Whatever the movies may have suggested, it’s not just about pretty croupiers and fine cocktails — though that might help. It’s time to learn the basics for beginners, the ABC of poker.
ABC of Poker: The Basics
Most important first: poker includes many different card games. All of these games revolve around speculating on the value of your cards and your opponents’ cards, based on their value and combination.
This means that when people talk about playing, they could be talking about one of the variants, including Straight, Draw, Stud and Community Card. Of the four, Community Charter is the most popular type.
Each of these variants has slightly different rules, and within each game there are slightly different variants with different numbers of cards. Texas Hold’em and Omaha are the best known variants of Community Card, and the most important to know about. Does it look confused? Stay with us .
This game variant has special mention in our ABC of poker. That’s because it’s probably the most popular way played these days. And the one that beginners learning to play are most likely to encounter their first time at a table.
In this variant, each player is dealt two cards. In addition, a total of five community cards will be placed in the middle to make up each player’s five-card hand .
Limited and Unlimited
Most players start out playing Unlimited Texas Hold’em. In this game, (no surprises) there is no limit to how much you can raise your bet above the big blind. This means you can go all-in if you want, and make big bets like a bluff to intimidate your opponents. This also makes it easier to lose your funds quickly.
When you play Limited, the maximum amount you can bet is equal to the size of the pot, so the bigger the pot, the more you can raise. This means that big raises are not always possible early in the game when the pot is small, so bluffing is difficult.
How to start a game
- First, you need to choose a dealer. Each player will deal cards by one hand, moving to the player on the left each time.
- Second, you need to place the small and big blind bets, the forced bets. The player to the dealer’s left posts the small blind and the player to his left posts the big blind.
- You are now ready to deal. The dealer must deal the cards clockwise until each player has two cards, their dealt cards.
- Then it’s the pre-flop betting round, where each player can look at their two hole cards and decide to fold (throwing their hand away), call (paying the big blind) or raise (doubling the big blind) . Each player takes turns starting with the player to the left of the big blind.
- Then, the flop is distributed. The top card in the deck, the burn card, is dealt face down and three cards face up. Then another round of betting starts as before.
- After that, it’s the turn (the fourth card dealt by the dealer). Dealers deal two other cards: one face down, one face up. Then the third round of betting starts, but the minimum bet is doubled.
- If the game is still standing, the river (the last card opened by the dealer) comes next. It is distributed the same way as the turn.
- Finally, there’s the showdown. The remaining players must show their hands to be determined a winner.
Another important element of the ABC of poker is the one related to winning hands. Regardless of what type you’re playing, the game is all about getting the best cards you can out of your hand. Regardless of which variant you are playing, a hand will always have five cards.
Cards and hands have the same value and are ranked in all variants, so if you’re playing Texas Hold’em or Omaha, a 5 is always higher than a 3, and a Royal Flush will always beat a Full House. The cards, from highest to lowest, will always be sorted in this order: A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2.
Note that an A can act as a low card in place of a “1” if it is part of a consecutive hand like A-2-3-4-5.
Building a good hand is an essential element in the ABCs of poker. It is about getting a set of cards that have the same suit or the same number or is a consecutive sequence. The value of a hand is based on the probability of randomly choosing from a shuffled deck. So, as the odds of picking A, K, Q, J, 10 at random are very low, a Royal Flush is the most valuable hand.
You can see all the hands and how they rank in rank order here: