This is the introduction to a wealth of knowledge about the most exciting card game ever devised – poker.
You will soon learn that there are many different variations of poker, but the one thing they have in common is that you have to use your best five cards to make your hand. All forms of poker use a fifty two card deck made up of ranks starting with a two, commonly called a deuce, and continuing by number through ten and then in order comes the Jack, Queen, King and Ace. There are four different suits; Spades; , Hearts; , Diamonds; and Clubs; , all of which are of equal value in poker. So, four different suits of thirteen different ranks make the fifty two cards in a complete deck.
The object of poker is very simple – to win the money in the centre of the table, called the pot, which contains the sum of the bets that have been made by the participants of that hand. Players make their bets or wagers on the belief they have the best hand or in the hopes they can make a better hand give up, abdicating the pot to them.
There is an old poker expression which states that a bet saved is a bet earned. This underscores the concept of discretion being the better part of valour and not continuing to call bets made by others, unless you believe you have the best hand. You may have heard the same concept expressed by the sage advice of “don’t throw good money after bad”.
Poker Hand Rankings
The first and most important step about how to play poker by learning the all important poker hand rankings.
- A standard poker hand consists of five cards.
- Each poker hand is ranked in a set order.
- The higher the rank, the less chance statistically you have of getting it.
- The higher the rank of your hand the better, because two pairs always beats one pair, and a flush always beats a straight.
- When two or more players have a hand of the same rank, then there are more ways to determine the best hand.
Hopefully all these points will make perfect sense by the end of this lesson.
Be sure to pay close attention and memorize the poker hand rankings. Let’s start with the best possible hand in poker.
A Royal flush consists of five cards of the same suit, in sequence from 10 through to Ace. Remember that all suits are equal in poker. If two or more players hold a royal flush (highly unlikely) then the pot is split, i.e. the players share the winnings.
Five cards of the same suit, in sequence. This example shows a Jack high straight flush. If two or more players hold a straight flush then it is the highest that wins. For example, a Queen high straight flush beats a Jack high straight flush. You will notice that this is very similar to a Royal flush, and that’s because a Royal flush is in fact an ace high straight flush – but it’s given its very own ranking.
Four of a Kind
This hand contains four cards of the same rank/value. This example shows four 8’s, plus a 5 (remember that all poker hands must have five cards). If two or more players have four of a kind, then the highest value wins (e.g. four 9’s beats four 8’s). If two or more players share the same four of a kind, which can happen when using community cards (more on that later) then the winner is decided by the fifth card. So a player with four 8’s and a 6 would beat a player with four 8’s and a 5.
A full house contains three cards of the same rank, plus a pair. In our example you can see three 10’s and a pair of 7’s. The value of the three matching cards determines the strength of a full house. So three Jack’s with a pair of 7’s would beat our example hand. If players share the same three cards, which is possible when using community cards, the strength of the pair is then taken into account. So, three 10’s and a pair of 8’s would beat our example hand.
Five cards of the same suit in any order. Our example shows a Queen high flush. If two or more players have a flush then the player with the highest ranked card wins. If the players share the same high card then it’s determined by the value of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th card respectively.
This hand contains five unsuited cards in sequence. Our example shows a King high straight. In the event of a tie, the best straight is determined by the highest ranked card. A straight consisting of 8, 9, 10, J, Q, would lose to our example hand. But a straight consisting of 10, J, Q, K, A, would win. Also note that an Ace can be used as the low card for a straight of A, 2, 3, 4, 5. This would lose to a straight of 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.
Three of a Kind
Three cards of the same rank, and two unrelated cards. Our example shows three 4’s. Three 5’s would beat our example hand, three 6’s would beat three 5’s, and so on. If players share the same three cards, then the value of the highest unrelated card would count and if necessary, the value of the second unrelated card. So, three 4’s with Jack, 8, would beat our example hand. As would three 4’s and 10, 9 (because 9 is higher than 8).
Two cards of matching rank, with another two cards of another rank, plus an additional card. In the event of a tie, the highest pair wins. If players share the same highest pair, then the value of the next pair wins. For example, a pair of Aces, and a pair of 6’s would beat our example hand, as would a pair of Kings and a pair of 7’s. If two or more players share the same two pair, then the value of the fifth card counts. So, a pair of Kings, a pair of 6’s, with a 4, would beat our example hand.
