How to Play Poker

Poker has become a globally popular card game. It’s featured in Kenny Rogers’ hit song The Gambler, the TV show High Stakes Poker, and even the movie Rounders. Do you want to perform better at local “Friday night poker” or online poker rooms? Do you dream of becoming a professional poker player?

For those learning the rules of poker, the card game may seem as challenging as winning the World Series of Poker (WSOP). Poker players have so many options, starting with the many types of poker. So, having the correct information may help you make better bets.

We’ll also explain poker betting options, how to play online poker, and terms such as kitty, flop, and one-eyed jack.

What Exactly Is Poker?

Poker is a card game that’s played throughout the world. A poker player must match the bet (call), increase the bet (raise), or concede (fold).

Written records show that poker originated in North America in 1829. Today, the sport is famous throughout the continent at physical and online casinos. People sometimes refer to poker as the United States’ national card game.

The Four Main Poker Variations and Other Types

Poker variations are generally grouped into four different categories:

1. Straight Poker

The dealer gives each player a full hand of five cards. Then a betting round occurs in which players may raise bets and re-raise bets until the poker game ends.

Popular variations include the five-card brag.

2. Draw Poker

Players all receive five cards as the game starts. They then discard cards and are dealt replacements in an attempt to improve their original hand.

Five-Card Draw

The dealer deals each player five cards. However, during the initial round of betting, a player may opt to trade a maximum of three cards.

3. Community Card Poker

Poker players are dealt a specific number of cards fewer than a full five-card poker hand. The community cards are dealt face-up.

The objective of this poker variation is for the players to create the best possible five-card hand with a combination of their cards and the community cards.

Texas Hold’Em

This WSOP game is widely popular in the U.S. In Texas Hold‘em poker, players are dealt two face-down hole cards or “pocket cards.” The dealer then reveals five community cards.

Betting occurs in four rounds, including:

  • After the dealer deals the pre-flop hole cards
  • After the dealer reveals the first three community cards (the flop)
  • After the dealer shows the fourth community card (the turn)
  • After the fifth community card is flipped (the river)

Poker players must use any combination of five cards to make their best poker hands. The combination includes the hole and communal cards.


Omaha is a less-known type of Hold’em that two to ten players can play at one time. It includes four rounds of betting like Texas Hold’em.

However, in Omaha, the dealer deals each player with four hole cards and immediately reveals the community cards. The players must utilize two of their hole cards and three common cards to make the best five-card hand.

4. Stud Poker

In stud poker games, players are dealt one card at a time in a particular combination of face-up and face-down cards. A betting round typically occurs between each dealt card. Common varieties include the seven-card stud.

Follow the Queen

In this 7-card stud poker game, the wild card is the next exposed card after a queen is flipped. In the case that no queens are flipped, the hand contains no wild cards.

High and Low Chicago

Variations of this stud poker game include playing for the highest hand or lowest hand.

In High Chicago, the highest face-down spade card wins the game’s pot. Meanwhile, in Low Chicago, the poker player with the lowest face-down spade card wins half the pot.

The poker player possessing the best hand wins the other half of the pot. However, players can win the entire pot if they have the winning spade (highest or lowest) and best hand.

How to Play Poker

Most poker games use a standard system for poker hand rankings. So, it’s critical to know which hand wins head-to-head after turning the cards face-up.

Card Packs

Poker players use a 52-card pack or deck that sometimes includes one or two jokers. Poker is generally a one-pack card game.

However, clubs and experienced players often use two packs with contrasting colors to speed up the game’s pace. While the current dealer deals one pack, the following dealer shuffles and prepares the other deck of cards for the next deal.

In several games in which players use two decks, the dealer’s left-hand opponent cuts the deck.

Clubs tend to change card decks frequently and allow any poker player to request new cards whenever they wish.

Card Values, Scoring, and Ranking

Poker players may play in a wide range of forms. However, understanding the values of poker hands and the betting concepts can make playing poker variations easier.

Here are the different possible poker hands from highest to lowest.

Five of a kind: This is the highest possible poker hand and can only occur with a minimum of one wild card (for example, a joker), one-eyed jacks (half the jacks are wild), or the four deuces.

