Poker is a fun, highly engaging, and interesting game that is not complicated to play. It has a set of rules that guide its gameplay, but they are pretty easy to understand – even for beginners. You can learn the basic poker rules and understand which handful of hands in poker is the best in minutes. The only thing that takes time in playing poker is mastering how you play and turning the game into a constant money-making venture.
If you’re new to poker, you must balance the excitement and fun of playing poker with the losses. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you can rack up hefty losses in a short time. That’s why we have tipsters on social media and all-around to offer effective strategies for playing games like this. If you’re interested in learning how to play poker easily, quickly, and profitably, this article contains detailed information you’ll find very useful.
Texas Hold ’em is one of the easiest poker games to learn and one you should start with as a beginner. It has some of the easiest rules to learn, is fun, challenging, competitive, and gives you a chance to make money. Plus, it is the most popular game in the world, so finding who to play with shouldn’t be a problem. There is a lot to learn about poker, but don’t get scared; once you understand the rules, you can learn from others.
For example, you must get familiar with the basic poker hand rankings before playing. About 90% of beginner poker players’ mistakes happen when someone believes they have a winning hand when they don’t. Believing you have a winning hand when you don’t is one of the most dangerous assumptions to make in poker. That’s why familiarizing yourself with the basic poker ranking is important because then you don’t assume; you know.
The poker hand ranking is pretty simple to master; here’s a guide to start with:
- Royal Flush hand ranking in poker refers to a sequence with the same suit – for example, sequence A-K-Q-J-T;
- Straight Flush ranking in poker refers to any sequence all the same suit – like 9-8-7-6-5;
- Four a Kind ranking in poker refers to four cards that have the same value – for example, A-A-A-A;
- Full House hand ranking in poker refers to three of a kind and a pair;
- Flush hand ranking in poker refers to all the same suit;
- Straight hand ranking in poker refers to a basic sequence like 7-6-5-4-3-2, for example;
- Three of a kind ranking in poker refers to three cards that have the same value – for example, 4-4-4
- Two-pair hand ranking in poker refers to two pairs like 4-4 and 7-7
- Pair hand ranking in poker refers to any pair, whether letters or numbers – for example, A-A- or 3-3
- High Card hand ranking in poker refers to whatever your highest card is.
As you can see, there are ten hand rankings in poker, which means you can easily learn. Do your best to memorize the hand rankings; you may even quiz yourself, repeat them, and write them out. After learning the rankings, you should also get familiar with the poker positions at the table; this changes with the button and blinds. Next, let’s get into everything you need to know about poker, including the rules and types.
History of Poker
Poker is a centuries-old game developed in the United States in the early 19th century. The game has evolved considerably since its inception; it has grown to become a very popular pastime worldwide. However, the game is believed to have ancient roots crossing cultures and continents dating back nearly a thousand years. Several historians say one can trace the game’s origin to a domino-card game played in the 10th century.
Meanwhile, some other historians say poker is a descendant of the Persian game, As Nas, dating back to the 16th century. Poque is poker’s closest European predecessor, which caught on in the 17th century in France. Poque and pochen, its German equivalent, were based on the 16th-century Spanish game primero, featuring three cards dealt with each player. Like poker, bluffing was a key part of the primero Spanish game.
Poque entered the settlements of French colonists in North America, New Orleans, and its surrounding area, brought by the colonists. English-speaking settlers Anglicized Poque to poker, adopting the modern game’s features, including five cards for each player and a 52-card deck. Poker soon spread from there up the Mississippi River and throughout America, becoming popular in several regions of the country. The spread of poker is partly thanks to its popularity among crews of riverboards that transport goods through the Mississippi River.
Soldiers in North and South America played poker during the Civil War; it became a staple of Wild West saloons in the 1870s and 1880s. Poker was introduced to Europe in 1871, shortly after Queen Victoria heard the U.S. minister to Great Britain explaining it to her court members. She asked him for the rules and adopted the game; however, it only became generally accepted several decades later. The general acceptance of poker in Europe is mostly thanks to the influence of American soldiers during WWI.
Poker in the 19th Century
Poque, the game from which poker is believed to have descended, likely gets its name from the Irish Poka or French poque. The French poque descended from the German pochen, meaning to brag as a bluff or to knock. However, it’s still unclear whether poker itself lies within the games with those names. The game is believed to share ancestry with the renaissance game, primero, and the French game, brelan.
