Poker is a thrilling game that places equal emphasis on skill and luck. Even if you have a bad hand, you can sneak a thrilling win with a bluff! Now with the best online poker casinos, you can play your favourite card game from the comfort of your home.
Are you an offline poker expert looking to learn more about playing online poker for real money? Or maybe you are a poker rookie looking to learn the basics online for free? Either way, we have everything covered in our comprehensive online poker guide.
If you just want to find the best online poker for real money casinos in South Africa, we also have a list of top sites right here. All the sites were included after a rigorous review process by our team of experts. You will only find 100% safe South African online poker sites here.
The Best South African Online Poker Sites
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How Online Poker in South Africa Works
If you’re based in South Africa and wish to play online poker for real money, you are not going to find any local options since the South African legislation has currently outlawed online poker. However, this has not stopped hundreds of thousands of South Africans from playing poker online for real money. The question is – how do they do it and how does it work?
Well, the simple solution is to play at online poker websites or apps which are hosted outside the borders of South Africa and therefore not within the legal jurisdiction of South Africa. There are many such websites that accept players from South Africa and are hosted on servers based off-shores. We’ve tested all of the top online poker websites across the globe that accept South African players and shortlisted the cream of the crop in the list above.
Online Poker Real Money South Africa
As we mentioned, you are not going to find any South African online poker real money websites or apps because they are not regulated or legalized by the SA Government. In order to play for real money, you need to select a platform hosted outside the SA borders. The process of finding the right online poker website for your gaming needs and preferences can be complicated because there are hundreds of options in the market today, all claiming to be the best.
As a South African national or resident, if you choose any of the online poker rooms we’ve listed above in our recommended list, you will not go wrong with your choice. The reason we are so confident in these recommendations is that we have meticulously tested and verified every one of the websites rigorously.
Some of the important factors we look for in an online poker website are:
- Is the operator licensed by a recognized gambling commission?
- Do they still have a valid license?
- Do they accept South African players?
- Is the website mobile-friendly?
- Do they offer 24/7 customer support?
- Are there sufficient SA friendly banking methods for deposits and withdrawals?
- Is it 100% safe and secure? Etc.
So, if you’re confused about which online poker website to play at, just pick from any of our recommended poker websites and you can rest assured that you are going to be in good hands. We’ve done all the leg work and background checks for you.
Popular Online Poker Variations
There are over a dozen different variants of poker available at online gambling sites these days. These are some of the most popular variants you can play right now in South Africa:
Texas Hold ‘Em – This is the most popular poker game of the internet age, period. For millions of online players around the world, Texas Hold ‘Em is the game of choice. It is available at most online casinos and poker sites. The game is also quite easy to learn. You play with 2 hole cards and 3 community cards, with the final outcome based on the best 5-card hand. These days, you can also play Live versions of the game against a casino dealer.
Omaha Hi – Probably second in line is this game, which is actually Texas Hold ‘Em with one minor tweak – instead of two hole cards, each player gets 4 cards, and only 3 out of 5 community cards. There is also another variant called Omaha Hi Lo, where the pot is divided between two highest and lowest ranked players at a showdown.
7-Card Stud – Before the arrival of Texas Hold ‘Em, this was the most popular game on the poker scene. Each player gets separate hands in this game. Some cards are kept secret while a couple is dealt face up. Due to the larger degree of unknowns in play, Stud Poker is a bit more unpredictable.
Caribbean Stud Poker – This is a popular online version of 5-card stud poker available at live dealer casinos. The players and the dealer get 5 cards, with the dealer keeping one card face up. The dealer will reveal his cards only after all players have either placed a bet or folded. If the dealer does not have an Ace + King or any other high-value pair, the players get even money.
Three Card Poker – This is a fun game between the player and the casino dealer where you have to place bets based solely on three cards. All players and the dealer get 3 cards. Since this is an online casino game, players don’t play against each other, just against the dealer.
Online Poker vs Video Poker: What’s the difference?
Video poker is a popular category of online games available at many online casinos. While the game has the word “poker” in its title, it does not really qualify as a proper game of traditional poker. Video poker is more like a video slot game that has a poker theme.
