Ever thought of how to play poker? Poker is a family of comparing card games in which players wager over which hand is best according to that specific game’s rules in ways similar to these rankings. We aim this article at giving you step by steps guide on how to play the game.
All You Need to Know About Poker
In most modern poker games, the first round of betting begins with one or more of the players making some form of a forced bet (the blind or ante).
In standard poker, each player bets according to the rank they believe their hand is worth as compared to the other players.
Thus, poker games vary in deck configuration and the number of cards in play.
Including the number dealt face up or face down, and the number shared by all players, but all have rules that involve one or more rounds of betting.
The action then proceeds clockwise as each player, in turn, must either match (or “call”) the maximum previous bet or fold.
Losing the amount bet so far and all further involvement in the hand.
A player who matches a bet may also “raise” (increase) the bet.
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How to Play Poker
Looking to learn basic poker rules? Poker’s an incredibly popular game that’s super easy to learn but difficult to master.
Don’t worry—we’ll break down this strategic card game into a simple step-by-step guide.
You’ll find a ton of variations of poker, but Texas Hold’em is the most popular.
While each variation has its own rules, the basics of the game are always the same.
All you have to do is master the rules—then you can start developing your own winning strategy!
We’ll walk you through all the essential poker rules and strategic tricks to take you from a poker beginner to a poker pro.
Playing a Round of Texas Hold’em
No matter what type of poker you play, the hands will always be the same.
To start familiarizing yourself with the different hands, print out a “cheat sheet” and study it.
Then, memorize the different hands so you can easily recognize them.
Here are the winning poker hands, from highest to lowest:
Learn the 10 Basic 5-Card Hands and their Ranking
The highest-ranking hand is a royal flush(the royal straight flush).
This hand includes a 10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace of the same suit, one kind (all clubs, diamonds, hearts, or spades).
The royal flush of another suit can only tie but not beat it.
A straight flush is made up of 5 consecutive cards in the same suit.
4 of a kind means you have 4 cards of the same rank (but different suits, of course)
And the fifth card of any rank (such as 4 aces and a 9).
If you have 4 aces, then no one can have any hand with an ace, so no royal flush is available.
A full house contains 3 matching cards of 1 rank and 2 matching cards of another rank.
A flush contains any 5 cards of the same suit. These skip around in rank or sequence, but are from the same suit.
A straight one contains 5 cards of consecutive rank but from more than one suit.
3 of a kind means you have 3 cards of the same rank, plus two unmatched cards.
2 pair is made up of two cards of one rank, plus two cards of another rank (different from the first pair), plus one unmatched card.
Pair means you have 2 cards of the same rank, plus 3 other unmatched cards.
The high card is the lowest-ranking (called a “nothing”) hand.
When no two cards have the same rank, the five cards are not consecutive, and they are not all from the same suit.
Place the Blinds (Starting Bets) or “Ante up.”
In poker, they place bets at the beginning of the game in one of 2 ways.
In Texas Hold’em, the player next to the dealer typically places a small blind bet that’s half of the usual minimum bet.
While the player to that person’s left places a big blind, that’s at least the minimum bet.
As another option, each player can “ante up” the minimum starting bet, which means placing a minimum starting bet into the pool.
Aside from Texas Hold’em, most poker variants use an “ante up” system.
Look at the 2 Cards the Dealer gives you, which is Your Hand
The dealer will “burn” the first card on the deck, which means placing it out of play.
Then, they’ll pass out 2 cards to each player. Check your cards to see what you’re holding.
In poker, the dealer will burn a card every round of dealing.
That way, it’s harder for players to anticipate what card is coming up and the game becomes more of a gamble.
The dealer will always pass out the cards in a clockwise direction, starting on the left.
Bet, Call, or Raise after Each Round is Dealt if You Want to
Every time the dealer puts out new cards, you’ll make a bet.
The first bet made is solely based on the two cards the players have in their hands.
Betting happens in a circle – when it’s your turn to bet, you have a few options.
At this point, you can:
Place an initial bet if no one else has yet.
Say “check” to avoid betting.
Say “call” to match the bet someone else has made.
Say “raise” to add more money to the betting pool.
If you “raise,” the other players will go around in a circle and choose to either “call” your new bet or fold.
Say “fold” if someone else has bet and you don’t want to match their bet.
If you fold, turn your cards into the dealer face-down to avoid giving the other players any advantages!
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Look at the “Flop” to see if You Have a Good Hand
After the first round of betting, the dealer will “burn” the top card on the deck.
