Learn Poker

Are you a number-fanatic? Do you analyze risks better than most people around you? And, are always prepared for surprises that life shoves at you? If yes, then you could be a poker player who is probably disguised as a mathematician or a software engineer or a businessman, may be an investment banker or a multi-tasking homemaker- in short, you are just one step away from becoming a crackerjack at the most intriguing game of cards we fondly call Poker! Still wondering how to play poker? Don’t. You may be one step away but, if you are reading this already then your journey has already begun.

So, let’s get started, shall we!!

We’ll be covering the basics of poker rules here and focus on one of the most popular variants of poker- No-Limit Texas Hold’em. It’s one of the easiest poker games to start with. Having said that please do not take our buddy for granted for it’s also one of the most challenging and rewarding poker games you’ll find across tournaments around the world.

The Essentials:

  • A standard deck of 52 cards (no Jokers)
  • At least 2 players
  • Poker chips or substitutes

Poker Hand Rankings- Highest to Lowest:

Royal Flush

The best and the rarest hand in Texas Hold’em. If you can strike a combination of ten, jack, queen, king, ace, all of the same suit, then nothing beats this one!

Example: 10♥ J♥ Q♥ K♥ A♥

Straight Flush

Get five cards of the same suit in a sequence and you’re pretty much done.

Example: 9♠ 10♠ J♠ Q♠ K♠

Four of a kind

A set of any four numbers, not necessarily of the same suit, works wonders!

Example: 9♠ 9♦ 9♥ 9♣ 5♣

Full house

A combination of three of a kind along with a pair in the same hand gives you a Full House.

Example: K♦ K♠ A♦ A♠ A♥

Flush

Five cards of the same suit in any order- that’s a Flush for you!

Example: 9♠ 5♠ Q♠ K♠ 7♠

Straight

Get five cards of any suit in sequential order and you own a Straight.

Example: 9♠ 10♠ J♦ Q♥ K♦

Three of a kind

Three cards of the same rank along with any two non-matching cards is called Three of a kind.

Example: 9♠ 9♦ 9♥ 5♣ 8♣

Two pair

Two pairs of different ranks in the same hand

Example: 9♠ 9♦ 5♣ 5♥ 8♥

One pair

It’s called a pair when you have any two matching rank cards

Example: 9♠ 9♦ 5♣ 8♣ K♥

High card

This is pretty much when you have none of the above but, you hold the highest ranked card in your hand with an ace being the highest and two being the lowest.

Example: 5♣ 8♦ 10♠ Q♥ A♠

Dealing With Cards and Betting Rounds:

It begins with cards being distributed by the dealer, starting from the first player on his left. It’s called dealing the cards. Each player receives two cards and gets a chance to act one after the other, in the clockwise direction.

Each player can commonly take one of the following actions when it is their turn to act:

  • Check– When you decline to participate in the bet. This action can only be taken when there’s no on-going bet in the current round. This continues clockwise to the next person. If all the players check then the round is complete. Always Check if you have it as an option.
  • Bet– When you add an amount to the pot, it’s called a bet (ANY amount in No Limit Hold’em). Once a player chooses to bet, the remaining are left with any one of the three options below:
  • Call– If a player calls it means he’s matching the amount of the bet in the current round.
  • Fold–  By choosing to fold, a player drops his card and gives up the amount that he contributed in the pot initially. For that particular round, the player will not win or act again once he has decided to fold. As hard as it may sound, this is one of the most important aspects of the game and mastering this, may take a lifetime.
  • Raise– When a player puts more chips into the pot, it’s called a Raise. For other players to stay in the hand, they must call or raise again.

This is basically how poker is played across multiple platforms throughout the world. The betting rounds, though, differ from one variant to another.

No Limit Texas Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha(PLO) share a similar betting structure and they are-

Pre-Flop – Begins as soon as all players receive their hole cards but, no community cards are revealed.

Flop –          On the flop, three community cards are dealt followed by a round of betting.

Turn –         Another round of betting takes place after the fourth card is dealt on the turn.

River –        The fifth card is the final card that follows a final round of betting for that particular hand.

It is this interesting combo of rounds and actions that a player must utilize to orchestrate the best possible five-card hand, using his two hole cards and three out of the five community cards. After the final betting round, the highest ranked card wins the pot!

You Are The Game

So, that’s about the nitty-gritty of poker rules. The real game, however, begins when you put your mind to work. Playing poker will test your ability to understand, analyze, act and react in ways you never knew you could. And, just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, you will have to be perseverant as you hone your skills to become better with each play.