While it isn’t clear if poker descended from these games, it is possible that they influenced its development now. A modern source refutes these ancestries, focusing on card play in poker, which is trivial and could have descended from different games. Card play in poker could have been derived from several games or made up of the general principles of card play. Poker’s unique features are similar to betting, which doesn’t appear in any known older game.
Poker’s development is linked to the historical movement that also saw the inception of commercial gambling. Joseph Cowell, an English actor, reported that poker was played in New Orleans in 129 with a twenty-card deck and four players. The poker players then played the game by placing bets on which player’s hand was the most valuable. An Exposure of the Arts and Miseries of Gamblin, Jonathan H. Green’s book, described poker’s spread throughout the country by Mississippi riverboats.
Soon after, the full 52-card deck was invented and used, and the flush hand ranking in poker was introduced. Before 1850 when the term was first mentioned in print in a handbook of games, the draw was added. A few more additions were made to existing poker games during the American Civil War, including stud poker and the straight. More American developments like the wild card, split-pot poker, lowball, and community card poker games followed.
Poker in the 20th Century
Thanks to the developments of poker in the 1970s, poker became a far more popular game than ever. Soon after the World Series of Poker began in 1970, modern tournament play became popular in American casinos. Notable champions from the tournaments include Amarillo Slim, Johnny Moss, Puggy Pearson, Bobby Baldwin, and Doyle Brunson. Later in the same decade, the first books on serious poker strategy appeared, including Doyle Brunson’s Super/System and Mike Caro’s Caro’s Book of Poker Tells.
A decade later, in 1980, people began to depict poker in popular culture as a commonplace recreational activity. A good example is its presence in at least ten episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Two significant events occurred in the late 1980s that catapulted poker up higher than it already was, leading to its first “boom.” The first one was in 1987 when California legalized the flop games of Omaha, hold’em, and stud.
Before this time, only draw games were allowed; the adoption of hold’em and co. dramatically increased the number of games and activities. Soon enough, big-deal cavernous poker rooms like Bicycle Club began operating in the Los Angeles area. The other event occurred in 1988 when Congress passed the IGRA (Indian Gaming Regulatory Act), legalizing casino games in India. Within a few short years, poker rooms started opening rapidly, with Texas hold’em being the most widely played in the west.
By 1990, poker and, generally, casino gambling had spread across the United States, particularly in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Then, in 1998 and 1999, Planet Poker dealt the first real money, and Late Night Poker debuted on British television.
Poker in the 21st century
The popularity of poker spiked unprecedentedly at the start of the 21st century, mostly because of the advent of online poker. The introduction of online poker and hole-card cameras turned the poke game into a spectator sport. Viewers could not only follow the game’s drama and action on television; they could play it in the comforts of their homes. World Series of Poker, World Poker Tour, and several broadcasts of poker tournaments brought huge audiences for satellite T.V. and cable distributors.
Thanks to the increased coverage poker events were getting, professionals in the poker game became celebrities. Fans from all over the world began entering tournaments to compete against poker pros. TIn addition, the television coverage of poker added an important new dimension to the professional game of poker. Any given hand could now be aired to reveal information anyone who cared could view, whether they’re at the table or not.
The World Poker Tour, European Poker Tour, and many other new poker tours soon emerged following the surge in popularity. From the start of 2003, major poker tournament fields grew exponentially, partly because of the increasing popularity of satellite-qualifier tournaments. Chris Moneymaker and Greg Raymer, champions of the 2003 and 2004 World Series of Poker, won seats to the main event by winning online satellites. The International Federation of Poker was founded in 2009 in Lausanne, Switzerland; it became the official governing body for poker.
This IFP promoted the game as a mind sport, announcing its plans for two new events later in 2011. The events included “The Nations Cup” staged on the London Eye and “The Table,” an invitation-only IFP World Championship. In addition, the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act), the USA’s legislation regulating online gambling, was passed in October 2006. After the passage, attendance in live tournaments and participation in online live cash games slowed initially.
However, they remain far more popular today than ever in poker history. Poker’s popularity recorded 7,319 entrants in the 2010 WSOP main event. Poker is popular in Europe, excluding a few countries, including Norway, Poland, and Albania.
This section is a more practical aspect of poker games; we’ll be giving you the basic rules of different poker games. From Texas Hold ’em and Omaha to Seven-card Stud, you will learn how to play poker like a pro.
Texas Hold ’em Rules
In Texas Hold ’em, players get two down cards as their hole cards (personal hand); then, there’ll be a betting round. Next, each player will simultaneously turn three board cards (called the flop), after which there’ll be another round of betting. Then, the next two board cards will be turned one at a time, and a round of betting will occur after each card.
