Poker : How to Play like a Pro

Poker is a popular game that’s easy to learn but difficult to master. Although it’s a card game, poker is also a game of strategy, and you’ll need to constantly read the other players to decide when to fold, when to bluff, and when to call someone else’s bluff.

There are many variations of poker, but Texas Hold’em is the most popular. While each variation has its own rules, the basics of the game are always the same. All you have to do is master the basics – then you can start developing your own winning strategy!

PARTS : How to Play Poker

  • Playing a Round of Texas Hold’em
  • Adding Betting and Strategy
  • Looking Like a Pro
  • Learning Popular Poker Variations

Part 1 : Playing a Round of Texas Hold’em

Step 1

  • Learn 10 basic 5-card hands with their ranking.
  • Familiarize yourself with the different hands
  • Get a “cheat sheet” to study.
  • Memorize different hands to easily recognize them.
  • The highest-ranking hand is a royal flush or the royal straight flush.
    • It includes a 10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace of the same suit, one kind (all clubs, diamonds, hearts or spades). Only be tied but not beaten by the royal flush of another suit.
  • A straight flush is made up of 5 consecutive cards of the same suit.
    • 4 of a kind means you have 4 cards of the same rank (but different suits, of course) and a fifth card of any rank (such as 4 aces and a 9).
    • If you have 4 aces, then no one can have any hand with an ace, so that no royal flush is available.
  • A full house contains 3 matching cards of 1 rank and 2 matching cards of another rank.
    • A flush contains any 5 cards of the same suit.
    • Skip around in rank or sequence, but are from the same suit.
  • A straight contains 5 cards of consecutive rank but from more than one suit.
    • 3 of a kind means you have 3 cards of the same rank, plus two unmatched cards.
    • 2 pair is made up of two cards of one rank, plus two cards of another rank (different from the first pair), plus one unmatched card.
    • Pair means you have 2 cards of the same rank, plus 3 other unmatched cards.
  • High card is the lowest-ranking hand,
    • Called a “nothing”
    • When no two cards have the same rank, the five cards are not consecutive
    • They are not all from the same suit.

Step 2

How to Play Poker
  • Place the blinds (starting bets) or “ante up.”
  • Bets are placed at the beginning of the game.
  • 2 options of betting
    • In Texas Hold’em, the player next to the dealer generally places a small blind bet that’s half of the usual minimum bet, while the player to that person’s left places a big blind that’s at least the minimum bet.
    • Each player can “ante up” minimum starting bet, meaning to place a minimum starting bet into the pool.

Step 3

  • Look at the 2 cards the dealer gives.
  • The dealer will “burn” the first card on the deck to place it out of play. Pass out 2 cards to each player.
  • Check cards to see your holding.
  • Dealer burns a card every round of dealing to make it harder to anticipate what card is coming up.
  • Cards are always passed out the in a clockwise direction from the left.

Step 4

  • Bet, call, or raise after each round.
  • Dealer puts out new cards, make a bet, first bet made solely based on the two cards in hands.
  • Betting happens in a circle.
  • Your few options at the betting are :-
    1. Place an initial bet if no one else has yet.
    2. “check” : avoid betting.
    3. “call” : match the bet someone else has made.
    4. “raise” : add more money to the betting pool.
      • If you “raise,” the other players will go around in a circle and choose to either “call” your new bet or fold.
    5. “fold” : turn cards into the dealer face-down to avoid giving players any advantages! Happens when :-
      • if someone else has bet and you don’t want to match their bet.

Step 5

  • After the first round of betting, the dealer “burn” the top card on the deck.
  • Put 3 cards face-up on the table called the “flop.”
  • These are the community cards that every player can use to build their hand.
  • Compare these cards with cards in hand, then place a bet, call a bet, or fold.
  • In total, the dealer will reveal 5 cards.
  • 7 cards total to use to create best hand of 5
    • two personal cards in hands
    • five community cards on the table
  • Depending on the rules, draw replacement cards for the cards in hand.
How to Play Poker

Step 6

  • Check “turn” card after the second round of betting.
  • The dealer will “burn” the top card
  • 1 card face up next to the flop called the “turn” card or the “fourth street” card, will be placed.
  • Check cards on the table and in hand
  • Check whether to bet, call, or raise.
  • Game may also allow a card exchange at this point, not typically in professional games.
  • Nothing good in hand but the cards on the table make for an easy winning hand, then may want to fold, most likely that another player must have a winning card.

Step 7

  • Examine “river” card.
  • Decide on the hand to play.
  • After the dealer “burns” the top card on the deck and puts 1 last card face up next to the “turn” card, called the “river.”
  • Check hand and community cards
  • Decide on best 5-card in hand to bet, call, or fold.
  • If the rules allow then might be able to exchange hand 1 final time before or after betting but is uncommon in professional games.

