Vegas Basics
Vegas Bargains
How to play the games
All about Slot Machines
Gambling 101
Gambling 102
Online Gambling

Reason I like Bovada #3:

One-stop shopping

Let me share my experience at another online casino whose name I won't mention:  I wanted to try out their free-play games, and they made me sign up for an account.  That was annoying, just for free-play, but actually most casinos make you register, so they can annoy you by email to pressure you into depositing real money.

I didn't get to choose my own username, they assigned one, and it was long! An astounding twelve digits of mixed numbers and letters.  There was no way I'd be able to memorize it, I'd have to write it down.

After trying out the free-play games I decided to deposit money and play for real.  And guess what? I had to register a separate account to play for real.  They assigned me a brand-new twelve-digit username.  Great.

Shortly thereafter they started offering play-in-browser games.  That's convenient, so I wanted to get in on that.  Guess what?  Yet another username.

And guess how they handle they money they give you as a matching bonus on your deposit?  You guessed it, another account.

Okay, now let's fast-forward to Bovada: One account gets you everything.  And I mean everything.  Real money, fake money, bonuses, you name it.  I didn't get to choose my account name, but at least it's easy to remember.

And if you want to play for free with fake money, you don't even need an account at all.  For example:

Play for free, no B.S.
One click and you're in.

All in all, I think Bovada is the best bet for U.S. players.

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.
Play these
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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: