Red Dead Online got its long-awaited in-game Poker feature when the beta phase ended in May 2019. While Poker isn't available in a few countries, it became an instant hit among players who could access it. If you want to hit the tables but don't want to lose big or have no experience with poker otherwise, this guide will help you out.
Introduction To Poker
The first thing you should be doing before continuing with this guide is play the single player campaign of Red Dead Redemption 2 until the point where it introduces you to poker, and then play some practice rounds against the NPCs. In fact, you really ought to play the story before jumping into Online anyway, and preferably even finish it once.
Poker, as a mini-game, has been lifted entirely from singleplayer. It's the exact same thing with the necessary adjustments required to make it work with multiple players. Getting to know the mechanics while playing as Arthur Morgan is highly suggested.
While the game is presented cinematically, showing the poker table, the players and the surrounding saloon in all its gloomy, smoky and atmospheric glory. However, to make things properly visible and convenient, small icons next to players' avatars indicate the cards they are showing, their wagers, and any other important information about the current hand.
Joining a Poker game
There are two kinds of poker games you can join in Red Dead Online. By going to any of the locations where poker is played in game - these are Blackwater, Saint Denis, Valentine, Tumbleweed and Flatneck Station - or by selecting it in the mission selection menu you can buy into a Public Game or start a Private Game.
A Private Game is ideal for groups of friends who want to face off against one another, allowing you to control who has access to your game. You can also join Private Games if you are invited by the host. Another advantage of Private Games is a greater measure of customizability, allowing you to adjust buy-ins and payouts.
Public Games allow you to play with random players freely and buying into a public game will automatically start the matchmaking process, pairing you with other players who are betting similar amounts. Once you join a game, you'll be dealt in at the first available hand. The default buy-in price is just RDO$ 25 so the risk isn't too high.
Tips For Playing Poker
Red Dead Online shares one key characteristic with most online poker games - you can't actually see one another. This eliminates what some would argue is the most interesting part of the game, which is observing the body language of your opponents. A "poker face" won't help you here. This way the outcome of the games comes down to just the cards instead of bluffing.
Poker in Red Dead Online encourages a bold and aggressive style of play, since the relatively low buy-in price of RDO$ 25 means it's worth it to fold when you're standing to lose. Poker can be a great way to make some extra RDO$ on the side if you play aggressively and dive into greater risks for the greater reward.
If you're not well versed with poker at all, or the first time you're even encountering the game is in Red Dead Redemption 2, the mini-game available in the single-player mode should be enough to get you well enough acquainted with it. However, if you ever need a refresher, you can take a look at the game rules from the options menu for help. We also have a guide in our wiki.
Another thing to keep in mind is that typical tactics like card counting or other cheating methods are impossible to implement in the poker mini-game, so everyone is forced into playing fair and square. You also can't peek at cards. Since the dealers are automated, human error won't affect the outcome of the game either. In these regards, Red Dead Online Poker is much like any other online poker game, just a bit more visually engaging.
Poker has quickly grown to become Red Dead Online's top social activity and with this guide you'll be well equipped to hit the tables yourself.