If you're looking for a fun, challenging game to play, Poker's a great option.
The basic rules of poker are easy to learn. But it takes time and practice to become a skilled player. The key to success is understanding how to use probability and statistics to your advantage.
By making smart bets and knowing when to fold, you can increase your chances of winning.
Poker's also a game of psychology. You need to be able to read your opponents and bluff when necessary.
Although the rules may seem daunting at first, Poker is not a difficult game once you get the hang of it.
The objective of the game is to win the pot by holding the best hand on the table or convincing other players that you have the best hand and making them fold.
Your chances of winning at Poker considerably increases if you understand the following.
Creating a game plan is vital to winning Poker. Generally, there's really no such thing as a perfect Poker strategy. Whatever you think is an unbeatable strategy could very easily fail in another game. However, a safe strategy helps you keep your eyes on the prize and keeps you from losing too much money.
Your strategy could include several tips that make winning more likely. For instance, some players believe that folding when unsure is an important quality a great player must have. This tip seems very easy but can be quite difficult during gameplay. Since no one wants to lose, we tend to think we have a better hand than the next player instead of realizing that the chance of winning has seriously tanked.
Another tip is in the bluff. A bluff is a Poker bet or raise, done to make other players fold even when they hold better hands. Believe it or not, you can bluff effectively if you let your hand decide how you bluff.
Whatever strategy you use, remember to be consistent and only deviate from your chosen strategy when there's a good reason to.
Each player must take action after the initial cards are dealt. A betting round is complete after the game's last eligible player successfully places a bet, call, or raise. Betting typically moves clockwise around the table, with each player taking one of the following actions:
Check: Refusing to open the betting. However, you can only check when the current round has no active bets.
Bet: This is making the first bet in a round i.e. opening the round. Betting requires players to wager their chips and add them to the pot.
Fold: To fold is to abandon your cards because you feel you cannot win the current game.
Call: Matching the highest bet in the round.
Raise: Players raise by placing a bet higher than the round’s current highest.
There are four rounds of betting on the popular Texas Hold’em and Omaha Poker variants, including Pre-flop, Flop, Turn, and River.
The Pre-flop round starts when all players have received their hole cards - the two cards dealt face down - before any community cards are dealt. Hole cards stay concealed until the showdown, when everyone reveals their cards to determine the best hand.
The flop round sees the community cards (face-up cards) dealt after the first round concludes. Players use the community cards in addition to the previously dealt hole cards to form a complete 5-card hand. During the flop, a card from the top of the deck gets burned (discarded without being revealed). This is done to prevent foul play in case the card was marked or revealed.
This round burns another card and exposes a fourth community card known as the Turn or Fourth Street. At this point, all players still in the game now build their five-card hand from six cards. This round is where the bet size doubles in a limit hold 'em game. Generally, it's difficult (and maybe unnecessary) to bluff on the turn if you don't have a drawing hand - a hand that isn't very strong but could be if the right card is introduced.
This round also burns another community card called the River or Fifth Street. Here, players still in the game have seven cards (2 hole cards and 5 community cards) to create the best five-card hand they can. After this round of betting, once the last raise or bet is over, a showdown happens next. Here, all players must declare their hands in clockwise order. After everyone declares, the player with the best hand wins. Depending on the game's rules and the hands, it's also possible that more than one player shares a pot.
A betting limit is an amount players are allowed to open or raise. Most Poker games have one of the following types of limits:
With a Fixed Limit, players can bet or raise the limit specified for the game. If you’re playing a $5/$10 limit game, you can only bet $5, match the bet, or raise another $5 to $10.
Also called Limit for short, this type of game has a fixed number of bets and raises. For instance, players may only be allowed one bet and three raises.
The No-Limit is very popular in TV tournaments. Players can bet any amount up to all of their chips. Let's say you're in a $1/$2 no-limit game with $100 worth of chips. If one player has called and another has raised to $8, you can decide to call the $8, fold, or raise again up to $100. Raising up to $100, if that's all you have, is called "going all in."
The least popular betting type, Pot-Limit Poker allows players to bet as high as they like but no higher than the pot amount at the time of the bet or raise. Pot-Limit games also usually have a minimum buy-in. This type of limit is not very popular because although it involves simple math, calculating the pot before calling or raising is usually quite the chore.
Online and live Poker use the same rules. In both types, you must go through the rounds by checking, betting, calling, and raising as required. Both types of Poker also feature fixed-limit, no-limit, or pot-limit betting types.