Then, they’ll put 3 cards face-up on the table, which is called the “flop.”
These are the community cards that every player can use to build their hand.
Compare these cards and the cards in your hand, then place a bet, call a bet, or fold.
In total, the dealer will reveal 5 cards.
You will have 7 cards total to use to create your best hand of 5:
Your two personal cards in your hands, and the five community cards on the table.
While your luck can turn later on in a game, take some time to analyze the table after the “flop”
Are you well-positioned to end the game with a good hand?
Depending on the rules where you’re playing, you can also draw replacement cards for the cards in your hand.
They usually do this during or just after the betting round.
Check the “Turn” Card after the Second Round of Betting
The dealer will “burn” the top card, then they’ll place 1 card face up next to the flop.
This is called the “turn” card or the “fourth street” card.
Check all the cards on the table and the cards in your hand to see if you want to bet, call, or raise.
Your game may also allow a card exchange at this point, but this isn’t typical in professional games.
As you look at the cards, think about the possible hands other players might have.
For instance, if all 4 cards on the table are spades, then any player who has a spade in their hand will have a flush
This means they have 5 cards from the same house.
Similarly, if the cards on the table are 5,6,7, and 8, then anyone with a 4 or 9 will have a straight.
If you have nothing good in your hand but the cards on the table make for an easy winning hand, then you may want to fold, as it’s likely another player has a winning card.
Examine the “River” Card and Decide on the Hand You’ll Play
After the dealer “burns” the top card on the deck, they’ll put 1 last card face up next to the “turn” card.
This last card is called the “river.”
Check your hand and the community cards to decide on your best 5-card hand. Then, bet, call, or fold.
If the rules allow it, you may be able to exchange your hand 1 last time before or after betting.
However, this isn’t common in professional games.
Reveal Each Player’s Hand Clockwise in the Final “Showdown”
After each player calls, folds, or bets in the last round, each remaining player will participate in the “showdown.”
Starting to the left of the dealer, all players involved will reveal their cards face up.
Then, everyone looks at the turned-over hands to see who has the highest value hand to win the entire pot.
If there is a tie, the tied players split the pot.
If you fold your hand, then you don’t have to show your cards.
In Texas Hold’em, there are 5 cards on the table and 2 cards in your hand.
You can create any 5-card combination using these 7 cards. The remaining cards aren’t counted.
If you want to play the cards on the table only, this is called “playing the board.”
However, it’s an option that everyone has, so it may not be the best strategy.
Adding Betting and Strategy
Estimate the Risks on Your Starting Hand
Look at your cards to see what you’re holding.
Check for a pair, 2 consecutive numbers, cards that are from the same house, or face cards, which may be good cards.
Then, decide if it’s worth placing a bet to see what the community cards will be.
You should almost always raise when your hand is a pair, face cards, or aces.
An ace and a king or an ace and a queen are strong hands as well.
If you have these hands, bet before the flop to raise the value of the pot.
If the card you need doesn’t turn up, you can either bluff or fold.
Sometimes, with good bluffing skills and some luck, a bad hand can win the whole game.
Start the Bidding with the Player to the Left of the Big Blind or Dealer.
In the first round, bidding starts to the left of the big blind.
In later rounds, the bidding starts to the left of the dealer. From there, the bidding goes clockwise.
If you’re playing a game with an ante instead of a blind one, always start betting with the player to the left of the dealer.
Call the Bet if you Want to Stay in but don’t Have Great Cards
This means you want to stay in the game but don’t want to raise the bet.
When you call, match the bet of the person before you by adding your chips or money to the pot.
Your turn is now over.
If the flop comes and you’re holding a hand that doesn’t play, check and fold.
You don’t want to keep betting money at a hand that won’t win.
If the flop comes and you have a firm hand, bet on it.
This will force weaker hands out and raise the value of your pot.
Raise the Bet if you Have a Good Hand
When the bet comes to you, tell the other players you want to raise.
Then, say how much you are betting and place your money or chips into the pot. This ends your turn.
Say, “I raise the bet to $30.”
You can’t raise the bet above the maximum for your game.
Fold if the Current Bet is too High, or You Have a Bad Hand
This means quitting the round of poker.
To fold, place your cards face down on the table and say, “I fold.”
Then, add your cards to the discard pile.
Don’t show your cards when you fold during a game, as this can spoil which cards are out of play.
That may give certain players an upper hand.
The key to being successful at poker is knowing when to fold your hand and accept a smaller loss.
And when to hold on to it and risk a larger loss for a chance to win the pot.
