It has been said that poker takes a few minutes to learn, but a lifetime to master. Fortunately, the learning curve begins with your very first hand. With skill, strategy, and practice, any competent player can become proficient at the game of poker. Let’s take a look at how to play poker in 10 easy steps.
Most games of poker require players to form the strongest-value hand. This is typically comprised of a combination of hole cards (pocket cards) and community cards. Poker is a game of smarts, mental toughness, and attrition – but it’s also a numbers game. Since the highest-ranking hand typically wins the pot, it’s important to understand hand rankings.
The best hand you can form in a game of poker is a Royal Flush (10-Jack-Queen-King-Ace of the same suit). This is followed by a Straight Flush, Four of a Kind, Full House, Flash, Straight, Three of a Kind, Two Pair, One Pair, and a High Card. Whether you’re a newbie or a pro, always aim for the best hand!
Perhaps the most important lesson you’ll ever learn in poker is bankroll management. The best poker players are adept at managing their money well. Only gamble with what you can afford to lose, and only play games that you can afford. This means choosing your buy-ins carefully, and your types of poker games.
For example, experts advise a minimum bankroll of 30 buy-ins for NLH, 50 buy-ins for a medium-size bankroll, and 100 buy-ins for a bigger bankroll. The bigger your bankroll, and the better it is managed, the less likely you will be to drop your betting stakes during your poker sessions. Your bankroll always determines the stakes that you play at.
Many newbie poker players are so eager to cash in on the action that they play too many starting hands. That is a recipe for disaster. The precise percentage of hands that you should play pre-flop depends on the specific game in question, the actions taken by your opponents, and your intuition.
As a rule, if it’s good enough to call, it’s equally good to raise. It’s a great idea to use a starting hands chart to help improve your poker game. Certain hands like Ace-Ace, King-King, Queen-Queen, Jack-Jack, 10-10 etc. can be played in any position, while certain hands like 3-2, 4-3, and 4-2 are virtually unplayable. The odds of winning with a pair of pocket rockets are 85% – food for thought!
A seat is a seat, right? In poker games, where you sit is important. In the real estate world, it’s called location, location, location. In poker, its position, position, position. Everything centers around the Button in poker games, except for Stud poker. Early Position players (EP) include the Small Blind and the Big Blind.
These are located left of the button, and they are first to act after the first 3 community cards have been dealt – the Flop. Seats located right of the button are known as Late Position (LP) and they are last to act. Middle Position seats are between Early Position and Late Position. In poker, the best positions are the last to act post-flop. Why? Because you get to see what everybody else is doing before you act.
The poker player seated immediately to the left of the Big Blind initiates the pre-Flop action. The play continues in a clockwise fashion around the table, with the Big Blind being last to act. During the pre-Flop session of the game, each poker player can fold, call or raise. As soon as players have acted, and the poker pot has been seeded, the betting round ends, and the action continues.
The first 3 community cards dealt into the center of the table for all players to use are known as the Flop. In total, there are 5 community cards in poker games, with the Turn and the River making up the rest. Once the first 3 community cards have been dealt, players can check (make no bets), call, bet, raise, or fold. Your decision is based upon the strength of your starting hand, your position at the table, and the actions taken by other players.
After the post-Flop betting round comes the Turn. This is the fourth community card dealt. At this point, you have the same actions available to you as the pre-Flop. These include bet, call, raise, fold, or check. Your decision to take any of these actions is based on your table position, prior actions you’ve taken, and your intuition.
The River is the fifth and final community card dealt in a game of poker. You’ve made it this far, so you probably have a hand that can win the pot. If you’ve kept a stone-cold poker face, you can bluff your way to victory. Provided everyone checks, you can raise the stakes and push for a big win.
If 2 or more players remain in the hand, a showdown ensues. At this stage, the winner is the one who has the strongest 5-card poker hand. In Omaha Hi-Lo or Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo, the player with the qualifying low hand will snatch victory. Generally, the player with the highest ranking 5-card hand is crowned the winner and enjoys the spoils of victory.
The end of one game is simply the beginning of another. Poker players are always eager to jump right back into the action. Win or lose, you always gain valuable knowledge from your online poker sessions. 888poker offers an exciting selection of poker games including cash games, SNGs, MTTs, Omaha Hi, Omaha Hi-Lo, Texas Hold’em, Seven Card Stud, and SNAP poker.
Poker players often question the difference between playing online versus playing offline. Believe it or not, it’s not just reading your opponent’s face that determines how you act – there are many other factors. Fortunately, table position, betting patterns, and speed of decision-making, allow players to understand one another.
Playing poker online is fast & furious, with no time wasted between hands, changing chips and getting dealt in. Live poker is a social experience, and face-to-face interactions are the norm. At 888poker, you get to enjoy both in a highly social environment with real-time poker games and Face2Face poker. With cards in hand and chips on the line, online poker is as real as it gets!