How To Play An Online Poker Game With Friends In Isolation

poker game online

Not to long ago, we made a commitment to not promoting gambling. However, during the week a lost a few bob while playing poker with some friends. It absolutely wasn’t about the gambling. We had all played poker together before, though we hadn’t played in a few months. With everyone in isolation, we realised everyone wanted a bit of a break with the lads. Organising an online poker game together would tick that box.

What You Need To Organise An Online Poker Party

To play a game of poker online with your friends really doesn’t need a whole lot. You will need:

  • A laptop
  • Pokerstars
  • Video calling software/apps
  • Smartphone optional
  • Revolut optional
  • Cans

I’m sure there are countless variants on the way we played our game, but I’m just going to discuss that one because it worked well. It worked so well that I lost money in not one, but two games. More importantly, I can’t blame the software. It was all my terrible poker skills, but still, the craic was had.

Anyway, here’s how you get your game of poker going with friends.


For the setup we had, I’m afraid this one is unavoidable. I’ll chat about Pokerstars in a second, but long story short, the Pokerstars platform a laptop. There is a mobile app, but it won’t allow for private parties.


As I said, I’m sure other platforms offer the same things we were looking for but Pokerstars was where we ended up. The essential things for us were:

  1. Private table
  2. Free

Actually I think that’s it. Event the free bit was optional really but why pay for something when you don’t have to. Keep all your cash for the pot!

You will need to download and install Pokerstars either for PC or Mac depending on what laptop you have. Sign up for a Pokerstars account online and then, once you’ve downloaded and installed the software, log into your account.

Once the Pokerstars program opens, look for the “Home Game” option on the right-hand-side menu. If you’re the organiser, you’ll need to create a club to click that option. Give your club a name and a unique code which you’ll then send to your friends.

Once you’ve done this you’ll now be able to manage your poker club. Click “Manage Games” and “Create a Tournament”. Next, you’ll need to create the usual rules of your game. Give this some thought because unlike a game of poker in your mate’s gaff, things here are going to be military precision. There’s no forgetting blind increases or starting at 8.30 pm even though you all agreed 8 pm. The most important thing you need to change here is currency. This should be “play money”. Leave it at the lowest amount. Players don’t have infinite amounts of play money so keeping this low meant we could play a second game.

With that done, it was time to work on the more social side of the game.

Best Video Calling App For Poker

We opted to use Zoom for our game. I’ve bought a month’s subscription to Zoom Premium for €17 given how much I expect to be using it. It worked perfectly for us given we could switch to gallery mode and see every player. That’s great if you’re looking for some online tells!

playing online poker with video conferencing
Our first game of poker just after I got knocked out.

Now, of course you could play without video but the whole idea here is to hang out with your friends and get some social time in isolation.

You don’t have to use Zoom Premium either. Zoom has a free option which works brilliantly. The only catch is that you’ll need to restart the call after 40 minutes. I’d recommend getting everyone to chip in for Premium but really, you don’t have to. Also, there are alternatives. You can also use Skype, Facebook Messenger and Google Hangouts to get the same effect.

Smartphone Optional

I say smartphone optional because it really depends. I’m lucky enough to be using a 15-inch MacBook so I have a lot of screen. Having poker on one half and the video conference on the other half. If you have a smaller screen or just prefer to focus on the poker, I’d recommend using your video conferencing app on your phone. Regardless of which platform you and your friends choose it’ll likely work on mobile or a tablet too.

Revolut Optional

Again this is optional, but Revolut makes all of this so much easier. Once you have your winner, you transfer your buy in to their account. It just makes for easier transfers and faster confirmation that everyone has paid up. Naturally, this wasn’t a problem for our group, but if everyone is using Revolut you can even transfer to the organisers account before everyone plays and they can divvy the cash our afterwards.


Like, it’s poker. You’ll need a few cans, right?

What I Learned From My First Game Of Isolation Poker

What stood out to me was just how much like a regular game it was. As always, the poker didn’t take centre stage at all. As always, the focus of the evening was chatting, ripping the piss out of each other and finding out how everyone is getting along in isolation.

While it doesn’t match the face-to-face game, there are some big benefits too. You don’t need to worry about counting your chips, shuffling cards or being the dealer. However, as I mentioned earlier, you play by the rules to a tee. We struggled to get everyone into the first game on time. For example, I was still making dinner and there was no option to pause. So get people to join early.

At the outset, I reminded you that took at the stance not to support gambling websites any more and we’re still standing by that. However, this was such a social thing it’s impossible to see it as gambling. I’ve been asked by a few people since “how to set up a game of poker in isolation” so I felt compelled to write this.

Planning your own game? Give us a shout on Instagram and tag us along with your mates. Enjoy! Any don’t lose the house. Only play for fun and amounts you can afford to lose.

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Founding Editor of Goosed, Marty is a massive fan of tech making life easier. You'll often find him testing something new, brewing beer or finding some new foodie spots in Dublin, Ireland. - Find me on Threads