A good foundation in poker will take you a long way whether you’re playing online or in a brick and mortar casino. It is important that you know some crucial rules and aspects from the onset. So if you are just beginning your poker career or have little experience with this game, this beginner’s poker guide can be your manual.
The Basics of Poker
Before we delve deep into how to play poker, it is imperative that you know the various poker hands. This section outlines them in descending order.
- Royal Flush – this is a combination of ten, jack, queen, king, and an ace in the same suit.
- Straight Flush – these are five cards of a similar suit arranged in a sequential order e.g. Qc, Jc, 10c, 9c, and 8c.
- Four of a Kind – this is a combination of any four numerically matching cards e.g. 4s, 4h, 4d, 4c
- Full House – it contains a set of cards including three cards of the same value and two of another value e.g. Js, Jh, Jd, 6s, and 6d.
- Flush – this hand contains five cards of a similar suit in any sequence.
- Straight – this includes five cards of any suit arranged in a sequential order.
- Three of a Kind – includes three cards of the same ranks and two of other ranks. For example, 3h, 3s, 3c, Ks, and 7h.
- Two Pair – contains a pair of cards of the same rank, another pair of another rank, and a card of a different rank. For example, Qh, Qc, 3c, 3s, and 8h.
- A Pair – contains a pair of cards of similar rank and other three cards each of different ranks.
- High Card – this hand contains the highest ranked card and other 4 of any rank or suit.
Memorize these hands first before trying out poker online or at a land-based casino.
The Basic Rules of Beginners Poker
In a poker game, each player at the felt is issued five cards or less depending on the game. After that, the table is open for bets. You can attempt to better your hand by trading the unwanted cards with new ones from the deck. As the betting goes on, every player at the table has four options:
- Raise – increasing the wager if you think you have a strong hand.
- Fold – this is a defensive move if you feel that your hand isn’t strong enough and you don’t want to wager on the raised amount. You may lay down your cards and you will still keep all of your chips.
- Call – matching the amount wagered by the opponent.
- Check – when no one at the felt is ready to raise the wager needed for the game to continue, you can stand pat by checking.
Important Concepts of Poker for Beginners
This is a crucial poker strategy to master but be careful not to misuse it. It involves reading your opponent and picking the right moment to strike. A prime area when a bluff is imminent is when a flopped draw misses. If you flop a flush draw and it fails to hold, your winning chances are greatly reduced. In such a scenario you are primed for a bluff which might actually get you out of trouble. However, great players might catch wind of your situation if you play it as a flush draw.
Play limited hands
At the start of the game, there are a very few playable hands especially in Texas Hold’em where you are dealt only two hands. If your opponents keep calling and re-raising, it would be unwise to play anything ranking below aces or king. If you don’t have premium cards (AA, KK, QQ, AK of the same suit, and JJ) the best move is to fold. Also, play your premium cards if there is no raise across the felt. As a beginner, try sticking to top 10-15 cards (the premium cards as well as 1010, AQ in-suit, AJ in-suit, AK off-suit, KQ in-suit, A10 in-suit, KJ in-suit, AQ off-suit, 99, JQ in-suit).
Check your position
Playing last gives you a chance to study your opponents. It also provides you with many opportunities to call your bluff. The bets you will make are also likely to be more accurate. Therefore, make more bets or raise when the dealer’s button is at your front to ensure that all your opponents play before you.
Another important tip worth mentioning particularly to the novice players is to avoid holding on to strong hands for too long. If the board is crawling with flushes or straights, be cautious irrespective of what you’re holding.