Straight flush: This is the highest possible hand when players use a standard deck of cards with no wild cards. A straight flush includes five cards of the same suit in sequence. An example is:

10, 9, 8, 7, and 6 of diamonds

The highest-ranking straight flush is the sequence A, K, Q, J, and 10 of the same suit. This particular combination is known as a royal flush and a royal straight flush. The odds of a dealer dealing you this hand is about 1 in 650,000.

Four of a kind: This hand is the next-highest one in poker and ranks right below a straight flush. One example is four kings or four 6s. The fifth, unmatched playing card is irrelevant.

Full house: This colorful poker hand consists of three cards of one rank combined with two cards of another rank. An example consists of three aces and two 5s, or three 7s and two 3s.

Flush: This ranking includes five cards, all of one suit but not in sequence like a flush. Here’s an example of a flush:

K, J, 8, 6, and 2 of clubs

Straight: The five cards are in sequence but aren’t of the same suit in a straight. One example is 10 of hearts, 9 of clubs, 8 of diamonds, 7 of hearts, and 6 of clubs.

Three of a kind: This particular combination includes three playing cards of the same rank and two cards, each with a different rank. An example consists of three queens, one 9, and one 3.

Two pairs: This poker hand contains a pair of cards of one rank and another pair of another rank, plus a fifth card of a different rank. Here’s an example of two pairs:

K, K, 6, 6, 3

One pair: This common combination includes one pair with the player’s other three playing cards being of a different rank. An example is:

J, J, Q, 10, 6

If two players have one pair, the player with the higher high card wins. For example, an ace-high card beats a king-high card.

No pair: This common hand is classified as “nothing.” None of a player’s five cards pair up, are not identical suits, and are not consecutive in rank.

If two or more players have no pair, then the highest card of each hand wins.

Two hands that are card-for-card identical are tied as suits possess no relative rank in poker games. In this case, tied players split up the pot.

Meanwhile, if two poker hands have the same high pair, then the next card's ranking in the hands determines the winning hand. Here’s an example.

8, 8, 7, 3, 2 beats 8, 8, 6, 5, 3

Similarly, the fifth card also determines two hands with identical pairs. Here’s an example:

K, K, 5, 5, 9 beats K, K, 5, 5, 8

Basic Poker Rules

Here are some basic poker rules to review for a particular type of poker.

Blinds and Antes

Small and big blinds function as forced bets that are critical in several poker variants. For example, Omaha and Texas Hold’em use the blinds system.

In games using blinds, each starts with a big blind that’s put one position to the left of the small blind. Players in such positions add predetermined betting amounts into the pot before each poker hand starts.

Meanwhile, the small blind is to the immediate left of the dealer button. The button is a marker that designates the poker game’s dealer.

The small blind’s price is always half (or nearly half) of the big blind’s price. Two card players immediately to the left of the player “on the button” post the blinds.

In poker cash games, such amounts are typically noted in the game’s listing. For instance, a $1/$2 cash poker game at a live casino refers to a $1 small blind and $2 big blind match.

In most poker games, the minimum permitted for any betting round equals the big blind amount.

Antes are mandatory bets that all players at the poker table must sometimes post. In some situations, the big blind player must post antes.

When a poker game includes antes, all players must pay the ante before the hand starts. Then, the dealer places the antes into the pot and deals the poker hand.

Players must pay antes in addition to the blinds.

Limit vs. No Limit

No Limit Poker

The term “no limit” refers to games where players can bet all their poker chips anytime.

Most no-limit poker games use a system of blinds and a button. In no-limit poker games, players can wager any amount. If they bet all their chips, then they're “going all-in.”

Limit Poker

Stud poker variants nearly always have “limit” betting rules. However, any poker game can include a limit betting structure.

Several limit games have a structure where the maximum bet or raise equals the small bet during the early betting rounds. The maximum bet or raise then increases in later rounds of betting.

During each round, including the final betting round, the betting is “capped” following three raises. Then, subsequent players may only call afterward.

Tournament Stakes

The cost of buying into the tournament determines the tournament stakes. Several poker variants can include a tournament format, like Texas Hold’em, draw poker, and 7 card stud.

