Ultimate Guide to Learning How to Play Poker

Poker is a card game with a rich history, and its effect caught on with the people of the United States soon after it originated in the late 18th century. Years passed and its presence was felt in other countries, including India.

If you are a poker enthusiast, you can access the game from the comfort of your home on online casino sites. These platforms give you access to more than one poker variant as well as online tournaments, providing you with an intellectual challenge and rewards in the form of cash.

Poker is a blend of skill, chance, and psychology, and has managed to embrace players of all ages and backgrounds.

In case you are new to this card game, this page will tell you all about how to play poker. From poker card rankings to poker strategy and tricks to play poker, you can find every related information here. By the end of it, you will have gained the knowledge and the confidence to dive into this beautiful world of gaming.

How to Play Poker?

Before learning how to play the poker game, it is important to familiarize yourself with its most popular variation, which goes by the name of Texas Hold’em.

Some other versions include Omaha, Five-card Draw, Seven-card Stud, Three Card Poker, Chinese Poker. You will learn more about the different variations in one of the sections below.

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Since Texas Hold’em is the most played poker variant, let us learn how it is played across a single round.

  1. The setup: Poker can be played between 2 to 10 players. You will also require a standard deck comprising 52 cards. Prepare a makeshift dealer card, which will rotate clockwise after each round. Designate yourself or one of the other players as the first dealer
  2. Blinds: In poker, there is the small blind and the big blind. These are forced bets that the two players sitting on the left of the dealer must post. While small bet is typically half the minimum bet, the big blind is the minimum bet for the hand
  3. Hole cards: In Texas Hold’em, each player is dealt two private cards or ‘hole cards’ face down
  4. First betting round or pre-flop: The game starts with the player sitting to the left of the big blind. Everyone has the options to ‘call’ (match the big blind), ‘raise’ (increase the bet), or ‘fold’ (forfeit their round). Players can now proceed with the betting clockwise
  5. The flop: Upon completion of the initial betting round, the dealer reveals the first three community cards called ‘flop’ placing them face up on the table. Then, a second round of betting resumes with the first player to the left of the dealer
  6. The turn: After the bettings are done, the dealer reveals a fourth community card called the ‘turn’. A third round of betting starts with the player sitting to the left of the dealer
  7. The river: The dealer reveals the fifth and final community card known as the ‘river’. A final betting round then commences
  8. The showdown: A showdown occurs if two or more players still remain after the last betting round. They must reveal their hole cards, and the one with the best five-card hand wins the pot
  9. Winning the pot: The player with the best hand wins the pot. If a situation occurs where only one player is left remaining after the final betting round, they win the pot without the need to reveal their cards
  10. Next round: The next round starts with the dealer button passed clockwise

During the course of different rounds, you must learn to read your opponents. Look for any pattern or body language that a player might be giving away and use it to your advantage.

It is also advisable to play low-stake games at the beginning and move upwards once you become familiar with the rules of the game.

Game Objective

The main objective of poker is to win money or chips, whichever medium you are playing with.

You can accomplish this goal by one of the two ways that are highlighted below.

Having the best hand

You must combine the two hole cards and three community cards to come up with the best five-card hand to win.

The poker card rankings from the highest to the lowest are Royal Flush, Straight Flush, Four of a Kind, Full House, Flush, Straight, Three of a Kind, Two Pair, One Pair, and High Card.

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Forcing opponents to fold

You can also force your opponents to fold during the course of the multiple betting rounds. You can achieve this by bluffing or betting strategically.

If other players fold before showdown, you win the pot regardless of the strength of your hand.

Poker Card Rankings

Learning about the best hands in poker is crucial towards formulating strategic decisions during a game. It helps you to evaluate the strength of your own hands whilst anticipating the potential strength of your opponents.

Listed below are the best hands in poker, from the highest to the lowest:

  • Royal Flush: You successfully set up a Royal Flush when you have cards Ace, King, Queen, Jack, and 10, all belonging to the same suit. Example – A♣ K♣ Q♣ J♣ and 10♣ is a Royal Flush
  • Straight Flush: A Straight Flush is formed when five consecutive cards of the same suit come together. Example: 8♦ 9♦ 10♦ J♦ Q♦ forms a Straight Flush
  • Four of a Kind: In a Four of a Kind hand, you get four out of five cards of the same rank. Example – 8♥ 8♥ 8♥ 8♥ 3♣
  • Full House: A Full House comprises three cards of the same rank and two cards of another. Example – 6♠ 6♠ 6♠ 7♦ 7♦
  • Flush: A Flush hand contains all five cards of the same suit, but not of the sequential rank. Example: A♣ 5♣ 8♣ 10♣ K♣
  • Straight: A Straight hand forms when you align five cards of successive ranks, but of varied suits. Example – 5♦ 6♠ 7♣ 8♦ 9♥
  • Three of a Kind: Here, three cards out of five belong to the same rank. Example – 9♦ 9♦ 9♦ J♥ K♠
  • Two Pair: In Two Pairs, two different sets of pairs form a hand. Example – 3♠ 3♦ 6♥ 6♦ Q♣
  • One Pair: This hand comprises a pair among the five cards. Example – J♥ J♠ 5♦ 9♣ K♦
  • High Card: A hand is a High Card when none of the above combinations form the set. In case of a showdown with both players having a High Card, the winner is the one who has the highest single card. Example – A♣ 5♥ 4♠ K♦ 9♠
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Game Rules

Poker has several variations that you can try your hands at, but the most widely played one is Texas Hold’em.

While the rules of other variations may be altered in places, their basic goal remains the same, which is to turn up with the best five-card hand.

If you are a newbie and wish to know how to play poker game, here are the rules that you should be mindful of:

  • Goal of poker: Your main goal in this card game is to win the pot either by producing the best five-card hand or by forcing your opponents to fold
  • Poker hand rankings: Be sure that you are acclimated with the poker card rankings. Here they are from the highest to the lowest – Royal Flush, Straight Flush, Four of a Kind, Full House, Flush, Straight, Three of a Kind, Two Pair, One Pair, and High Card
  • Betting rounds: Poker is played across several rounds. The first round starts with the player to the left of the dealer opting to either ‘check’, ‘bet’, or ‘fold’. Depending on the variation being played, the betting options may include ‘check’, ‘bet’ ‘raise’, and ‘fold’. In between rounds, the dealer reveals a total of five community cards. You must use three of them and pair them with your two hole cards to come up with the best hand
  • Showdown: If there are two players or more by the end of the final betting round, a showdown ensues. The remaining players reveal their cards. The one with the best hand wins the pot
    Dealer button and blinds: A dealer button determines the dealer for each round. It rotates clockwise, with every person at the table getting the chance to become the dealer. Blinds, on the other hand, are mandatory bettors by the title ‘small blind’ and ‘big blind’

Poker Strategies

Being a game of skill, probability, and psychology, a lot of strategic elements go into poker.

Successful players of the game employ an array of strategies, which allows them to gain a healthy advantage over their opponents. Some of these strategies are listed below.

  • Bluffing: Bluffing is considered as a basic poker strategy. By using this skill, you can force your opponents to fold even the strongest hands at the table. In order to successfully implement it, you must be able to read your opponents well and understand the dynamics around the table
  • Reading opponents: It is imperative to pay close attention to other players, as it will help you pick up on any prevalent betting patterns or body language. Accordingly, you can determine their potential next move or even make better decisions yourself
  • Playing position: Be aware of where you are seated at the table. Being in a late position allows you to see what the others are doing. Statistics suggest that the later your turn is, the better are your chances of winning
  • Learn to adapt: Skilled poker players successfully adapt to the changing in-game situations. Being flexible with altering a poker strategy is the key towards long-term success at this card game
  • Understand the pot odds: When you understand the pot odds, it helps you to make mathematically good decisions. It can help you assess whether or not making a bet at a certain point of time in the game will be profitable
  • Tight-Aggressive: Tight-Aggressive or TAG is a common strategy where you can play a variety of strong hands and the bet or raise aggressively. Also, if you have a weaker hand, you fold without any second thought, leaving your opponents unsure of your cards
  • Loose-Aggressive: Loose-Aggressive strategy or LAG relies more on bluffing while making aggressive bets or raises. This keeps your opponents on their toes
  • Bankroll management: Make sure that you risk only that amount which you can afford to lose. You can manage your bankroll by setting spending limits and sticking to them
  • Practice patience: Wait for the right opportunities to strike using strong hands. Stave off any temptation to risk with weaker hands or to chase losses
  • Try practice rooms: If you are playing online poker, look for practice rooms to hone your skills. You will be competing against real players with unique skills, which will enable you to develop new strategies

Be informed that these strategies may or may not be effective depending on the poker variant that is being played.

Nevertheless, that should not discourage you from trying new methods or adapting to a particular situation.

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Different Tricks to Play Poker and Win

Despite poker being a game of strategy and skill, you can incorporate several techniques in your gameplay to improve your chances of winning.

Here are some poker tips that can potentially enhance your style of play.

