We're deep into lockdown and we don't know when it it's going to end. There's a chance this might be going on for a long time, so it's best to make contingency plans. One of the best ways to make Saturday night really feel like Saturday night is to play online poker with friends online.
You would think in the age of 3-D printers and instant communication that playing poker with friends over the internet would be easy. But it is surprisingly difficult, thanks in large part to America shutting down the bulk of the online poker industry a few years ago. We've just about hacked it, and here's our tips on playing online poker with your friends.
Before we get into it, let us just establish that this post is intended for casual players looking for a bit of poker and a bit of conversation, who want to play in the easiest and quickest format. We're pointing you towards online poker options that are free and next to no cash outlay. Poker is fun game when played amongst friends and we don't at all advise getting involved in the murky world on 'online poker'. All of these games are perfect with Zoom/Skype/Google Hangouts on a second screen.
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- Playing online poker with friends is easy. Just join a poker site, invite your friends, deposit some cashand create a room to play together. However, keep in mind that most poker rooms aren’t really free. If you want the thrill of poker in a company of good friends, no real cash in necessary.
- With just one click, you can easily set up your own private poker club and host games with your club members and friends anytime, from anywhere in the world. Private club can support up to 2,000 members. Independent game records for each club. Private chat room facilities for members. Management tools for the club owner.
Game notes: Poker Stars is one of the biggest online poker sites in the world. After downloading their software, you set up a 'home game' via a league that can host your private game and invite mates. Here's a step-by-step guide to that process.
Set up difficulty: Easy to medium. You'll have to install the PokerStars software in order to play, and that involves creating logins, verifying emails etc. I know people have had varying degrees of success creating the home game/private game. Many Balls.ie readers recommend it, this humble writer and his friends couldn't get it to work. If you do get it working, it's brilliant online poker software.
Game notes: The perfect resource for casual players. This is no frills poker. Game play is easy and minimal and there's a chat function.
Set up difficulty: Piss easy. Nothing is required to get this off the ground. You don't have to download anything. You get a table and send an invite link to friends and the game takes care of itself. Because of its simplicity the game has seen a massive spike in popularity over the last month, to the point that it can be very hard to get a table on a weekend evening. Make this your first port of call.
Game notes: Basically a crypto version of the Pokernow game. You start with some crytpo coinage and have the option to play at private tables or with strangers.
Set up difficulty: Easy to medium. There's nothing to download, which is great. However, the front design isn't mindblowing and connecting via the private table proved tricky for me and my mates. Maybe you'll have better luck. It definitely doesn't have the popularity issues of PokerNow. If you do spend your free money, you'll have to purchase crypto currency to top up again.
Game notes: This is a fun app that mixes video and poker in the one place.
Set up difficulty: Easy to medium. It's a tablet or app version, which takes the desktop element out of it.
Game notes: Prominence Poker is an old Xbox game that you can download for free over the gaming network Steam. You create a character and can play with your friends in private games. To play with friends, just set up a private game and invite your Steam buddies.
Set up difficulty: Medium to hard. First you need to download Steam, then you need to download the game, then you need to create you character and do a few demos to build cash. You'd want to really enjoy gaming to opt for this set-up. While the graphics are cool and the poker venues are enjoyable, it's perhaps needlessly complicated for a casual Saturday night game. Also, you need to put €5 in your Steam account to connect to friends and this game is not compliant with Macs, which might rule your cool friends out.
Game notes: There are hundreds of online poker apps run by gambling companies that claim to let you play poker with friends. In our experience, these were all painful to navigate and involved a cash outlay at some stage
Set up difficulty: Hard to impossible.
Poker is the ultimate social game. A huge part of the fun for most poker players is getting together with friends to throw some cards around and get into it with some animated table talk.
With the advancement of modern technology and online poker software, friends don’t have to meet at an actual table anymore. And those that can’t always meet up for their local home game now have several options for taking their weekly game online.
