Everyone has heard of poker, but a large majority of people don’t know how to play. If you’re interested in learning, you’ll be glad to know that it’s incredibly easy to get started… Just learn in these nine steps!
Step One: The Cards
All 52 cards are used in poker, and their value in the game is associated with their number (the Ace is the high card). Therefore a 2 is the weakest card and the A is the strongest; Jacks are better than 10s and Queens are better than Jacks, etc. The suit of the card only matters sometimes, which we’ll cover below.
Step Two: The Hands
Even if you have an Ace, you still might lose your bet, because the object is not to have the best card, but the best combination of 5 cards. These combinations are called hands, and are explained below from lowest value to highest value:
High Card– the highest card at the table
Pair– any two matching cards (2,2)
Three of a Kind– any three matching cards (3,3,3)
Straight– Five cards in order (2,3,4,5,6)
Flush– Five cards of the same suit (in any order)
Full House– a Pair and a Three of a Kind (3,3,3,2,2)
Four of a Kind– any four cards
Straight Flush– Five cards of the same suit (in order)
Royal Flush– Suited 10,J,Q,K,A
Step Three: The Table
In poker, you sit in a circle around a table. There are three main positions at the table, which rotate after each hand is played. They are known as “Dealer,” “Small Blind” and “Big Blind.”
Step Four: The Blinds
In home games, the dealer usually plays the hand and deals the cards. In casino games, “dealer” is actually a misnomer and is instead only used to keep track of blinds. In every hand, two players are forced to post a bet known as a “blind.” There are Small Blinds and Big Blinds. The monetary value of the blinds is different for every game, and will increase as the game goes on.
Step Five: Betting
In poker, you bet on the fact that you have the best hand at the table. The betting always opens with the player to the left of the Big Blind, who must match the Big Blind in order to stay in. Betting resumes around the table until every player has bet the same amount. All of these bets go into the middle of the table and become what’s known as “The Pot.”
Step Six: Folding
If you don’t have confidence in your hand, you are able to “fold” instead of bet, which saves you from losing money just because you were dealt bad cards. If you are playing the Small or Big Blind, it usually doesn’t behoove you to fold, as you’re already invested in the hand.
Step Seven: Checking
If the player who bet before you doesn’t raise the bet, you can “check,” which is neither betting nor folding and allows you to stay in the hand.
Step Eight: Bluffing
If you know you don’t have a great hand but want to trick the other players into thinking that you do, you can bluff, which is betting (usually a large amount) anyway and hoping that the other players will get scared and fold, leaving the pot to you.
Step Nine: Showing
When each remaining player has the five card hand that they’re willing to play, they show the hand to the other players. Whoever has the best hand wins the pot, the cards are reshuffled and dealt, and the next hand starts. If only one player remains in the hand, he does not have to show his cards and automatically wins the pot!