One game that has been very popular for a long time is Poker. And still, a lot of people love to play Poker online, with friends or in the pub. The game of Poker is hard to learn, and it takes a long time to master. Although there are many versions of Poker, Texas Hold’em is the most played by far. And although every version has its own rules, most of the basics stay the same. Poker is a game of chance but you can have a lot of effect on the outcome. During Poker you need to combine game knowledge and strong observations of your competitors in order to win. Psychology is very important during the game of Poker. For example; You will need to be able to read players and determine if they have a strong or bad hand. Depending on your reading skills you can decide if another player is bluffing or actually has a good hand. By combining odds and psychology you will be able to outplay other players and make a profit.
While playing Poker Texas Hold’em you will be dealt two cards. You will need to combine these card with the cards on the table in order to make a strong hand. In the next paragraph I will explain which combinations you can make, and which are the best. The cards will be dealt on the table in the following order;
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Flop; The dealer will draw three cards and put them on the table face side up.
Turn; A fourth card will be drawn which you can use to improve your hand.
River; A last card will be added to the table. This is the last card of this poker round.
Depending on the strength of your hand you can decide if you want to call a bet, raise a bet or to fold your hand. The players next to the dealer will need to make the first move. And the following players can decide their next move. A round of Poker ends when everybody folds (except the winner) or when the river has been drawn and everybody called the final bet. When someone wins because everybody folded its hand its not necessary to show the winning hand. When there are more hands left after the river all players can show there hands in order to see which players has the best combination. The winner of the Poker game takes the full pot. The pot will consist all bets and blinds.
While playing Poker you will need to make strong card combinations in order to win (or you can simply bluff). During each game there are 10 basic combinations which you can make with 5 cards. The better your combinations is, the stronger you are within the game and the better your chances are of winning. While playing Poker we can define the following hands;
High Card: If you make none of the following 9 combinations you will only have a ‘’High Card’’ combination. When you have for example no pairs or other combinations you highest card will become your ‘’High Card’’. This can be called for example ‘’King High’’ or ‘’Ace High’’.
One Pair: Match up two card of the same rank. Suits don’t have to match. For example; Two 4’s, one of hearts and one of diamonds.
Two Pair: Make two pairs of the same rank. For example; Combine two 7’s and two 10’s. Suits don’t have to match.
Three of a Kind: Match up three card of the same rank. Suits don’t have to match. For example; Three Jack’s of hearts, diamonds and clubs.
Straight: Collect five cards in the sequential rank. Suits don’t have to match. For example; 3,4,5,6 and 7.
Flush: Collect five card of the same suit. For example; 5 cards of hearts.
Full House: Collect a three or a kind and a pair. For example; Three 7’s and two 10’s.
Four of a Kind: Combine four cards of the same rank. Suits don’t have to match. For example; Collect 4 Aces or 4 Kings.
Straight Flush: Combine cards to make a straight of the same suit. For example; 7,8,9,10 and a Jack all hearts.
Royal Flush: Make a straight of the highest cards all of the same suit. For example; 10, Jack, Queen, King and Ace of Hearts.
When you both have a High Card the players with the highest card will win. The same count for pairs, three of a kinds or straights. For example; A straight Ace high beats a straight Jack high. The stronger your hand is, the better the chance is you win from your opponent. Because of this your hand will have a strong effect on whether you fold, call or raise. If you are not sure you know all combinations you can download and print a cheat sheet to have a full overview of all the combinations from lowest to highest. You will for example find one of the cheat sheets on this page!
BIG BLIND, SMALL BLIND AND ANTE’S
During each hand the two players next to the dealer will pay a blind. This first players pays the small blind and the second pays the big blind. These forced bets during each game will increase the chance of some action within a round. It also ensures people don’t only fold while playing and in this way don’t lose any money. The big and small blind could be for example €1,- and €2,-. But in high stake games they can also be €100,- and €200,-. Besides this blind structure there are more blind structures. Some games work with only 1 blind and some games work with 3 blinds. Besides blinds you can encounter Ante’s. A ‘’ante’’ is a forced bet for every player on the table. This ensures there is some money in every pot and players a forced to play hands from time to time (otherwise there money or chips slowly dry up).
HOW TO START PLAYING
Now you know the basics behind the game of Poker you can start playing. As a new players we recommend playing for chips (fake money) only. First try to fully understand the game and develop your personal playing strategy. Once perfected, you can decide to start playing for money. I started playing Poker with friends. Then we all put maybe €5,- or €10,- in the pot and the player which ended with all the chips won the pot. In this way you can easily learn the game without risking a lot of money. Online you will also be able to play for free using chips. You can also decide to join large tournaments with only a small buy-in. In this way you can play hours without spending a lot of money.
PLAYING POKER FOR MONEY
When you are comfortable with your knowledge about the game and your playing strategy you can try to play Poker for money. By winning hands you can make a profit while playing against other online players. The most popular form of playing Poker online for money are ‘’Cash Games’’. During cash games you can join a table with a certain amount of money (buy-in). Depending on the small and big blind you can decide what is a good table for your budget. During each hand you can bet real money or go All-in by throwing all your money on the table. If you win, you will take the pot and make a profit. When you lose your money will be gone. You can leave a cash game at any moment you like.
