Want to play poker? If you’re new to the game, catching on isn’t too bad. But there’s a lot more to poker than amateur players might think.
Poker is one of the most popular gambling games in America. And if you’ve been invited to play, typically you can assume that whoever’s asking you is referring to Texas Hold’em, probably the most well-known and played of the poker games.
Most poker players know the rules of Texas Hold’em like the back of their hand. If you’re new to poker, Texas Hold’em is definitely the game to learn. But you should also be aware of the many other versions of poker.
There are at least five other poker games, but some of them are rarer than others. Texas Hold’em itself can also be played in multiple ways – there’s a fixed limit, pot limit, and no-limit. No-limit Texas Hold’em is typically preferred over the other two.
The main difference between these three styles of Texas Hold’em is how much you can bet. Other than that, how you play the game is pretty much the same.
The next most popular poker game, only second to Texas Hold’em, is Omaha. Omaha and Texas Hold’em are quite similar to each other. Both use a set of community cards and use those, in conjunction with their “hole cards,” to create a five-card hand. Hole cards are the cards that each player receives face down.
Typically in Texas Hold’em, each player receives two hole cards. However, in Omaha each player receives four cards, and the player chooses only two of their four cards to be considered with the three community cards to make a five-card hand.
In both of the games, the community set consists of five cards. Only three of the cards are necessary if used with two hole cards. However, in Texas Hold’em, a player can also combine one hole card and four community cards, or just ‘play the board,’ meaning that they use all five community cards.
Some other variations of poker include the seven-stud and five-stud poker, follow the queen and high/low Chicago. Generally, poker styles can be split into three primary categories: draw poker, stud poker, and community card poker.
Texas Hold’em and Omaha belong to community card poker because they have a set of shared cards. Draw poker, including the five-card draw, consists of players each getting dealt five cards and then them trading in up to three to make the best hand.
Lastly, in stud poker, players get a mixed set of face-up and face-down cards usually in a set of rounds. Players bet in-between these rounds. Stud poker includes high/low Chicago, follow the queen, and both five and seven-stud poker.
But as mentioned before, if you’re going to learn or practice any style of poker, Texas Hold’em is the way to go.
According to Gambling News Magazine, Texas Hold’em starts with two cards being dealt to each player. The cards are dealt one at a time, face-down, and clockwise, from the dealer. Then the community cards are dealt face-up in three stages.
When the community cards are dealt, the first three cards are known as the flop. After the flop, players make their first round of bets.
Following the flop, the fourth community card, ‘the turn’ is dealt. Once again, players can place their bets.
The final and fifth community card is referred to as the river. If no one has one by this round, players again make their bets, and then each person’s hand is revealed, showing the winner.
But now the question is, how do you win?
You can win through two ways: (1) having the best hand, or (2) by default, after everyone else folds. Folding is when a player removes themselves from the round. This can be done during any betting stage.
In each betting round, you can raise, call, or fold. Raising is increasing the amount required by each player to stay in the game. Calling is when you match the previous bet. And folding is when you forfeit the round.
Your hand is a set of five cards that consists of a combination of hole cards and community cards. There are ten possible poker hands, and here they are from best to worst. The player with the best hand wins.
To understand these hands, here are some definitions. The suit refers to the symbol of the card: diamond, heart, club, or spade. Rank refers to the ‘number,’ such as 2, 3, 4, etc. and jack, queen, king, or ace.
- Royal flush – having the ace, king, queen, jack, and 10, all of the same suit
- Straight flush – having five cards in sequence by rank and all of the same suit
- Four of a kind – having four cards of the same rank
- Full house – having three of a kind plus a pair
- Flush – having five cards of the same suit (non-sequential)
- Straight – having five cards in sequence (does not have to be the same suit)
- Three of a kind – having three cards that have the same rank
- Two pair – having two sets of pairs
- Pair – having two cards of the same rank
- High card – having the highest card (in which 2 is the lowest and the ace is the highest)
This may sound like a lot, but you’ll get the hang of it. And if you ever forget these hands, you can always look them up. But essentially, the best hand is the one that is least probable.
And now you might be wondering, “how do I strategize?” One great thing to learn is how to bluff. Bluffing is when you try to implicitly suggest that you have a great set of cards by not folding or raising the bet.
People have actually built machines and artificial intelligence that have become poker pros. One of their main assets is that they show no fear and can bluff really well because they’re not human.
The skill and adeptness of A.I. in poker suggest that poker really can be learned, and as the player, there are better and worse moves. But being human, it’s difficult to tell what move will put you at the top. When should you fold or bluff or just keep going?
Part of being good at poker is being in control over your own emotions/the expression of your emotions and being good at reading people. You need to be able to gauge how good your hand is relative to others’. And if you don’t have a good hand, you need to know if someone has a really good hand and if someone will be able to call your bluff.
But a lot of this comes with practice. Because poker is skill-based, people have become pros at it, even turning poker into a source of income. But as many people have noted, making money off of poker takes a lot of practice.
If you want to practice playing poker, a great way to do it is to play with friends. The games don’t have to be that serious, and you don’t have to play for real money. But if you don’t have time to get together with actual people, you can also play online.
There are a lot of great websites and online casinos to check out. OnlineCasinoGems.com is an amazing site that curates the best poker games and online poker offers. From there you can pick and choose which variation of poker you want to try out.