Poker is one of the most universally-known card games in the world. Once limited to run-down taverns and dark cardrooms, it is today played at all the world’s leading casinos. By reading this guide, you will also learn how to play poker and beat your opponents using proven strategies.

This article also includes important differences between classic poker and top variants, such as Texas Hold’em. After reading it, you should know how to win at poker and what you need to do to safeguard your bankroll like the pros.

How Does Poker Work?

Before we delve into poker rules and other important information, we should clarify what we mean by poker. Over the ages, this card game has traveled across the world and this has led to an incredible number of variants and versions. Texas Hold’em, for example, is a popular variant, but it is not what we could call classic poker.

Classic or basic poker is best described as a card game where you need to beat your opponent’s hand using a stronger one. In this original version, there are no community cards, but you can discard worthless cards for a chance of getting new cards that allow you to create a better hand.

Before you learn how to play poker, you should understand that poker is a catch-all term to describe any card game that is based on the classic hand rankings. Distinguishing between different variants is important since strategies are usually best when they’re used on specific games.

Basic Rules of Poker

Most poker games are played using a standard, 52-card deck. In some versions of the game, the Jokers may also be used, but this is not the case for classic poker. The deck is split into two colors, red and black, and each color is split into two suits. The black cards can either be spades or clubs whereas the red cards can either be hearts or diamonds.

Some versions of the game may feature wild cards, such as jokers, that can transform into any standard card to create a winning combination.

Poker is normally played against other players and the house, or casino, takes a percentage of the pot. However, there are also several variants of the game that you can now play against the dealer.

Handy Tip:

Video poker provides a simpler version of the game as you don’t need to beat any players to win. Instead, you’ll receive a payout as soon as you complete a winning hand.

Rules of Poker: Hand Rankings

To learn how to play poker, you must first become familiar with the winning hand rankings. No matter which variant you play, you’ll come across the same winning combinations, albeit with a few exceptions or differences. In the following table, we’ve outlined the standard hand rankings that apply to most versions, including Texas Hold’em and Omaha.

BetOnline Poker Hand Rankings

Name Description Example Strength
Royal Flush 10, J, Q, K, and A in sequence and of the same suit 10♠, J♠ Q♠, K♠, and A♠ 10
Straight Flush Any hand that has a sequence of five cards in the same suit but is not a Royal Flush 3♣, 4♣, 5♣, 6♣, and 7♣ 9
Four-of-a-Kind Four cards of equal rank but different suit K♣, K♠, K♥, and K♦ 8
Full House A hand that’s made up of a combination of Three-of-a-Kind and a Pair Q♦, Q♥, Q♠, A♦, and A♥ 7
Flush Five cards that are all of the same suit, but have no rank sequence 2♠, 5♠, 7♠, K♠, and A♠ 6
Straight Five cards of consecutive rank but of different suits 2♥, 3♠, 4♥, 5♥, and 6♠ 5
Three-of-a-Kind Three cards of identical rank but different suit 5♥, 5♣, and 5♠ 4
Two Pair A hand that includes two separate Pairs 4♠, 4♥, 5♠, and 5♦ 3
Pair Two cards of equal rank but different suit 2♦ and 2♠ 2
High Card A single card with a higher rank K♠ 1

As you can see from the table above, you don’t always need to combine all five cards to complete a winning hand ranking. However, this rule only applies to classic poker, Texas Hold’em, and some other variants. In Omaha poker, for example, you must use two of your four hole cards in the final hand. You don’t need to worry about memorizing all the hand rankings for every game since all the best online poker sites provide this information in the options menu.

Understanding Poker Rules with an Example

In the following section, we’ve outlined the main stages of a typical game of classic poker, sometimes referred to as Draw Poker.

Step 1: The Ante Bet

At the start of a new game, two players must place a small or big blind. In some cases, real money online casinos feature poker games where all players must place an Ante bet to participate in the game.

Step 2: The Cards

The dealer deals five or seven cards to each player face down. At this stage of the game, only the player should be able to see his or her own cards.

Step 3: Next Bet

Based on the perceived value of their hands, players decide whether to stay in the game by betting again or folding. A strong hand is considered to be one that has one of the nine strongest hand rankings.

Step 4: The Draw

Players that are still in the game can decide to discard one or more of their cards in the hope of getting better ones. In most versions of the game, you can discard up to three cards.

Step 5: Last Bet

At this stage, players determine whether to stay in the game by placing further bets of folding. If this stage ends with more than one player still in the game, the game continues to the showdown. However, if this stage ends with just one player, that player is automatically the winner.

Step 6: The Showdown

If two or more players are still playing, they each show their hands. The winner is determined according to the strength of the hand rank combinations.

Handy Tip:

Unlike other casino games, such as slots, poker requires some skill to be played effectively. Consider playing online poker for free online before you start playing with real money.

FAQs About How to Play Poker Online

How to play poker for beginners?

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How to Play Poker for Beginners: Basic Strategy

If you’ve just started playing poker, you should avoid advanced strategies and other guides that might confuse you. To help you out, we’ve listed the most important rules to help you avoid common mistakes.