A paired hand contains two cards of matching rank, plus three additional cards. The value of the pair determines who wins in the event of a tie. For example a pair of 10’s beats our example hand. If players share the same pair then the best hand is determined by the value of the highest additional card. If this is the same then it goes to the second card, and if necessary the third. So, a pair of 9’s with an Ace, 2, and 10, would beat our example hand. As would a pair of 9’s, King, 10, and a 3.
If a hand doesn’t fall into any of the above categories, then it is judged on the value of the highest ranked card among the five. In this example we have a hand which is Queen high. If players share the same highest card, then it goes to the value of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and even 5th card if necessary. A hand of Queen, 10, 9, 5, 4, would beat our example hand.
As you already know, a poker hand consists of five cards. In many variations of poker, players receive or can choose from more than five cards. For example, in Texas Hold’em each player is dealt two private cards, but can also use the five community cards that are available for all the players to use. This makes a total of seven cards, but each player must choose their best five cards to make their best possible hand. Here’s an example:
In the above example, the best five cards among total of seven (two private cards and five community cards) would be combined to make a flush.
Let’s start off with a list of poker terms that you’ll need to be familiar with. After this all important glossary, we’ll return to the above “poker speak” example as it is the kind of conversation you will hear from other more experienced players.
All-in– When a player puts all of his chips into the pot he is said to be all-in. That player does not participate in anymore bets above his all-in amount. A side pot is created for the other players. The all-in player is eligible for the main pot only.
Ante – A small forced bet that all players are required to post before the deal. An ante is used in stud poker versus posting blinds as in hold‘em. Antes are also common in tournaments in addition to the blinds at the later levels.
Back Door – A hand which is made back door requires both the turn card and river card to make the hand. An example would be holding a three flush after the flop and needing two more of the same suit to complete your flush. This is also called runner/runner.
Bad Beat – A good hand that is “cracked” or beaten by a better hand that usually was way behind but hit a lucky draw. Every poker player has more than one bad beat story to tell!
Big Slick – This is the nickname for the two card holding of Ace-King.
Blinds – The mandatory bets made by the first two players to the left of the dealer button. They are called the small and big blinds.
Bluff – Making a bet without the best hand in the hope that your opponent(s) will fold and you will win the pot.
Calling Station – A player who calls too often is a calling station. The term is used in a derogatory manner mainly since these players call without the correct pot odds they many times hit long shot winning hands which frustrates other players.
Cards Speak – The best hand is determined by each of the players turning their cards face up with no declaration. The values of the cards speak for themselves.
Check Raise – To check when it is your turn to bet and then, after someone else bets, to raise that player’s bet.
Donkey – An opponent who plays poorly and seems to be throwing his money away. This is the current term for a pigeon, a sucker or a fish.
Double Belly Buster – This is a hand with two inside straight draws. As an example, 79TJK can become a straight with either an 8 or a queen. This draw has the same number of outs (8 winning cards) as an open ended straight draw except the double belly buster is much more deceptive.
Drawing Dead – A draw such that no matter what card you get you will lose. As an example: You have four spades with the King while your opponent holds a pair of Aces along with four spades including the Ace of spades. You’re hoping to draw a spade on the river to make a King high flush. If the spade comes you will lose to an Ace high flush and since your opponent already has a pair of Aces you cannot win. You are said to be drawing dead.
Fish – See donkey – a player who plays the game poorly.
Flop – After the first round of betting, three community board cards are dealt called the flop.
Gutshot – An inside straight draw with only four outs. Drawing to a QJ98 would require one of the four tens to make a straight.
Heads-up – Playing against a single opponent.
Implied Odds – This is an extension of pot odds and represents the ratio of the total amount you expect to win if you complete your hand to the amount you would need to call to continue. While pot odds are an exact calculation, implied odds takes some guess work and knowledge of your opponents’ tendencies.
Inside Straight Draw – See gut shot.
Isolate – To make a raise with the intention of forcing others to fold in hopes of being able to play heads up against a single opponent is to isolate him.