Unlike online poker, in video poker, you are not playing against other players or the dealer. You don’t sit around a table trying to strategize and bluff your way out of a bad hand. All you need to do is spin the reels and hope to get a strong hand. If your hand matches the winning combinations on the pay table of the game, you win money.
There are numerous variants of video poker, with Joker Poker, Deuces Wild, Bonus Poker, Tens or Better, and Jacks or Better being the most popular.
How to play Online Poker in SA
So, you've made up your mind and want to pursue online poker and win real money. Being located in South Africa, how do you go about it? Worry not, we have put together a simple step-by-step checklist that you can follow to play online poker and win real money while doing so.
Step 1: Choose Your Poker Website
Online gambling operators from SA cannot run poker websites since it is not legal. However, offshore operators offer their services to SA players. There are hundreds of offshore websites and not all of them are created equal. Unfortunately, many frivolous websites are set up with the sole intention of scamming unsuspecting players.
Therefore, you must choose the right poker website. Safety, security, and legitimacy must be the number one priority. If you pick one of our recommended SA-friendly online poker websites, you've already made the right choice and it is time to move on to step 2.
Step 2: Register
Since these poker rooms deal with real money, they will require you to register for an account and provide some information to verify your credentials. Generally, the registration process involves furnishing some personal details and contact details.
Once you’ve opened an account at the poker website of your choice, you will be assigned a username and password that you can use at any time and from anywhere to access your account and play poker to your heart’s content.
Step 3: Fund Your Account
Given that you’re going to play real money poker, you first need to fund your poker account with some money. In order to add money to your poker account, you may use any of the deposit options provided by the platform. Usually, online poker websites allow you to make a deposit using credit cards, e-wallets, bank transfers, and sometimes even via crypto-currencies.
So, pick the best-suited deposit method and fund your account. You may also get a bonus on your first deposit since such welcome offers are commonplace on online poker and online casino websites.
Step 4: Play
Now that you’ve created your account and have funds available, you are all set to join a poker table and get playing. Ensure you read the rules of the game and understand which variant of poker is being played.
We would suggest playing in demo mode a few times before playing for real money since you get accustomed to the user interface and learn the ropes in terms of how to control your actions.
Step 5: Withdraw Winnings
Congratulations! You’ve just won some rounds of poker and made a decent sum of money, now it is time to withdraw your winnings if you wish to. Alternatively, you can leave your winnings in your poker account and use it to fund future play. If you do decide to cash out, you can use any of the supported withdrawal banking methods and request a cashout.
The website may request copies of your ID card, address proof, and proof of payment for security verification purposes before the withdrawal is processed.
Basic Poker Rules
The rules of poker can vary slightly or significantly depending on which variant of poker you are playing. Therefore, you need to familiarize yourself with the rules of the variant you are interested in.
The most intuitive and quickest way to understand the gameplay and rules is to simply play lots of demo rounds where you play for fun and not for real money. This way, you can risk losing while learning the intricacies of the games and the rules that structure them.
Irrespective of the variant of poker you are playing, the ranking of hands remains the same. In order of highest to lowest, below are the different poker combinations or hands.
Five of a kind: This is the highest value hand you can have. It is only possible in poker games that include a wild card. An example of a hand that is considered a five of a kind is – 4 kings and 1 joker (wild).
Straight Flush: If the game is using a standard deck of cards without any wild cards, the straight flush would become the highest value combination theoretically and practically possible. Having a straight flush implies that you have five cards of the same suit in sequence, for example – A, K, Q, J, and 10 of Clubs.
Four of a kind: This is the hand where you have four cards in your five-card combination that either have the same ranking or the same suite. For example, 4 hearts or 4 Queens would count as four of a kind.
Full House: If you have a five-card combination that includes 3 cards of the same rank and 2 cards of another rank, then you have a full house. An example would be having 3 kings and 2 10s.
Flush: The flush is like a straight flush except for the fact that the cards don't have to be in the ranking sequence, they just need to be of the same suite. An example of a flush would be having 5, 9, 10, A, and J, all of hearts.
