How to Play Poker

by James Smith |
Date of Publishing: 02/11/2021

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How to Play Poker

There are a few basic rules on which all forms of poker are based and as playing poker online is now one of the most favourite ways to enjoy the game this article is dedicated to those that are interested in trying the game but might find all those variations rather daunting.

As we have mentioned there are broad concepts that unite all forms of poker and generally, there are four main types of poker under which all other games of poker can be grouped.

Easy to Learn But More Difficult to Master

Poker is a card game but it is also a game of strategies where players ‘read’ each other’s reactions hoping that you can decide correctly when to ‘fold’, to ‘bluff’ or when to call someone elses ‘bluff’.

Probably the most popular variation of poker is Texas Hold’em and whilst each variation (as mentioned) has its own rules, the basics of the game are always the same. Once you have mastered the basics then you will be ready to start developing your own winning strategies.

Let’s Look at the Dealer

It doesn’t matter whether you are playing at a land-based casino or at an online NZ casino, the role of the dealer decides the order in which the blinds are put up and the players make their bets. The game is usually played clockwise with the game starting with the dealer.

Usually, the dealer is not one of the players and a token is used and placed in front of the dealer to denote their role for each hand – this dealer token then rotates clockwise from one hand to the next.

What are Poker Hand Rankings?

Simply put, all games of poker are based around common poker-hand rankings and these are used to determine which player’s hand is the winning one. Some poker games use the common hand ranking in different ways (making the lowest value hand the most sought after as in low-ball poker.)

Alternatively, it is the royal flush that is ranked as poker’s best hand which is made up of five consecutive cards of the same suit in order of value from 10 through to the ace.

Other poker hand rankings include a straight flush, four of a kind, a full house, a flush, a straight, three of a kind, two pairs and a pair – the weakest hand in poker is generally the highest card of the hand.

Learning the poker hands is important before you decide to enter any game of poker whether online or at your local land-based casino.

What is a Forced Bet?

The majority of poker games require there to be some form of compulsory bet at the start of any hand and this is usually called the ‘ante’ or ‘blind’. There are a lot of poker games that feature a small blind and a big blind with the latter usually twice the size of the smaller bet.

The Betting Options

After the initial forced bets, it’s now time for the first round of betting to start. In general, players will have several betting options to choose from – but all of these options depend on just how confident they are in their own hands.

  • The Call is when another players bet is matched or raised
  • To Raise is to increase the size of your existing bet (in the same round of betting)
  • When a player folds it means that they have withdrawn from the hand, losing any bets that they may have previously made.
  • To check means to decline to make a bet while reserving the right to bet later on in the same round (this can be applied until the first bet in a round of betting is placed)
  • When a player goes All-in it means when they don’t have enough chips left to call a bet they can instead play all of their remaining chips. Any betting that takes place after the All in is put into a side pot and if they win the hand they can only win the number of chips that was in the pot when they went All-in.

Every single round of betting means that players can use the betting options mentioned above – and all these options are based on how much you believe your hand is a winning one – it also depends on how well you can read your opponent’s hands – an experienced poker player keeps a check on how much their opponents are betting or raising.

A game of poker will always have one round of betting with the vast majority of games featuring at least two.

The Bluff

The term ‘having a poker face’ describes those people who are able to keep their emotions hidden from others and in poker it is possible to win poker hands without actually holding the best hand by bluffing.

By projecting confidence and betting in such a way that suggests that the hand is far better than it is can dupe the other players who may decide to fold rather than risk-taking on the challenge of betting against the hand.

Learning the rules of poker and then practising them before you jump into a game will offer you the confidence to try a bluff or two but in a nutshell, the points below are the order of the most popular game of poker, Texas Hold’em.

  • First, the dealer will deal two cards to each player sitting at the poker table
  • Next, the small blind is placed, then it is followed by the big blind (these are the forced bets)
  • After that, the first round of betting starts, where each player will bet according to how much confidence they have in their own hand.
  • The dealer then deals three ‘community’ cards face up on the table
  • This is when the second round of betting begins.
  • After this round of betting the dealer deals the fourth community card (which can also be called the turn)
  • After this, the third round of betting begins
  • Then it is time for the dealer to deal the fifth community card (which can also be called the river)
  • After this, the final round of betting starts
  • At this point, if two or more players still have not folded all the remaining players must show their cards.
  • The winner of a game of Texas Hold’em is the player with the best hand according to the poker hand rankings.

There are a few different ways that betting is structured in poker with the main ones being the Pot Limit (PL) where a player must raise any amount up to the size of the total pot.

No limit (NL) means that a player can bet all of their chips at any time it is their turn to bet.

The Fixed limit (FL) means that any betting and raising must be done by fixed amounts.

There are also four main forms of poker games which include:-

  • Draw Poker where players receive all five cards at the start of the game.
  • Stud Poker where players are dealt their cards one by one (usually with a round of betting in between)
  • Straight Poker which is the earliest form of the game (varieties include three-card and five-card brag)
  • Community card poker where players are dealt a number of cards less than a complete five-card poker hand.

About the Author

Author: James Smith.

James Smith has been writing about casino games and strategies for over a decade. He is an expert in the industry and loves to help people get started with online gambling. In his free time, James enjoys reading books by other successful authors, cycling around town, or playing poker.