How to Play Poker
Poker is a game of cards and is perhaps the most popular card game in the world. Many varieties of poker exist with slight differences in rules, but the overall format of the game remains the same.
The most popular variety of poker is Texas Hold’em. It is advised as an easy variety of poker for beginners as it is very easy. After that, they can apply the basics and master any variety of poker.
How is Poker played?
Poker is a series of alternate card-dealing and betting rounds. Below is an easy description of how to play poker for beginners:
Step 1: Blind
The Blind is the betting stage that takes place before any cards are dealt. Betting is done not by all players; instead, only the two participants sitting to the left of the dealer take part in it. The one to the immediate left of the dealer makes a blind bet of a small amount, usually half of the minimum bet, which is called the ‘Small blind.’ The player to the left of the Small blind bets for a value usually equal to the minimum bet, and is called the ‘Big blind.’ The word ‘Blind’ signifies blind betting as it is done before the cards are dealt, i.e., without seeing any card.
There could even be an ‘ante-up’ round where all players make a minimum bet. Ante-up is usually not used in Texas Hold’em but can be seen in many other varieties of Poker.
Step 2: Pre-Flop
After the Blinds are done as per poker rules, the dealer deals two cards to each player. The cards are dealt face down, i.e., each player only sees their cards and no one else’s. These cards are called ‘Hole cards.’ Then the first betting round begins with the player to the left of the Big blind and goes clockwise with all other players making their bets.
Step 3: Flop
In the Flop round, another card is dealt face-up, which means all players can see its value. This card is called a Community card, or Shared card, as any player can view the card and take it to add to their initial cards. Then the second betting round starts.
Step 4: Turn
In this round, one more community card is dealt face up. And the third betting round starts.
Step 5: River
In this round, yet another community card is dealt. And the fourth betting round follows as per poker rules.
Step 6: Showdown
This is the round wherein the winner is chosen. Combining three community cards with the two hole cards in hand, each player shows their five-card hand. As per poker rules and hands, the player with the highest hand rank wins.
Betting round actions
During the betting rounds, a player may either ‘call,’ ‘raise,’ or ‘fold.’ Let’s see what these actions mean in the basic poker rules:
- Call: Placing a bet matching the bet placed by another player.
- Raise: Placing a bet with an amount more than the existing bet.
- Fold: According to poker rules, this means you quit the game. Usually, when someone makes a Raise, the other players can either Call or Fold.
- Check: Sometimes players ‘check,’ which, in poker game rules, means they refrain from betting.
Poker Hand Rankings
In the showdown, the winner is chosen based on the rank of the five-card hand of each player. The highest rank holder wins. The ascending order of card values is 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K, A. For almost all varieties, poker hand values and the nomenclature follow the same rules. The standard descriptions of different hand varieties with ascending order of values are as follows. It could be considered as a list of poker rules for beginners:
- High Card: If there are no useful combinations, the highest value card is considered, e.g., 9 in the hand of 2, 4, 6, 7, 9. It holds the lowest value in the poker hand hierarchy.
- Pair: You have two cards in your hand with the same value, e.g., K, 5, 5, 3, J
- 2 Pairs: As per the basic rules of Poker, 2 pairs is when you have 2 sets of pairs., e.g., 5, 8, 2, 2, Q, Q
- 3 of a Kind: Your hand contains 3 cards with the same value, e.g., 4, 4, 4, 7, A
- Straight: This is when your five cards make a continuous sequence, e.g., 7, 8, 9, 10, J
- Flush: All cards have the same suit (symbol) even though values are different, e.g., all cards are of the Diamond symbol.
- Full House: This is when you have a ‘pair’ and a ‘three of a kind’ in your hand, e.g., 5, 5, 9, 9, 9.
- 4 of a Kind: Your four cards out of five are of the same value, e.g., 4, 7, 7, 7, 7.
- Straight Flush: This combination is rare. You get five cards in continuous sequence and also belonging to the same suit (symbol), e.g., 8, 9, 10, J, Q, all belonging to the ‘Spade’ suit.
- Royal Flush (also known as Royal Straight Flush): This is the highest value in poker hands ranking. It is a straight flush ending in Ace (A), e.g., 10, J, Q, K, A.
Learning the rules of poker is easy and interesting. The above instructions can be used as a beginner’s guide to poker. If you understand the simple poker rules properly, practice them thoroughly, and exercise the skills, you can easily win in poker.