  • Study the rules and hand rankings: Rules are different for each poker variant, so ensure that you have a solid understanding of the rules and hand rankings for the variant you are playing. Studying the basics is essential before you can strategize effectively
  • Start with strong hands: When you start with strong hands, it improves your chances of winning. Some of the premium hands in Texas Hold’em include high pairs (Aces, Kings), high cards belonging to the same suit, face connected cards like Ace-King or Queen-Jack
  • Awareness about position: Be aware about your position at the table. Playing from late positions allows you to be more aggressively, whereas playing conservatively from early positions can help you dictate terms
  • Observe and bluff: Keep a close watch on the actions and patterns of the other players. Pick up on anything that is repetitive to make informed decisions and execute timely bluffs to force your opponents to fold
  • Size of bets: When you are wary about the size of your bets, it allows you to control the pot. Accordingly, you can draw high value from your opponents whilst protecting your hand. Let your bet sizes vary to keep the others guessing
  • Use psychology: Trick your opponents by behaving in a similar manner, not giving away too much. However, be prepared to change your style of play when, as it can throw your opponents off. While avoiding revealing your own tells, pay attention to any from them
  • Emotional control: Fates of players in poker can change in an instant. You might appear to be winning, but end up losing. In such situations, maintain control of your emotions, as not doing so will lead to poor decisions
  • Risk management: Understand the consequences of your bets. If you are uncertain about something, but are still in the game, do not risk high stakes

It is important for you to know that poker does not come with a one-size-fits-all strategy. Hence, you must learn to adapt to changing situations to improve your skills and decision-making.

Most Popular Poker Variations

One of the greatest qualities of poker is its diversity that comes with numerous variations. Each of these games is unique in its own way, carrying distinctive rules and strategies.

Here are some of the most popular poker variations in no particular order:

  • Texas Hold’em: Texas Hold’em is the most widely played poker variant. In this game, each player is dealt two private or hole cards, and five community cards are placed face-up on the table. You must use a combination of your hole cards and the community cards to make the best hand
  • Omaha: Omaha is similar to Texas Hold’em in all aspects, except players here receive four hole cards instead of two. They must use exactly two of their hole cards and three of the five community cards to form a hand
  • Seven-Card Stud: In Seven-Card Stud, you receive seven cards – three of them face-down and four face-up. Your objective is to create the best five-card hand using a combination of these cards while playing multiple rounds
  • Five-Card Draw: In Five-Card Draw, you are dealt five cards, with an opportunity to exchange some or all of your cards for new ones while attempting to improve your hand. This game, however, is played across a single round
  • Razz: Razz is an underrated variant of Seven-Card Stud, where your goal is to make the lowest possible five-card hand. The best hand in Razz is A-2-3-4-5
  • Pineapple: Pineapple is like Texas Hold’em but comes with a twist, as you are dealt three hole cards and must discard one of them after the flop is revealed
  • Pot-Limit Omaha: Pot-Limit Omaha or PLO is a variation of Omaha where you can bet or raise up to the size of the current pot, resulting in more aggressive and complex betting

There are many other poker variants to try your hands at. You will notice that each variant comes with its own appeal, making poker a versatile card game with something for players of varied experience.

Where to Play Poker Online?

The popularity of poker in India has resulted in many online casinos setting up shop, granting easy access to enthusiasts.

However, it is crucial that you select a reputed source in order to receive invaluable returns for your time and money.

We have listed a few of the best online poker sites you can sign up without any second thoughts.

Blue Chip

Bluechip.io offers poker from the software provider Ezugi. You can also find several other variations such as Poker 6+, Joker Poker, Poker Bet, etc. that are equally as much fun to play if not more.

Blue Chip is a renowned online casino that offers a plethora of gaming options to its Indian members. Be rest assured that the quality of graphics and gaming is exceptional and will keep you hooked for extended durations.

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Like Blue Chip, 10CRIC is known to offer its members a variety of poker games to play. Here, you can find options like Casino Stud Poker, High Hand Hold’em Poker, Oasis Poker, and Russian Poker, to name a few.

You will find that the choices are excellent irrespective of your personal experience of playing poker. You can also collect a rewarding welcome bonus of up to INR 60,000 across your first three deposits, which you can use to explore different games of your choice.

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Parimatch is another top tier online casino gaming destination for poker in India. It is home to more than 20 poker games that are unique and provide thorough entertainment to everyone who plays them.

Some of the popular titles include Caribbean Poker, Hold’em Poker, Poker Teen Patti, American Poker V, and Poker Ways.

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