How to Play Poker for Beginners
The popularity of online poker has soared, making it one of the world’s most loved card games. Yet, for newcomers, the numerous variations can be overwhelming. At BLITZPOKER, we introduce you to the fundamental principles that bind all poker types together. We illustrate how these principles meld to create one of the most favoured poker versions—Texas Hold’em. While poker boasts diverse forms, most share common rules. Texas Hold’em reigns as the foremost favourite among them. In most poker games, the standard hand ranking system is employed. It’s vital to discern which hand prevails when cards are revealed. Betting structures, such as no-limit, pot-limit, and fixed-limit, are adaptable to various card games. Let’s take you deeper into how to play poker for beginners.
The Poker Sequence A.K.A. The Poker Hierarchy or The Poker Hand Rankings
In poker, players aim to create the best five-card poker hands using standard hand rankings.
Most poker games follow these hand rankings, except for a few using lowball rankings. The highest-ranking hand is the royal flush, followed by the straight flush, and so forth down to the high card, the lowest ranking.
During a showdown, royal flushes, straight flushes, four-of-a-kind, full houses, three-of-a-kind, flushes, and straights typically stand as the strongest hands.
Take a look at the poker hand rankings, how they rank and what each one means:
|A, K, Q, J, 10 of the same suit
|Five consecutive cards of the same suit
|Four of a Kind
|4 cards that have the same rank
|Three of a Kind and a Pair
|Five cards of the same suit
|5 consecutive cards that are of different suits
|Three cards of the same rank
|Two pairs of cards that have the exact same rank
|Two cards of the same rank
|The highest card in the hand if no other hand
Antes and Blinds
In Texas Hold’em, the player seated next to the dealer usually puts in a small blind, which is half the usual minimum bet, and the player to their left places a big blind, at least equal to the minimum bet.
Alternatively, players can opt for an “ante up” system where each player contributes the minimum starting bet into the pot. Most poker variants, except for Texas Hold’em, employ this “ante up” system.
Antes serve as compulsory bets that players either post collectively at the table or, in certain formats, are specifically put in by the big blind player.
During a poker game, when it’s your turn to make a move, you have four options or what we call poker actions:
- Call: This means you match the amount someone else bet or raised.
- Raise: You increase the amount that was bet or raised before, and everyone else needs to at least match that to keep playing.
- Fold: You give up by putting your cards in the middle, deciding not to compete for the hand.
- Check: Pass the chance to bet to the next player without putting any money in. You can only do this if no one else has bet or raised yet.
How to Play Poker for Beginners: Limit vs No Limit
In a “no limit” poker game, players have the freedom to bet all their chips at any point. For instance, in a no-limit hold ’em game at ₹50/₹100 stakes with six players holding ₹5,000 each, the small blind posts ₹50, the big blind ₹100, and betting starts before the flop with the player left of the big blind.
This player can bet any amount up to their ₹5,000 chips, termed as going “all-in.” Throughout the hand, any player can go all-in, capped at their chip count at the beginning of the hand.
On the other hand, “limit” poker games, like many stud variants, often stick to set betting rules. In a ₹2/₹4 Limit Texas Hold’em game, where the blinds are ₹1/₹2, there’s a small bet and a big bet. The big blind usually matches the small bet.
Limit games enforce a maximum bet/raise equal to the small bet in initial betting rounds, escalating to the big bet in later rounds. There’s a cap of three raises per round, and subsequent players can only call after that.
How to Play Poker for Beginners: The Basics Of Texas Hold’em
In Texas Hold’em, each player starts with two hidden cards known as “hole cards.” This is followed by a round of betting. After that, three cards are placed face-up in the middle, known as “the flop.” Then, more betting takes place.
Next, two additional cards are added one by one, with betting rounds following each addition. These shared cards are called “community cards.” You can form the best hand by using any combination of these community cards along with your hole cards. You can even use all community cards without your hole cards if they make a better hand.
There’s a button that moves around the table, and usually, there are two compulsory bets known as blinds. Sometimes, it might be one blind, multiple blinds, an ante, or a mix of blinds and an ante.
Here’s a breakdown of the betting rounds in Texas Hold’em:
- Opening Deal: Everyone receives two hidden cards.
- First Round of Betting: Starting from the player to the left of the big blind, players can call, raise, or fold. The big blind can also raise.
- The Flop: Three community cards are revealed.
- Second Round of Betting: Beginning with the player to the left of the dealer button, players can check or bet.
- The Turn: A fourth community card is added.
- Third Round of Betting: Similar to the second round, but bets are typically larger in limit games.
- The River: The river round is where the fifth & final community card is revealed.
- Final Round of Betting: It is Similar to the 2nd and 3rd rounds.
Finally, there’s the showdown. All players reveal their best five-card hand using a combination of their hole cards and the community cards. The player who bets last shows their hand first. The highest-ranking hand wins the pot, and if there’s a tie, the pot gets split among the tied players.
How to Play Poker for Beginners: Omaha Basic Rules
In Omaha, the game begins with each player receiving four hole cards instead of the usual two, adding a twist to the game. The gameplay structure resembles Hold’em, incorporating a three-card flop, a fourth board card, and a fifth board card.
Here’s how it works:
- Dealing Cards: Each player receives four cards face down (hole cards).
- First Betting Round: Bet or fold based on your initial four cards.
- The Flop: Three community cards are revealed.
- Second Betting Round: Another chance to bet or fold.
- The Turn: Another community card is revealed.
- Third Betting Round: More betting or fold if preferred.
- The River: The final community card is revealed.
- Last Betting Round: Final bets are placed before the final reveal.
Players still in the game reveal their best hand using precisely two hole cards and three community cards. The money in the pot goes to the player having the best five-card hand.
You can visit our poker rules guide to learn the poker rules of other poker variations.
Poker Stakes in Cash Games
When you step into a poker room, you might see signs like “₹1/₹2 NL Hold’em” or “₹4/₹8 Limit Hold’em”.
The “₹1/₹2 NL Hold’em” sign means it’s a game of No Limit Texas Hold’em with a ₹1 small blind and ₹2 big blind. The “NL” part means players can bet any amount at any time. On the other hand, “₹4/₹8 Limit Hold’em” tells you it’s a Texas Hold’em game with a ₹4 small bet and a ₹8 big bet. Here, players have limits on how much they can bet during each round.
In general, in a cash game without limits, the usual buy-in is 100 times the big blind. For example, in a ₹1/₹2 NL game, the normal buy-in would be ₹200. A 200NL game means it’s a ₹1/₹2 No-Limit Hold’em game with a maximum buy-in of ₹200. This style always indicates the highest buy-in is 100 big blinds.
Poker Stakes in Tournaments
Tournament stakes depend on how much it costs to join. Any poker game, like Texas Hold’em, Pot Limit Omaha, or 7 Card Stud, can be played in a tournament format.
In tournament poker, chips don’t have a cash value. Consider the World Series of Poker Main Event where you see a massive pile of chips. In cash games, the blinds stay the same. If you play a ₹2/₹5 No-Limit Hold’em game, the blinds stay at ₹2 and ₹5 for the whole game. But in poker tournaments, the blinds increase regularly. In the WSOP Main Event, Level 1 starts at ₹100/₹200 blinds. Each level lasts two hours, and after Level 1 ends, Level 2 begins.
In Level 2, there’s a big blind ante added, making it 100/200/200. Level 3 goes up to 200/300/300, and this continues with every new level.