Straight: The straight is like the straight flush except for the fact that the cards don’t have to belong to the same suite. An example of a straight would be 3,4,5,6 and 7 where the cards don’t all belong to one suite.
Three of a kind: If you have three cards in your combination that all belong to the same rank, then you are said to have a three of a kind. An example would be having 3 jacks, a 9, and a King.
Two pairs: If you have a pair of cards belonging to the same rank and the fifth card is of a completely different rank. For example – 2 queens, 2 jacks, and an Ace.
One pair: When your hand has two cards belonging to the same rank, you have a pair. For example, 2,2, A, J, 7.
High card: You basically have nothing, not even a pair. If you decide to play on and show this hand at the end, the value of the hand in comparison to another no pair would be determined by the highest-ranking card in the hand.
Mobile Poker South Africa
Some poker rooms even offer dedicated mobile apps that you can download for Android or iOS or any other mobile operating system. If you going to play on a mobile handset regularly, we would suggest choosing a real money online poker service that offers a dedicated mobile app as well.
Payment methods available for Online Poker South Africa
When you choose one of our recommended online poker websites, you get many South African friendly features and this includes banking methods.
Players from SA will be able to make deposits and withdrawals via a number of secure banking options such as Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, Neteller, Skrill, EasyEFT, Instant EFT, Bank Transfer and maybe even crypto currencies like Bitcoins. All transactions are SSL encrypted for added layer of security.
Online Poker Software Providers
Online poker is quite different from other games like blackjack because you can play against the house or random people on the internet. As a result, software providers for online poker games can be divided into three main categories:
Online video poker – These are the graphics-based single-player games you can play at any major SA online casino. Major software developers like Microgaming, Playtech, Netent, and Betsoft are all well-known for their excellent selection of poker games.
Live Dealer Poker – As the name suggests, this is where you play live against a casino dealer, using real cards and chips. The best vendors in this category are Evolution, Ezugi, Pragmatic Play Live, and Betgames.tv.
Online Poker Rooms – Online poker rooms are for pro-poker players who want to play against other players and not just against the computer or casino dealer. In general, online live poker rooms are specialized websites powered by software from companies like Digient, Connective Games, and AIS Technolabs.
Online Poker Bonuses Explained
Both online casinos and poker sites offer various bonuses to encourage more rounds of play. The most common poker bonus you can find online is a deposit bonus or match deposit bonus. The offer works something like this – if you deposit above a certain amount, the casino will match that amount up to a certain percentage and give the money as bonus funds.
For example, consider this bonus – a 200% Match Deposit up to R2,000. If you deposit R1,000, the casino will match it up to 200%, giving you R2000 extra to bet on the games, including poker. The money is yours to wager, but you cannot withdraw it until you have used it to make wagers up to a minimum limit (wagering requirement rule).
Match deposit bonuses are available to both new players and regulars at online casinos. Apart from these, some other bonuses you can use on online poker games include Loyalty Bonuses, VIP Perks, and Cashback. Always read the bonus terms before claiming any offer.
Technically, it is not illegal for South African residents or nationals to play online poker at online poker websites hosted outside of South Africa. However, operating an online poker website for real money within South Africa is not allowed at the moment.
Yes, the recommended online poker websites in our list are all mobile friendly. Some of them even offer dedicated mobile apps that you can download. As long as your mobile device has internet connectivity, you can play on mobile.
The televised broadcasting of nail-biting professional tournaments has added fuel to the fire in terms of further boosting the popularity of the game. South Africans certainly aren’t immune to the charm of poker. The success of South African professional poker guru’s such as Raymond Rahme on the international stage and the fact that the second edition of the annual WSOP (World Series of Poker) was held in South Africa has propagated an infectious enthusiasm amongst amateur players, both online and in person.
This would depend on which poker website you are playing on. Many poker websites support South African Rands, but some others don’t. In case, South African Rands are not supported, you can always pay with Rands and it will automatically be exchanged to USD or EUR on the platform at the current exchange rate.
Yes, there are many online poker websites where you can play for fun without any real money. In fact, even real money online poker websites allow for their games to be played in demo mode where you play with dummy credits and not real money.