Poker For Dummies: Learn How To Play Poker In 6 Easy Steps
Poker is amongst the most popular card games out there, which is why it comes as no surprise that it has millions of fans like you and me.
Well, who doesn’t love to win the prize pot in the Poker Showdown? While poker is indeed a simple game to understand, the odds of winning it are scarce. It is a game of strategies and well-planned actions, and when you call, raise, or check, decides your win. Also, you must know when to fold and opt out of the game if luck isn’t in your favour.
Thus, it is better to equip yourself with Poker rules and strategies before sitting at the Poker table. Our post will answer everything about the game and help you learn to play Poker in 6 easy steps. There are various Poker variants, but this article will primarily focus on Texas Hold’em.
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Let’s straightaway dive onto the Poker table!
Step 1 – Know Your Objective
You have to form a set of five cards called a hand. Firstly, you will be given two hole cards face down. In a series of three rounds, five community cards will be dealt face up. You have to make your hand using your hole card and community cards. You win the prize pot if you manage to make the highest possible hand in the showdown (the last round).
Step 2 – Learn the Poker Hands Rankings In Texas Hold’em
Hands have a rank, meaning a particular hand beats another. Thus, before you learn to play poker, you must be aware of what beats what.
Here’s the Texas Hold’em hand ranking hierarchy from the highest hand to the lowest.
- Royal Flush
If you have managed to make a royal flush, the winning pot is yours. The royal flush is poker’s most powerful hand. It consists of the ace, king, queen, jack, and ten of a single suit.
- Straight Flush
Five cards in a sequence make a straight flush. If the game results in a tie, the highest rank at the top of the sequence wins.
Example – Ace-high flush – Q♣ K♣ A♣ 2♣ 3♣
- Four of a Kind
Four of a kind or quads consist of four cards of the same rank and one side card called kicker. In the event of a tie, the hand with the highest kicker wins.
Example – Four of a kind, nines – 9♣ 9♠ 9♦ 9♥ J♥
- Full House
A full house has three cards of one rank and two cards of another rank. In the event of a tie, the highest three matching cards win.
Example – Threes full of sixes – 3♣ 3♠ 3♦ 6♣ 6♥
A suit of five cards not in a sequence is called a flush. If the game results in a tie, the player with the highest-ranked card wins.
Example – King-high Flush – K♣ 10♣ 7♣ 6♣ 4♣
Five non-suited cards in a sequential rank make a straight. If all the players have a straight, the highest-ranking card on the top of the sequence wins.
Example – A seven-high straight – 7♣ 6♠ 5♠ 4♥ 3♥
- Three of a Kind
Three of a kind (trips) consists of three cards of the same rank and two side cards (kickers). In the event of a tie, the highest, and if required, second-highest kicker wins.
Example – Three of a kind, twos – 2♦ 2♠ 2♣ K♠ 6♥
- Two Pair
A Two Pair hand has two cards of one rank, two cards of another rank, and one card of the third rank (the kicker). If it’s a tie, the hand with the highest kicker wins.
Example – Two pair, jacks, and fours – J♥ J♣ 4♣ 4♠ 9♥
A pair consists of two cards of one rank and three side cards of three different ranks. In the event of a tie, the highest and second-highest side card determines the winner.
Example – A pair of fours – 4♥ 4♠ K♠ 10♦ 5♠
- High Card
A High Card hand (no-pair) is a hand that does not fall under the categories mentioned above. In the event of a tie, the highest card wins.
Example – King-jack-high – K♥ J♥ 8♣ 7♦ 4♠
Step 3 – Know All About Texas Hold’em Terms and Rounds
The next step to learn to play poker is to familiarize yourself with poker terms
● Button – A button is a small disc placed in front of a player. It is rotated one seat to the left after every hand.
● Blinds – Blinds are mandatory bets that initiate the wagering. Before a new hand begins, the player sitting to the direct left of the button posts a small blind while the next player on his or her left bets a ‘big blind’.
Talking about playing options, you can opt for the following.
● Call – If you choose to call, you have to wager an amount equivalent to the big blind.
● Raise – To raise is to increase the bet within the limits of the game.
● Check – If you want to do nothing and wish to pass the action to the next player, you can choose to check.
● Fold – You can choose to fold when you wish to opt-out of the game.
Now that you are aware of these terms, let’s start with betting rounds.
There are four betting rounds and one showdown in Texas Hold’em –
The first round of betting begins when everyone is given their hole cards. The player to the left of the big blind acts first; this position is called ‘under the gun.’ In this round, players can either call, raise, or fold. After the player under the gun chooses his action, the game proceeds to other players in a clockwise fashion. Once the last player has placed his position, the action is closed, and the next round begins.
