The global pandemic, social distancing, quarantine and closure of casinos and card rooms have been devastating for live poker games, especially home friendly games. Live poker mixes physical proximity with objects passing through the hands. It’s a perfect example of what not do during a pandemic.
As a result, many of the biggest online poker sites cater to home poker players who offer their games online. If you want to bring your regular home game into the online world, there are plenty of easy options for doing so.
Most of the top online poker sites now offer the ability to host cash games and private tournaments. so that you and your friends meet in the virtual world and have fun on the felt.
Here are the best options for online home games available on the web.
Home BetOnline Poker Games
At BetOnline Poker you can create your own poker night so you and the gang can get back to your regularly scheduled home game. It’s a fairly simple process, but not automated. You need to complete an online form to request an online poker room for you and your friends.
At BetOnline you can choose between NLHE, PLO or PLO8 for your home game. You have the choice between 6-max or 9-max and you can choose from the following bets:
You choose a name for your table and set a password. Then, once your table is approved, your friends can just enter the credentials and play together.
Poker Clubs at PokerStars
PokerStars offers a Poker Club option, where you can involve all your friends in an online game. It’s quite simple to set up.
Simply click on the Home Games tab and select “Create a poker club”. It’s a little hard to find, as it’s hidden under the “…” menu on the right side of the screen.
Here you can name your club and choose a unique password for your guests. You can invite your friends to your poker club by sending them your club ID. Or, if you know their usernames, you can search for them.
PokerStars offers many options when it comes to the types of games you can play at your poker club. Tournaments and cash games are availableand you can play the following variants:
- Omaha (and Omaha Hi/Lo)
- Stud (and Stud Hi/Lo)
- Draw Poker (5 cards, 2-7 singles and 2-7 triples)
Private poker tournaments at America’s Cardroom
At Americas Cardroom, you can organize private tournaments that your friends can participate in. Many options are available, so you can play here in NLHE, PLO and PLO8 tournaments.
For Americas Cardroom you also have three structures to choose from:
- Fast: average time 60 minutes
- Medium: average duration 90 minutes
- Slow: average time 180 minutes
Club Games at Partypoker
Club Games are a new option for Partypoker players, allowing you to compete against your friends – on mobile and desktop devices. You can create your own club using the “Club Games” tab on the desktop platform and start inviting your friends right away.
You can create up to 5 clubs, but there is no limit to the number of players that can be involved. Bets of up to $1/$2 are available in regular games and up to $5/$10 in High Roller games.
“It’s great news that everyone will now be able to play with their friends in club matches on partypoker and from their mobile too, which is unique to the site » – Sam Trickett, PartyPoker Team.
Currently, only cash games are available in Partypoker Club Games. Tournaments are coming soon.
Private Home Games at 888 Poker
It’s just as easy to start a home game at 888 Poker. In the lobby, simply select “Additional Games” and select “Create Game”.
Unlike PokerStars home games, 888 does not require you to create a club first. So you can start playing your game or tournament right away.
Your options are a little more limited here, however. You can only play Texas Hold’em at 888 Poker in your tournaments and cash games, but you can set buy-ins, prize pool structures, re-buys, add-ons and frequency.
To invite your friends, you can forward the invitation to your friends. Alternatively, you can simply share the game name and password directly with your friends.
Private tournaments on Unibet Poker
At Unibet Poker you can create your own online poker tournaments, but there isn’t much flexibility. You can’t play on the fly, because you must submit a form at least 48 hours before the start of your tournament and you must have at least 6 players involved.
There are also other provisions. The minimum buy-in for a private tournament is 1 euro and the maximum is 50 (this means no play money), and you can only organize two private tournaments per week.
The advantage is that Unibet private tournaments can be played on mobile or desktop devices, while PokerStars and 888 cannot be played on smartphones or tablets.
What about mobile poker games at home?
Most online poker sites don’t offer players the ability to play games from home using their cell phones, but there are two exceptions. Private games from Unibet and PartyPoker are available on mobile and desktop platforms. So if one of your regular poker friends doesn’t have a laptop, it’s best to look into one of the private games on these sites.
Video chat options for home poker games
To get the authentic home gaming experience, you’ll want to be able to have the usual banter with your friends and even see their faces.
There are many apps that allow you to chat face to face with your friends while playing online poker.
There are dozens of programs to choose from, but I find that Zoom, HouseParty and Skype are best suited for home poker games. They are all available on iOS, Windows and Android as well as mobile and desktop. So you can cater to everyone’s individual home game setups.
Remember that there may be a little lag on your video chat app. Therefore, try not to say too much when reacting to hands at first, at least until you know how long the delay is.
Finally, if you’re ready to play online poker for real money, visit our extensive page of online poker reviews, which are personalized for your location and are the most comprehensive you can find.