How to Play Poker for Beginners: The Basics concepts 

CARD VALUES/SCORING

While Poker is played in innumerable forms, a player who understands the values of the Poker hands and the principles of betting can play without difficulty in any type of Poker game. Except in a few versions of the game, a Poker hand consists of five cards. The various combinations of Poker hands rank from five of a kind (the highest) to no pair or nothing (the lowest):

Five of a Kind – Can occur only in games where at least one card is wild, such as a joker, the two one-eyed jacks, or the four deuces. Examples of five of a kind would be four 10s and a wild card or two queens and three wild cards.

Royal Flush – A straight from a ten to an ace(A, K, Q, J, and 10) and all five cards of the same suit. The suit does not matter and pots are split between equally strong hands.

Straight Flush – Any straight with all five cards of the same suit in sequence, such as 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 of hearts. 

Four of a Kind – Any four cards of the same rank. An example is four aces or four 3s. It does not matter what the fifth, unmatched card is. If two players share the same Four of a Kind, the fifth card will decide who wins the pot, the bigger card the better.

Full House – Any three cards of one rank and two cards of another rank, such as three 8s and two 4s, or three aces and two 6s.

Flush – Any five cards of the same suit, but not all in sequence. An example is Q, 10, 7, 6, and 2 of clubs. The highest card of the five makes out the rank of the flush.

Straight – Any five consecutive cards of different suits. An example is 9♥, 8♣, 7♠, 6♦, 5♥.  The Ace count as either a high or a low card.

Three of a Kind – Any three cards of the same rank, and the other two cards each of a different rank, such as three jacks, a seven, and a four.

Two Pairs – Any pair of one rank and another pair of a different rank, such as Q, Q, 7, 7, 4. The highest pair of the two make out the rank of the two-pair.

One Pair – Any pair with the other three cards being of different rank. An example is 10, 10, K, 4, 3.

High Card / No Pair – This very common hand contains “nothing.” None of the five cards pair up, nor are all five cards of the same suit or consecutive in rank. When more than one player has no pair, the hands are rated by the highest card each hand contains, so that an ace-high hand beats a king-high hand, and so on.

Two hands that are identical, card for card, are tied since the suits have no relative rank in Poker. In such a case, the tied players split the pot. Note that if two hands contain the same high pair, then the ranking of the next card in the hands determines which one wins. For example: 9, 9, 7, 4, 2 beats 9, 9, 5, 3, 2. Likewise, two hands that have identical pairs would be decided by the fifth card. For example: Q, Q, 6, 6, J beats Q, Q, 6, 6, 10.

 

BETTING

Betting is the key to Poker, for the game, in essence, is a game of chip management.

Betting options

Following the forced bets, the first round of betting begins. Players usually have the following betting options to use depending on their confidence in their hand.

  • Call — Matching another player’s bet or raise
  • Raise — Increasing the size of your existing bet in the same round of betting
  • Fold — To withdraw from the hand, sacrificing any bets already made.
  • Check — Until the first bet in a round of betting is placed, players can choose to check (decline to make a bet while reserving the right to bet later in the round).
  • All in — When a player doesn’t have enough chips left to call a bet they can play all their remaining chips. Subsequent betting takes place in a side pot and the all-in player can only win the amount of chips in the pot when they went all-in in any subsequent showdown.

 

Rounds of betting

In poker, each round of betting offers a chance to utilise the betting options outlined in the previous section, based on your confidence in your hand and your perception of the quality of your opponents’ hands. The latter can chiefly be gauged by seeing how much they are betting or raising. 

All types of poker feature at least one round of betting, while the vast majority feature at least two. 

 

Betting structure/limits

There are various different ways in which betting can be structured in poker. The three structures below are the most common in online poker and are usually listed alongside the type of poker in online poker lobbies. 

 

Pot limit (PL) — A player may bet or raise any amount up to the size of the total pot.

Fixed limit (FL) — Betting and raising must be done by fixed amounts.

No limit (NL) — A player can bet all of their chips any time it’s their turn to bet

 

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