Poker is one of the most famous and most widely played card games in the world. This game has many variations, including the well-known and equally popular Texas Hold'em variant, but the original poker still rules as the quintessential card gambling game.
Learning how to play poker is not difficult. If you want to understand how this game works and why so many people enjoy it, this Beginner’s Guide to Poker will help you. We’ve created this guide to teach you the rules and basics of poker.
Whether you’re a beginner or a more experienced poker player, it’s always a good idea to return back and refresh your poker knowledge. For that reason, our Beginner’s Guide to Poker will tell you the following:
- History of Poker
- Online Poker Rules
- Poker Hands Rankings
- Best Poker Strategy
- Types of Poker
- Poker Vocabulary
- Poker Odds
- Poker Tips
- Best Online Poker Sites
It's more fun to play poker knowing its origins. The game we know as poker has been invented in France in the 17th century and was first called ‘Poque’. Poque and its German equivalent, ‘Pochen’, were both based on the Spanish game ‘Primero’ from the 16th century. This game featured similar gameplay as the Hold’em variant.
Poker was brought to North America by French settlers and since then, the rules have been perfected in their current form. English-speaking players have changed the name from ‘poque’ to ‘poker’ and added features of the modern game. This includes five cards for each player and a deck of 52.
After that, the game of poker become popular throughout the whole country. Soldiers in the North and South played poker during the Civil War. Moreover, it was 1871 when poker was introduced to Europe. Queen Victoria heard the US minister explaining the game to members of her court and asked him for the rules.
Thanks to the influence of the American soldiers during World War I, poker became widely popular across Europe. Over time, different types and variations of poker were introduced. However, the five-card poker and Texas Hold’em are considered the basics.
Both five-card poker and Texas Hold’em are included in the most popular international tournaments that take place in the world’s best casinos. These events are televised, giving much broader exposure to the game of Poker and the culture that surrounds it.
When poker was first introduced, it was played in land-based casinos and gaming venues. However, with the introduction of online casinos, the game of poker also went online. Today, you can play different types of poker at different online casinos and have the same gaming experience.
Since SlotsWise is all about online gaming, we’ll stick to covering the online poker rules. But don’t worry, the rules of playing poker are the same - whether you play it online or in a land-based casino!
Professional poker players usually say that Poker is an easy game to learn but hard to master. That’s because you’ll quickly learn the online poker rules, but once you’ve learned them, poker becomes a game of strategy. You’ll have to learn how to read and bluff the other players at the table.
Depending on the type of poker you play, the game can include a different number of players. According to experts, the ideal number of players range from 5 to 8. In poker, everyone plays for themselves, there is no teamwork. In the end, there will be only one player who will win all money that was wagered.
So, how to play poker online?
To start playing online poker, the first thing you need to do is to find the online casino where you’ll play. You can check the recommended casinos on the right side of this page and make your pick. Once you’ve registered and claimed your welcome bonus, find the poker game where you want to join.
In poker, each player is dealt two cards facing down. Only you can see your cards and must keep them a secret from the other players. These are called hole cards.
When all players are dealt two cards each, the first two players to the left of the dealer must enter a bet on the table. There are two types of betting options, Ante Bets and Blinds.
All players will then have to at least match the bets in order to continue to the next round. This is called to Call. You will also have the option to Fold and Raise. If you fold, you’ll quit the current round and will have to reveal your two cards. If you raise, you will match the highest bet and then increase it further.
When a player makes the first bet, the bet must be answered by the others if they wish to remain in the game.
Once the first betting is done, three face-up cards are dealt on the table. Players can now better understand how strong their two cards are. This is called the Flop. The cards on the table are called Community Cards. Then, another round of betting follows, starting with the player that sits on the left side of the dealer.
All players who want to stay in the game have to match the highest bet, just like in the first betting round. Now, players will also have the option to check, meaning not to bet nor fold.
After the betting, a fourth face-up card is dealt which players can use to build a better hand. It’s called the Turn. This means that now we have four community cards on the table. Players now can build a better hand and choose their actions for the other round of betting.
Then, the dealer reveals a fifth face-up card on the table. After this, the final betting round follows, before players have to reveal their cards. This is known as the River.
Finally, players reveal their hands to see who is the winner. The player with the strongest 5-card combination wins and gets all the bets.
The winning hands go as follows, by order of strength and relevance. If there aren't any hands that contain a pair in the showdown, the winner is the hand that has the highest card - that card is an ace of hearts. A win with a pair of cards contains two matching cards plus three cards that do not match.
So now you know how to play poker, but do you know what the winning poker hands are? Here we’ve divided the basic poker hand combinations you’ll come across in almost every poker game.
