A standard 52 card deck is used to play. The dealer first puts two cards face down in the center of the table called the hole cards. These cards are followed by the first round of betting.
The first person to the left of the dealer is first to act. They may choose to call, raise or fold. Usually everyone at the table will fold since there is no money in the pot. At this stage in the game each player has three choices: stay, match the previous bet or call for the current bet.
The next round begins now.
- The dealer puts one card face up in the center of the table.
- This is called the ‘turn card.’ It is followed by another round of betting.
- Another card is turned up in the center of the table in the third round of betting.
- This is called the ‘fourth street card.’ Following this is the fifth and final round of betting.
- Finally the dealer deals out a final card face up.
- This is called the ‘river card’ or ‘fifth street’. Betting is again capped at a level of $10, with a final round of betting following.
- After this final round of betting the remaining players in the game show their cards, starting with the person who had placed the first bet. Each player uses the 5 community cards to create 5 poker hands.
Each player’s 5-card poker hand is then combined with their two hole cards to create the best 5-card hand combination. There is one final round of betting. This final round is called the showdown.
The player with the best hand wins the pot. The round of betting starts with the person to the left of the dealer and continues in a clockwise direction.
A poker hand consists of 5 cards. The classifications of the best hands are:
- Royal Flush
- Straight Flush
- Four of a Kind
- Full House
- Three of a Kind
- Two Pair
- Jacks or Better
The top poker hands are the royal flush, the straight flush and the three of a kind. The worst hands are no pairs, high pairs (jacks, queens or kings) and high cards.
Learning how to play poker is very simple. Once you learn the basics of the game, the best way to advance your knowledge and skills is to play more. Poker is a game of skill, strategy, tactics and luck.
You can play poker online for free; there are many websites offering free poker rooms and tournaments.
Other places of note worth looking at are the many poker magazines you can find. Some of these magazines are excellent and worth reading; others are quite basic and lack depth in their poker articles.
Two excellent books about poker are ‘Sitdown! Playing Texas Hold’em’ by David Skyy competing author and Casino owner David Sklansky, and ‘Tournament Poker for Advanced Players’ by David Sklansky. These books will provide you with strong fundamental knowledge on the game while at the same time offering useful and detailed insight into advanced poker strategies and play.
It is obvious that while you can spend a lifetime studying poker, you cannot master poker overnight. Poker takes time and the better you become, the more you can advance your knowledge and skills. While the knowledge of the basics will benefit you, there are other areas of poker knowledge that will provide you benefit.
Good luck in your poker endeavor and as always, know when to hold’em and when to fold ’em!