Have you ever wanted to jump in and join the fun in the poker room, but didn’t because you are a so-called “poker newbie?” Don’t spend one more afternoon watching from the sidelines! Here’s a quick guide to help you get started playing this casino classic.
Here, we’ll go over how to play the most popular game of poker, Texas Hold’Em.
The overall goal is to make the best five-card hand out of seven cards. If you don’t know what makes a good poker hand, we’ll get to that in a minute.
The dealer gives each player two cards and then players will bet based on the cards dealt. Then, three community cards are played in the middle of the table and there is a second round of betting. A fourth community card is revealed and another round of betting takes place before a fifth community card makes an appearance.
All in all, there are four rounds of betting. A player may choose to fold, check, bet, call or raise during the betting round. The first player in the betting round may choose to bet, placing money on the hand and forcing other players to match that bet. Folding means a player chooses to relinquish their hand and any money already placed in the pot. A call is a match bet, continuing play, and a raise forces other players at the table to match your bet to keep playing. If no betting has taken place in a betting round, a player may check, deferring the right to bet and preserving the right to fold or raise later in the round.
The most challenging part of poker is knowing which hands to look for so you can rake in big wins. From lowest to highest, here are the possible winning hands:
- High card – (The lowest winning hand possible) In the case that any five cards do not meet the requirements of any other hand below, the player with the highest valued card wins the hand.
- Pair – Two cards of the same rank (e.g., a pair of Jacks)
- Two Pair – Two cards of the same rank plus two cards of another rank
- Three-of-a-Kind – Three cards of the same rank
- Straight – Five cards of sequential rank and at least two different suits
- Flush – Five cards of the same suit, but not in a sequential rank
- Full House – Three matching cards of one rank and two matching cards of another rank
- Four-of-a-Kind – Four cards of the same rank
- Straight Flush – Five cards, in sequence and all of the same suit
- Royal Flush –(The highest hand possible) Five cards, in sequence, all of the same suit and including A, K, Q, J and 10
When it comes to poker hands, the higher your hand, the better. For example, if two players each have a pair, the higher ranked pair will always win.
Diamond in the Bluff
You’ve heard the term “poker face,” but do you know what it means? Having a good poker face means not giving any clues about your hand to the rest of the table (that means no giggling or pouting).
Bluffing is a significant part of the game. Players bluff by betting when they may not have a winning hand, forcing others to fold. WinStar Poker Manager Jay Wiles quotes philosopher and general Sun Tzu in regards to bluffing, “’Deception is the art of war.’ The same holds true for good poker players.”
Etiquette rules change from poker room to poker room. New players can ask any employee specific questions about what’s allowed and what isn’t allowed in any particular room. However, here are a few quick rules that are universal:
- Act in turn
- No phones
- Pay attention to the game
- No helping other players or viewing their hand
If you’re still not ready to join a table, play a few rounds of poker on your phone or online to get a feel for the flow of the game. Overall, the best way to get into poker and become a great player is to jump in with both feet.
Above all, don’t be afraid to ask questions. The dealer, poker room staff and even most players are happy to help.
Good luck, poker players!