Anyone can design a game strategy that can work for a short time, especially relating to poker. However, for a long-term effective strategy, mastering the game rules is key; it keeps you one step ahead of your opponent at all times.
Below are the basic rules for playing Texas Hold ’em:
- Each player gets two cards to face down, known as an opening deal; these are called hole cards or pocket cards.
- In The Flop, the dealer burns a card and deals three community cards to each player face up. The first three cards in the deal are called the flop, while the community cards are collectively called the board.
- Each player can either check or bet in the second round of betting, starting with the player to the left of the dealer button. Once players have made a bet, each player can do three things: raise, call, or fold.
- In turn, the dealer burns another card and adds a fourth card to the community card’s face up. The fourth card added to this deal is called the fourth street or the turn card.
- The third round of betting is similar to the second round; the only difference is the size of the bets. The size of the bets in the third round has usually doubled in limited games.
- In The River, the dealer burns another card and adds a fifth card called the fifth street or river card to the community cards.
- The gameplay in the final round of betting follows the same format as the second and third rounds.
- In The Showdown, the remaining players show their hands using the best five-card combination of their hole and community cards. The last raiser or bettor will show his hand first; the hand with the highest five-card wins the pot. The pot will be split evenly among the winning hands if there’s a tie.
- There is a misdeal if the first or second hole card is exposed; the dealer will retrieve the card, reshuffle, and recut. The deal will continue if another whole card is exposed due to a dealer error, but the exposed card cannot be kept. After dealing with the hand, the dealer replaces the exposed card with the top card on the deck, which is then used for the burn card. A misdemeanor occurs if more than one hole card is exposed, which will result in a redeal.
- There will be a redeal if the flop contains too many cards, even if knowing the extra card is possible.
Like Hold ’em, Omaha uses a three-card flop on the board, a fourth, and fifty board cards. However, players get dealt four hole cards in Omaha at the start, unlike the two in Hold ’em. A player must use two hole cards with three board cards to make a hand, with similar betting as in Hold ’em. The total four-card hand must be shown at the showdown to receive the pot.
The best possible five-card hand with exactly two hole cards and three community cards will win the pot. In the first betting round, the dealer burns a card and turns over three community cards face up – called the flop. In the second betting round, the dealer burns another card, turning over another community card – called fourth street or the turn. Finally, in the third betting round, the dealer burns yet another card and turns over the final community card, fifth street or the turn.
In the final betting hand in Omaha, there is a showdown where every standing player shows his hand. The first bettor or last raiser will show his hand first; the remaining players must use their three board games and two pocket cards. All the rules of Texas Hold ’em apply in Omaha, excluding the rule on playing the board, which is impossible in Omaha.
Meanwhile, Omaha is often played high-low split, 8-or-better, where the player can use any combination for the high and low hand. That is any combination of two-hole cards and three board games for the high hand. Consequently, they can use any combination of three board cards and two hole cards for the low hand. The best high hand in this game wins the pot, provided there is no qualifying hand for low.
Seven-Card Stud Rules
The gameplay of the seven-card stud features two down cards and one up card dealt before the first round of betting. These are followed by three more upcards and one more downcard with a betting round after each card. The final round of betting takes place after the dealer has dealt the last downcard; the hand with the best five-card wins. In fixed-limit seven-card stud games, the larger bet is wagered after the betting rounds on the fifth to seventh cards.
Meanwhile, the smaller bet is wagered on the first two betting rounds in all fixed-limit games. Players can make them smaller or larger bets if there’s an open pair on the fourth card. You can’t deliberately change the order of your upcards in a stud game because it unfairly misleads other players. Below is a breakdown of the rules governing seven-card stud poker games:
- The first betting round starts with a forced bet wagered by suit by the lowest upcard. The right hand initiates the action on subsequent betting rounds; the position breaks a tie, starting with the player who received the cards first.
- Players with forced bets have the option of opening for a full bet.
- Raises are not counted by increasing the amount wagered by the opening forced bet to a full bet; that’s considered a bet completion.
- A player can bet on the lower or upper limit in fixed-limit games.
- If the dealer accidentally turns up your first or second hole cards when an open pair appears on the second upcard, your third card will be dealt down. However, you have a dead hand and get back your ante if the dealer deals up both hole cards.
- You forfeit your ante hand and forced bet if you’re not at the table when your turn to act on your hand comes. Meanwhile, the hand is killed if you’ve not returned to the table in time to act.
- Whether or not there is a wager, the seat continues to receive hands if a hand is folded – until a bet kills the hand.
