You have dreams of winning big playing poker. There’s only one thing standing in your way—you don’t know how to play.
That’s ok. In this ultimate beginners poker guide, we’ll teach you what you need to know to win. You’ll learn the fundamentals of poker, as well as how to play one of the world’s most popular poker games.
Keep reading to find out!
What Is a Poker Game?
Poker is a game of cards that allows you to make bets with other players in order to win money. If you’re looking for a place to play online poker, check out Ignition Casino review.
What’s in the Deck
Let’s start out with the very basics of poker—the cards. If you don’t know already there are 52 cards in a standard deck.
Within the deck, there are 4 different suits represented by symbols on the face of the cards—hearts, spades, diamonds, and clubs. Each suit has the same 13 cards. Those cards are the numbers 1 through 10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace.
Each card in the deck has a ranking that’s kind of like its value. An Ace is the highest-ranked card and has the highest value (although it can also be used as the lowest-ranked card if it helps you complete a hand). Then it’s the King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2.
Here’s a list of poker hands possible in a standard deck of 52 cards, with examples:
- Royal Flush — A-K-Q-J-10 — all cards of the same suit
- Straight Flush — 9-8-7-6-5 — all cards of the same suit, can be any ordered sequence of 5 cards
- Four of a Kind — A-A-A-A, or 2-2-2-2 —any 4 cards of the same value
- Full House — A-A-A-K-K, or 10-10-10-3-3 — any 3 pair with 2 pair
- Flush — 10-6-5-3-2, or A-J-10-7-5— any cards together in the same suit, no sequence
- Straight — 6-5-4-3-2, or K-Q-J-10-9 — any ordered sequence of cards
- Three of a kind — 5-5-5, or Q-Q-Q — any three cards
- Two-pair — 9-9, or 5-5 — any double pair of two cards together
- Pair — A-A, or 3-3 — any single pair of two cards
- High Card — A, or 10 — the highest card in your hand
With all the cards in a standard deck, there are 2,598,960 poker hands possible. No need to worry though. All the hands are just a combination of the same cards within different suits.
A winning hand is one that holds the best hand with the highest ranked cards. For example, if you’re playing against someone who at the end of the betting rounds lays down a hand with a 10-10-10-4-4 (full house), and you have a J-J-J-5-5 (another full house), you have the best hand even though you both have a full house. Your hand has the highest ranked cards.
Another example for you. Say you have a high two pair; A-A, and K-K. At the end of the rounds, you lay your cards down only to find your opponent has a straight flush; 7-6-5-4-3. Who wins?
The straight flush wins because it’s the better hand. Even though the cards themselves have lower “values” than your high two pair, the straight flush is a better hand overall.
Ok, so now you’re ready to play poker. The main objective in poker is to be the player at the end of a round of bets to hold the highest poker hand. There are many different poker games, but today we’re going to learn one of the most popular poker games in the world—Texas Hold ’em.
In the game of Texas Hold ’em, each player at the table is dealt 2 cards facing down. Once everyone has taken a look at their cards (keeping what they have to themselves), the first round of betting occurs. This round of betting is called preflop and is a bet to see the flop—it begins from the player sitting next to the big blind.
Now, how you bet in this round depends on what two cards you hold in your hand, and where you are positioned on the table. If you don’t have very good cards and you’re the first to bet, you might consider folding as there’s still an entire table of players who could potentially bet.
If you have a great preflop hand, like pocket aces (A-A), then you might consider raising the bet to an amount that would encourage others to fold preflop.
Raisings preflop is a way to make sure those with lesser hands don’t get lucky and catch a hand after the flop is laid. You bet high and a couple of players fold their hands. Whoever is left betting continues to play.
Once everyone has made their bets around the table, the dealer lays the flop face up. The flop is three cards from the dealer’s deck that are considered “community” cards.
That is to say, everyone on the table can use them, along with the cards they hold, to make a poker hand. In fact, all the cards laid on the table after this point will be community cards.
So let’s say the flop on the table is 10 of clubs-10 of diamonds-K of diamonds. That’s a pretty loaded flop. With your hand of pocket aces, that gives you a very high two pair.
After everyone looks at the flop and their cards, another round of betting occurs. So now you’re the first to bet—what should you do?
Well, seeing how you have a high two pair, you’re sitting pretty good. You need to think about what other possible hand combinations your opponents might have, and then decide your betting strategy.
Do you raise high to force everyone to fold so you can take the pot? Or do you pass to make it look like you don’t have a hand at all? Since you’re the first to bet and there are still two more cards to come from the dealer, you’d probably want to bet high.
The 4th card laid by the dealer is called the turn. Let’s say it’s a 10 of spades. That means there’s 10 of clubs-10 of diamonds-K of diamonds-10 of spades.
You could have the best hand with a full house… or someone at the table could potentially have 4 of a kind with four 10’s. Another round of betting occurs.
The last and final card is called the river. Let’s say it’s a 4clubs. Not a great card and doesn’t change the outcome much.
After the final round of bets, anyone who is left playing lays down their cards to see who has won the pot. You find out that you have the highest poker hand and get to take the pot!
The Ultimate Poker Guide?
Poker can be a lot of fun and takes years to master. It’s just as much a game of strategy as it is luck. With practice, you will learn how to read cards, as well as the opponents you’re playing with – and remember to work on your poker face!
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