How to Play Poker

The Object of the Game
Card Hand Ranks
Placing bets in a Limit Poker Game
Placing bets in a No-Limit Poker Game

The Object of the Game

The easiest to learn and most commonly played version of Poker is Texas Hold’em. The object of the game is to have the best “hand” (five cards) out of seven. The seven cards are comprised of 2 initial cards dealt to each player and 5 community cards place in the center of the table. (See hand ranks below). Bets are placed in a community pot and the player with the best hand wins the pot.

Before any cards are dealt, each game begins with the player who is sitting to the left of the dealer chip or first position. The dealer chip is moved from person to person, clockwise in each game.

The player in the first position must begin by posting (betting) the Small Blind (SB). The Small Blind is always exactly half of the minimum stake.

The player in the second position must post the Big Blind which is always the same amount as the minimum stake.
After Blinds are posted, each player is dealt 2 cards.

Then there are 4 subsequent betting rounds to be played as follows:

  • Pre-Flop  –  before any community cards are dealt

  • The Flop –  first 3 community cards are dealt

  • The Turn – the fourth community card is dealt

  • The River – the fifth and last community card dealt

Card Hand Ranks

Hands are ranked below according to highest ranking hand 1st (Royal Flush) and then each subsequent highest ranking hand accordingly.

Royal Flush – 10, Jack, Queen, Kind, Ace all from the same suit

Straight Flush – Five cards straight, all in the same suit, ex: 4 of clubs, 5c, 6c, 7c, 8c

Four of a Kind – Four cards of the same rank, ex: 10c, 10h, 10s, 10d

Full House – Comprised of a pair of one rank and three of a kind of another rank: Qd, Qh, 5h, 5d, 5s

Flush – Any five cards, all sharing the same suit. 5h, 7h, 10h, 2h, Jh

Straight – Five cards straight, from different suits. 8c, 9d, 10h, Js, Qd

Three of a Kind - Three cards of the same rank, ex: 8c, 8h, 8s

Two Pair – Two pairs of two cards of the same rank, ex: 7h, 7d, 10c, 10d

Pair - Two cards of the same rank, ex: Kc, Kh

High Card – This is your highest card in the hand you were dealt.

If a tie occurs with either one pair, two pair, three or four of a kind then the highest ranked card left unpaired (kicker) in a player's hand determines the winner.

Player A: Qc, Qh, 7s, 7h, Jh
Player B: Qs, Qh, 7c, 7s, 8c

In this case Player A wins with a Jack kicker.

If a tie occurs in a hand where players have exactly the same five-card hand the pot is split equally between the players.

Placing bets in a Limit Poker Game

In limit poker games, you are limited to betting a specific amount. This specific amount is called the limit. The limit is specified in the title of the game or table you are seated ($1/2, $10/20, etc.). In a '$1/2 limit' game, for example, the smallest bet you can place would be:
  • Pre-Flop   - minimum bet of $1

  • The Flop  - minimum bet of $1

  • The Turn - minimum bet of $2

  • The River - minimum bet of $2

You can only make bets equal to the amount of the stake All bets and raises must be done in increments of the bet amounts.

In a $10/20 limit game, raises are limited to four times the first the amount of the first bet made:
  • Pre-Flop  -  $10, $20, $30 up to $40

  • The Flop -  $10, $20, $30 up to $40

  • The Turn - $20, $40, $60 up to $80

  • The River - $20, $40, $60 up to $80

Placing bets in a No-Limit Poker Game
In a no-limit game, there is no limit to the maximum bet that can be placed in any betting round. There is, however, a minimum bet that must be equal to the minimum stake.

The smallest amount a player can raise must be at least the same amount as the previous bet/raise in that round.

Player A bets $10
Player B has the option to call the bet (bet the same amount -$10) or raise the bet by at least $10.
In no-limit games you can raise as much as you want.
When you wish to call a bet that is larger than the amount of chips you have, you will be All-In, meaning you have bet all the chips you have and you can only win a share of the pot covered by your chips.


Aces Full
Full house containing three aces and any pair.

Five-card hand with one Ace, no straight, no flush or no pair in it.

Aces Up
Hand containing two pairs where one is a pair of Aces.

When a player bets all of the chips he has at the table.

Big Blind
A specific amount placed, before any cards are dealt, by the player sitting in the second position (or seat), clockwise from the dealer.

Bets that must be made by the two players who are seated directly to the left of the dealer chip. Blind bets are made before any cards are dealt.

Blind Raise
Raising a bet without looking at your hand.

The act of making other players believe that you have a better hand then you actually have. Usually done by betting or raising.

A different name for a Full House.

The minimum amount of money required to join in a particular poker game.

When a player matches the previous bet amount.

When there has been no action by any previous player, a player may check or “pass” action to the next player.

The person who handles and deals out cards, distributes the pots, and oversees the game.

To discard your cards upon your turn to act, thereby exiting the current round.

The highest unpaired card in a hand.

At the end of a game, when a player discards or throws out his hand without showing his cards.

Minimum Buy-in
The minimum amount of money with which you can join a game.

A different name for a Four of a Kind.

Increasinge the bet made before you.

The percentage taken in chips from the pot by the house.

The value of a specific card or the value of a hand.

Another name for a Tie.

Refers to the 4 possible characteristics of a playing card, as in, clubs (c), diamonds (d), hearts (h), or spades (s).

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