Decide if You Want to Draw any Cards (if the Game allows it)
Look at your cards and decide if you want to play this hand.
If you’d like to try for better cards, discard the cards you don’t want.
Then, draw replacement cards from the draw pile at the center of the table.
You can discard as many cards as you’d like.
You may not be allowed to draw new cards when playing Texas Hold’em,
So check the rules for your game before you start playing.
Play Only with Money You’re Willing to Lose
When you are learning, you should never gamble more than you would consider acceptable to lose.
During the game, don’t add to your bankroll or dive back in after losing everything you planned to gamble.
Wait until you’re comfortable losing that amount again before you play another game.
The general rule of thumb is you should be able to easily afford to lose 200 bets at the highest limit.
So if the limit is $5 bets, then your bankroll should be $1000, and stop there.
Track your wins and losses if you start getting more serious about poker.
This will help you figure out whether you are winning or losing in the long run.
Remember that you must keep records and pay taxes on your gambling income to avoid legal trouble.
Learn to Read Basic Tells
Playing your opponents is arguably even more important than playing your cards at poker.
This is a more advanced aspect of the game, but it’s always good to be aware of players’ tells—especially your own.
Watch for betting patterns such as betting early, very often (probably with weak hands), or late in a hand (as intimidation).
Physical tells can also give you an estimation of your opponent’s strength of hand and help you keep your own strategy secret by avoiding such patterns.
Some classic tells include shallow breathing, flushing red, eyes watering, blinking, swallowing excessively, or an increasing pulse seen in the neck or temple.
A hand over the mouth is usually to conceal a smile while shaking hands usually reveals nerves.
If a player glances at his or her chips when the flop comes, they probably have a strong hand.
If a mediocre player tries to impress you by staring you down, they are likely bluffing.
Identify Conservative Players from Aggressive Players
This will help you determine players’ betting patterns and read them more easily.
You can tell if players are more conservative by noticing those folding early
Evidently, they only play in a hand when their cards are good.
Very conservative players won’t lose as much money, but they’re easily spotted by more experienced players.
Because they tend to avoid high betting, you can often bluff them into folding.
Aggressive players are risk-takers that often bet high early in a hand before seeing how the other players are acting on their cards.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is Basic Poker?
The major forms of poker are Draw Poker and Stud Poker.
In Draw Poker, they deal all the cards face down to the players.
In Stud Poker, some of the cards are dealt face up as the betting progresses.
So that all the other players get to see a part of each player’s hands.
2. What are the Steps in Poker?
(Pre-flop) Everyone gets two cards (dealt face down).
(Flop) Three cards are dealt face up in the middle of the table.
(Turn) A fourth card is dealt face up in the middle of the table.
(River) A fifth card is dealt face up in the middle of the table.
3. Is Learning Poker Easy?
Poker is a simple game to learn, but the poker rules can be challenging for a complete beginner.
4. What is the Easiest game of Poker to learn?
Draw poker games present perhaps the easiest entry point into learning the game of poker.
Five-Card Draw, Deuce to Seven Draw, Badugi, and even video poker are among the various draw poker game types.
5. What is the Most Common Game of Poker?
By far the most popular version of poker played in America, Texas Hold ’em is the version of poker played in the World Series of Poker.
The game starts with each player receiving two cards to keep to themselves and then progresses as they lay five community cards on the table.
6. What is the Difference between Poker and Texas Holdem?
Poker and Texas Hold’em are not the same thing.
Texas Hold’em is a community card game, one of the thre variations of poker.
Other variants include Stud and Draw Poker.
All poker games are played by two or more players who compete to try and make the best hand by using a defined hand ranking system.
7. Why is it called River in Poker?
In truth, no-one can say for certain, but there are a number of theories.
Some believe that since they often played poker on riverboats, they would throw cheaters who are dealing themselves an extra card into the river.
8. How do you play Traditional Poker?
Considered one of the simplest forms of poker, five-card draw starts with each player receiving five cards.
After the initial deal, players can choose up to three cards to trade in exchange for new cards.
The player with the best five-card combination wins.
9. Is Blackjack a Poker?
Depending upon the situation, you may also be able to hit and/or double down.
Some casinos even allow you to surrender hands and get half of your bets back.
The fact that you have different decisions in front of you means that blackjack is a skill game.
Poker has increased in popularity since the beginning of the 20th century
It has gone from being primarily a recreational activity confined to small groups of enthusiasts to a widely popular activity.
Remember that poker and other gambling games can be extremely addictive.
Pace yourself and limit betting to a healthy amount.
Leave a comment and share if you learned something.