Poker has been around for about 200 years and today enjoys many variants and fans throughout the world. Each one of the family of poker games has distinct differences but follow much the same basis, with the winner being determined by the ranking and the combination of the cards dealt.

Poker games vary in many ways, from the number of cards dealt, the number of hidden cards to the number which are shared amongst the players. The betting procedures differ too. There are three main variants of the game – Draw Poker, of which the most common is Five Card Draw; Stud Poker, the most common being Five or Seven-Card Stud and Community Card Poker, with Texas Hold 'Em being the most common.

Considering that poker is nearly two centuries old, it is stunning to think just how popular it has become over the last ten years. An excellent example of how meteoric the rise has been is how popular the World Series of Poker has become. In 2002, there were just 631 players taking part. This year (2012), nearly 9,000 will take to the tables.

As much as offline games have grown in popularity, so too has the online game; with millions playing against each other from every corner of the globe. It is not too hard to understand why this is so, with the combination of luck and skill making for an enthralling game. Add to that the chance to win cash and there is an even sharper edge to proceedings.

Of course, wherever there is the opportunity to win money, there is also the chance to lose it. Being a game of skill though, there is always the opportunity to practice which tactics to use, when to use them, how to read your fellow players and the types of games they will play and keep losses to a minimum.

Practising when playing for real cash can prove costly though. Playing for fun is a great way to ensure this does not happen and with many great downloadable PC poker games today it is easy to do. You still get much of the rush of playing in real time, except you are only risking play-money, allowing you to explore new tactics and take greater risks.

There are other great benefits to downloading poker games to your PC too. The most obvious benefit is that you can play instantly, without getting online. This is ideal when in an area without a good connection, with browsers often struggling to process the fast game. Progress can be easily saved too, with games able to be returned to if a break is needed.

For many millions of fans across the world, poker plays a huge part in their lives. As a great way to unwind after a hard day at work, or simply a fantastic way to spend some quality recreation time, it is a hobby that anyone can pick up. Whether just getting started, or practising with no financial risk, downloading poker games to your PC is a great way to play.