How to Play Poker: A Beginner's Guide

Welcome to my guide on how to play poker for beginners. If you are still at the point where you’re wondering how it works, you’ve come to the right place. I’ll take you through the basics of how to play poker online. You’ll learn about poker hands and popular variations of the game. We will also look at some poker terminology which you’re likely to encounter when playing online poker. Voila voila, without further ado, let’s get into it.

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🃏Getting Started: Basics of Playing Poker

The main objective of a poker game is to win the pot: the aggregate of all bets placed in a deal. This can be done by placing a bet that no one calls or by getting the highest-ranked hand and that’s why the first thing is to know poker rules and hands.

Understanding the Poker Hands

Generally, poker is played with a 52-card deck. In each suit, the cards are ranked from the highest to the lowest as A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2 although the A can have a low value under certain poker game rules. The table below illustrates the cards that make up different poker hands.

poker-hands-chart poker-hands-chart
Rank Hand NameProbabilityCombinationsDescription
1Royal Flush30,939 to 14
A Royal Flush is made up of 10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace, all of the same suit.
2Straight Hand3,437.8 to 136A Straight flush has a 10, 9, 8, 7, and 6, all of the same suit.
3Four of a Kind594 to 1624Four of a kind is four cards of the same rank plus another card. Example: A, A, A, A, and 10.
4Full House37.5 to 13,744A full house is made of three cards of the same rank plus two cards of another rank. Example: K, K, K, 10, and 10.
5Flush37.5 to 15,108A flush refers to five unsequential cards of the same suit. Example: K, 10, 8, 5, and 2.
6Straight20.6 to 110,200A straight refers to five cards of different suits that have a sequential rank.
7Three of a Kind19.7 to 154,912A three of a kind is made of three cards of the same rank plus two others that are not a pair. Example: A, A, A, 10, and 9.
8Two Pair3.26 to 1123,552A two pair is made of two sets, each with two cards of the same rank plus another card of a different rank. Example: A, A, 10, 10, and 8.
9One Pair1.28 to 11,098,240One pair refers to a hand made of a pair of cards of the same rank plus three cards of unmatched ranks.
10High Card4.74 to 11,302,540A high card can be any other card combination ranked from the highest to the lowest. Example: A, Q, 9, 5, and 4.

Understanding Poker Terminology

There’s no way you can learn poker online without knowing and understanding the game’s terminology. From the moment you sit at a poker table, you’ll encounter words that will guide your actions through the game.

🏹Betting in Poker: How it Works

How does poker work? To answer this question, I would simply say, familiarise yourself with the following terms which are the main options involved in every poker game.

  • Call: place a bet that matches the full amount that has been bet by another player.
  • Raise: step-up the amount of the ongoing bet.
  • Fold: give-up your cards and stop playing.
  • Check: refrain from placing a bet when it is your turn to act.
  • All in: this means betting all the chips or money you’ve had left on the table.

Feel free to check our casino reviews for top poker sites where you can get a first-hand poker gaming experience.

🎮Playing Texas Hold'em: A Step-by-Step Guide

It may be wise to learn to play poker online by trying Texas Hold’em as it is the most popular variation of the game. A great part of tournaments as well as real money and free games are Texas Hold’em games. Here, each player gets two hole cards after which five community cards are dealt face-up. The best five-card combination wins.

1. Pre-Flop

When every player around the table has their two-hole cards, that marks the start of the pre-flop betting round. The player closest to the left of the blind has three options to begin with: call, raise, or fold. This player is said to be under the gun.

  1. A call here means they’re matching the big blind amount.
  2. A raise implies increasing the bet.
  3. A fold means discarding their cards.

If the player decides to fold, they are out of the game and no longer eligible to win the pot. The amount of the raise is generally at least two times the value of the big blind.

Once the first player acts, the game continues in a clockwise manner and every other player gets to choose between the same three options. When the last player bets, the action is “closed”, marking the end of the pre-flop round.

2. The Flop

After the pre-flop comes the flop round. The dealer deals three of the five community cards, and a second betting round begins. Only players who have not folded are allowed to bet here. From this moment, the action goes from the first active player to the left of the dealer. Once again, you can choose to call, raise, or fold. In addition to these actions, you can “check”.

Betting continues in a clockwise direction and when the last player acts, the round is closed. All players can simply check and that still leads to the end of the round. At this stage, you can read your hand by looking at your combined hole cards and three community cards.

3. The Turn

The term “turn” indicates the fourth community card dealt. It also refers to the third betting round in a Texas Hold’em game. If you feel your hand has good winning potential, then you should consider going past the “turn”. Bets are received once every player receives their fourth community card. The same online poker rules apply: call, check, raise, or fold.

4. The River

The next step to look at in this poker hand guide is the “river”. It is like the previous betting rounds and involves only players who have not folded. The river card is the fifth community card and is dealt at the centre of the table. At this point of the game, the actions of other players should have given you a clue on the strength of their hands. You can make use of your observations to either check, bet, fold, call, or raise.

