How to Play Poker for Beginners

How to Play Poker

The basic rules of poker are quite easy to understand. Mastering it, is an ongoing challenge. This article will look at the basic rules of how to play Texas Holdem, the most popular form of poker played today, online and in casinos.

Basic Betting Options

Bet – You can invest as much as you want
Check – Do nothing and see how the action develops (clock wise)
If someone bets then you have the options below when it the action is on you:
Call – Match the bet
Fold – Get out the pot and pass your cards to the dealer
Raise – Invest more than the initial bet e.g.  Player A raises to £20 and you decide to re raise to £50.

The Blinds

The blinds are forced bets, to the left of the dealer button before a hand is played. They are known as the small blind and big blind with the big blind typically double the small blind. These forced bets create a pot and entice action. This is especially true for tournaments where blinds will increase at timed intervals. This is not the case for cash games where the blinds will remain the same.

Stage 1 – Pre-Flop

Everyone at the table is dealt two cards, face down. Do not reveal these to anyone else at the table.  You will use these cards in combination with the 5 community cards to make the best 5 card poker hand.  This round if betting is known as pre flop as it is before the first 3 community cards are dealt.

Stage 2 – Flop

After the 1st round of betting is completed pre flop, and there are at least 2 matched bets, 3 community cards are dealt face up which active players use in combination with their hole cards to make the best hand. Players can bet, check or fold.  

Stage 3 – The Turn

A 4th community card is dealt face up, and another round of betting is completed.

Stage 4 – The River

The 5th and final community card is dealt face up. If bets are called between at least 2 players – the hole cards are turned face up to reveal who has the best 5 card poker hand.

Poker Hands in Ranking Order

  • Royal Flush – Ten to Ace in sequential order and of same suit
  • Straight Flush – Any other sequential order and of same suit
  • Four of a Kind – All four cards of same rank
  • Full House – Three of a kind and a pair
  • Flush – Any five cards of the same suit but not in sequence
  • Straight –  Any fives cards in sequence but not same suit
  • Three of a kind – Three cards of the same rank
  • Two Pair – Two different pairs
  • One Pair – Two cards of the same rank
  • High Card – No pair at all so the highest card plays.
how to play poker
Photo by Clifford Photography

Basic Poker Tips

  • Ace is both high and low for straight but highest pair.
  • Two aces in the hole aka pocket aces are the best hand mathematically before the flop is dealt.
  • Position is key in Texas Holdem as you get to see how the action happens before you make a decision. For this reason, experts are keen to play their button as often as possible.
  • Play selectively, play few hands but bet them aggressively when you are starting out. The best hands are 8-8 through to A-A, Ace Jack, Ace Queen, Ace King and King Queen.

Learning how to play poker is quite easy but becoming a long term winner is very difficult. We are keen to help players improve their game and bankroll through different forms of poker training based on the individuals needs. Contact us if you are keen to learn poker.