You can now set up easy and free online poker with friends on a poker site in just a few minutes.
Chat features and video conference software like Zoom can enhance the experience with that much-adored trash talk. You can even tailor your game to your specific preferences including poker variation (Hold’em, Omaha etc.), cash games, tournaments, or even a turbo Sit & Go.
There are a couple of really solid online poker sites you can use which let you play for real money or play money, depending on your location. Here’s all the info you need to play multiplayer poker online with friends.
Best Sites to Play Online Poker with Friends
Free Poker With Friends Apps
|Site/App||Download/Register (Free)||Available||Real Money/Play Money||Game Options|
|PokerStars||Get $30 free play & set up account in NJ or PA||NJ, PA, Internationally||Yes/Yes||Private clubs/tables for cash games, tournaments, sit & go, play money or real money|
|888poker||Claim $20 free & set up account in NJ or DE||NJ, DE, Internationally||Yes/Yes||Private games and tables among friends; cash game and tournaments|
|Global Poker||Claim $20 free package & set up account in US||US (excl. WA), Canada (except Quebec)||Yes/Yes||Free cash games for Gold Coins (play money) and Sweep Coins (real money)|
Best Poker App to Play Online with Friends
Neither the PokerStars or 888poker apps have “play with friends” options yet. If you want to take advantage of PokerStars’ excellent Home Games feature to play with only your friends, you all need to download the desktop poker client.
Like the PokerStars app, 888poker doesn’t yet offer the play with friends feature on the poker app. An additional challenge with 888 is that players using a Mac won’t find this feature either. As of June 2020, players needed to use a Windows-based system to play online poker with friends.
Play Poker Online with Friends in the US
Whether you’re separated from friends by geography or just looking to string together a quick event while your friends are at home, US players will find a couple of good options to play against friends online.
Here are the best to keep in mind when you’re ready to set a home game up:
Set Up a Home Game on PokerStars
The biggest name in poker offers its highly rated Home Games feature that lets you play poker online with friends remotely. Players in US states with access to PokerStars for regulated real money online poker, which include Pennsylvania,New Jersey and Michigan, can meet up with friends online to play poker in private cash games and tournaments.
Anyone in other states across the USA can use the Home Games feature at PokerStars.net to play for virtual currency. You can also, of course, use play money at the tables but exchange real money among your friends.
Setting up a home poker game with friends online at PokerStars is pretty easy but requires some initial coordination and effort.
All players will need to register an account and download the software client to get started:
Setting up an account via any of our links ensures you a $30 free play bonus or an up to $600 deposit match bonus. After setting up an account, follow these steps:
- Log in and look to the right side of the lobby.
- Click on the image of three dots at the bottom offering more options.
- Once selected, click on “Home Games.” You can then click on the option to create a poker club.
- Give your poker club a name and set the invitation code for players who you plan on inviting. This is a password so your friends can get in the club.
- Once that’s complete, your new poker club is ready to go. Invite your friends with the name of the club and invitation code.
Here’s how it looks as you go through the sign-up process:
PokerStars will send you an email invitation you can forward to other players so they can easily find your club and join. As club manager, you’ll need to approve them to let them in the game.
At PokerStars Home Games, you can add specific colors and images to customize your club as well. When your players are approved and ready for action you can then schedule tournaments and cash games as you like.
In cash games, you can set the stakes for the tables. What’s also great about Home Games is that you can select any number of games beyond online Texas Holdem, from Seven Card Stud to Badugi to Eight-Game Mix.
For tournament players, all of those games are available and players can specify their own settings including:
- Number of seats per table
- Game type (regular, rebuy, knockout)
- Blind levels
- Game speed
Aria blackjack rules. You can also:
- Make announcements on your club site
- Set up leaderboards
- Track event results
How to Set up a Play-Money Game with Real Money on the Side
As noted earlier, players can only buy in and play a private game online with friends for real money in a legal jurisdiction. So players would all need to be located within that jurisdiction – such as all in Pennsylvania, Michigan or New Jersey.
