Poker is not only a card game — It is also a kind of art. This means that its rules are not that hard to learn, but it takes some time to master the game and become a professional. But what makes poker the world’s No. 1 card game? It’s the excitement in communicating with other poker players, understanding their psychology, and using it to gain the advantage, and ultimately, money.
Texas Hold’Em poker is among the most common poker variants. Whether you play at a brick-and-mortar casino, online or with your friends, the rules stay the same and are quite simple. The aim is to make the best 5-card combination possible from your two cards and five community cards.
Are you ready to become a poker player? We will now explain everything a beginner needs to know to learn how to play.
1. Step: Know Basic Poker Combinations
All right guys, we will need to learn a little bit of theory before playing the game of poker. Memorising the basic poker hand combinations and their rankings is essential. It is as important for playing poker as it is to know the multiplication tables before doing mathematics. Ultimately, if you’re unsure which combinations are more powerful than others, you cannot win.
So what’s there to know? There are ten possible combinations.
- High Card — This means you have no pairs and is basically the worst combination. The most powerful card you can have in this situation is an ace, and this situation is called “Ace High.”
- One Pair
- Two Pairs
- Three of a kind — Three cards of the same value.
- Straight — A sequence of 5 consecutive numbers, no matter their suit.
- Flush — A combination of 5 identical suits, no matter their value.
- Full House — A pair + three of the kind.
- Four of a Kind — Four cards of the same value.
- Straight Flush — Any sequence in the same suit.
- Royal Flush — The best possible combination. It consists of the A-K-Q-J-10 sequence in the same suit.
It is important to remember this and not mix up, for example, Straight, Flush, and Straight Flush. The differences might seem slight in the beginning, but they determine your decisions during the game, especially regarding your bets.
Also, another thing to note here is that some poker variants may use wild cards. As you might already know, there are usually four of these in any card deck. The player lucky enough to get one or more of them can substitute any other card and make the best combination. And once you are sure you know this, you can sit at the table with other players and start the game.
2. Step: The Course of the Game
Every poker hand has 4 betting round in-between which cards are dealt (to the players or community cards on the board). Poker players use a standard 52-card deck for poker. Additionally, there has to be a dealer in every poker game. In casinos, cards are dealt by a professional dealer. However, players themselves can be dealers too, and the dealer position starts with any player and moves one seat clockwise after each hand.
The so-called “Blinds” launch the game. This is a name for the first bets made by the two players on the dealer’s left. Their positions are also called the “small blind” and the “big blind” respectively. They ought to make these bets without seeing their cards, and therefore, the term “Blind.”
After these bets are placed, the first round starts. Then, the dealer hands out two cards to every player after which the first betting round starts. All players have a choice here, as in any other betting round: to either check, fold, call, or raise.
- To fold — it basically means you give up that round of betting. This will make you lose any money you’ve placed in the pot this round before folding.
- To check — means to skip the current betting round. However, you can do this only if there are no bet placed before you.
- To call — entails matching the amount of the previous bet.
- To raise — means to place a bet which exceeds the amount of the other players’ highest bets.
Upon the conclusion of the first betting round, the dealer distributes three community cards on the board, in an action known as “the Flop.”
Then, the second betting round begins. Players place bets based on the possible combinations their cards make with the community cards, and again choose to either fold, call, or raise. After they finish, the dealer places the fourth community card on the desk. This is called “The Turn.”
Then starts the third betting round. Finally, after that is over, the dealer puts the last, fifth community card on the poker table. This is the so-called “River.”
The final, fourth betting round follows the River. There’s no more dealing, so the players put bets based on the combinations of their two cards and the five community cards.
And lastly, the Showdown is the phase in which poker players reveal their cards placing them face up on the table. At that point, the player with the best-ranked card combination wins.
3. Step: Explore the Variants
It isn’t that hard, isn’t it? However, have in mind that what we explained here is only one of poker’s many variations, which is called community card poker. Once you are sure of these basic rules, you can try out some of the variants.
So, for example, there are also draw poker variants. The most famous is the 5-card draw poker in which players get their entire hand at the beginning and then have the opportunity to change the cards by “drawing” them from the deck. This type of poker is more of a home variant and is not so common in casinos.
Also, you can play stud poker versions, in which the dealer distributes a mixture of cards faced up and down throughout several rounds. The order in which players place their bets in stud poker games is not as strict as in other versions.
Finally, once you feel really into it, you can try online poker. The online casino offer has never been so diverse as it is now. Besides, their offers are almost always better than classic casinos because they have to fight for their place in a highly competitive market. Therefore, you can profit from some of their juicy welcome bonuses and play with people from all around the world in real time. However, before you start playing with real money, be sure to read casino reviews, just to make sure you are going to wager at a safe and reliable place.
Welcome to the World of Poker!
So now you’ve been introduced to the craft that is poker. However, it will take time to get your game to the level of excellence, to learn how to bluff like a real pro and how to count cards in poker. There will be times when you’ll lose, but the victories will more than make up for it. So enjoy the process, use your money wisely, and good luck!