How to Play Poker – The Ultimate Playing Guide for Beginners

How to Play Poker

The Dealer Button

The basics of rotational play and how the dealer button works in a poker game.

In poker, the ‘dealer button’ is a physical marker that is used to dictate the state of play. The dealer button is placed in front of the dealer, and the button rotates with each betting round.

In a poker game, the betting rounds rotate in a clockwise motion, and each betting round begins with the player sitting directly to the left of the dealer button.

Usually, the two players who are sitting to the left of the player with the dealer button will initiate betting with a pre-flop bet known as a ‘blind.’ In other cases, each player at the table may be required to pay an ‘ante’ towards the pot.

How to Use a Card Deck in Poker

Poker games are played using a classic French card deck comprised of 52 cards. These cards are divided into four suits: Diamonds, Hearts, Spades and Clubs.

Each suit has the same value. However, some poker game variations may assign values to suits, often in order to resolve ties and differentiate the winner of clashing hands.

A classic French card deck is ranked in this order of value (ascending): Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King and Ace.

The Ace card can be played as either a high card or a low card. However, because it is the most valuable card in the deck, the Ace is naturally played as a high card in most cases.

In poker rules, Jokers are often employed as blockers or cut cards to obscure the player-facing bottom of the deck.

Getting a Poker Game Started

Before the cards are dealt to the players, it is essential that the card deck is thoroughly shuffled and cut. To take a seat in a game of poker, the first thing you must do is buy in to the table and pay an ante or a blind bet.

As soon as every player has bought in to the game, it is time to start playing poker.

Betting Rounds in Poker

1. Hole Cards / The Pre Flop

To start, each player is issued with two cards by the dealer. In poker, the “dealer” is whichever player is holding the dealer button, though the cards are dealt by the casino and not by a player.

These two cards are ‘hole’ cards, which are dealt face-down to each player. The cards are dealt in a clockwise direction from the dealer, with the dealer receiving the last card.

The first player to receive these two hole cards will be the blind, or the player sitting directly to the dealer’s left. The last player to be dealt cards is the dealer.

2. First Betting Round

Based on the value of these two initial hole cards, the first betting round takes place. Players must assess the strength of their starting hand to decide on how to bet, and whether to call, raise, fold or check their cards.

3. The Flop

Once every player has made a bet and the betting round has come full circle, it is time for The Flop. This is when the dealer places three ‘community’ cards on the board. These cards are laid out on the table facing up and fully visible to every player.

Community cards can be used in combination with hole cards to construct a poker hand. The Flop is important because it is the first time that any community cards are revealed and because players will now have a better estimate of their final hand’s potential value.

4. Second Betting Round

After The Flop, the second round of betting occurs.

Based on the value of the community cards exposed in the flop and each player’s two private hole cards, players can once again choose to raise or fold in response to the bets of other players.

By now, players will have a fair idea of the value of their poker hand, and skilled players may even have a fair idea of the hands of other players too.

5. The Turn

Upon the completion of the second round of bets, the dealer will expose a fourth community card, which can be used by all players along with the hole cards.

The introduction of this fourth community card is referred to as The Turn.

6. Third Betting Round

After the turn, players get another opportunity to bet on the strength of their hand and assess the position of their opponents at the table. Once again, players are able to bet, check, raise or fold based on the value of their existing hand or the actions of other players.

7. The River

In Poker, The River is the placement of the fifth and final community card, which completes the accessible community cards on the board.

Players may choose to use this final community card to boost the value of their existing hand or ignore it entirely, depending on their chosen strategy and the potential strength of their existing hand.

8. Final Betting Round

At this stage of the game, players will be able to see all of the cards at their disposal and to evaluate the value and strength of their final hand.

Remaining players at the table are required to partake in one final betting round based on their hands. As always, players are free to check, bet, raise or fold.

9. The Showdown

If multiple players remain at the table following the final round of bets, The Showdown occurs, in which all active players show their cards to the table.

This is the moment of truth. The value of the winning hand is determined and the winning player is identified.

A Beginner’s Guide to Poker Hands

Poker hand rankings are universal, so it is essential that you understand poker hands if you are going to take a seat at a poker table.

While they may seem a little complicated at first, poker hand values are easy to remember. If you are a poker newbie or a player who is unfamiliar with how poker hands work, check out this simple Poker Loco guide.

The following poker hands are ranked in descending order:

5-Card Poker Hands

  • Royal Flush – A Royal Flush poker hand consists of a 10, Jack, Queen, King and Ace of the same suit. (Most Valuable)
  • Straight Flush – In poker, a Straight Flush hand consists of any five cards that are in order and share the same suit.
  • Four of a Kind – A Four of a Kind poker hand consists of any four numerically matching cards.
  • Full House – In poker, a Full House consists of one pair plus three of a kind.
  • Flush – A Flush consists of any five cards of the same suit.
  • Straight – In poker, a Straight consists of any five cards in numerical order.
  • Three of a Kind – A Three of a Kind hand is made up of any three cards of the same value.
  • Two Pair – A poker hand consisting of two pairs within a single hand.
  • One Pair – A poker hand consisting of any two cards of the same value.
  • High Card – The single highest card in your hand. (Least Valuable)
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