Limp – To just flat call the amount of the big blind is to limp into a hand.
Monster – A very strong hand that is almost certainly the winner.
Muck – Folding your hand is to muck it. The pile of dead cards is called the muck.
Nuts – Based upon the board it’s the best available hand. An unbeatable hand is often called “the Brazils” and “a lock”.
Out – An out is a card that improves your hand, usually to winning status. If you hold the (A, 9, of heart) and there are two hearts on the flop, you have nine outs to the nut flush – the remaining nine hearts in the deck.
Pocket Rockets – A pair of Aces in your hand in hold’em.
Pot Odds – The ratio of the amount of money in the pot to the amount of money it will cost to call the current bet. If the pot holds 100 and it will cost you 20 to call, the pot is laying you 5-to-1 odds.
Quads – The nickname for four of a kind – e.g. “he had quad Kings”.
Rags – Refers to a worthless card. Rags are normally small board cards in hold’em.
Rainbow – Three or four board cards of different suits. If a flop contains three different suits it is said to be rainbow. If the turn is a card of the fourth suit, a flush will not be possible.
River – The fifth and final community board card dealt in hold’em.
Runner-Runner – A hand that is made with both the turn and the river cards. Two running cards are runner-runner. If, on the flop, you have a three flush and both the turn and river are of the same suit making you a flush, you’ve gone runner-runner.
Sandbag – Hiding the strength of your hand by slow playing it early on in order to make more money later in the hand. It’s a deceptive ploy to increase profit.
Set – When holding a pocket pair, having one of that same rank hit the board creates a set.
String Bet – This is an illegal move which occurs when a player does not orally declare his intention to raise but puts out chips to call and then reaches back to his stack to get more chips for a raise.
Tilt – A player who has lost his discipline and is playing too loosely and very aggressively in a desperate attempt to win a pot is said to be on tilt. This is normally caused by a series of bad beats that has frustrated the victim.
Trips – Differentiated from a set, trips occur when two of the same rank is on the board and you hold another of them in your hand. The reason it differs from a set is that only one person can hold the three cards to a set while two people can have the same trips when two of them are on the board.
Turn – The fourth community board card dealt between the flop and the river.
Under the Gun – The first player to the left of the button who must act first is said to be under the gun.
Wheel – The smallest possible straight consisting of Ace-2-3-4-5. It is also called a bicycle wheel or just a bike.
Popular Types of Poker
Hold’em also known as Texas Hold’em, hold ’em is a variation of the standard card game of poker. Two cards (hole/hold cards) are dealt face down to each player, and then five community cards are dealt in three stages face-up, placed in front of the dealer. The stages comprise of a progression of three cards (“the flop”), later an additional single card (“the turn” or “fourth street”) and a final card (“the river” or “fifth street”). The best five card poker hand is gotten by using the necessary cards from the group and/or a specific player’s opening cards (if a player’s best five card poker hand consists only of the five community cards and none of the player’s hole cards, it is called “playing the board”). Players have betting options to check, bet/call, raise or fold. Rounds of betting include prior to the flop/”pre-flop”, “on the flop”, “on the turn”, and “on the river”.
In Holdem as in a wide range of poker, people compete for a measure of cash or chips called the pot. Since the cards are managed haphazardly and outside the control of the players, every player endeavors to control the measure of cash in the pot based either to the hand they are holding, or on their expectation in the matter of what their rivals might be holding..
The game is separated into a progression of hands (arrangements); at the finish of every hand, the pot is ordinarily honored to one player. The goal of winning players is not to win each individual hand, but instead to settle on scientifically and mentally better choices regarding when and how much to bet, raise, call—or fold. By settling on such choices to put down wagers, one can non-verbally represent/suggest holding/not-holding a certain/possible hand by either betting/not-betting pre-flop, and by venturing small or larger bets/raises at possibly more advantageous times, throughout the stages of the hand being dealt. Ones pattern of betting may encourage opponents to actually talk themselves into betting or into folding (in this complex process, called bluffing), without verbalizing a discouraging/or dishonest word. The winning poker players know how to improve the adversaries’ wagering and maximize their own particular expected gain on each round of wagering, to subsequently expanding their long-term winnings.
