How to Play Poker: A Quick Guide

Poker is one of the most popular online casino games in the world. Learning how to play poker can take a few days or weeks, but mastering the game can take a lifetime. The game has many variations, but Texas Hold’em is popular among poker enthusiasts. Although the variations may have a different set of rules, the basics are the same. Apart from being a game of chance, strategy and close observation, it involves mind reading as players have to know when to bluff or fold, or knowing when to call the other player to bluff.

Poker Rules

The general idea is to make a hand of five cards out of seven cards, five community cards and your four Hole Cards.

Let’s look at Texas Hold’em rules. The dealer will deal two Hole Cards to the players at the table.  The player seated directly on the left side of the dealer will be required to place a small ante (Small Blind), and the player on his left hand side will do the same, of which is double to his (the Big Blind). Texas Hold’em requires two to ten players.

After dealing two Hold Cards to the players, a betting round will begin with the player to the left side of the Big Blind and will continue clockwise. All the players will have a choice:

  • Check-Continue in the hand without having to add more chips to the pot
  • Bet-Increase the number of chips in the pot
  • Fold- Muck your hand

Players have the freedom to choose the option that is best suited to them based on their two Hole Cards and Community Cards. After this, the dealer will place three cards face up on the table (Flop). Community cards can be used by all the players to strengthen their hand. After dealing the flop, there will be another round of betting, and when this is done, one more card will be dealt to the existing three cards (TurnCard) and then another round of betting from players on the left-hand side. The River Card is the last card that will be dealt by the dealer, and this is the final card that will be dealt.

If one more player is left in the hand after the final betting round, there will be a (Showdown) to find the player with the best hand and who will win the chips

Tips for Improving Your Chances of Winning

Now that you know how to play Poker, let us look at some tips and basic strategies that will improve your chances of winning.

  • Learn to walk before you can run

As mentioned above, Poker is an easy game to learn but takes time to master. So, you should start with small stakes and move up stakes gradually when you feel comfortable. One of the biggest mistakes that people make is playing at a level where experienced players play and find that they lose money faster than they can win a single bet. You may want to start by playing free online poker before you move on to real money games.

  • Be selective with starting hands

Although poker is a game of skill, you also need to be patient. Don’t play too many hands; instead, wait for better hands and don’t be carried away by hand that doesn’t have the potential to win pots. Pro poker players often play about 20% to 25% of their standing hands; therefore, keep this in mind when choosing hands to play with. You might be tempted to play many hands but you should not fall into the trap as this will cost you a lot of money in the long run.

  • Be in the right frame of mind

This is something that many people find difficult to master. When you are in the right frame of mind, you will be mentally prepared to play. Many people often make the mistake of playing poker when they are tired, upset, had a beer, or just not feeling good. You need to be as comfortable as possible; otherwise, you should consider playing another time when you are in the right frame of mind.

  • Bluffing

While bluffing is a vital part of playing poker, it’s something that should not be used more often. One of the biggest mistakes that beginners make is bluffing too much. You can easily be carried away, but you need to be extremely careful as overdoing it can cost you a lot of money at the start of the game.

  • Pay attention to your opponents

Pro poker players pay attention to their opponents on the table. Pick up on your opponents who play patterns to improve your potential of winning. For instance, if a certain player is using a particular strategy to bet in a particular situation, get valuable information on the habit of the players and change your game accordingly.

  • Carefully think about community cards

This is something that many beginners miss. You need to keep in mind that other players may be working to outdraw you with hands such as Straights or Flushes. If the board has cards of the same suit, you need to be careful of the River card and Turn card because people will try to stick around the pot if they have a chance to improve their hand.

  • Manage your bankroll

Bankroll management is a common topic in poker as it helps you to continue playing and increase your chances of winning. Don’t bet more than what you can’t afford to lose. So, set aside some amount of money that you can use for betting on poker. Also, note that you cannot win all the times, so you must have some money to continue playing.


Site co-founder and all round SC tragic, Nick no longer writes too much these days but hosts the SC Report each week and looks after most of the site administration.

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