If you’re new to the game have a read through our poker tutorial, and with some luck it’ll show you just how to win at poker! We’ll begin with Texas Hold’em, which is the variant most commonly played throughout the world. Basically poker is a community card game, meaning you build your hand using your own cards (hole cards) and community cards, which are shared amongst all players.
How to play online poker
Here’s the basic structure of hand of poker: the game begins with all players being dealt two face down cards, which they do not show anyone else. The dealer will then deal the five community in three stages, each with rounds of betting in between. The players have options to check, raise or fold. Once no more raises can be made, the players reveal their cards to decide who wins the pot. The player with the best hand will take the pot, if two players have identical hands the pot is split evenly between them.
Before we launch into a full description of how to play, let’s rank the best possible poker hands from lowest to highest:
High Card – the highest possible card in your hand, an Ace is the possible highest card
1 Pair – 2 matching cards, for example 2 Kings
2 Pair – 2 pairs of cards, for example 2 2s and 2 Jacks
3 of a Kind – 3 matching cards, for example 3 Kings
Straight – 5 cards in sequence, for example 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. However King, Ace, 2, 3, 4 is not a straight
Flush – 5 cards of the same suit, but not in sequence
Full House – A pair and three of a kind, for example 2 10s and 3 Jacks
4 of a Kind – 4 matching cards, for example 4 10s
Straight Flush – 5 cards of the same suit in sequence, for example 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 of Spades
Royal Flush – 10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace of the same suit
Now for a more detailed look at how a typical hand of poker will play out:
First off we’ll talk about “the button” as it decides the order or play and betting for the hand. The player with the button is the dealer, though in online poker the cards are dealt automatically, it still plays an important role in the game as the player directly left of the dealer is the “small blind” and left of them is the “big blind“, this means that they are forced to pay the ante. Say for example the ante for the hand is €2, the small blind pays half (€1) and the big blind pays €2.
Once the small and big blinds have paid into the pot, the rest of the players (always moving left from the button) have the option to check, raise or fold. If a player folds during any round of betting, they forfeit any funds they have paid into the pot and cannot retrieve their cards. The last player to decide on their bet is the small blind, who will have to pay at least the full ante, or more if other players have raised during the round.
Once all players have paid into the pot the dealer will deal out the first three community cards, known as the “flop”. The player left of the dealer (button) now has the option to check, raise or fold, then the player to their left and so on. Once all flop betting ends the fourth card, or “turn”, is dealt, this is now followed by another round of betting. Once the turn betting ends the fifth and final card, known as the “river” is dealt.
Players still in the hand now take part in the final round of betting, and once this is complete the players reveal their hole cards to show who has the winning hand, this is known as “the showdown”. The player with the best poker hand takes the whole pot, if two players have identical hands then the pot is divided between them. There is of course another way to win the hand before the showdown, this happens if all other players fold, meaning that you take the pot without having to reveal your hand.
That was “how to play poker for beginners”, but the game can get far more advanced once you learn the tactics of the game, and the probabilities of hitting certain hands. Professional players have a rough idea of what the best possible hand is based on the community cards visible.