Step 8

  • Reveal every player’s hand clockwise in the final “showdown.”
  • After each player calls, folds, or bets in the last round, each remaining player participate in the “showdown.”
  • Starting to the left of the dealer, reveal cards face up. The highest value hand to win the entire pot.
  • In case of a tie, the tied players split the pot.
  • Folded the hand, then don’t have to show cards.
  • In Texas Hold’em, there are 5 cards on the table and 2 cards in your hand. Play the cards on the table only is called “playing the board” but may not be the best strategy.

Part 2 : Adding Betting and Strategy

Step 1

  • Guess risks on starting hand.
  • Check for a pair, 2 consecutive numbers, cards that are from the same house, or face cards.
  • Decide placing a bet to see what the community cards will be.
  • Always raise when hand is a pair, face cards, or aces.
  • An ace and a king or an ace and a queen are strong hands as well
    • Bet before the flop to raise the value of the pot.
    • If the card needed not turn up, then either bluff or fold.
    • Good bluffing at times help win the game.

Step 2

  • Start the bidding with the player to the left of the big blind or dealer. On the first round, bidding starts to the left of the big blind.
  • n later rounds, the bidding starts to the left of the dealer. From there, the bidding goes clockwise.
  • If you’re playing a game with an ante instead of a blind, always start betting with the player to the left of the dealer.
How to Play Poker

Step 3

  • Call the bet if want to stay in but don’t have great cards.
  • Don’t raise the bet.
  • When you call, match the bet of the person before by adding chips or money to the pot. Turn is now over.
  • If the flop comes and you’re holding a hand that doesn’t play
    • Check and fold
    • Don’t want betting money at a hand that won’t win.
  • If the flop comes and you have a strong hand
    • Bet at it.
    • Force weaker hands out.
    • Will raise the value of pot.

Step 4

  • When the bet comes,
    • Tell the other players you want to raise.
    • Say how much you are betting
    • Place your money or chips into the pot.
    • This ends your turn.
    • Not to raise the bet above the maximum for game.
  • Variation
    • Decide to go ahead
    • Raise the bet to trick everyone into thinking to have good cards.
    • This is called “bluffing.”
    • Strategy used to win a hand even with bad cards.
    • Risky strategy because bluff might get called.

Step 5

  • Fold means quitting the round of poker.
    • if the bet is too high
    • If have a bad hand.
  • To fold
    • Place cards face down on the table
    • Say, “I fold.”
    • Add cards to the discard pile.
  • Don’t show your cards when you fold during a game
    • Spoil the mystery which cards are out of play
    • Give certain players an upper hand.
  • The key to being successful at poker
    • knowing when to fold hand.
    • accept a smaller loss.
    • when to hold onto it.
    • risk a larger loss to win the pot.

Step 6

  • Decide to draw any cards, if the game allows.
    • Look at cards to decide to play hand.
    • Try for better cards, discard the unwanted cards.
    • Draw replacement cards from the central draw pile.
  • Discard as many cards as you want.
    • You may not be allowed to draw new cards while playing Texas Hold’em.
    • Check the rules before starting to play.
How to Play Poker

Step 7

  • Play only with money you’re willing to lose.
  • When learning
    • Never over gamble
    • Consider acceptable amount to lose.
    • Don’t add to your bankroll
    • Don’t dive back in after losing everything.
    • Wait till you’re comfortable losing that amount again.
  • The general rule of thumb
    • Easily afford to lose 200 bets at the highest limit.
    • limit is $5 bets, then bankroll should be $1000, stop there.
  • Track your wins and losses to be serious about poker
    • Figure out whether you are winning or losing in the long run.
    • Remember to keep records
    • Pay taxes on gambling income to avoid legal trouble.

Step 8

  • Learn to read basic tells
  • Play opponents is more important than playing cards in poker.
  • Always good to be aware of players’ ans your “tells”.
  • Watch for betting patterns
    • early
    • very often
    • probably with weak hands
    • late in a hand
  • Physical tells gives
    • estimation of opponent’s strength of hand
    • help keep own strategy secret by avoiding such patterns.
  • Classic tells
    • Shallow breathing
    • Sighing
    • Nostrils flaring
    • Flushing red
    • Eyes watering
    • Blinking
    • Swallowing excessively
    • Increasing pulse seen in the neck or temple.
    • Hand over the mouth to conceal a smile
    • Shaking hands reveal nerves.
    • A strong hand player glances at his or her chips when the flop comes.
    • A mediocre player tries to impress by staring you down, it’s bluffing.

Step 9

  • Identify conservative players from aggressive players to determine players’ betting patterns and read them more easily.
  • If players are
    • more conservative, they fold early, only staying in when cards are good.
    • Very conservative, they don’t lose as much money, but tend to avoid high betting, they often be bluffed into folding.
    • Aggressive players are risk-takers, bet high early in a hand before seeing how others act on their cards.
How to Play Poker

Part 3 : Looking Like a Pro

Step 1

  • Practice and watch others play to develop quick instincts.
  • The more you play and watch, the faster and better you’ll get.
  • Every poker game is different.
  • Develop good instincts.
  • Do not memorize and apply tricky systems.
  • Observe experienced players.
  • Imagine how you’d react in position.
  • Watch how experienced players react.
  • Decide how to improve strategy to move forward.