Also known as Omaha holdem or Omaha hold ’em is a community card poker game similar to Texas hold ’em, where every player is managed four cards and should make his or her best hand utilizing precisely two of them, in addition to precisely three of the five group cards
The original game is also commonly known as “Omaha high”. A high-low split version called “Omaha Hi-Lo”, or sometimes “Omaha eight-or-better” or “Omaha/8”, is also played. In Europe, “Omaha” still typically refers to the high version of the game, usually played pot-limit. Pot-limit Omaha is often abbreviated as “PLO.” Pot-limit and no-limit Omaha eight-or-better can be found in some casinos and online, though no-limit is rarer.
It is also a game where between the cards in his hand and the community cards a player might have attracting possibilities to multiple different types of holdings. For example, a player may have both a draw to a flush and a full house using different combinations of cards. On occasion, even prepared players might require extra time to figure what draws are feasible for their hand.
The fundamental contrasts betweem Omaha and Texas holdem are these: in the first place, every player is managed four opening cards rather than two. The wagering rounds and design of group cards are indistinguishable. At confrontation, every player’s hand is the best five-card hand produced using precisely three of the five cards on the board, in addition to precisely two of the player’s own cards. Not at all like Texas hold them, a player can’t play four or five of the cards on the board with less than two of his own, nor can a player utilize three or four opening cards to camouflage a solid hand.
Some particular things to see about Omaha hands are:
As in Texas hold ’em, three or more suited cards on the board makes a flush possible, but unlike that game a player always needs two of that suit in hand to play a flush. For example, with a board of K♠ 9♠ Q♠ Q♥ 5♠, a player with A♠ 2♥ 4♥ 5♣ cannot play a flush using the ace as would be possible in Texas hold ’em; the player must play two cards from in-hand and only three from the board (so instead, this player’s best hand is two pair: Q♠ Q♥ 5♠ 5♣ A♠). A player with 2♠ 3♠ K♦ J♦ can play the spade flush.
The same thing applies to straights. In Omaha, a player cannot use only one hole card and four cards on the board to play a straight. For example, with a board of5♠ 6♥ 7♦ 8♥ A♠, a player with J♦ J♠ 4♦ 9♠ or J♦ J♠ 9♦ 9♠ cannot play a straight. But a player with J♦ J♠ 4♦ 3♠ can play a straight from 3 to 7;
Two pair on the board does not make a full house for anyone with a single matching card as it does in Texas hold ’em. For example, with a board of J♠ J♦ 9♦ 5♥ 9♣, a player with a hand of A♠ 2♠ J♥ K♦ cannot play a full house; the player can only use the A-J to play J♠ J♥ J♦ A♠ 9♣, since he must play three of the board cards. A player withJ♣ 2♣ 9♠ 10♠ can use his J-9 to play the full house J♠ J♦ J♣ 9♠ 9♦ (or 9♣). Likewise, a player with 10♠ 5♣ 5♠ 2♣ can use his 5-5 to play the full house J♠ J♦ 5♥ 5♣ 5♠.
Likewise, with three of a kind on the board, a player must have a pair in hand to make a full house. For example, with a board of J♠ J♦ A♦ J♥ K♣, a player with A♠ 2♠ 3♥ K♦does not have a full house, the player only has three jacks with an ace-king kicker, and will lose to a player with only a pair of deuces. This is probably the most frequently misread hand in Omaha. (Naturally, a person with the fourth jack in hand can make four jacks because any other card in hand can act as the fifth card, or “kicker”.)
In Omaha hi-low each player makes a separate five-card high hand and five-card ace-to-five low hand (eight-high or lower to qualify), and the pot is split between the high and low (which may be the same player). To qualify for low, a player must be able to play an 8-7-6-5-4 or lower (this is why it is called “eight or better”). Each player can play any two of his four hole cards to make his high hand, and any two of his four hole cards to make his low hand. If there is no qualifying low hand, the high hand wins (scoops) the whole pot. This game is usually played in the fixed limit version, although pot limit Omaha/8 is becoming more popular.
