How to Play Poker for Dummies

🌏Online Casinos Australia 🦘 Blog 🦘 How to Play Poker for Dummies

Just like everything else in life, if you don’t start with the fundamentals, you will never find success. This rule especially applies to poker. Although it may seem like a complicated game, don’t worry, because once you learn the basics, the rest is only practise. So we will break down the basic poker rules in the simplest way possible. And once you get the hang of them, it will be easier to improve. And who knows, maybe someday you will even become a professional.

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So let us present to you the very foundation of poker before you start considering taking a seat play for real money at a real poker table.


Some very blessed poker players (no more than a handful) have a natural genius for poker games. For those lucky individuals, their talent and the knowledge of basics are everything they need to win. But for the rest of us mortals… well, we have to go the extra mile to be any good. And to begin your journey towards becoming a lucky winning player, you need two crucial things — solid plan and discipline.


Discipline — From-Zero-to-Poker-Hero Plan


You should be conscious of the fact that there’s no surefire strategy that can guarantee you success in poker. However, what affects that the most are your personal characteristics. Success requires quality of character, in addition to strategic proficiency. For example, if you lack self-discipline, you’ll be hard-pressed to win, regardless of how refined your strategy might be. If you stubbornly refuse to discard sub-optimal starting hands, sooner or later, other players will call you on your bluff. Now, we’re not saying you have to be on the WSOP champion level to win a game at your local casino. Be the best you can be. Instead of comparing yourself to others, focus on your own results and how far you’ve come. After all, practice makes perfect. Eventually, you’ll become a happy and prosperous poker player. 


But what is poker? It is a card game that combines fortune, skill, strategy, and gambling. The poker family has a variety of different game types, but they all involve betting and the combination of player’s cards in determining the winner as cores of the game. Sometimes, the hands must even stay hidden until the very end of the round. However, both the rules and the ways in which cards are dealt depend on the specific poker variant. The same rules apply for both online poker and the one in land-based casinos. 


The Game in General


If you’re playing in a brick-and-mortar casino, the house dealer handles all the cards, and they are always dealt clockwise. On top of that, depending on the poker variant, all or some players have to place a blind bet as well. If all players contribute a small amount of money to the pot, that kind of bet is called an ante. Otherwise, there is also a variant where the two players left of the dealer have to place two bets called a Small Blind and a Big Blind, in that order. Arbitrarily, the latter is two times the size of the former.


Furthermore, regardless of the type of poker game at hand, the common traits of each of them are multiple betting rounds during the course of the game and the possible hand combinations. Generally, there are up to five betting rounds in most poker variants. After the final betting round always comes the showdown (unless all but one player fold beforehand). In this phase, all the hands are revealed, and the player with the strongest five-card combination is proclaimed the victor.


Despite the name, Poker (4 of a kind) isn’t the strongest hand you can get. The absolute best you can hope for is the Royal Flush: Ten, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace, all in the same suit. In that regard, the second strongest is the Straight Flush (a sequence of five cards in the same suit). Poker is only the third strongest. Furthermore, in a descending order, it’s followed by Full House (3 same cards and a pair), Flush (a 5-card hand matching in suit), Straight (five cards in a row, regardless of the suit), Three of a kind (self-explanatory, really), Two pairs, Pair, and finally, the High Card. The High Card rule only applies if neither of the players has any of the above combinations. Then, whoever has the highest card wins the pot. 


The Game Rules & Poker Face Tricks

We must first ask ourselves what the main goal of poker is. It’s to win money by seizing the pot, of course. The pot consists of bets made by all the players during the current round. Players typically place bets when they either believe they have the best hand or want everyone else to believe that. This is generally known as “bluffing.” However, in order to be successful, you must maintain a “Poker Face.” This is a term you must have heard of if you live on planet Earth. The idea is to put on an expressionless face, so as not to give away any “tells.” Otherwise, other players might discern from them whether you’re genuinely holding a strong hand or playing a game of “chicken.” So practise your poker face in front of the mirror. Your objective is to mislead the other players into thinking what you want them to be thinking. In essence, you must learn not to show disappointment, misery, happiness… any feelings at all. However, you will get the hang of it after a while, and you might even learn to read your opponents’ faces while you’re at it. This is important because the money saved is equally valuable as the money won. On top of that, you must know when to quit as much as you need to know when to push on.


