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
|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 and New Jersey, 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
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 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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?
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.
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.
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?
Players can indeed battle it out for play money with friends on PokerStars, 888poker and Global Poker without depositing any real money.