If you want you can also decide to join cash tournaments. In order to join a tournament you will need to pay a certain buy-in. All buy-ins will go in one big prize pot which will be split between the best players of the tournament. In this way you can win a lot of money by only paying a small stake. How this is possible? When thousands of players pay a small free there will be a huge prize pot. When you are out of the tournament you can sometimes pay a re-buy to re-enter the tournament. In this way you get another shot of reaching a position in the tournament.
BEST ONLINE POKER WEBSITES
When you want to start playing Poker for money we recommend opening an account at Pokerstars. Pokerstars is world’s largest online poker site. Simply download Pokerstars award-winning software and register a free account. Once done you will be playing in no time. If you want you can also collect a nice bonus while making your first deposit. Click this link to open your free account at Pokerstars!
Tip: If you like you can also play a tutorial on the Pokerstars website. In this way you can learn the basics or refresh your Poker skills.
While playing poker you will need to mind some etiquette. Especially when you are playing in the real world it is important to look knowledgeable and comfortable. You can do this by sticking to some rules;
Don’t talk to much. You can always have a small talk but don’t get into deep conversations. It is also never allowed to talk about your cards. Also after folding it is important to keep your mouth shut about your cards.
Always pay attention to the game. If you are not minding the game you will slow it down. Respect the other players and constantly watch the game.
Be respectful to the other players. Show you cards when needed and don’t brag after hitting a lucky win. Try to treat others like you want to be treated.
Besides these simple rules there are more rules which can be important while playing. You will find these rules on the website where you are playing or in the casinos rules.
HOW TO DEAL THE CARDS
When you are playing with friends or in the pub the chance is you will need to deal the cards yourself. Every round there will be a new dealer (rotates clockwise on the table). When you are the dealer you will need to shuffle the cards in order to randomize them. Once done you will need to distribute the cards from left to right. First you deal everyone a first card, then a second and the maybe more depending on the variant of Poker you are playing. Once everybody has its card you will need to deal three card on the table and open them. This is the flop. When a round of action is complete (betting, folding and calling) you can deal the next card, the Turn. After the last round of betting you can deal the last card, the River. On YouTube you will find various great videos which can help you learn how to deal cards.
WHEN TO FOLD DURING POKER
When you are playing Poker and you don’t have a strong hand you don’t have to fold. If its before the flop you can for example simply call when you are the big blind. And after the flop you can still simply call when nobody is betting. When someone bets money you can always decide to fold when you think your hand is not strong enough. You never know when you get lucky and make a strong combination with a weak hand. So if you don’t have to bet, never fold!
WHEN TO CALL DURING POKER
If someone on the table make a bet you can decide to call. When you call you match up the bet of the previous player. Most of the times you will call if you are not very convinced about your hand but it has odds of becoming a better hand. Sometimes you also call with a good hand when you don’t want to scare people away by placing a re-raise. When everybody calls or folds the round will end and the next card will be dealt.
WHEN TO RAISE DURING POKER
When you have a strong hand you can decide to raise. When someone for example bets €5,- you can for example raise it to €12,50. When you raise all the other players that are still in the game will need to decide if they want to match up your bet. If they don’t want to match up your bet they will need to fold. When they want to call they will need to throw in more chips in the pot. By raising you can scare players away or increase to total pot. It can be good to scare people away if your are bluffing. It can also be interesting if you are very certain you win the pot and you want to increase the value.
WHEN TO BLUFF DURING POKER
One of the mental aspects about the game of Poker is bluffing. When you bluff you pretend to have a good hand in order to scare people away. You can bluff by placing for example a high bet or re-raise while only having a weak hand. Good Poker players are always looking for a good bluff in order to stay unpredictable.
DON’T RISK IT ALL
While playing Poker it can be very easy to head towards an All-in. During an All-in one or both of the players will risk all its money or chips. This can happen when one of the players if bluffing or when both players have a strong hand. We don’t say going all in is bad, but you will always need to think about the consequences. When you lose during an all-in you will loose a lot of money and maybe get kicked out of the tournament. Because of this it is always important to stay realistic and think about how the odds of winning are developing for your hand.
HOW TO GET BETTER AT POKER?
When you want to get better at playing Poker it is important to keep playing. The more you play the better you will get. Besides that you can learn a lot about Poker by watching professional play. And if you like you can also read books, watch videos and do tutorials about Poker. It is also important to know that some people are better at playing Poker by nature. Some people are simply better at bluffing, reading people and making smart decisions. And some people are simply not that good at playing Poker. When you want to get better we can recommend learning more about a few parts of the game. All with all we think it is very important to know;
When it’s not worth anymore to keep on calling in order to improve your hand.
How to get the maximum out of each hand. For example; How to bluff other players away or how to keep players in while having a winning hand.
When to fold while playing with a losing hand.
How to read the behaviour of other players on the table. Especially when playing in the real world you can get a lot of information by watching for example someone’s movements, betting style and expression.
When to play aggressive and when to play more conservative.
Do you have any good tips while playing poker? Please let us know and we can add them to this article!
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