Luke Garrison: Sports & Casino Author from Canada

Sports & Casino: Luke Garrison

Luke Garrison is a professional writer who grew up just outside of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He currently works at the Canadian Press and enjoys the outdoors in his free time.

What Canadians Need To Know Before Playing Online Poker

Many Canadians have played poker at some point in their lives. After all, poker is universally loved enough to be found anywhere from a casino table to a kitchen table surrounded by family – even on holidays like Christmas!

The main difference between a card game like poker and most other popular card games is in its complexity. Most card games require some form of strategy, but poker takes that to a new level entirely. There are several variations of poker, as the game has been spreading and adapting for around 200 years.

On the other hand, don’t fret, as there’s one type of poker called ‘Texas Hold’em’ that dominates online poker tournaments throughout Canada – and it’s not too difficult to catch onto! Allow us to break down what Canadians need to know about playing ‘Texas Hold’em’ online.

How To Play Texas Hold’em

The goal of Texas Hold’em is to combine the cards in your hand (called ‘hole cards’) with the other cards a dealer plays each round (called ‘community cards’) in order to create the best ‘five-card hand’ possible.

At the beginning of a game of Texas Hold’em, each player is dealt two hole cards. Once every player at the table has received their hole cards, a round of betting will begin, starting with the player to the left of the dealer. Texas Hold’em doesn’t have a defined dealer, with the ‘dealer’ chip moving one spot left after the completion of each game.

After the initial round of betting, the dealer can begin the first of three stages that take place each game. There is another round of betting between each stage as well. In the first stage, aka ‘the flop’, the dealer flips over three cards. The second stage is called ‘the turn’ and only involves flipping over one card. Same goes for the third stage, except it’s the final card of the game, and is referred to as ‘the river’.

A final round of betting will take place before a winner is declared. As previously mentioned, you’re looking for the best five-card hand you can make by combining your two hole cards with up to three of the five available community cards.

Learning which hands are better than others is paramount to being successful at both Texas Hold’em and many other types of poker that use this card ranking system. For more information about all the possible types of five-card hands, and how they stack up against each other, please refer to the table below.

Hand Rank Poker Hand Name Required Cards Example
1 Royal Flush Five cards of the same suit ranked ace through 10. Ace, King, Queen, Jack, and 10 of spades
2 Straight Flush Five cards of the same suit ranked consecutively. 4-8 of clubs
3 Four of a Kind Four cards of the same rank Four 7s of any suit
4 Full House Three cards of one rank (three of a kind) and an additional pair of another rank Three 5s of one suit and Two 9s of another suit
5 Flush Any five same-suited cards Five diamonds
6 Straight Any five consecutively-ranked cards 2-6
7 Three of a Kind Three cards of one rank Seven 8s
8 Two Pair A pair of one rank and a pair of another rank A pair of 2s and a pair of 3s
9 One Pair A pair of one rank A pair of 4s
10 High Card Highest of the seven cards if no other poker hand is present Ace high

Popular Online Poker Tournaments in Canada

There are endless options to choose from when it comes to popular online poker tournaments in Canada. The best tournaments take place on the best online poker sites, with the top-three platforms being PokerStars, PartyPoker, and 888poker. Let’s take a closer look at what makes them the best online poker sites in Canada, and what kinds of online poker tournaments Canadians can expect to encounter.


PokerStars has been a household name throughout Canada since the turn of the millennium. Founded in 2001, this online poker behemoth established itself early by placing a special focus on its software. The PokerStars website is smooth and easy-to-navigate, and the desktop app has always been another hallmark. This is even seen today through the popularity of the iOS and Android apps, as a commitment to tech has always brought players back for more.

When it comes to the best online poker tournaments in Canada, PokerStars has endless options depending on what you’re looking for – even high roller tournaments. This includes a premier weekly ‘Play Money’ tournament each Sunday, giving players a chance to win a portion of a massive one billion chip prize pool.


PartyPoker also began its online journey in 2001. The site has been constantly jockeying for position with PokerStars, although the player base has typically been large enough for both entities to experience regular success. Those with a bit more experience may find themselves at PartyPoker more than PokerStars, thanks to the wide variety of customizable tournament filters – allowing players to find exactly what they’re looking for.

Tournaments and cash games are plentiful on PartyPoker, with regional championships available for qualified players as well as many other types of tournaments including ‘Bounty Hunter’ and ‘Daily Legends’. There are also free tournaments for those just looking to gain competition experience.


In a world where powerhouses like PokerStars and PartyPoker have been in the lead, 888poker has done quite well for itself by differentiating its offerings. The interface design of the app has been meticulously reworked in order to create a platform that is incredibly easy to use – not to mention vibrant and colourful. This was done to facilitate the onboarding of new players, but experienced players appreciate it too.

Online tournaments are another area where 888poker has gotten creative. For example, a ‘bounty tournament’ is a popular online poker tournament format where a player will win a certain amount as a ‘bounty’ for each player they personally eliminate.

On 888poker, however, the bounties come with a twist. Each player is given a golden envelope at the start of the game, which is referred to as a ‘mystery bounty’. Any elimination of another player can lead to a special mystery prize, among other things!

What is the Best Online Poker Platform in Canada?

Each of the online poker platforms we’ve mentioned is very popular and successful for a reason, but PokerStars remains at the top thanks to its superior game engine and seemingly infallible brand recognition. Feel free to make accounts on multiple online poker platforms in order to reap the benefits of them all. But if we had to pick just one, PokerStars would be our choice.

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