How to play Poker – 9 easy steps to play Poker like a pro

How to play poker

We don’t just wake up one day knowing another language. The same is true for Poker, a top-rated game with its standard terms and rules. When people talk about Poker, they usually mean Texas Hold’Em, the most popular Poker version that has become a worldwide phenomenon. Texas Hold’Em is both easy and sophisticated. This article will be an essential step-by-step guide on how to play Poker.

What is Texas Hold’Em Poker?

Texas Hold’Em Poker is one of the most popular Poker variants in which players receive incomplete (hidden) hands and complete them by sharing face-up cards accessible to all players. Here are five things you need to start playing Poker:

Start playing poker
  1. One pack of standard Poker cards: You need to buy 1 or 2 packs of standard Poker playing cards.
  2. Learn the cards, their suits & values: A brand new standard deck of playing cards will have the cards in the following order – four suits, thirteen cards each, from King to Ace. There are four suits – Clubs and Spades are black; Diamonds and Hearts are red. Each suit contains the 13 cards that are the same for all the four suits, starting from A (Ace), K (King), Q (Queen), and so on till 2 in order of higher to lower ranks. The value of each card is determined by the overall ranking of the “hand” (5 cards for standard Poker)
  3. Learn to shuffle the deck: Before dealing your first hand, the deck must be shuffled entirely. Players take turns shuffling and dealing with the hands. Combining the Riffle Shuffle and an Overhand Shuffle helps master the shuffle.
  4. Individuals to play the game: 2 to 10 (5 or more preferably) individuals.
  5. One table: A typical Poker table should be large enough to accommodate all the individuals playing the game.

How to play Poker? 9 easy steps to play Poker

Here we will show how to play the world’s most popular Poker game, Texas Holdem. Playing a round of Texas Hold ’em involves 9 simple steps:

  1. Learn Poker hand combinations
  2. Learn Poker hand rankings
  3. Begin the Game
  4. Dealer deals 2 cards to each player
  5. The first round of betting
  6. The Flop and second round of betting
  7. The Turn Card
  8. The River Card
  9. Showdown!

Step 1: Learn the Poker hand combinations

In Poker, you need to learn three possible hand combinations, which are:

  • Two Pocket cards and three community cards.
  • One Pocket card and four community cards.
  • All five cards are community cards.

|The dealer gives two pocket cards to each player in step 4. Community cards are placed face-up by the dealer on the table after each betting round.

So, the Poker hands are made up of five cards, and even if you have more than five to choose from, the game aims to form the best five cards to win the pot.

Step 2: Learn Poker hand rankings

Poker’s hand rankings will always be the same no matter what Poker variants you play. Poker hands are ranked mathematically based on their chances of being dealt.

Poker hand rankings
Poker rankings

Here are the standard Poker hand rankings from high to low with their odds of dealing:

Poker Hand RankingsDescriptionOdds
Royal FlushA, K, Q, J, and 10, all of the same suit.1 in 650000
Straight FlushFive consecutive cards in a sequence, all of the same suit.1 in 75000
Four of a KindFour out of the five cards are of the same rank1 in 4150
Full HouseThree of the five cards are of the same rank, and the other two are of another rank. If two players have the same three-card combination, the player with the higher pair wins.1 in 700
FlushFive cards are of the same suit (not all are consecutive).1 in 500
StraightFive consecutive cards in a sequence but with varying suits.1 in 250
Three of a KindThree out of the five matching cards are of the same rank, and the other two are unmatched cards of different ranks.1 in 47
Two PairTwo cards are of the same rank, the other two of the three cards are of another rank, and one card is of a third rank (the kicker).1 in 20
One PairTwo of the five cards are of the same rank, and the other three unmatched cards are of different ranks.1 in 3.45
High CardOne of the five cards is of higher rank, and the other four cards are unmatched and are of lower ranking.1 in 1

Step 3: Begin the Game

In Poker, mandatory bets are placed in one of two ways at the start of the game. In Texas Hold’Em, two players must place mandatory bets before the dealer deals any cards. The player sitting on the dealer’s left generally places a small blind bet that is half of the usual minimum bet. The player sitting next to that person puts a big blind; that’s at least the minimum bet. Aside from Texas Hold ’em, most Poker variations employ an “ante up” starting bet mechanism.

Step 4: Deal 2 cards to each player

Following the blinds, the dealer deals two cards (one at a time) facing down to each player. The dealer starts dealing with the player sitting left to him (the player placing the Small Blind bet). 

You should keep the two cards to yourself. These are hole cards (pocket cards), and the players don’t show them to the other players until they reach the showdown (mentioned in Step 9).

deal two cards poker gameplay

For every round of dealing in Poker, the dealer will burn a card (removes it from the game) and consistently distributes the cards clockwise, beginning on the left. As a result, players can not predict the next dealt card, and the game becomes more interesting.

Step 5: First round of betting

The first player to choose whether to wager based on the hold cards they have in their hands (pocket cards) is the player to the left of the Big blind. The Big Blind counts as a bet. Thus, this player is not permitted to check (decline to make a bet). They have the following option to make their choice:

  • Fold: To withdraw from their hand and forfeit the current pot,
  • Call: To a Raise or a Bet of another player.
  • Raise: To increase the size of your existing bet.

Accordingly, each player has the choice to Fold, Call, or Raise until it’s the turn of the person who placed the Big Blind bet. Since the Big Blind is now their opening bet, this player now has the option to either Check, Fold, or Raise.