Step 2

  • Shuffle the cards and cut the deck before they’re dealt.
  • Help mixing them up to make the game fairer.
  • Just do a basic shuffle, split the deck into 2 stacks.
  • Hold a stack in each hand close together facing towards each other.
  • Use thumbs to flip through the cards to combine the deck into one.
  • Leaving the dealer, ask someone to cut the deck ny
    • Separating it into 2 stacks.
    • Placing the bottom stack on top.
  • Repeat shuffles to ensure the cards are all mixed up.
  • Dealer performing the shuffling and betting last is called the “button” position.
  • After each hand, pass the dealer/button position to the next player on the left.
  • If dealer is always the same person, as in a casino, the button position will pass clockwise around the table.

Step 3

  • Say “check”
    • to skip placing a bet
    • simply tap the table twice with two fingers.
  • You can say this
    • if you are the first better
    • if all those already betting have checked.
  • Saying “check” when it’s your turn at the beginning of a new hand, means you choose not to place a bet at that point instead, you are passing the chance to open to the next player.
  • In next rounds, “check” means staying with the bets you already paid into the pot during this hand, and won’t pay more until someone else raises during their turn.
  • If nobody raise on that hand, then you only can say “check” or maintain “check.”

Step 4

  • Say “I open”
    • if a bet hasn’t been placed yet.
    • you want to open too betting.
  • If you choose not to open,
    • take turns in clockwise order.
    • until someone else has opened.
    • or every player checked.
  • If everyone checks, either it is time
    • to choose to discard
    • to draw 1 to 3 cards
    • to “hold pat” on the cards you have.
  • When there are fewer than 3 cards available to draw, replacements will be drawn.
  • The dealer will shuffle the discards and add them to the bottom of the draw stack.
How to Play Poker

Step 5

  • Say “call” if you want to bet the same as the last person. Calling means making a bet equal to the last bet or raise.
  • For example, if the person right of you just bet $10 and it’s now your turn, you would say “call” or “I call” to match that bet. Then you would place $10 in chips or cash in the pot.

Step 6

  • “Raise” to increase the current betting amount.
  • Also known as “sweetening the pot.”
  • Raise or re-raise needs finishing round and making another round to now allow any others to “call” or “raise” the amount of last bet to stay in the game, or else “fold”. +
  • Who already called, can check on turn and the hand is finished unless someone re-raises.

Step 7

  • “I fold” to quit a hand.
  • Folding
    • Forfeiting cards
    • Giving up that pot with any bets made into it.
  • Wait to be dealt into the next hand if,
    • have chips
    • have not reached limit of losses.
  • To fold
    • Put cards face down on the table
    • Place them onto the discard pile.
  • Fold at any point in a hand when it’s your turn.

Step 8

  • “Cash-in” when ready to quit the game.
  • “Cash-in” means exchanging poker chips for money.
  • If you still have chips but don’t want to play anymore
    • Take your chips to the bank.
    • Tell you’re ready to cash in.
    • Bank determines how much money your chips represent.
    • Bank will give cash.
  • You can return to the table to watch the game after getting cash.

Part 4 : Learning Popular Poker Variations

Step 1 : Master the basics of five-card draw

  • This variation has optional rules
  • Can be agreed on before the game begins
  • Pre-decide
    • whether or not to use jokers and wildcards
    • which cards are high and low.
  • The object of the game is similar to Texas Hold ‘Em
    • get the best 5-card hand
    • within the bounds of your own 5-card hand
    • without common cards.
  • Determine the betting structure by deciding whether
    • play fixed-limit
    • pot-limit
    • no-limit
  • Decide on the dealer by asking “Who deals first?”.
  • Dealer may be elected or each player could draw for the position depending
    • on the group
    • where you’re playing
  • The organizer or host may choose to deal first.
How to Play Poker

Step 2 :Learn 3-card draw

  • Players start by making an ante bet.
  • The dealer and the players get 3 cards
  • The players must decide whether
    • to make a play bet
    • to fold.
  • Dealer reveals
    • cards for a showdown
    • whoever has the best hand wins.
  • Like with a 5-card draw, choose to vary the rules if playing at home.
  • Jokers can be wild & can be used to represent any card value.

Step 3 : Study some of the more obscure variations

  • Learn the rules of the other variations, if
    • wish get into the game.
    • want to impress others with your knowledge of poker.
  • Try to play variations, like
    • Straight Poker
    • 5-Card Stud
    • 7-Card Stud
    • Lowball
    • Omaha
    • Pineapple
    • Crazy Pineapple
    • Cincinnati
    • Dr. Pepper

Conclusion : How to Play Poker

The practice is the key word, although steps and rules of how-to-play-poker have been shared with you. To become a good poker player, try to indulge in game by watching, assimilating and building confidence for the game. It will take time and practice.

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