5. The Showdown

After all the above steps in Texas Hold’em Poker are explained, then comes “showdown” time. This is the point where you reveal your cards and see if they are strong enough to win the pot. Statistics have it that good players make it to this stage once in four games.

⚖️Four Popular Poker Variations

Poker basics often revolve around four popular variations of the game. I’ve described what makes each game unique.

  • Community Card Poker: this includes all poker variations that use community cards. These cards are always dealt face up and they come to complete initial cards dealt face down. Texas Hold’em is the most popular community card poker game at online UK casinos.
  • Straight Poker: the game uses a standard 52-card deck, and all aces are high. There are neither high nor low ranking suits and jokers often serve as wild cards. Players are dealt five cards each and whoever has the best hand wins.
  • Draw Poker: poker variations where players are dealt all their cards before the first betting round fall under this category. Players develop their hands for upcoming rounds by replacing or drawing cards. Cards are only revealed during the showdown.
  • Stud Poker: games under this category are played such that players receive a mix of face-up and face-down cards. There’s no specific player who bets first from one round to the other. Common variations are the Five-Card Stud, Six-card Stud, and Razz.

🎯Different Poker Games

Once you’ve got your hands around poker rules for new players, you need to try out different poker games to test your acquired skills. For a start, you can go for a practical poker tutorial, free games, or variations with very low bet limits.

In Razz, the last five low-value cards are what you’re aiming for. This makes it completely different from most poker variations, reason why you must have a mastery of applicable rules and how cards are served. This will help you anticipate betting rounds and know what actions to take.

Poker Ring Games & Tournaments

Poker ring games are games where you can buy in to play and then cash out whenever you see fit. Most poker online casino games fall under this category. Stakes are very flexible, and you receive chips worth the amount you’ve put in. Poker ring games are derived from the different variations of poker, and each is played according to its specific rules. This form of poker allows you to control how long you play and winnings come directly from your opponents.

On the other hand, poker tournaments are poker games where players generally pay an entry fee to secure a spot. Once the tournament begins, you do not have the luxury to leave whenever you want. The main aim is to last as long as possible in the game. In most poker tournaments, you’re eliminated immediately when you run out of chips. If it's a rebuy format, you’ll get the opportunity to purchase chips in the middle of the event. Tournaments often have several pre-determined prizes for the top players.

Whether you’re in for ring games or tournaments, emotional control is very important. You should have a cool head and think about your game strategy properly.

✅Difference Between Limit, No Limit and Pot Limit?

As the name implies, fixed-limit poker involves a predetermined, small, and big bet amount. This small bet amount is equal to the big blind and is used in the early betting rounds while the big bet comes in during later rounds. For instance, a game has a £2/£4 option meaning £1 for the small blind (SB) and £2 for the big blind (BB) limits. The first player must stake £2 and the raise must be £4. After the flop, the turn and the river will require a £4 bet or $8 raise at least.

With no-limit poker, you are free to bet any amount you want at any point in time during the game, however, a few rules apply. Bets smaller than the big blind are not allowed. A raise on a particular street must be at least the same amount as the previous raise on that street. For example, if a player acts by betting £2, the next player must raise at least £2 giving a total bet of £10.

Pot limit poker essentially restricts you from placing bets that cannot be covered by the pot. Let’s assume a scenario where the SB is £1 and the BB £2. The next player calls for £2 and you decide to raise. Since you can also call for £2, the pot is the £1 (SB) + £2 (BB) + £2 (player’s call) + £2 (your call) = £7. Theoretically, you can raise an extra £7 and as such, your maximum bet at that point is £9 (£2 call and £7 raise).

That’s it for my poker guide for beginners!

❓Frequently Asked Questions about How to Play Poker

What Is the Basic Idea of Poker?

The main idea behind any poker game is to get the card hand with the best value. The royal flush is the highest-ranked poker hand. It is made of the A, K, Q, J, 10, all of the same suit.

How Do You Play Poker and Win?

To play poker and win, you should understand the rules of the variation you’re playing. If it’s a ring poker game, you win from your opponents but in tournaments, you’ll get the prize allocated for the game.

How Can I Memorise Poker Hands Easily?

Try to grasp the meaning of each poker hand. For example, the number 3 in three-of-a-kind should tell you that three cards of the same value must be among your five cards. You can use acronyms or quiz yourself too although practice is probably the best alternative.

How Do Poker Charts Work?

Poker charts are made of poker ranges which refer to a collection of hands you can play. In Texas Hold’em, for example, there are 169 hand combinations with suited hands at the top right, pocket pairs running through diagonally and offsuit hands at the bottom left.

What Is the Best Strategy in Poker?

One of the best poker strategies is to observe your opponents and minimise your bluffing. You should also think about the bet size when deciding how to act. Many other poker strategies exist but none can guarantee victory.

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Annsley Payne is part of our team and as such, she is one of the most experienced sports content writers. We, at MBS, care about quality, and that is why we only have experts on our team who can provide you with the best possible sports predictions and tips. Annsley Payne is part of our team and as such, she is one of the most experienced sports content writers. We, at MBS, care about quality, and that is why we only have experts on our team who can provide you with the best possible sports predictions and tips.

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