Tournament poker chips contain no cash value. A particular tournament’s buy-in determines how much real money is added to the prize pool.

How to Play Poker Online

The rules for games are similar whether you play in-person or online poker. However, some crucial differences exist.

Online poker typically includes these features:

  • Faster pace
  • Less risk (for example, smaller stakes)
  • More accessible

In addition, you sometimes won’t be able to see human faces. So, you must use other strategies to determine if an opponent is bluffing.

Common Traits of Most Poker Rules

Here are some popular features for most poker variations.

Poker Chips

Players nearly always play with poker chips. The main types of chips and their typical values include:

  • White: lowest-valued chip
  • Red chips: Equal to five white chips
  • Blue chips: Equal to 10, 20, or 25 white chips, or two, four, or five red chips

At the initiation of the poker game, each player “buys in” by getting a particular number of chips. All of the players typically buy in for the same amount.


Poker players should designate one person as the banker. Their tasks include:

  • Keeping the stock of poker chips
  • Recording how many chips have been issued to players
  • Noting how much cash each card player has paid for their poker chips

Players with additional chips can return them to the banker and get credit or cash. Meanwhile, players can get extra chips from the banker.

The Kitty

Players can establish a special fund known as a “kitty” through unanimous or majority agreement. Typically the kitty is built up through “cutting” (taking) one low-denomination chip from each pot where there’s more than one raise.

All players have shared ownership of the kitty, and players use it to pay for items such as new decks of cards or food and drinks. When the game ends, the remaining players divide any chips left in the kitty equally.

If a poker player leaves the poker game before it concludes, they’re not entitled to take their share of chips that comprise the kitty.

Time Limit

Before starting a poker game, players should set a time limit for the game-ending and adhere to the timeframe.

When the end of the poker session approaches, the host can state how many more deals are left. This action keeps players informed.

Dealer's Choice

This term means each dealer has the privilege of naming the form of poker to play. They can also design components of each round as they apply, including the following:

  • Ante
  • Wild cards
  • Maximum limit of chips

If players select a game such as Jackpots and no player opens the betting, the dealer deals again, and all players ante again.

Laws and Ethics

In every poker game, players should use a written code of poker laws as the final method to settle all questions.

However, consider that players don’t follow any poker laws universally. Several local customs may exist.

One tradition of poker is that any group or club of poker players may create special “house rules” to suit their personal preferences. However, poker players should ideally write down such house rules.

Poker Betting Options

Following the forced bets known as the ante, the first betting starts. The first player bets, then the next player in sequence.

Poker players typically can use the following options based on their confidence in their hand:

Check: Unlike the game’s first betting round, players can opt to check. They may decline to make a bet while reserving the opportunity to bet later in the round.

Call: Matching another poker player’s bet or raise

Raise: Increasing the existing bet’s size in one betting round. Players may also re-raise.

All-in: When players cannot call a bet, they can bet all their remaining poker chips. Following bets occur in the side pot. The all-in betting player can only win the number of chips in the pot when going all-in in any subsequent showdown.

Betting Structure and Limits

Betting can be structured in various ways in poker games. These are the three most common types of betting in online poker.

Pot limit (PL): A player must bet or raise any amount up to the total pot’s size.

Fixed limit (FL): Players must conduct betting and raising with fixed amounts

No limit (NL): A poker player can bet all chips during any turn to bet

At, we offer an Android app and an iOS app, so you can enjoy online poker anytime and anywhere with a mobile device and web connectivity.

Rounds of Betting

In poker games, each betting round provides a chance to use the betting options based on your confidence in your poker hand and your perception of the quality of your opponents’ hands.

Monitoring how much players are betting or raising can help determine whether opponents have a good or bad hand.

All poker variations include one or more rounds of betting, while most varieties feature two or more rounds.

These rounds typically occur before and after poker game events, such as dealing the flop in Texas Hold’em. The rounds allow players to use poker strategies as the hand continues.

Omaha and Texas Hold’em are community card games that can feature a maximum of four rounds of betting.

Wild Cards

Some poker fans prefer to play games without wild cards. In several games, particularly those with a dealer’s choice, players may designate various playing cards as wild.