  • Don’t be tempted to play too many hands – If your initial five cards show little promise, you should consider keeping your bets for the next rounds. Even if you’ve already placed an Ante or a second bet, you shouldn’t keep playing just in case.
  • A strong hand is not always necessary – When you play poker, play the player, not the game. Using tactics to discourage players from staying in the game can be comparatively easier than creating the strongest hand.
  • Don’t be afraid of taking bold actions – Once you take a decision to continue playing, you should always enter the pot with a raise. Simply matching a previous bet will likely cause a round of so-called limpers that will require you to win by getting the best hand.
  • Change your betting style frequently – There’s no benefit to always betting high or playing it tight all the time. Instead, you should consider safeguarding your bankroll at first, but then raise when you have Aces or Kings in your hand.
  • Be wary of very strong hands – If your hand is a Straight or a Flush, you might be tempted to go all-in, but this is a common mistake that can quickly end your bankroll. Be especially careful if you’re missing one or two cards, as getting them is less likely than you might think.

Handy Tip:

Place a meaningful raise if your first five cards include a Three-of-a-Kind, Two Pair, or another medium or high-strength hand. This will likely discourage players with weak hands or less confidence from continuing to play.

How to Win at Poker Using Advanced Strategies

Advanced poker strategies are, by their very nature, more complicated than basic rules. However, since regulated facilities, including Bitcoin casinos, ensure that all of their games are fair and random, no strategy, even if executed perfectly, can guarantee any specific result.

The following strategies can be developed over time and with practice and are as much about understanding your opponents as they are about playing your hands correctly. Fortunately, you can use the best offshore poker sites to play test your skills in free and real money games.

Understand Different Player Types

There are generally two types of poker players. Aggressive players tend to lead others by raising early and very often. Passive players, meanwhile, are more likely to call than they are to raise. No matter whether you’re playing in person or online, you’ll need a minimum of a few rounds to identify the types of players that are playing at your table.

Keep an eye out for aggressive players that bluff regularly by observing their cards during the Showdown. By identifying them, you’ll know not to get discouraged when they raise, even if your hand is not very strong.

Handy Tip:

Playing online poker removes the need for you to develop a so-called poker face. You can also access special rooms that keep your online profile hidden so that other players won’t know who you are or your past playing style. However, you too won’t be able to access your opponent’s details, so playing the player becomes significantly harder.

Don’t Rely on New Cards to Win

If you’ve got a weak hand, it’s generally advisable to fold rather than discard the maximum of three cards in the hope of a miracle. Generally speaking, the likelihood of three new cards putting the game in your favor is very low, though not impossible.

Deciding which cards to discard is also critical to the outcome of your game. You should always pick cards that have no or the lowest bearing on your hand to increase the possibility of receiving valuable new cards in return.

Texas Hold’em Poker Rules

Throughout this guide we’ve referenced Texas Hold’em several times. In this section, we’ll go through the rules that make this game different from other versions, such as five-card draw. You can find a more detailed guide to playing Texas Holdem online in another article that we’ve recently written.

A typical game of Texas Hold’em consists of six stages. Hand rankings are exactly the same as those used in classic poker.

Poker Table at BetOnline

Stage 1: Small and Big Blinds

Players take turns placing either small or big blinds before the cards are dealt. The big blind is double the value of the small blind.

Stage 2: The Pre-Flop

At the start of this stage, each player receives two cards facing down so that they cannot be seen by other players. These cards are known as hole cards and you cannot discard or change them. Every player must then decide whether to fold, call, raise, or, if necessary, re-raise.

Stage 3: The Flop

As long as there are at least two players still in the game, the first community cards are dealt, facing up, on the table. Community cards can be used by any player to complete their hand. During this stage, three community cards are dealt, followed by another round of betting.

Stage 4: The Turn

Once again, as long as there are two or more players that haven’t folded in the previous stage, the fourth community card is dealt. This is followed by yet another round of betting.

Stage 5: The River

Should there still be two or more players still in the game, the fifth community card is dealt. This is the final community card and, once it’s dealt, the final round of betting is carried out.

Stage 6: The Showdown

Players that are still playing must now show their cards to determine the winner. Players can opt not to show them, however, this means that they are admitting defeat.

Handy Tip:

When you play Texas Hold’em, it’s important to try and discourage players from participating in the Flop. Community cards can quickly turn the tide, giving other players a chance to build a stronger hand than your own.

Our Poker Rules Guides for Other Top Variants

As you surely know by now, there are plenty of games with poker in their name. We’ve created several other articles detailing the rules of top variants, so if you’re interested in these variations you should certainly read through them.

  • Pai Gow Poker – An Asian version of poker where you split your cards into two hands.
  • Three Card Poker – A casino-style poker game that is based on three-card hands.
  • Video Poker – An electronic version of poker where you simply need to create a winning hand to get a payout.

Learn How to Play Poker at a Top Online Casino

Now that you understand how to play poker, you’re probably eager to put your skills to the test. All you have to do is find an online poker casino, fill out the registration form, and make a deposit. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to enjoy a variety of regular online poker games, such as Texas Hold’em, as well as video poker and casino-style poker where you play against the house.