That doesn’t mean there can’t be a little skin in the game elsewhere, though. It’s easy to collect buy-ins for your online poker game with PayPal or an app like Venmo or Zelle. Players simply transfer a few bucks using their online accounts or mobile app.
One player can act as the banker just like in a home game, and then pay out winners at the end of the night. Online payment platforms make this an easy process just like in a live home game.
How to Play Free Online Poker with Friends on PokerStars
PokerStars Home Games is really set up for all types of players and, much like the process for playing a real-money home game, the steps for setting up private games in the play money software are easy to follow. Here’s a quick step-by-step guide:
- Install the desktop client software. (Remember, the app doesn’t offer this feature).
- Register an account with your name, email, and other details
- After downloading, open the software client and log in.
- Click on the three buttons at the bottom offering more options.
- Click on Home Games and the option to create a poker club.
- Give your club a name and set the invitation code.
- Set up a time for your tournament or cash game with details like stakes, number of players per table, etc.
- Once that’s completed, forward an invitation with poker club name and password to friends.
- Players can then join the club at the appointed time and get ready to play cards.
How to Set Up a Private Poker Game at 888poker
888poker currently offers legal real money online poker in New Jersey and Delaware, and friends can also meet up virtually to play for real money. Those outside NJ and DE can also set up an online poker game with just their friends using play money at the virtual tables.
The 888 software is user friendly and it’s easy to create your own poker game with friends. Here’s how to get started:
- Claim your bonus, create an account and download the 888poker software.
- Click on “Extra Games” from the middle top of the pull-down menu.
- Select “Play with Friends” to get started. This is also how players will join your “home game.”
- Click on “Create a New Game” to begin setting up your own game.
No Poker Club Required!
Unlike PokerStars, at 888 you can set up an individual cash game or tournament without creating a club. Players can easily create a game name and password to share with friends. You can then set the
- Start date
- Start time
- Number of seats
Players will then simply provide that game name and password to join after you’ve emailed them the information. An easy 888 invitation option is provided. Simply email it to yourself and then forward that to friends.
When it’s time to play, those players simply join up using the name and password.
Which is better for poker with friends: PokerStars or 888poker?
For multiplayer poker online with friends, and especially for tournaments and different game variations, PokerStars Home Games is the best option available. Players have numerous options and it’s easy for all players to jump online and play.
That being said, the simplicity and ease which you can just set up a private table and jump in at 888poker is also great. 888poker also currently has a very good free no deposit bonus for opening a new poker account. Here’s a look at some aspects of the available sites mentioned here.
|Poker Site||Cash Games||Tournaments||Additional Notes|
|PokerStars||Yes||Yes||• Play money option available anywhere|
• Real money option in NJ and PA
• Numerous game options & customizations
|888poker||Yes||Yes||• Only available on international .com site for play money|
• Numerous game options
• No club required
|Global Poker||Yes (limited to meeting up at tables with few or no players)||No||• No real home game option, but available with some coordination for cash games|
• Real money Sweeps Coin play allowed
Advantages to Playing Poker Online with Friends
Obviously playing online offers a great way to keep the action going when you’re away from your friends.
Players located in different parts of the world can reconnect and communicate. Here are some other positives:
- Complete control over the game
- Easy dealing, splitting pots, and game management
- Several game variations to choose from
- Tournaments are easy to set up and run
- Players can be located anywhere
Another great advantage is that you can play with any number of players. If you have a lot of friends, a multi-table tournament is possible with the promise of a nice payout for the winner.
Only have a handful of players looking for action? You can play three- or four-handed. It’s even possible to simply play some poker with just one friend to work on your heads-up skills.
Free Poker With Friends
What Games Can You Set Up for Online Poker with Friends?
