How to play poker

Poker is a betting card game typically played with a standard deck of 52 cards. Players bet on hands of 5 cards. Cards are ranked in order from Ace to 2 and variations can be played that affect how the cards are dealt and whether any cards are wild. The dealer can be a designated person who does not play, or dealing can alternate between each player. Learning how to play poker requires an understanding of ranking hands and how bets are placed. One great way you can learn how to play poker is by playing poker online for free so you can practice without costing you anything.

Before the cards are dealt, each player puts their ante into the pot. Players then take turns betting in rounds based on their cards. A player can choose one of three options when betting. The first is to “call” which means placing an amount in the pot beyond what the player has already placed to equal the last highest bid. For example, if player 1 bet .50 and player 2 bet 1.00, then player 1 would have to place another .50 in the pot to call.

The second betting option is to “raise”. In the example above, player 2 equaled player 1’s bet and raising it .50. The third option is to fold and a player may do so without placing any additional money in the pot, but forfeits all chances of winning that round. A player may choose this option when their cards are bad and the chances of winning seem slim, or if the pot grows to amount where it is too costly to stay in the game for that round.

Understanding how to play poker hinges on knowing what to bet on. The ranks of hands are as follows, with the best hand listed first:

  1. Royal Flush - Ace, King, Queen, Jack and 10, all of the same suit.
  2. Straight Flush - A straight flush is 5 cards in order, such as 7-8-9-10-J that are all the same suit. The Ace can be played high or low.
  3. Four of a Kind - Four cards of the same rank, such as four Aces or Four Tens. If there are two or more hands with four of a kind, the hand with the highest ranked four of a kind wins.
  4. Full House - A full house is three of a kind plus a pair, such as J-J-J-3-3. When there are two full houses the tie is broken by the three of a kind. An example would be J-J-J-3-3 beats 9-9-9-A-A. If for some reason the three of a kind cannot determine the winner then you use the pair to decide, but this could only happen if you were playing with wild cards.
  5. Flush - A flush is a hand with all cards being the same suit, such as 5-7-9-J-Q all in clubs. If there are two flush hands, the hand with the highest card wins.
  6. Straight - Five cards in rank order, but not of the same suit. A Straight can be any combination of suits. An example of a straight is 2C-3C-4H-5D-6H. The Ace can be the high or low card, such as 5-4-3-2-A or 10-J-Q-K-A. If there are two straight hands, the highest straight wins, K-Q-J-10-9 would beat 5-4-3-2-A. If two straight hands were equal (7-6-5-4-3 of clubs vs. 7-6-5-4-3 of hearts) the pot is split in half.
  7. Three of a Kind - Three cards of any rank with the remaining cards not being a pair. Once again the highest ranking three of a kind would win. K-K-K-3-7 would beat Q-Q-Q-2-8.
  8. Two Pair - Two separate pairs of card plus a 5th off card. (7-7, Q-Q, 3) The highest-ranking pair wins ties. If both hands have the same high pair, the second pair wins. If both hands have the same pairs, the higher off card wins.
  9. Pair - One pair with three off cards. (9-9, J-6-7) Highest ranking pair wins. High card breaks ties.
  10. High Card - When a hand has none of the above possible combinations, then the winner is determined by the High Card. The highest ranked card in a player’s hand qualifies as the winning card. If two or more players are holding an equally ranked card, then the next highest ranked card and so on determine the winner.

Before starting a poker game, decide which variation will be played and how the cards will be dealt. A poker game is started with a pre-determined number of betting rounds. If a player runs out of money, poker chips, or whatever is being played for, they are out of the game. The game ends after every round has been played or only one player is left in the game. If you are surfing on the Internet you can always learn more about online paigow or online poker for free.