Learning Poker: An Ultimate Guide for Beginners

Poker is more than just a card game. It holds a combination of skills, thrill, and pressure. And all these features make Poker a force to reckon with in the field of casino games. Learning its rules is easy, but mastering the entire gameplay is a rollercoaster ride. So, if you want to be a Poker expert, start familiarizing the basis and get a hold of the right techniques.

The History of Poker and Its Continued Popularity

The earliest recount of Poker was during the 19th century. Many gaming historians associate it with As-Nas, a popular Persian game. It was in 1970 that Poker hit the American casino scene. This was after the release of the World Series of Poker. It skyrocketed for the next decades, with 2003 to 2006 as its popularity peak. Since then, many variations have been created, with each version following the same basic Poker rules, plus some unique twists. The differences often relate to the number of playing cards, the number of face-up and face-down cards, and the like.

In this guide, we will focus on the most popular Poker game, which is Texas Hold'em. It covers the basic ground rules, so let's get it started.

The Fundamentals of Poker

All types of Poker make use of the 5-card hands and their corresponding ranking. There are 10 basic hands that you need to study carefully:

  • Royal flush - this is the highest-ranking hand, which consists of a 10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace. All of these should be of the same suit. This can be tied but not defeated by a royal flush of another suit.
  • Straight flush - this contains 5 consecutive cards of the same suit.
  • 4 of a kind - you have 4 cards with the same rank but different suits. The fifth card can be of any rank. If you get 4 aces and a card, this means there could be no royal flush.
  • Full house - you get 3 matching cards of the same rank as well as 2 matching cards of another rank.
  • Flush - this comprises any 5 cards of the same suit, not considering their ranks or sequence.
  • Straight - it covers 5 consecutive cards from multiple suits.
  • 3 of a kind - you have 3 cards of the same rank, along with 2 unmatched cards.
  • 2 pair - this consists of 2 cards of the same rank, 2 cards of another rank (different from the first 2 cards), and 1 unmatched card.
  • Pair - 2 cards are the same rank and you have 3 other unmatched cards.
  • High card - this is the opposite of the royal flush, hence the lowest-ranking hand. Often, it's called nothing as there are no 2 cards of the same rank and 5 cards are not in consecutive order and from different suits.

Knowing the Different Betting Options

If you've mastered the basic hands, it's time to learn how to bet. Most Poker games use the ante up system that requires you to place a minimum starting bet. On the contrary, the rules of Texas Hold'em state that the player besides the dealer puts a small blind bet, which is normally half of the minimum bet. The next player places a big blind, which is often the minimum bet.

After the bets are placed, the dealer gives you 2 cards. Then, the dealer burns the first card, making it out of play. Subsequently, they give another set of 2 cards to each player, in a clockwise direction, from left to right.

Each time the dealer places out new cards, you have to make a bet. When it's your turn, you are given a couple of betting options:

  • Make an initial bet.
  • Opt to "check" to evade betting.
  • Say "call" to tie someone else's bet.
  • Choose "raise" to increase the bet. With this, other players can only "call" or "fold".
  • Pick "fold" if you do not want to match someone else's bet. By choosing this, you have to turn your cards face down into the dealer.

Evaluating Your Cards and Making Bets

After the initial round of betting and once the dealer has burnt the top card, they will now put 3 face-up cards on the table. This set is known as the "flop", or the community cards, which all players can make use of when building their hand. With this, you can compare and evaluate your cards to make a proper bet.

For the second round, the dealer burns a top card and then places 1 face-up card beside the flop. This specific card is called the "turn", or sometimes the "fourth street". At this point, you need to assess again to make the right move - to bet, call, or raise.

Afterward, the dealer burns the top card and put 1 face-up card for the last time. This is called the "river", which is placed next to the "turn" card. Again, you need to gauge your hand as well as the community cards to make a decision for your best 5-card hand. Then, you will bet, call, or fold.

The dealer gives out 5 cards on the table in total. This means that you have a total of 7 cards to make your best hand of the 2 cards on your hand and the 5 community cards.

Revealing the Hand and Winning the Game

After all players make their bets in the last round, it's time for the final "showdown". In a clockwise direction, starting to the left of the dealer, the players will reveal their cards and check them. Whoever gets the highest value hand wins the entire pot. If there's a tie, the winning players will split the spot.


Playing Poker is very challenging. It's not a typical card game that you can make uncalculated guesses. All your moves are essential, most especially with the number of bets covered in each round. So, make sure you master the basics and develop your own techniques.