The wild card holder specifies it as a card of any suit or rank, such as a fifth king. The wild card can also be required to combine with the other four cards in the player’s hand to form a flush or straight.

Wild cards add variety to a poker game and increase the chance of making a rare combination such as a straight flush or full house. Players may designate various cards as wild cards.

The Joker

Most packs of playing cards contain two jokers for use in games such as poker. In recent years, poker players have been using one or two jokers as wild cards.

The Bug

This is the joker but functions with limited wildness. The bug counts as:

  • An ace
  • A card of any suit for constructing a flush
  • A card of any rank and suit for creating a straight or straight flush


Deuces Wild is a popular type of draw poker. Every two is a wild card. Meanwhile, sometimes the joker is included as a fifth wild card.

Take note that the number of wild cards in a player’s hand doesn’t reduce it. So, with Deuces Wild, five of a kind consisting of 9, 9, 2, 2, 2 (five 9s) beats 7, 7, 7, 7, 2 (five 7s).

One-Eyed Card

The king of diamonds and the jacks of hearts and spades show only one eye. Meanwhile, the other face cards all have two eyes. Sometimes one-eyed jacks are designated as wild cards, while players rarely select the king of diamonds to be wild.

Low Hole Card

In stud poker, each player’s lowest “hole card” (the lowest card dealt face-down and not visible to other players) is wild. Meanwhile, in draw poker, the wild card is the lowest card in a player’s hand.

If such cards are designated as wild, every card with that rank in a player’s hand is wild. However, suppose a particular card is wild in one player’s hand. That same rank of card isn’t necessarily wild in another player’s hands.

12 Poker Strategy Tips for Beginner Poker Players

If you want to learn proper poker strategies, these tips may help improve your poker skills even if you’re a newbie player:

1. Don’t Bluff Too Frequently

In high-stakes games, players tend to play more aggressively and bluff more. However, when learning the game, a generally better approach for beginners is to play when you have a good hand and fold when you don’t.

2. Don’t Play If You Don’t Feel Well

If you’re feeling physically or mentally drained, then it can affect your poker playing. If you’re feeling angry or sad, you’re more likely to make bad decisions.

3. Learn How to Use Position

Using position means you can detect what opponents are doing and then take the best actions.

4. Learn About Poker Odds

It’s essential to know your odds of having a winning hand. You should also learn the pot odds. This concept helps determine if you’re getting the right price to continue or if you should fold your hand.

5. Take Your Time

Making decisions instantly is a common mistake among poker players. Take your time to make informed decisions. Playing at an online poker table can help.

6. Don’t Be Afraid to Fold

It may seem intuitive to never fold if you want to “go for the win.” However, in many cases, one pair won’t be good enough to win a poker hand.

Poker players tend to bluff less in low-stake games. So if they play aggressively, they likely have a good hand.

7. Start Betting Low Stakes

Start with low stakes to understand poker strategies better. Playing such low-limit games can also help you minimize losses.

You can get a few key benefits:

  • Lose less money in the learning process
  • Increase your skill level for higher stakes
  • See the “big picture” of poker and improve poker skills

8. Find the Top Games

Taking this step may help increase your expected value (EV). EV includes the long-term results of your decisions. Avoid having an inflated ego when playing poker. If you play better players, you’re more likely to lose games.

9. Start Playing at One Table

This step can help beginners learn poker strategies and focus on seeing and absorbing more information.

10. Play Tightly yet Aggressively

Many new poker players make the big mistake of playing too loose, such as placing too many opening bets with a bad hand. When starting out, play your strongest hands. This option can help you play more aggressively.

11. Learn the Basics

Make sure to learn about topics such as poker rules and poker hand rankings. For example, this step may prevent you from thinking you have a flush when you actually have a straight hand.

Mastering poker basics may also make learning the card game easier.

12. Consider Your Opponents’ Cards

This step can help you determine when it’s practical to draw cards to improve your poker hand. Here are some considerations:

  • Think about what hand the other players could be opening with
  • Consider how many community cards may improve an opponent’s hand
  • Get clues about an opponent’s hand by the amount of time they take to play

The thrills and highs sports bettors experience during games can be exhilarating. If you or a person you know is struggling with gambling addiction, consider using our sports book’s bet limits and deposit limits.