- If you have the low card and are all in for the ante, the player to your left will act before you. They can fold or open for a full bet or the forced bet.
- If the dealer designates the first person as low and bets, they’ll correct the action to the true low carb. However, that can only happen if the next player is yet to act. If it has, the wager will stand, and action will continue, while the true low carb lacks obligations.
- If you don’t call when you face a wager before picking up your cards, your hand is dead – it’s a fold. However, this rule only applies before the showdown, after which it is insignificant because betting is over.
- Cards dealt off the table are treated as exposed cards, and they must play.
- The dealer announces the high hand, low card, all pairs, and all raises in all seven-card stud games; they don’t announce flushes or possible straights.
- If the dealer doesn’t burn a card or two for one round, they are corrected to their proper positions if possible. If the player looks at the card or intermingles with a player’s other hole cards on the final downcard, they must accept it.
- Cards are eliminated from play if the dealer burns and deals at least one card before completing a betting round. At the end of the betting for that round, each remaining player’s additional card is also eliminated from play. After that betting round, the dealer burns a card, and the play starts again. If the dealer runs out of cards, the removed cards are held off to the side.
- If the cards left in the deck aren’t enough for all players, all except the last card are dealt. The last card is mixed with burned cards and those removed from the deck. If there are enough fresh cards, as determined by the dealer, they’ll announce to the table that they’ll use a common card. Then, the player who is using the common card and is high will initiate the action for the last round.
- If a hand has more than seven cards, it is dead; if it has less at the showdown, it is dead. The rule stands unless any players are missing the seventh card and may have the hand ruled live.
Types of Poker
There are several variants of poker games, but they all fall into three main categories: Draw, Stud, and Community card poker. In draw poker, players can improve their hands by replacing a specific number of cards. In stud poker, players are forced to expose some of their cards, giving their opponents information about their hands. Finally, community card poker variations let players combine their hidden cards with the shared community cards, thus creating the best hand.
You must understand which of these categories a poker variant falls into to understand the game’s basis. Below are ten of the most popular poker games you can play today.
Texas Hold’Em Poker
This poker game is undoubtedly one of the most popular, which you may have deduced from how often we refer to it. Two main reasons why this game is popular is because of the advent of online and televised poker and the easy gameplay. First, the game’s objective is to have or deceive your opponents into believing you have the best five-card hand.
Omaha is a community card poker game known as Omaha Hold’Em or Omaha High. The major difference between this poker game and the first one is the number of cards dealt in the first round. In Texas Hold’Em, you get two, while Omaha deals four; you win when you simultaneously have the highest and lowest hands.
Five-Card Draw Poker
The five-card poker game is the most popular variant in the draw poker category; it is prevalent in online and home games. The gameplay and strategy are straightforward, with fixed-limit or no-limit five-card games, perfect for beginner poker players. In some five-card games, you need to pay an ante to start the game; others use the big blind and small blind structures.
Razz is unlike other poker games because you normally can’t play it independently. It is in the mixed-poker-game category; players play this poker game only when they are playing a mixed game. The gameplay in Razz is similar to that of a seven-card stud, so if you can play the latter, you can play the former.
Seven-card stud is one of the earliest variants of poker games; it has been around since the American Civil War. The poker game starts with each player posting an ante bet between 10 to 25% of the first betting limit. Then, the dealer gives each two cards face-down and one face-up; the lowest possible card in seven-card stud poker is 2.
HORSE is a mixed poker variant and one of the most popular in this category. The game includes poker variations, including Hold’Em, Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Seven-card Stud, and Seven-card Stud Eight or Better. Professional poker players believe this variant is the perfect combination to test anyone’s poker-playing skill level. The game’s complexity is one reason the WOSP added a 50,000 USD HORSE tournament to the series.
H.A. poker is another mixed poker variant, featuring a combination of Texas Hold’Em and Omaha High in a pot-limit format. This combination is mostly because of the many similarities between Hold’Em and Omaha, best suited for beginner mixed poker players. New players can adjust to the practice of switching between variants when they play games with the same betting structure.
Short Deck Variant
The short deck is a variant of Texas Hold’Em originating from Asian casinos in 2014. The game follows the same rules as in Texas Hold’Em, with a little but significant difference. The game is played with thirty-six cards instead of the standard 52. In addition, the twos, threes, fours, and fives are removed from the deck before the Short Deck game starts.
