Poker is one of the most infamous card games ever created. If you’ve ever seen a poker tournament, you’ll know games can be absolutely nerve-wracking and exhilarating. There are many variations of poker for players to enjoy like Omaha, Seven Card Stud, 5-card draw, High Low Chicago, and more!
If you’re already overwhelmed by the variety or you’re thinking you don’t have the skills to be a poker player, don’t discourage yourself just yet. In this post, we’ll be walking you through the basics of the most popular version of poker, No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em. This variation is easy to learn and will get you up and running to your favorite poker table in no time.
The objective of this game is to create the best 5-card poker hand than the rest of the players (or at least bluff like you do).
To create your hand, you can use the two cards you’ve been dealt (called Hole cards) and any of the five shared cards placed by the dealer in the middle of the table (called community cards).
Knowing how strong your hand is essencial in poker, so it’s best for you to be very familiar with these rankings. Here are the ranks of poker hands from lowest to highest:
- High Card – No two cards are the same or you can’t make combinations with them. This is the worst hand you can have.
- One Pair – Two cards of the same value. A weaker combo, but a lot better than a High Card. A pair of twos is the lowest pair you can have, while a pair of Aces is the best pair you can have.
- Two Pair – Two pairs of cards with the same value.
- Three of a Kind – Three cards of the same value.
- Straight – Five cards in a row of different suits. (for example: 9,10,J,Q,K)
- Flush – Five card of the same suit (doesn’t have to be in order).
- Full House – Three of a kind plus a pair. This is also called a boat.
- Quad – Four cards of the same value.
- Straight flush – Five cards in a row, all of the same suit. This is a very rare hand.
- Royal flush – 10,J,Q,K,A all in the same suit. An unbeatable and incredibly rare hand.
How to Play Online Poker
There are three positions you should be aware of before you start playing.
- The Button / The Dealer Button – the person assigned to deal the cards.
- The Small Blind – the person sitting to the left of the Button.
- The Big Blind – the person sitting to the left of the Small Blind.
The Small Blind and Big Blind will have no choice but to put in their chips before everyone at the table gets their cards (betting blind). The Big Blind will set the minimum bet and the Small Blind will post half of that bet to start.
Once the Small Blind and Big Blind post their bets, the Button gives each player their hole cards in a clockwise order, starting from the Small Blind onward. When you’re playing online poker, there will be a dedicated dealer for your games.
After the hole cards have been dealt, it’s time for the first round of betting. Since the Small Blind and Big Blind have posted their bets, the person sitting left to the Big Blind will have to make a decision based on the strength of their hole cards. The player can either:
- Fold – Surrendering their cards and stop playing this hand.
- Call – Stay in and match the betting amount of the Big Blind.
- Raise – Post an amount higher than the Big Blind’s.
Note: The minimum raise is double the amount of the BB’s. In No Limit, maximum bets can go as high as the player wants. There maybe cases where a player can go All In, meaning they’re betting all of their chips.
If a player raises and the rest of the table folds, the hand is over and that player wins the pot. If some of the players call this bet, then the dealer reveals The Flop. These are the first three community cards placed at the center of the table. Two more cards will be revealed in the later rounds.
Now that the Flops have been dealt, the players still in the game will have the second round of betting. The action will now go to the first active player to the left of The Button and so on.
Players will now have to make one of the following actions in a round of betting:
- Check – Pass the action to the next player.
- Bet – Put chips into the pot.
- Call – Matching the bet.
- Raise – Increase the amount of the bet.
- Fold – Surrender their cards.
If at least two players are still active after the second round of betting, the dealer will deal another community card called The Turn. Players now have an additional card to use to build their poker hand. Another round of betting ensues.
Once the betting round is done, the dealer deals the last community card, called The River card. With all 5 community cards in the middle of the table, the active players will now have to use their hole cards and community cards to create a stronger hand than the other remaining players.
How to Build Your Poker Hand
- You can build your poker hand with both of your hole cards and three community cards.
- You can use one hole card and four community cards.
- It is possible not to use any of your hole cards at all and choose to use all of the community cards (a.k.a. Playing the Board).
After one final round of betting, the remaining player will have a Showdown. This is where player will have to reveal their cards. If your hand is better than that of the remaining players, you win the game, claim all the chips in the pot, and the hand is over. If players choose to play another hand, the dealer button, SB, and BB are moved one spot to the left. And the game starts all over again.
Many have said that it’s easy to learn poker, but it takes a lifetime to master it. Yes, poker is a game of skill, but you don’t need to be a great bluffer or be a poker master to start enjoying this game. You just need to know the fundamentals, study the pros, and get lots of practice in low stakes games at an online casino, and you’ll be well on your way to leveling up your poker game.