How to Play Poker for Beginners

how to play poker

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 Hold’em, the most popular form of poker played today, online and in casinos.

Basic Betting Options

In Texas Hold’em, you have the a range of betting options available.


You can put money in the pot, as much as you want. The maximum you can bet is what you have in front of you. The minimum is the size of the big blind.


This is where you invest nothing but are still involved. You’re “checking” to the next person to see what action they take.


This is where you match your opponents bet or call the big blind, depending on what has happened in front of you.


This is where you get out of the hand and pot. Your cards go into the muck and you cannot win the pot.


This is where you invest more than the bet in front of you. For example, 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.

Rounds of Texas Hold’em

Texas Hold’em has four rounds of betting. As you progress through the different stages, your hand strength can change based on the community cards.


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. The best possible hand at this point is two aces aka pocket aces.

The Flop

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

The Turn

A 4th community card is dealt face up, and another round of betting is completed. There are now 6 possible cards available to you and you’re making the best possible five card hand. The turn is considered the most important part of Texas Hold’em as the bet sizing is larger and there is only one card left to come.

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. The river is where the action concludes. Players need to calculate whether they think their hand is stronger than their opponents or not.

Poker Hand Rankings

There are many different hand strengths in poker. The groups below highlight the different strengths. The best groups very rarely occur so don’t worry if you don’t get them when you play.

Royal Flush

Ten to ace in sequential order and of the same suit.

Straight Flush

Any other sequential order and of same suit.

Four of a Kind

Four cards of the same rank.

Full House

Three of a kind and a pair.


Any five cards of the same suit but not in sequence.


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 so the highest card plays.

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 Hold’em 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.

If you’re keen to learn without spending much, register for a no deposit bonus or use the GGPoker bonus code. We also have a free downloadable poker cheat sheet for you.

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