What’s great about playing online with friends is the number of games possible online. It makes for a great way to add some new games to the mix in your home game. You don’t have to worry about the intricacies involved with dealing a new game yourself at the table. Some poker variations to choose from include:
- Texas Hold’em
- Seven Card Stud
- 5-Card Omaha
- 2-7 Lowball (Single or Triple Draw)
- 8-Game Mix
Cash Games vs. Tournaments – Pros and Cons
Setting up an online cash game or tournament among friends is easy. Here’s a look at a few things to keep in mind when getting started.
Best Free Poker With Friends App
- Simple to set up and meet friends online.
- Easy for budgeting and paying out winners.
- Can be set up for any number of players.
- Players know exactly what to budget for an event.
Free Online Poker With Friends No Download
- May need to be a bit more organized than a cash game.
- When playing with multiple tables, may not allow for as much interaction as a single table.
- Easy to set up with your own game and stakes.
- Several game options available.
- Players can come and go as they like.
- Players looking for real money play will have to settle up offline. This is pretty simple however.
- May not always produce a full table. Players could have a short-handed table on occasion, depending on turnout.
Online Poker with Friends at Global Poker
This option may not be quite as simple (and isn’t conducive to tournaments), but players spread across the country can still get together for some cards at Global Poker.
Global Poker is a sweepstakes poker and casino site that allows you to play for virtual currency, called Gold Coins, or a separate currency called Sweeps Coins. Sweeps Coin are accumulated when you buy Gold Coins or win them in Sweeps Coin poker games or tournaments. Sweeps Coins can then be redeemed for real money.
Setting up a real money poker game with friends on Global Poker isn’t quite as easy but it can be done. Just have everyone come to an agreement on the stakes and find an empty table. It may take a bit of coordination, but might be worth it.
Each table is named, which allows players to find where everyone will be at a certain time. Be aware that these tables won’t be exclusive, however, and other players may jump in if there are empty seats.
For example, a few friends may all be up for some SC0.25/SC0.50 No Limit Texas Hold’em. A Sweeps Coin table named “Naples” offers those stakes and no one is playing there at the moment. You and your friends will simply have to jump on the table and get started. There should be several six-handed and nine-handed tables at any one time.
Global Poker doesn’t offer a downloadable app yet but its quick-play browser-based platform makes it easy for players with a phone or tablet to jump on. The functionality is also surprisingly good. On your phone you’ll still find everything that the traditional desktop version offers – including the ability to meet up with friends at a poker table.
Poker with Friends Online FAQ
Are there any other apps for poker with friends online?
Some players make use of free social gaming poker apps to play with friends. There are numerous options that allow players to play for virtual money. Many players use these and settle up with real money via online transfers using PayPal, Venmo, or another option. Real money poker apps are available in legalized US states, although none currently have the built-in Home Games with Friends feature.
Can I play poker with friends on my iPhone/Android?
PokerStars and 888poker don’t offer an option to play with friends on their mobile apps. Players will need to use a traditional desktop computer or laptop.
Players using Global Poker to meet friends at a Gold Coin or Sweeps Coin table can easily use its browser-based poker option to play on a mobile phone or tablet.
Free Poker With Friends App
Are online poker games with friends safe?
You can feel good about playing online games at PokerStars and 888poker. They are among the safest poker sites you can find online and use intricate and cutting edge security measures to keep player information and any online funds safe.
When playing for a bit of cash on the side, however, that requires all parties willing to pony up. Make sure your friends aren’t scofflaws if they plan on getting in on the action.
Do I need to deposit any money to play online with friends?
Only if all your players who are all located in a legal jurisdiction can play for real money online. Those poker games with players who may be located around the country will have to make use of play money features.
Free Online Poker Games No Downloads Required
Global Poker players meeting for ring games can use Gold Coins or Sweeps Coins. GC is a virtual currency and SC is an alternate virtual currency on the site that players can redeem for real cash and prizes.
Can I play poker with friends online entirely free?
Play Poker With Friends
Players can indeed battle it out for play money with friends on PokerStars, 888poker and Global Poker without depositing any real money.