However, playing Poker in person means you must leave your residence, workplace, or other location and physically travel to a casino. Once you're there and you can secure a space at a table, pretty much everything else remains the same.
Playing Poker online or at a casino is exciting. However, there are a few advantages online gameplay has over live Poker, including:
Unlike live Poker, you can play online Poker anywhere if you have a supported device and stable internet connection. You don't have to worry about finding a space on a table, and there are no waiting lines. Players also don't need to carry cash and can save on gas for the car or taxi fares. Playing online is also cheaper as minimum bets are usually lower than at live Poker games.
Online Poker accommodates players anytime and for any duration. You can play as long as you like or until you burn through your bankroll for the game, whichever one happens first. Players can easily find Poker sites that allow 24/7 gameplay. However, note that some sites may require you to physically be in a certain jurisdiction to play.
Expert Poker players know how to read their opponent’s countenance and can sometimes tell a lot about the hands they hold from watching them play. Since online players don’t see each other, unconsciously revealing information about your hand is one less thing to worry about.
It's almost impossible to learn Poker at a live casino. You'd usually find experienced players unwilling to be patient with newbies and just want to swing right in. On the other hand, playing online allows you to slowly build your confidence since no one knows you or how unrefined you are. Some Poker sites also provide information on your gameplay and let you see important statistics. These features make learning easier since you can see your mistakes and note what moves you absolutely should not repeat.
Instead of sticking to one game, you can simultaneously enjoy multiple games if you play online. This comes in handy if you want to get the best of Poker tournaments. While playing live, it is impossible to play at more than one live Poker tournament. Online, you’re only limited by your bankroll.
There are few differences between online and live Poker. For instance, online Poker is less risky as you can enjoy an exciting game with a relatively smaller bankroll than you’ll need in a live game. Online games are also much faster. Regardless, all of the rules are the same. If you know how to play Poker live, you’d fit in just fine at an online Poker site.
A winning hand is a handful of cards that beats all other hands in a Poker game. If you have the winning hand, no other combination of cards held by other players in that game can beat yours. The following is a list of Poker hands ranked from highest to lowest.
This is the best Poker hand any player can hold. The Royal Flush is unbeatable as it comprises an ace, king, queen, jack, and 10. All cards must be of the same suit.
This is a hand that simultaneously makes a Flush and a Straight. A Straight Flush is five sequential cards all of the same suit, for example, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, all of hearts. You can only beat a Straight Flush with a Royal Flush or another Straight Flush with higher ranking numbers.
This hand contains four cards of the same rank and a side card called a ‘Kicker.’ The Four of a Kind is the third-strongest hand in a Poker game. Where there’s a tie, the player with the highest-ranked Kicker wins.
A full house is a set of 5 cards where three have the same value, and two are of another value. An example is 5-5-5-2-2. Where there's a tie, the player with the highest three matching cards wins.
A Flush contains five cards of the same suit but not sequentially ranked. The player with the highest number wins in the event of a tie.
This is a hand where all cards have sequential ranks but not the same suit. If there’s a tie, the player with the highest top card immediately wins.
This consists of three cards with the same rank and two others that are unrelated and uneven. Where there’s a tie, the player with the highest cards wins. If the tie extends to the fourth card, the highest Kicker wins.
This hand has two cards of the same rank, two of a different but matching rank, and a Kicker. Where two players have the same Two Pair, the player with the highest Kicker wins.
The Pair is simply two cards of the same rank and three unrelated cards. The player with the highest, second-highest, or third-highest card, wins a tie.
This is any hand that doesn't qualify for any of the above. The winning hand here is the highest card. If more than one player holds the highest card, the Kicker settles the tie. Here, an ace has the highest value, and 2 has the lowest.
The above ranking also tells you how rare each hand is. For instance, Royal Flush, the best hand in the game, is extremely unlikely. In fact, some Poker players go their entire lives without ever holding a Royal Flush. This hand is rare because there are only 4 different ways to hold a Royal Flush, each with a probability of 0.000,001,539. The Straight Flush (possible in 40 different ways) is the second most rare hand, followed by Four of a Kind (624 ways), and so on.
The best Poker players know to consider a hand’s relative value instead of staying stuck on its absolute value. The absolute value of a Full House hand is its power to win 5 other hands and only lose to 4 others. However, you should note that gunning for a highly ranked hand may not always be the best strategy as it's possible to win the game with a Pair or even a High Card.
If you don't know your opponent's hand, you simply cannot judge that your hand's absolute value is the best and should consider its value relative to the current game. It's important to know when to release a hand with a great absolute value if its current relative value is uncertain.