Learning how to play poker is quite simple, and most importantly, it is the only casino game that you play not against the house but against other players making your chance of winning much higher.
Of course, if you know poker rules and strategies to back up your decisions.
This article will help you understand poker rules and some basic strategies so that you could start off playing on the right foot and avoid common mistakes.
Without knowing the actual poker rules you will not go far in this game, luckily it is easy to learn, and if you ever wondered how the hands are played, I will break it down to you:
- Pre-game setup – before the hand is dealt, players have to place the blinds on the table, which means that two players in the immediate left to the dealer put some money before even seeing the cards. If you are playing in a limit of $1/$2, it means that the first player to the left of the button posts $1 (small blind), and the next player posts $2 (big blind).
- The beginning – when players post the blinds, the hand begins, and each player gets two cards that only they can see.
- Preflop – 1st betting round –the action starts as soon as everyone has their cards with the player left to the big blind and continues clockwise until everyone made their decisions.
- The flop – first three community cards are dealt face-up in the middle of the table that could be used by every player to make the hand, and the 2nd betting round begins starting by the first active player to the left of the dealer.
- The turn – another community card is dealt, and 3rd betting round begins following the same rules as on the flop.
- The river – the final fifth card is dealt in the middle of the table, and the last 4th betting round begins.
- The end – the player who has the best hand or make everyone else fold, wins the pot.
As you see, poker rules are quite easy, but if you want to learn how to win more often, you need to know how to play poker at a more advanced level and understand some of the strategies along the way.
How To Play Poker
While there are many different poker formats, we will be talking about Texas Holdem, so all these principles and game flow are based on this variation.
That being said, many other poker games also feature similar rules and hand rankings, so this article will give you a good understanding of how to play poker.
We already covered poker rules, so the first thing you need to learn on top of that is poker hand rankings. It follows like this:
- Royal Flush: Ace, King, Queen, Jack and a Ten of the same suit – A♣ K♣ Q♣ J♣ T♣
- Straight Flush: combination with five cards in a row with the same suit that is not A-high. For example T♠ 9♠ 8♠ 7♠ 6♠
- Four of a kind: combination with four cards of the same rank, like K♠ K♥ K♦ K♣ 4♣
- Full house: three cards of the same rank and a pair, like T♥ T♦ T♣ 7♥ 7♣
- Flush: five cards of the same suit that are not in a row, like Q♥ T♥ 7♥ 6♥ 2♥
- Straight: five cards in a row, like Q♥ J♦ T♣ 9♣ 8♦
- Three of a kind: three cards of the same rank and two cards that do not match, like 7♥ 7♠ 7♣ Q♥ 4♠
- Two pairs: combination with two different pairs, like 9♣ 9♠ 2♣ 2♠ T♣
- One pair: two cards with the same rank and three random cards, like J♦ J♥ Q♣ 8♦ 4♥
- High card: when all your cars are with different ranks, and no combination is possible, like A♥ T♠ 9♣ 5♠ 3♦
You must know these hand rankings by heart to understand what beats what in poker and be able to make logical decisions throughout the hand.
You surely do not want to be drawing to a straight when there are four cards of the same suit on the board since you will almost surely have the second-best hand if you make your hand and get some action since the flush beats the straight.
When you know these fundamental truths, you are ready to take one step further and start learning some actual poker strategy.
How To Play Poker – Strategy Tips
Winning at the low limits of online poker is relatively easy, and you only need to follow these simple tips to have positive results. If you will be able to choose proper hands and stick to basic strategies, you will be good.
While it is easy to beat low stakes, things considerably change when you start playing higher games, so it is a good idea to practice at lower limits when you are starting.
That being said, wherever you play, these poker tips will help you make much better decisions.
Proper hand selection
One of the biggest and most common mistakes for new players is to play too many hands. If you play random holdings, you will undoubtedly leave a lot of money on the table.
The first thing you should learn is to play only reasonable holdings and adjust it based on your potion at the table.
If you are not sure what hands you should play, there could not be any easier way than to grab this Texas Holdem poker cheat sheet and use it as your starting point.
If you end up making many mistakes when selecting what hands you are going to play, it will be close to impossible to follow a proper strategy later on, so it all starts here.
This thing alone will help you to avoid the most common mistake from beginning poker players, and become a stronger player yourself. You will know how to proceed when you see community cards and avoid many costly mistakes, quite a good start, I would say.
The position is also critical since it determines how many opponents you still have to act after you.
The fewer players you have left at the table, the more hands you can play since they are less likely to get a premium hand.
For example, if you are playing from the button, which is the last and the best position, you only have two players to act and will be the last to make a decision postflop.
This way, you will have fewer opponents and get an advantage to see what they do before making your decision after community cards are displayed.
Compare that with the opening from the first position with nine players or so to go and acting first after seeing the flop, and you have a difference just like night and day.
Playing more hands from a later position is the best option when learning how to play poker, and even when you get advanced with your strategy, this is a tip you should stick to.
Poker is a game of numbers and people, but without knowing the numbers in the first place, you will not be able to go far no matter how good you are at reading others.
So while there is luck involved in poker, it is actually a math game, and learning it can drastically improve your results.
Luckily, it is not a mathematical science that you need to master. It is relatively simple calculations that will let you make better decisions by highlighting how likely you are to improve (odds) and how many cards will help you make your hand (outs).
Knowing these numbers, you will not need to be guessing blindly when making decisions and can back up your play with sound logic.
Take enough time
When learning how to play poker, you should never be rushing when deciding since you are very likely to miss relevant information if you do so.
Many play on so-called auto-pilot where they click buttons without thinking too much, and those are the players who lose most often.
Therefore, it is essential to evaluate all information and think through what your opponent might actually have before making the final decision.
If you find yourself in a spot where you instantly know that you made a wrong decision after clicking the button, it is a sure sign that you rushed, so take that lesson and think it through the next time.
Do not bluff too often
We already discussed how important it is to select solid hands preflop, but playing those hands correctly is vital as well, and bluffing too often is a common mistake.
Bluffing is surely an exciting play, and this is probably why many massively overdo it.
New players often try to fight for every single pot to take it all down and takes many unnecessary risks with an inferior reward ratio. However, when you play in low limits, you basically do not need to bluff since weaker players will give you the money themselves if you stick with playing only strong holdings.
Since many players choose to bluff too often, you should use the opposite strategy, and you will quickly see the rewards.
Learn How To Play Poker Online
The Internet offers a perfect opportunity to learn how to play poker since you can find very cheap games and gain your experience at a fast pace. You can even try video poker or other formats if you wish.
You just have to pick a poker room that you want to try and can be playing within minutes.
While there are plenty of free poker games in an online setting, no one takes these seriously, so you will not learn more than just basic poker rules over there.
Instead of that, invest a couple of bucks, and you will be in entirely different quality games where you can grow as a player and have fun at the same time.