Play Online Poker With Friends – How To Find The Best Option For You
One of the best things about poker is that it lets you play with people from all over the world, with never stopping action.
But sometimes, you just want to play online poker with friends and not have any strangers at the tables.
Many of those who regularly play poker in brick-and-mortar venues also take part in home games.
They don't do it for the lack of action but because playing poker with friends is a completely different experience focused more on relaxing and having fun than making money.
Setting up live games can be quite difficult even in the best of times as the people you'd like to invite may be living in a different city, country, or on a different continent altogether.
The solution to that problem is playing online poker with friends, and this article will teach you how to do it right.
These days, you have many available options when it comes to setting up private games. Whether you’re into cash games or tournaments, you’ll have no problems setting things up just the way you want them to be.
How to Play Online Poker With Friends?
You probably know how to play online poker in general. You log in to your favorite room, look for a table with an empty seat or a tournament with open registration, and jump straight in. But, how do you go about creating a game that only allows selected players?
What you'll need to do is create a private club or game on one of the popular platforms like PokerStars, 888poker, or partypoker. The process is quite simple and explained in detail in the article.
The main thing to know is that most private games will let you set them up as either real money or play money games.
So, you should decide depending on your particular situation.
Poker with friends for real money
If you want to play for real money, all players will have to make a deposit and only play with the actual funds they transfer onto the site.
This might not be an option for everyone, though, for any number of reasons.
Some of your friends might be living in an area that does not allow access to a certain room you want to use for your games. They might not have online banking options to deposit funds, or one of many other things can stand in the way.
If that is the case, you can try play money option instead of playing for real cash.
Play online poker with friends for free
If you go with the play money option, everyone can join the action as they can get free chips from the room, or you can distribute them as you wish as the club owner.
Of course, most people who enjoy poker need to have at least some money on the line for the game to be entertaining.
So, if you go with the play money option, you can always agree on the real money chip values and settle the score after the game.
This is probably the simplest way to play online poker with friends and have fun, but it also comes with some risks.
For this model to work, you’ll need a group of people who are really trustworthy and stick to their word.
If a few players are constantly avoiding to pay what they owe, this can hurt the atmosphere of the games even if monetary amounts aren’t that big.
Cash Games or Tournaments?
The first thing you’ll want to figure out is whether you want to set up cash games or tournaments. This really gets down to what you and your poker friends prefer.
Tournaments are good because most apps will let you set them up with a free or play money buy-in, so everyone will be able to join.
Also, tournaments might offer more fun because of that competitive element that you don’t get with cash games.
On the other hand, once you’re out of a tournament, you’re done.
This isn’t great for those who bust out early as they’ll have nothing to do while waiting for the game to finish.
Cash games are a more liberal option to play poker online with your friends.
You can never bust from a cash game. If someone gives you a poker cooler and stacks you, you can always get more chips and keep playing.
At the same time, if you’re just playing for chips and not for money, people might not care about playing good poker and just play every hand, knowing they can always reload should they lose.
It’s up to you as the organizer to figure out these things.
It depends a lot on who your poker buddies are and how serious they are about the game. The good thing is, you don’t have to get it right on the first try. Learn from the experience and switch things around a bit for the next session if necessary.
So, with these initial tips out of the way, how do you actually go about playing free online poker with friends?
Play Poker With Friends via PokerStars Home Games
PokerStars remains the number one online poker provider worldwide – and for a reason. Their software provides everything a player could ask for, including a very convenient way to play poker with friends at no cost.
The feature is known as PokerStars Home Games, and it gives you a lot of freedom to create a poker game to your liking.
First of all, you can choose between cash games and tournaments. It’s up to you if you want to play some poker hands over a short cash game session or set up a long tournament that will likely take a few hours to complete.
There are many options at your disposal, especially when setting up tournaments, as you can adjust starting stacks, level durations, and more.
PokerStars also lets you choose from many game variations besides Texas Hold’em, such as:
All games can be played in real and play money formats as cash games and tournaments. The only exceptions are Omaha and Omaha 8 fixed limit cash games, which are only offered for play money.