- The Flop
In this round, three out of five community cards are placed face-up on the table. The action in this round and the following rounds starts from the first active player to the left of the button. Along with call, raise, and fold, players also have an option to check. The Flop ends after the last bet or raise has been called or if everyone chooses to check.
- The Turn
The fourth community card called ‘Turn’ is dealt face-up on the table. The active players (who haven’t folded yet) indulge in another betting round. Again they have the option to call, raise, fold, or check.
- The River
The last community card is placed face-up in this last betting round. After all the players have taken their actions, the betting ends. The active players are then required to show their hole cards in the next round to determine the winner.
- The Final Showdown
The remaining active players reveal their hole cards in the showdown. With the help of a dealer, the best possible hand is chosen as per the official poker hand rankings. The player with the winning hand claims the prize pot.
Step 4 – Learn To Play Poker
Poker isn’t completely inclined towards luck. Yes, you heard that right. Poker is a combination of strategy, intelligence, skill, and yes, fate should also be in your favour. However, if your strategy is better, even a bad hand can win you the prize pot. This is where ‘bluffing’ and your confidence play a role.
How to be a poker master?
There is no denying that to be a poker champion, you must sharpen your strategies. However, the underlying principles remain the same. Firstly, you have to master the hand rankings and must be well aware of the gameplay rules. Secondly, you should know when to call, raise, check, or fold; this is all that matters, as luck isn’t in your hands, but your actions are. Last but not least, you have to sharpen your social psychology skills. You should be able to read your opponents. Their bodily cues whisper their next move or even reveal if they are bluffing.
You are now poker-ready, so let’s dive onto the poker table.
- Read Your Cards Wisely
At the start of the game, the dealer will burn a card and give two hole cards to every player on the table. As soon as you receive your hole cards, start analysing your winning combination. Do not let other players sneak in your cards, keep your cards a secret until the showdown. Even when you choose to fold in any round, it’s better to hand your cards to the dealer face down.
- Place The Starting Bet
Now that you know your cards, place the starting bet accordingly. Do not place bets while massaging your ego. If my opponent can place this amount, why can’t I? This thought can only lose you more money. Only wager what you can lose.
- Take Action
If you have a good hand and you are confident, call to match the bet. You can choose to raise to add more money to the prize pool. Also, if you do not want to play the current round, you can choose to fold.
- Start Making Your Best Hand
After the first betting round has ended, the dealer will burn the top card and place three community cards face-up on the table. Read these cards and try to make the best possible hands using the community cards and your hole cards. You should now have a much better idea as to where your game is headed. Then, check, raise, call, or fold, depending on your position in the game.
- It’s Time to ‘Turn’ Your Game
As the dealer reveals the next community card, you will have a macro view of your winning possibilities. Suppose there are five community cards of the same suit, and you also have the same suit in your hand, you can make a flush. Make a call, depending on your inference. If you do not have a good hand, you may choose to fold and opt out of the game.
- Place your Final Position
As you are now in the last betting round, make sure you maintain a reasonable position. If the last community card multiplies your chances of winning, you can choose to stay and either call, raise, or check. However, if you are sceptical about your win, you can choose to fold.
- It’s Showdown
Now every active player reveals their cards, and the best possible hand wins the prize money. If the result is a tie, the winnings are split among the tied players.
Step 5 – Learn To Play Poker Variations
Trying your hands at different Poker versions will only make your game strong.
Here are two popular poker variants after Texas Hold’em –
This is the second most popular Poker game after Texas Hold’em. In Pot-Limit Omaha, players are dealt with four hole cards and five community cards. To create the best possible 5-card hand, players can only use two hole cards and three community cards.
7-Card Stud is entirely different as it does not involve hole cards or community cards. Instead, every player has their unique hands. Some of the cards from everyone’s hand would be hidden from other players while other cards are dealt face-up for opponents to see. Each player is dealt with seven cards, and they have to make the best possible 5-card hands.
Step 6 – Practice! Practice! Practice!
You can learn to play Poker by reading elaborate Poker guides. This would help in your play, but if you want to level up your game, practice is the only way. Several Poker sites offer freerolls; this is the best way to test your hands in Poker.
Here are some tips you should keep in mind before you into Poker –
● Initially, bet on low stakes.
● It is not mandatory to play every hand, so play only if you want to.
● Always be aware of your table position.
● Try to read your opponents.
● You should never be ashamed to fold.
● Practice online as much as you can.
Honestly, Poker is falsely labelled as a game of pure luck. Poker is a game of skill, and yes, it has the chance factor, too. You must be well aware of the hand rankings, game rules, and, most importantly, when to call, raise, check, or fold. Lastly, don’t forget to please the Gods of luck before your game.