The betting round ends when players have either called the last Raise, Folded, or put all their chips in.

Step 6: The Flop and second round of betting

Post the first betting round, the dealer takes a card from the top of a deck and discards it (or Burn). He then puts 3 cards face-up on the table, called the Flop (Community cards). You need to analyze if you have a good hand based on the three cards (the Flop) plus two cards in your hand (Pocket cards).

How to play poker - The Flop

The Small Blind is the first to act after the Flop. They can choose to make to following acts – Check, Fold, Call, and Raise.

If the players are taking turns before yours, choose to “Check,” you may as well do so. The betting round ends when all players have folded or Called/Raised the last bet or have checked.

Step 7: The Turn

After the second betting round, the dealer burns another card. He then reveals the fourth card facing up next to the Fold. This card is known as “The Turn.” Now you will have four cards on the table (The flop and the turn). Compare the four cards with the cards in your hand. If you don’t have a good hand, you should Fold, as the other players might have a better winning hand.

For instance, if 4 cards on the table are Hearts, then any player with “Heart” in their hand will have a flush, i.e., 5 cards from the same house.

How to play poker - The flop and turn card

After revealing the turn card, another betting round begins (third), with the Small Blind position being the first to act. The other players must now decide their following action based on forming the best possible hand using the four cards on the table and a potential fifth card from their hand.

Step 8: The River

The third betting round continues and ends when all players have put their chips in, folded, or checked. The dealer then discards another card before dealing the fifth and final card face up on the table. This is known as the River, also otherwise called Fifth Street.

This is the final betting round. If everyone except one player Folds at this point (or before), the last player who did not Fold wins the pot. In this case, the player can “Muck” his hand by placing their cards on the discard pile without showing them to anyone. Moreover,  mucking prevents other players from observing your playing style.

The final round of betting ends when all players have put all their chips in, folded, or checked.

Step 9: Showdown!

Suppose more than one player is left after the final betting round, the other players reveal their hands to compare and decide the winner(s). This is known as the Showdown.

A showdown can happen at any point in the game. If only two players remain and the betting process has ended, a showdown can happen. However, the Showdown will occur regardless of two players or the entire table remaining in the game even after completing the final betting round.

All players will reveal their cards face up in the Showdown starting from the dealer’s left. Everyone then looks at the hands of the other players to compare who has the highest value winning hand.

If two or more players tie in a hand or the board contains the five highest cards (best hand), the pot is split evenly among those players.

How to Play Poker Like a Pro?

Professional Poker players make the game appear simple but also work hard to get to that level. Poker is a mind game that demands the timely execution of strategies to win. The few tactics and strategies in the below-given points will help you learn how to play Poker like a pro:

Know your cards

Upon receiving your cards, you need to immediately focus and memorize them so that you don’t have to look at them now and then. This way, it will make you look like seasoned players. Knowing the cards will also assist you in planning actions and focusing more on others while adapting to the scenario.

Don’t be the first to limp!

Most of the finest Poker players open up whenever they are the first to enter the pot. Avoid limping or calling the Big Blind (rather than raising) because:

  1. You cannot win the pot before the Flop, as you could if you have Raised.
  2. You provide very appealing pot odds to the players behind you, thereby increasing the likelihood of facing numerous players and hence less likely to win the pot.

Know when to Raise or Fold

To become a skilled Poker player, you must understand when to Raise and Fold. It is never a bright idea to Raise when you have a particularly awful hand, so folding and quitting will be the correct choice. Likewise, calling it too soon and in a bad situation might potentially cost you to win big.

Thus, on obtaining an exquisite hand, you should keep your head down and wait for the game to develop. Besides, when you don’t know whether to Fold or Call in response to a Raise or Bet, do yourselves a favor and Fold.

Flop/Pre-flop & Bluff

The flop or pre-flop is a game-changer; therefore, you should not miss one. You must play and control your bluffing frequency to avoid a more significant loss. Because Poker is a mind game, bluffing effectively improves to the best hand on a later street. For example, flush draws or straight draws. Thus, you must ensure that your bluffing strategies are enough to trick players in as many rounds as feasible.

Hope this article will help improve one’s skills and master the game of Poker. Reading and understanding this complete guide will effectively make one learn how to play Poker like a professional player. So, when you play your next Poker game, look at this blog.

How to play Poker – FAQs

What are the four main Poker variations?

The main Poker variants can be broadly divided into one of four categories. These are Community card Poker, Straight Poker, Draw Poker, and Stud Poker.

What is meant by the term ‘Burn’ in Texas Hold’Em?

The term Burn means discarding the top card from the deck, face down, before putting out the next community card(s).

What is Pocket Pair in Poker?

In Poker, a pocket pair is formed when you are dealt two-hole cards where both the cards are of the same rank, such as 2-2 or A-A.

What are the odds of being dealt a Pocket Pair in Poker?

The odds of receiving any pocket pair in Poker are about 5.9% (17 to 1). So, once every 17 hands, you’ll get a pocket pair.

What are different kinds of Hold’Em Poker games?

Popularly, there are three different kinds of Hold’Em Poker games that we can learn and play. These are Limit Hold ‘Em, No-Limit Hold’Em, and Pot-Limit Hold’Em.

What are the rules to play poker?

Each player is dealt five cards; in some poker games, they can also be dealt seven cards. As per the strength of cards players possess, they wager chips accordingly. The player with the best five-card poker hand out of seven cards will win the pot. Take a look at this article where we highlight 8 essential rules to play poker.