Setting Up Your PokerStars Home Games Club
To be able to play poker with friends on PokerStars, the first thing you’ll need to do is create your private club.
This is easily done via the “Home Games” button in the PokerStars client. Once you click it, it will open a new window where you’ll be able to create a new club or join an existing one.
To create the club, you’ll need to pick a cool name and an invitation code that you’ll need to send to players you want to join the fun.
You’ll also get a club ID, which will be sent to your email once the club has been created.
When inviting players, provide them with the Club ID to make it easier for them to find the club and the invitation code to grant them access.
Your club will be created immediately, and you'll be ready to start playing online poker with friends.
The club name is reviewed manually, so it can take a few days for it actually to appear, but that doesn't prevent you from setting up and playing games.
In your club lobby, you’ll find several tabs giving you access to various options. The one you’ll be most interested in is the one named “Manage Games.”
From this screen, you can set up any cash game tables or tournaments as you see fit.
For cash games, you can choose between real money games starting as low as $0.01/$0.02 and play money tables with minimum blinds of 50/100.
The number of seats depends on the particular game: 9, 6, or 2 for Hold’em, 8 for Stud, 6 for Five Card Draw, etc.
For tournaments, you’ll have a great variety of options to set everything the way you want.
You’ll be able to play poker with friends just the way you like it, and if you enjoy tournaments, you can set them up to be reoccurring events with a single click.
Once you create a cash game table or a tournament, you can easily share it with your Twitter followers with a single click, which is a very convenient option if you want to bring in some extra people and help your club grow.
How Do I Invite Friends to Join the Club?
Before you can play poker with friends on PokerStars, you’ll need to invite them to join your club.
To do this, head over to the “Manage Club” tab and click on the “Invite New Members” green button.
This will provide you with a generic text you can copy to your clipboard and use in the email message (or whatever medium you choose to use) to invite your poker friends.
Of course, you don’t have to use this message. You can write whatever you like but just leave the important bit in there:
The Club ID Number
The Invitation Code
If you’re sending out an invite via email, you can also include the provided link, which makes things a bit faster.
Clicking the link will open the PokerStars client and send the player straight to your club.
That’s all there is to it!
You're ready to play free online poker with your friends as much as you want. It's worth mentioning that every time you create a new table or schedule a tournament, PokerStars will automatically send an email to all club members to let them know, saving you some time if you have a large club with a few dozen players.
Play With Friends via PokerStars App
PokerStars also offers a poker app to play with friends. Simply download the app to your device, and you’ll be able to access home games.
This is a great function considering the nature of home games where many players are just looking to have fun and blow off some steam. They can hop in even if they’re out and about, having a pint at their favorite pub.
Play Poker Online With Friends via 888poker
While PokerStars is probably the best option to play online poker with friends, it’s not the only one. 888poker offers a similar feature, although it’s not as advanced.
Setting up private games with 888poker is easy, and it shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes to create a game to your liking.
You can choose between cash and tournaments, but 888poker is limited to just No-Limit Texas Hold’em.
You can only play with friends for real money on 888poker.
So, 888 doesn’t give you as much flexibility, but it is still a decent option for most players as NLHE is the usual game of choice anyway.
That said, the fact you can't play for play money does make things a bit trickier and could be a limiting factor to some degree.
Setting Up a Private Game on 888poker
The process of actually setting up the game for you and your poker friends is somewhat quicker on 888 as you don’t need to create a club. You can simply set up a game whenever you feel like it, which has its good and bad sides.
Having a club is a convenient option if you have a group of friends who want to play regularly as it makes things a bit easier to monitor and keep up with.
To start a private game on 888poker, simply navigate to the “Extra Games” menu in the 888 client and select the option “Play With Friends.”
When you click the option, a new window will pop up, allowing you to choose between tournaments and cash games.
Tournaments can actually be set up as freerolls, i.e., requiring no buy-in, so that’s a good alternative if not all of your poker buddies can make a real money deposit with 888.
You don’t have as many options as on PokerStars, but you can:
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