Best Time to Play Poker Online

Despite the convenience of online poker available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, players can be overwhelmed by the sheer number of players. The amount and quality of players varies widely throughout the day, so how do players know when is the best time to play real money poker online?

On Peak

On peak hours are very tempting for players as there's the greatest amount of players online. Peak hours vary between poker sites. The biggest difference is whether or not they allow American players. The poker rooms that allow US players will have the largest amount of players around 6pm EST. European poker rooms that do not allow US players will have the largest amount of players around 6pm GST. Both types of poker sites range from 6pm until around midnight as the peak playing hours. This is when people are off work and likely relaxing before bed.

But now that you know the common times for peak hours, is this the best time for you to play? Like many decisions about online poker, it depends on what you're looking for in a poker game. On peak poker offers a very wide selection of full ring game tables, and typically the biggest and best tournaments are scheduled for hours that are convenient for the majority of players.

The more players may mean the more beginners and soft tables, but that also means that all the sharks come out as well. Finding the soft tables may take a little skill, especially considering all the best players are typically awake and roaming the tables. To play during peak hours, it's best if players feel confident about their poker abilities, and find themselves often a strong or even the strongest player at the table.

Off Peak

Playing on off peak hours on some sites means traffic will grind to a halt. There are good and bad times to play off-peak. 3 am to 7 am EST are typically the worst time to play. This is because American players are typically still asleep, and European players are in the middle of their work day.

Keeping in mind these two time periods of the day, players can find a time of day on their favorite poker site that is not peak hours, but with enough players to offer a good selection of table games. This is a great time of day to play for players who are less confident with their abilities. It's much easier to play without feeling overwhelmed, or finding a table full of sharks.

However, the downfall of aiming to play on off peak hours means that the smallest poker sites will have an extremely limited choice of games. Your best option as an off peak player is to choose one of the largest poker sites, which means there will still be a good amount of players online. The best benefit to playing on off-peak hours the higher amount of bad players.


Playing weekend poker is a great mix between the playing on-peak and off-peak times. Weekends have a surge in players as people are off work and relaxing. The play is notoriously loose during the weekends - and all the sharks come out to play. Its difficult to find “off peak” times during the weekend- with no work responsibilities, many will stay up later to relax.

Weekend play is typically a higher quality than off-peak. Everyone enjoys weekend play, and some of the biggest tournaments are held on Sundays, from million dollar guaranteed tourneys, satellites and freerolls. Finding a soft table on the weekends can be difficult, with the draw of big tournaments and the lure of loose tables draws in all the best players.

How to Choose the Best Time to Play?

The best way to choose an appropriate time to play is to be entirely honest with yourself about your skill level. Brand new players are best suited to off peak play. This allows them the ability to try out their strategies, and learn how to watch for tells without the fear of getting steamrolled by the professional players. When players begin to feel like they are the strongest player at the table more often than not, then it's time to move up.

The next step is weekend play, though players must be cautious. They are in a higher level of play, and there will be quite a few sharks out there. However when players feel it is time to step up to the On peak hours, they should remember that they will need practice and a solid strategy to hold their own against the poker professionals.

By: Peter Smith