of pairs of cards of a similar rank. Such multiple pairs, for example, can be made up of two queens and two aces.
  • Strong hands: A gambler’s dream, such hands offer five cards that stack up in the same suit as well as in sequential order. The ultimate is the royal flush — for example, ace, king, queen, jack, and 10, all aligning with any one of the four same matching suits. No one suit is usually stronger than the other in poker. The pot is split among winning gamblers.

FAQs

What is the best online poker site?
Can I play online poker with friends?
How do I play online poker?
What is the best app for online poker?

Ijeoma Esther is an iGaming content writer and editor with over a decade of experience in the New Zealand mobile casino industry. While initially diving into online casino gaming as a hobby, she soon found herself immersed in the enthralling world of mobile slot and live casino games.Through the years, she discovered that writing about her favorite pokies was just as fun as playing them.

Last updated: 10/25/2022