How to Play Poker: A Beginner's Guide

First Things First: The Basic Rules of Poker

Whether you're playing Texas Hold'Em, Omaha, or Seven-Card Stud, all poker games follow some basic rules. Here are a few things you need to know before you start playing:

  • The aim of the game is to have the best hand or bluff your way to winning the pot.
  • Poker is usually played with a standard 52-card deck.
  • The value of each hand is determined by the combination of cards.
    The highest value hand is a royal flush (Ace, King, Queen, Jack, Ten), followed by a straight flush (five cards in order with the same suit), four of a kind (four cards with the same rank), a full house (three cards of one rank and two cards of another rank), a flush (five cards of the same suit), a straight (five cards in order), three of a kind (three cards with the same rank), two pair (two sets of two cards with the same rank) and one pair (two cards with the same rank).
  • If two players have the same hand, then the player with the highest card in their hand is the winner. For example, if both players have a pair of jacks, but Player A also has an Ace while Player B only has a King, then Player A would win.

Now that we've gone over some basic rules, it's time to learn how to actually play!

When you read this poker hand guide, read from the left down, and then on the right down. This demonstrates the correct order of strength of each of the hands.

A poker hand guide that displays the name and strength of each hand in order

Get Ready to Play: Setting Up the Table

Before you can start playing poker, you need to set up the table. If you're playing at home with friends or family members, then everyone should sit around the table with their chips in front of them.

If you're playing online poker, then each player will have their own "virtual" seat at the table and their own chips on screen in front of them. Once everyone is seated and has their chips, it's time to start dealing!

Dealing Cards: How Does The Game Start?

The game starts with each player being dealt two cards face down—these are called your "hole cards."

Once all players have their hole cards, the betting starts. The player to the left of the Dealer Button—which is just a marker that indicates who should be dealing—starts things off by either betting or folding.

Betting means that you put some chips into the pot; folding means that you give up your hand and don't get any more chances to win that particular round.

When it's your turn to bet or fold, always remember that there are five community cards dealt face up in the middle of the poker table that everyone can use—these are called "the board."

So even if your hole cards aren't great individually, there's always a chance that they could make a good hand when combined with those community cards!

After everyone has had a chance to bet or fold on their hole cards, three community cards are dealt face up in the middle of the table—this is called "the flop."

Another round of betting ensues, and then another community card ("the turn") is dealt face-up before yet another round of betting. Finally, one last community card ("the river") is dealt face-up before the final betting takes place. This is the last chance for players to bet or fold.

Once the final betting round is complete, the remaining players will then reveal their hole cards and decide who has the best hand based on all five community cards and their two hole cards. The player with the best hand wins the pot!

The best 5-card hand available using any combination of your 2-hole cards plus any 3 community cards wins! 

Once the game ends, you'll need to reset the table and start again. This time, the player to the left of the Dealer Button should be dealing! The process continues until each player has had an opportunity to be the Dealer. However, it's also acceptable to end the game at any time everyone's done playing!

The Bottom Line

Now that you know all about how to play poker--from its basic rules to setting up your own home game--you're ready give it a try! We hope this guide was helpful for any beginners out there who might have been feeling intimidated about joining in on a game of poker.

Remember: everyone starts as a beginner, so don't be afraid to jump right in and test out your skills! Who knows? You might just end up becoming a poker champion one day!

Need some cards to play with? Buy our Wayfarers Playing Cards, as seen in the poker guide!


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