Speed Poker Variant
Speed poker, often referred to as rush or zone poker, is only available online; it is played with any other poker game. The game is available in cash games and tournaments with the same rules but usually with small stakes. This game is unique in that you don’t have to wait for other players to play a hand. Instead, the game automatically transports you to a new poker table so you can continue playing.
In Chinese poker, each player is dealt thirteen cards from which they have to create two five-card hands and one three-card hand. This poker variant doesn’t use the typical betting rounds; it uses a complex point value scoring system instead. It is a straightforward poker game that can be mastered quickly and played with only two people.
Where to Play Poker
When it comes to where to play poker, you are not out of options. Numerous sites let you play poker on the go. Considering the number of available poker sites, choosing the best site may be difficult for a beginner. However, you’ll have more options for poker cash games and tournaments if you choose and stay with one of the biggest poker sites.
If you go online, you will see many reviews about the top poker sites to play poker. Below is our review of the five best poker sites where you can play poker and win real money.
888Poker was launched in 1997; it has become one of the most trusted poker sites since then. The online poker site increasingly improves its software, which is available on the web and mobile. 888Poker has over ten million registered players that have taken advantage of its main attraction – the signup bonus. The poker site is unique because it offers many unmatched benefits, including a free bonus and no deposit.
Players consistently join the site, which gives it a steady flow of traffic at games and stakes. The main game options at the site are Omaha, Seven-card Stud, and Texas Hold’Em. In addition, 888Poker’s featured cash games, tournaments, and sit-and-go games are available to players worldwide every day.
PartyPoker is another awesome place to play poker; it launched, shut down for a while, and returned with a bang. The site dropped off the radar after UIGEA but was re-launched in 2001 with revitalized software and many new features. PartyPoker has a handful of strong ambassadors like Kevin Hart, Ike Haxton, Mikita, Jason Koon, Sam Trickett, and Kristen Bicknell. In addition, the site has an attractive loyalty Rakeback program and various satellites for huge events like its annual Powerfest.
Try PartyPoker if you need a site that offers standard cash games, fast-fold poker, tournaments, and even Shortdeck. In addition, PartyPoker has sit-and-go tournaments with its SPINS variant, featuring S&Gs with a jackpot.
Although still fairly new, GGPoker is one of the poker sites dominating the gambling industry. It was established in 2017, has already made a big splash, and has become the third-best poker site on online poker traffic rankings. That’s most likely because of what it offers, arguably among the best virtual poker software. The poker site is one of the first platforms to offer staking, besides other top poker features, including snap cam and rabbit hunting.
However, GGPoker is majorly developed to serve recreational players, offering maximum enjoyment and preventing the use of HUD. GGPoker is the flagship brand of GGNetwork that initially started a large (one of the largest) Asian poker market. GGPoker is now open to European and Canadian poker players, ranking among poker sites with the highest traffic.
PokerStars is the biggest online poker site in the world; 2022 reports on poker traffic show it has the highest traffic. It has nearly eleven thousand players online at peak hours, meaning games from micro-stakes to the highest levels are always running. Meanwhile, if you only want to practice a new format, it has a schedule for playing money poker cash games and tournaments. This top-rated poker site is considered the best because of the many game formats provided by its software.
PokerStars offers various poker games, including mixed games, 8-game, stud variations, Razz, and everything. Its high ranking is most likely because it combines the numerous game offers with its massive tournament schedule. PokerStars is a true innovator in poker software that has grown its offerings continuously and steadily.
Borgata is a giant poker site where you can play poker games for free or with real money. Borgata offers a wide range of game formats and numerous active community players as one of the most popular poker destinations. If you want to make real money playing poker, Borgata offers the option; if you only need to practice, there are free options.
You can use the site’s welcome bonus to test the waters until you’re ready to join the more serious games. Borgata offers a $20 welcome bonus that you can use to play real games if you’re up for it.
By now, you know more about poker than someone who hasn’t read this article. You know the rules, and that’s a good starting point for playing poker games; the next thing is practice. If you’re just starting with playing poker hands, you may want to start with playing in a low-stress environment. By “low stress,” we’re talking about online poker sites where you can play poker on the go or at home.
If you want to invite your friends for home gaming time, that’s a great idea. However, you may want to sign up for a poker account on the web or through an app for a more exhilarating game. The major poker sites included in this article and others you’ll find online have superb software and apps. You can start with the free options of the poker variants offered to get comfortable with the game’s flow.
If you want to play and win at poker, start following poker tipsters and professionals to learn the best strategies. Winning in poker games is all about strategy and knowing when you have a hand and when you don’t. If you’re completely new to poker, you want to learn everything about poker, particularly the basic rules.