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- How to Play Poker for Beginners
Luke Thompson September 19, 2023 10 min read
How to Play Poker for Beginners
Poker is so popular these days, that many people are beginning to ask how to play poker for beginners. Well, as it turns out, the game is not as complicated as it imagine it to be, and although there are many versions -Omaha, 7 Card Stud, Texas Hold’em – they are all very straightforward and easy to get into.
Today, we will debunk the myth that poker is difficult to learn and show you how you can play poker as a complete beginner.
The rules can be a bit challenging owing to the combination of cards, but practice makes perfect and you will have no trouble whatsoever playing your firsthand of poker, even if you need to reference a table to check the card’s strength.
How to Play “Regular” Poker
For many players, the most confusing part of the game is choosing which version to play. There are so many of them around, and they all seem to have a good number of people playing them. Well, when people ask how to play regular poker, what they usually mean is Texas Hold’em.
Texas Hold’em is the version of the game that is currently in vogue and has won international acclaim. Although versions such as 7 Stud and Omaha are featured in big tournaments, the majority of the action pivots around Texas Hold’em.
We will now offer a detailed breakdown of every version, including Texas Hold’em, so whether you are a poker dummy or someone who is familiar with the ropes, you will find value in this article. With this said, let’s move forward and figure out how to play poker for beginners.
How to Play Texas Hold’em Poker
The first game you will learn about is the main competitive version – Texas Hold’em. Hold’em has a very strong competitive community that stretches all over the world. The biggest and best-paid events, including the World Series of Poker, feature Hold’em as their main version to play and try.
Both online and in land-based casinos, Hold’em tends to be the most popular version to try and you will definitely benefit from starting here, not least because you will find many players to go up against and try the game yourself.
The game is very easy to grasp. All players are dealt two cards face down, which are referred to as “hole” cards in poker vernacular. Each “game” of poker will last until there is one winner or the remaining players have reached a consensus on how to split the pot.
Before a hand is played, seven betting rounds are placed, which bring out additional face-up cards called “community cards.” Players use their own hole cards and the community cards to create a hand of poker -everyone can use the same community card(s).
The Flop is the first stage of betting – it brings three community cards. The second stage is called a Turn, and the third – a River. Although we called them 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, they are realistically 3rd, 4th, and 5th, because prior to the Flop, you have a small and big blind, which is the Preflop stage. Once the River is out, the final betting round is made.
This is the game of Texas Hold’em in a nutshell. Every round you will decide how much you want to bet. The people we refer to as Big and Small Blinds cannot choose. This means that when you are designated as the Big and Small Blind respectively, you will have to pay either double the buy-in or once the buy-in.
There is no avoiding this. Other players may refuse to pay and fold right from the start but everyone will usually play at least one round to try and get a feel of what the Flop may bring. A strong opening hand is good, but it can quickly change during the Flop, that’s why most players want to stay in the game and check.
The important thing to remember here is that you need to play safe, play on your own bankroll level, and follow the betting phases. We will talk about hand hierarchy in a separate section.
If you want more Texas Hold’em strategies, you can find them by clicking here.
How to Play Omaha Poker
Much like a game of Texas Hold’em, Omaha Poker is played in several stages. You will still have the familiar stages of play, including the pre-flop, the flop, the turn, the river, and the showdown when all the cards are finally sorted.
Now, the differences are actually very interesting. In a game of Texas Hold’em you will receive two hole cards and use one or two to make a hand at the end of the game. However, in Omaha, you receive four hole cards, which means that you suddenly have a lot more flexibility when it comes to forming a hand, and also have more information about what has been put forward.
However, unlike Texas where you can use only one of the hole cards to form a winning hand yourself, in Omaha you must use two hole cards. This will make the game as restrictive as it’s flexible, but still – having four hole cards to choose from is definitely a little more encouraging especially if you are only learning how to play poker for beginners.
Visit our blog for the best Omaha Poker strategies.
How to Play 7 Card Stud Poker
Seven Card Stud Poker is an interesting version of the game and for a very long time, it has been one of the most successful games out there, and certainly the most popular game in the United States at one point.
Things have changed, however, and today beginners are taught not how to play 7 Card Stud so much as they are introduced to Texas Hold’em. If you do want to try this previous version of the game, though, you can still do so.
Now, before you plunge into it, it’s worth taking a look at what the key differences are between 7 Card Stud and Texas Hold’em. For the most part, the biggest difference here is that there is no flop. Not only that, but some versions of 7 Card Stud won’t even share community cards, which completely changes the dynamic of the game and really comes down to what your hand is and how well you bluff.
How Are Poker Hands Ranked
No matter what version of the game you play, you will be bound by fairly the same rules of hand hierarchy. The way hands are ranked will determine if you have a strong or a weak play to show, and better understand what your odds of winning are in any given situation. The current hands ranking is as follows:
- Royal Flush
- Straight Flush
- Four of a Kind
- Full House
- Three of a Kind
- Two Pair
- One Pair
- High Card
The logic of following these hands is actually quite simple and although it will take you a few games to get a better idea, the learning curve is really mild, and even beginners who are learning how to play poker will have no problem committing this ranking to mind.
Poker Terminology for Beginners
We will not quite go into the ins and outs of poker and every individual term as such. What we are going to do however is to introduce you to a variety of popular terms that will tell you more about each table and game you are joining. Let’s take a look at several terms you have heard thrown around but probably aren’t too sure what they mean.
Limit and No Limit Poker
The difference between limit and no limit poker is that when you are playing without a limit a player can choose to raise by as much as they want to. Limit games are generally considered more gentlemanly in a sense, as they have fixed raises that a player cannot deviate from.
Blinds and Antes
The terms blinds and antes are poker’s bread and butter and you cannot play the game without understanding what these are. Basically, the blinds are a compulsory wager you make when you enter a game. There is a small blind and a big blind, which has to place the wagers no matter what hands they have been dealt.
The same goes for the antes which are not thrown next to each player but rather in a pot in the middle – this is usually the case with 7 Card Stud.
Betting Rounds in Poker
We should have probably led with this. In any event, there are four betting rounds in a game of poker, plus the showdown which is the fifth part of the game. They are as follows:
The River is when the fifth community card has been placed on the table. Once the bets are placed, there comes the showdown when the cards are revealed and winners – announced.
Common Poker Terms in the Game
Apart from these more specific terminology that is good to know, there are some easier terms that are equally important to play poker as a beginner. We are talking about the action, which is pretty much what you will be doing in any game. During the action stage, you can:
- Check: Do not place any bet and let the round carry on.
- Fold: Withdraw from the round and forfeit your current bet.
- Bet: Place a bet.
- Raise: Increase the amount that is in play.
- Call: Match another player’s bet.
Playing Poker as a Beginner – Where to Practice
Now that you know a bit more about the game itself, you are probably wondering where you can play poker to start honing your skills. The best way to start is online. There are many trusted poker sites that you can visit and play at that will allow you to play on a fairly low table limit.
Players will have the opportunity to access a variety of games that start low in terms of betting limits, and you can even find qualifying events that only cost a few cents to enter but may actually end up sending you to the top.
These sites are usually real money, and it’s good to start playing for real money after a few free-play games, perhaps. The thing about poker is that you need to learn by doing. Some players think that it might benefit them more to get started with free online poker, but there are downsides to this and they are pretty obvious – for one you will learn the wrong habits.
Free poker creates a false sense of the game and may teach you some habits that are difficult to uproot. Therefore, if you are a beginner looking to play poker, we would recommend always sticking to small poker games that will charge you just a few cents to join and bet but will teach you a great overall basis and sense of the game.