The lowest poker hand combination is known as High Card and it’s used when no players have any of the other combinations.
One Pair or Pair is a hand combination that contains two cards of the same rank.
Next is the Two Pair combination that contains two different pairs of cards.
Jacks or Better is a combination of a pair of Jacks, Queens, Kings or Aces.
After that comes the Three of a Kind combination which are three cards of the same number or letter.
After Three of a Kind comes Straight. It is a combination of 5 cards in a sequence, not in the same suit. An Ace can be combined both as the lowest and the highest card in a sequence.
Then is the Flush. It consists of 5 cards of the same suit, not in a sequence.
Now, the more interesting combinations follow. The Full House is a combination of Three of a Kind and one Pair – all in one hand.
Four of a Kind is a poker hand combination that contains 4 cards of the same rank.
Next is Straight Flush which is a Flush in sequential order.
Finally, we have the Royal Flush, the best hand in poker. It is a combination of A, K, Q, J, and 10, all in the same suit.
Countless books have been written on playing poker and strategies for the game. One of the primary basis for developing a strategy is to be mindful of the cards that are being dealt.
In a closed game like five-card poker, counting cards is not that useful. But, in a game of Texas hold ‘em, the cards that are revealed on the table can reveal details about what cards are still in the game, and that includes the matter of what combinations could potentially be formed by the players.
One of the best strategies in a five-card poker game is to raise a bet before the draw and then raise again after the first hand has been dealt. This strategy is tied to the art of bluffing and should be used sparingly, as other players may realize the ploy.
Another way to "scare" other players into folding is to make a confident raise. This works best when the player making the big raise is the last one being dealt the cards. This shows that his or her cards have a strong combination.
Texas Hold’em poker avails much more room for strategizing. When having been dealt a strong hand and the other players have not raised, you can call the raise without raising yourself. This gives a psychological advantage because it reveals to other players that your hand is not decisively stronger than the rest.
When you think of poker, Texas Hold’em is probably the first type you’ll think of. This is definitely the most popular type of poker at the moment. However, there are several other types of poker that you can check.
In this section of our Beginner’s Guide to Poker, we are sharing the most popular types of poker you can play online:
Texas Hold’em is by far the most popular type of poker. If you register at any online casino that offers poker games, Texas Hold’em will surely be among the top games with a wide selection of tables to choose from. Moreover, Texas Hold’em is one of the games used in poker tournaments.
We’ve already explained how Texas Hold’em is played. Each player receives two cards, then the dealer places five community cards on the table. The action starts when the player to the left of the dealer makes their bet. Players can call, raise, or fold. In the end, the player who has the best 5-card poker hand is the winner.
Omaha High is also referred to as Omaha or Omaha Hi. It’s the second most popular poker game, after Texas Hold’em. In this game, the ‘high’ refers to the highest hand being awarded to the luckiest player.
In a nutshell, Omaha High plays very similar to Texas Hold’em, but with small differences - each player receives 4 hole cards instead of 2. Players have to make the best 5-card hand like in Texas Hold’em, but they must use 2 of their 4 hole cards and only 3 of the 5 community cards. Winning in Omaha High is easier because you have more cards to form combinations with.
Seven Card Stud
Seven Card Stud used to be the most popular poker variant among professional players before Texas Hold’em took over the stage. It’s still widely played today but it’s not as popular as it was a couple of years ago. The gameplay of Seven Card Stud is different and you can see a couple of cards of the other players.
In Seven Card Stud, players are dealt seven cards. Three are face down, and four are face up so they’re visible to everyone on the table. Players have to use their seven cards to create the best five-card combination possible. The fact that you can see some of the other players’ cards allows you to create more poker strategies.
Five Card Draw
Five Card Draw is considered the simplest type of poker that you can play. For many people, Five Card Draw is the game that they first learned before any other poker game. This variant involves fewer strategies which makes it a great option for having fun,
In the Five Card Draw game, the dealer issues five cards to each player. After the initial deal, players can choose to trade up to three cards in exchange for new cards. At the end of the round, the player who has the best five-card hand is the winner. The option to trade cards allows you to make a strong hand. But, you have no idea what the hands of the other players are.
Badugi is one of the unusual poker types. It’s not much played like the above-mentioned variants, but it’s definitely growing in popularity. The main thing that makes Badugi unusual is the fact that players have four cards in the hand, contrary to the traditional gameplay with five cards.
In Badugi, the Aces are low-value cards. The dealer issues four cards to each player, and a betting round begins. The player to the left of the dealer starts the first betting round with a call, raise, or fold. The other players then move on through 3 betting rounds of draws. They can choose to discard between 0 and 4 cards when drawing. In the end, the player with the best poker hand wins.
Razz is much different from all poker types that we’ve mentioned so far because the aim of the game is to have the lowest hand possible. Razz may not be as popular as Texas Hold’em or Omaha but it’s widely available at online casinos. It’s an interesting game to play as it involves winning with the lowest hand on the table.
The gameplay in Razz is very similar to the normal Stud poker. All players start by placing a bet and they receive two face-down cards, along with one face-up card. The player with the highest face-up card makes a bet first, after which the betting continues in a clockwise direction. In the end, the player with the lowest combination of cards is the winner.
As you can notice, we’ve included various poker terms and phrases in our Beginner’s Guide to Poker. These phrases may not be clear to everyone who is reading this guide. For that reason, if you want to learn how to play poker seriously, learning poker terminology is a must.
Understanding the poker vocabulary will help you get the most out of your gameplay and prepare winning strategies. Our glossary covers the most important poker terms that are part of the biggest games. So let’s get started!
A poker hand without a pair where the high card is an Ace.
A term used to describe your moves at the table, such as bet, raise, fold, call, or check.
A small bet that all players need to make before the gameplay starts.
A bet that places all your chips on the table.
The act of wagering on the current betting round.
The amount of money the second player to the left of the dealer has to bet.
A forced bet put in by one or more players before cards are dealt.
A bet made with a weak hand with the aim of getting your opponent to fold a better hand.
All the community cards in Texas Hold’em Poker.
To discard the top card from the deck, face-down.
To match the existing wager of the current betting round.
The act of making no wager. Then, betting will pass to the player on your left.
The cards that are placed in the centre of the table and used by players to form their winning hands.
A hand that is defined by all five cards - a straight, flush, full house or straight flush.
The player in a poker game who deals the cards.
The act of playing a hand that is not good but can become better if the right cards come.
The first three community cards put out face-up.
A hand made with five cards of the same suit
The act of forfeiting any chance of winning combination. Also, to fold means to lay down your hand instead of calling or raising.
The cards that are dealt face-down to the players.
To increase the amount of the current bet.
The fifth and final community card revealed on the table, face-up.
A pair with the second-highest card on the flop.
A bluff made with a drawing hand.
Poker is a game of chance and luck, which means that there is no perfect formula on how you can win. Every game is different and depends on the current cards that are dealt. However, you can use the above-mentioned strategies to increase your chances of winning.
There are many mathematical odds in poker. Poker odds refer to the probability of you winning the poker hand or the price it offers. As we’ve already established, a poker game involves a deck of 52 cards. You receive 2 cards, while 5 cards are dealt on the table. This leaves 45 unseen cards with which you can make your hand the strongest.
There are many online poker odds calculators with which you can calculate your odds of winning in a game, depending on the cards you’ve received. Poker odds require more effort and practice.
To calculate your poker odds quickly, first work out how many cards you can hit to improve your hand. For example, if you're drawing to a flush, you have 13 suited cards, two in your hand, two on the board - leaves 9 outs. The chance of you hitting on the turn is 9*4 (+4) = 40%. On the river it's half of that - 9*2 (+2) = 20%.
Before you play poker, make sure to go through all types and variations and find the right one for you. Then, feel free to try poker in a demo version to get to know the game better. That’s how you can get a feel for the game and see if it’s right for you.
You can find poker demo games at a number of different online casinos. By playing free poker, not only can you find out which variation suits you best, but you can also do it without betting any of your own funds!
Poker is a game that involves placing real-money bets. For that reason, you must be careful with your gameplay and place smaller bets, in order to be comfortable with the play. You can also set a betting limit and ensure that you have safe gameplay.
And of course, when it comes to poker, always choose to play at reliable and trusted online casinos only! Like the ones we recommend here at SlotsWise.
In short, here are the best tips for playing poker:
- Start with playing poker demo;
- Start with Five Card Draw Poker;
- Experiment with betting combinations;
- Place smaller bets;
- Set a betting limit;
- Never play with more than what you can afford;
- Play only at reliable and trusted online casinos.
We’ve come to the end of our in-depth Beginner’s Guide to Poker. When it comes to playing poker online, it’s important to learn as much information as possible.
Poker is a more complex game compared to games like Blackjack or Roulette. It involves calculating odds and preparing strategies for the best winning combinations.
In our Guide to Poker, we’ve covered everything you need to know about this popular game, from its history to odds and tips. Now you know the most important things about poker, so it’s time to put your skills to the test.