How to Play Poker for Beginners
Poker is a game of skill, albeit with some luck thrown in. While you can’t control what cards you get, you can control how you play your hand. Whether you’re looking to play a game with your friends or take your game to a casino, you should understand the basics of poker, so you can make informed decisions while playing.
Popular Types of Poker
Poker is a card game that includes several variations. Some of these variations include Omaha, 7-Card Stud, 5-Card Draw and High/Low Chicago. The most popular form of poker, however, is Texas Hold ‘Em and should probably be the game that any poker beginner starts with.
No matter what type of poker you’re playing, the hand rankings stay consistent. A poker hand refers to the cards that you’re dealt and the cards on the table. Not knowing the value of a hand is a major blind spot for many poker beginners. If you don’t know how strong or weak your hand is, you’ll likely make poor betting decisions.
The first step to playing with intelligence is to know the value of your cards and how they stack up versus other possible hands. Below, you’ll find every possible hand, ranked from lowest in value to highest:
- High card: At the end of a round, players may reveal that they don’t have any of the combinations of cards listed below. In this situation, the person with the highest valued card wins. An example of high card winning would be if a player revealed that they had an ace in their hand, while their opponent only had a king. The ace would beat the king, as it’s of higher value.
- One pair: This hand results from a player having two cards with the same ranking, such as a three of hearts and a three of diamonds.
- Two pair: A two pair is the same as a one pair, but double. In this hand, you’ll have two cards of the same rank, with two other cards of equal rank. An example of a two pair would be a hand that features two jacks and two eights.
- Three of a kind: In this hand, you have three cards of the same rank. The other cards in your hand are of different rank than each other.
- Straight: A straight is a simple hand. In it, you have five cards in sequential order. One version of a straight would be a hand that contains seven, eight, nine, ten and a jack. A standard straight will have at least two different suits represented in the hand.
- Flush: With a flush in your hand, you have five cards that are of the same suit. The cards will not be in any particular order.
- Full house: A full house is a hand where you have a set of three cards of the same rank, along with another set of two cards of the same rank. You can think of it as a combination of a three of a kind and a two pair, so three kings and two sixes would be a full house.
- Four of a kind: A simple yet rare hand, the four of a kind is a hand that has four cards of the same rank.
- Straight flush: In this hand, you have five cards of the same suit that are also in sequential order. An example of a straight flush would be a three, four, five, six and seven of hearts.
- Royal flush: A royal flush refers to the rarest and highest-ranking hand in poker. It features a straight containing a ten, jack, queen, king and ace that are of the same suit.
It’s important also to realize that the higher the cards rank, the less likely it is to receive the hand. During any poker game, there’s a higher probability that you’ll see more one pairs than you do royal flushes, for example. With this in mind, you’ll be able to better predict how probable it is for other players to have a higher value hand than yours.
Any beginner poker player’s guide needs to include the main terminology common to poker games. Ensure that you have a clear understanding of the following terms before you sit down at a table:
- Ante: An ante refers to the minimum bet that players have to gamble to play a game.
- Blinds: A blind refers to the money that a player has to bet to before the cards are dealt. There are typically two different kinds of blinds, the small blind and the big blind. A big blind will be of a higher monetary value, with the big blind and small blind rotating around the table after each deal.
- Call: A call refers to a player matching the amount of money that another player has raised the bet to.
- Check: A check is an action that a player can take if a new bet hasn’t been made. Instead of raising the bet, they can effectively pass their turn to see if any other players want to make a new bet. If all players check, the next round will commence, with the dealer turning a card or cards.
- Fold: If you fold, you’ll discard your cards, along with any of the bets you’ve made so far. After you fold, there’s no way you can win the pot.
- Hole cards: Sometimes called “pocket cards,” hole cards refer to the first two cards given to players at the beginning of a game.
- Pot: The pot refers to the amount of money that has been bet so far.
- Raise: A raise occurs when a player wishes to increase the bet.
Beginning Poker Tips
When you first start playing poker, there are a few main tips you should follow:
- Don’t play every hand: Any guide to playing poker will tell you that you don’t have to play every hand you receive. If you get low cards dealt to you that are out of suit and not of the same ranking, it’s entirely respectable to fold once the chance to bet gets to you.
- Don’t bluff too much: While it’s exciting to bluff, it can be counter-intuitive after other players begin to catch on to it. Until you get a better feel for the game and know how to read the table, keeping bluffing to a minimum can help you reduce risk and let you focus on developing other important skills.
- Keep your bankroll in mind: When you play a game, it’s essential that you stick to placing bets that fit your bankroll. Your bankroll is the amount of money you’ve chosen to play the game with. This gives you a firm cut-off point, making it so that you have to keep your bets manageable and your spending in control.
- Know the poker hand rankings: It’s crucial for anyone new to poker to know the poker hand rankings. Make sure to review the information we detailed previously to get a solid grasp on the rankings.
- Avoid the high stakes tables: Though it can be tempting to start playing high-money games, the fact is that you’ll often find more experienced players there. To keep yourself playing with those who are near your skill level, you’ll want to stick to the tables that don’t require you to put down as much money for the buy-in. It’s also financially wise to stick to lower-limit tables, as you won’t have to blow your poker budget in one game.
Come Play Poker at Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino
The best way you can improve at poker is to play it. Located in Lemoore, California, the Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino offers multiple poker tables where you can play the game in a fun, laid-back environment. On top of the poker games, you can stay in our luxury hotel and take advantage of the spa and many restaurants located on the casino grounds.
Reserve a room at our hotel today to start planning a trip full of poker playing, live shows and relaxation.