A standard number of players participating in a poker game ranges from two to ten. Most casino games are set up with the average of eight players for seven-card games like Razz or 7-Card Stud Poker, while the number for Texas Hold’em poker goes up to nine or ten. In addition, the grand majority of poker variants involves a standard 52-card deck. 


Now that you’re familiar with the basics of poker, we can continue to the next chapter where we’ll list some of the most popular types of poker and how to play them.


Texas Hold’em Poker

Texas Hold’em is one of the most popular and widespread poker variants out there, so it’s only logical we start here. The rules of this game are pretty straightforward and go as follows:


In the beginning, all players are dealt two cards (hole cards) face down. Everyone takes a sneak peek at their hand and keeps it hidden. After that, the two players left of the dealer place the small and the big blinds. Then, provided at least two players called, the three rounds during which a total of 5 cards are revealed on the table follow. However, before each of them, a round of betting takes place. During those, the players have a total of three betting options: check, bet, and call. Alternatively, they can fold, but we wouldn’t call that a betting option per se.


Now, as for the dealing stages, the first one is called “the flop,” and during it, 3 cards are dealt on the table (community cards). Later on, players receive a single extra card during “the turn,” and finally, the 5th card on “the river.” Ultimately, after the last card has been revealed and following the final betting round, the remaining players are taken to showdown. There, the remaining players reveal their hands and make the best 5-card hand possible from the 5 community cards and their own two hole cards. 


With all this in mind, whenever a player believes they have a good hand, their main objective is to get others to throw as much money into the pot as possible. This is typically done by employing a betting strategy that will mislead the opponents. You want others to think that their hand is stronger; Otherwise, they won’t bet. Admittedly, the first few times you’ll be completely clueless as to what the right play is. However, you’ll quickly pick it up as you play. And after you’ve mastered the basics, you can start refining your strategy to make both statistically and psychologically better decisions. After all, since you can’t affect the randomness of the draw, you have to outplay the other players. Just practise the poker face we’ve mentioned and do your best to bluff. Eventually, you will know how to trick your opponent into betting more than they should and maximise your expected winnings on each round, thereby increasing your long-term gain.


Seven-Card Stud


Seven-Card Stud, otherwise known as the Seven-Toed Pete or Down The River in the poker community, is a type of stud poker. Before Hold’em claimed the title of the most popular poker type, the vast majority of players preferred the Seven-Card Stud. This game can include from two to eight people, but the maximum number of players slightly alters the rules regarding the number of cards dealt. In land-based casinos, it’s common to use a small ante and a bring-in, whereas home games typically only use an ante. 


The game begins with two cards being dealt face down and one face up. Whoever gets the lowest card must pay the bring-in. After this, the betting continues in a clockwise order. The bring-in is treated as an opening bet, so the next player in line cannot check. In the event that two players have the same lowest ranked card, the rule of thumb is to use the suit as a tie-breaker. Otherwise, the first round starts with the player with the highest card facing up. This is the case when the suit cannot break ties. And if there are two players with the same card, the one left of the dealer acts first. Following the first betting round, the game continues with the dealer dealing an additional face-up card to each player, from left to right. After that, the player whose upcards makes the best poker hand begins the next betting round. And since everyone’s hand at this point consists of only two face-up cards, the strongest hand anyone can have is a pair. On this and all subsequent rounds, whoever has the strongest hand acts first and can potentially bet or check up to the game’s limit. There are three more betting rounds that will follow, and they will all be preceded by the players receiving an additional card each time, two face up and one face down, in that order. Finally, the showdown will ensue if there are at least 2 players left in the game after the final betting cycle.


The seven-card stud can be fundamentally recapped as — two down, four up, and one down if this can make it easier for you to memorise. Finally, during the showdown, each player makes the best five-card poker combination they can out of the seven cards they received. 


All in all, 7-Card Stud Poker is a specific type of game in which players use the information they get from the face-up cards before showdown so that they can calculate strategic decisions, unlike in other poker variants. But in the end, we think you should probably start off with Texas Hold’em poker before giving 7-Card Stud a shot. That is mainly due to the complexity of this specific poker version.  


Final Thoughts


These were examples of the basics of poker. Now that you know the first steps, all you have to do is play and practise to be successful. And if you’re interested in learning even more, you can easily find some additional information pretty much anywhere nowadays — after all, in this day and age, thanks to the Internet, everything we need to know is just one click of a button away. We wish you all the luck in the world on your journey towards becoming a poker master.

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