Stud poker is any of a number of poker variants in which each player receives a mix of face-down and face-up cards dealt in multiple betting rounds. Stud games are also typically non-positional games, meaning that the player who bets first on each round may change from round to round .The cards dealt face down to each individual player are called hole cards .
The number of betting rounds in a game influences how well the game plays with different betting structures. Games with four or fewer betting rounds, such as five-card stud and Mississippi stud (described below), play well with any structure, and are especially well suited to no limit and pot limit play. It is a common convention in stud poker to name the betting rounds after the number of cards each player holds when that betting round begins. So the bet that occurs when each player has three cards is called “third card” or “third street”, while the bet that occurs when each player has five cards is “fifth street”. The final round, regardless of the number of betting rounds, is commonly called the “river” or simply the “end”.
Razz is similar to seven-card stud, except the lowest hand wins. Seven cards are dealt to each player, but only the five best cards (generally the five lowest unpaired cards) are used in forming a complete hand.
Razz is usually played with a maximum of eight players,with limit betting, meaning that there is a fixed amount that can be bet per player per round. Each player antes and is dealt two cards face down , and one card face up .The highest door card showing has to “bring it in” – put in the mandatory first bet, which is usually one third to one half of the regular bet. The player responsible for the bring-in can instead opt to “complete the bet”, i.e. make a whole regular bet. If he opts to make a normal bring-in, the remaining players can either call his bet or “complete”, by raising to a regular bet. From that point the betting continues in regular bet increments.
In a case where two people have a door card of the same rank, the bring in is determined by suit.Spades (♠) is the highest possible suit, followed by hearts (♥), diamonds (♦), and clubs (♣). The K♠ is the worst possible door card in Razz, and a guaranteed bring-in. Play continues clockwise from the bring in, as in normal Stud poker. After the first round of betting, each player still in the hand receives another card face up. Betting begins with the lowest hand showing. Play continues like this until the fifth card, at which point the betting increments double. The seventh card is dealt face down, and action would begin with the same player who opened betting on the 6th card. In hand-dealt games, after each hand the deal rotates to the left, as with most forms of poker; although the dealer doesn’t play a strategic role as in blind games.
Open-face Chinese poker , commonly known as Open Face Chinese or OFC, is a variant of Chinese poker where players receive five cards to start and then one card at a time until each player has a 13 card hand legal or not. The game originated in Finland during the mid-2000s and spread to Russia a few years later.
Open-face Chinese poker is often played as a side game in large poker tournaments.
In December 2014, TonyBet hosted the first-ever World Championship of OFC where Jennifer Shahade won the High Roller and Mikal Blomlie won the Main Event.
Pineapple Open Face Chinese poker — For a maximum of three players. Each player is dealt five cards to start. Instead of being dealt one at a time players are dealt three cards at a time.Players set two cards and discards one until 13 card hands are made. If a player achieves fantasyland the player receives 14 cards and discard one. Traditional OFC rules apply to enter fantasyland. Some players suggest AA+ as a minimum requirement. To remain in fantasyland requires three of a kind on top and/or four of a kind or better on the bottom. Full house in the middle does not qualify.
Double deck open face Chinese poker — in this variant two decks of cards are shuffled together and both used in the game, allowing more people to play, Double deck pineapple can also be played. Apart from this the games are played using the same rules as the single deck games. Some players suggest a AA+ as a minimum requirement for fantasy land. By using two decks it is possible to get 5 of a kind; some suggest giving this hand the same royalties as the straight flush
Lowball or low poker is a variation of poker in which the typical positioning of hands is reversed. A few varieties of lowball poker exist, differing in whether aces are dealt with as high cards or low cards, and regarding of whether straights and flushes are utilized
Lowball inverts the normal ranking of poker hands. There are three methods of ranking low hands, called ace-to-five low, deuce-to-seven low, and ace-to-six low. The ‘ace-to-five’ method is most common. A sub-variant within this category is ‘high-low poker’, in which the highest and lowest hands split the pot, with the highest hand taking any odd chips if the pot does not divide equally. Sometimes straights and/or flushes count in determining which hand is highest but not in determining which hand is lowest, being reckoned as a no-pair hand in the latter instance, so that a player with such a holding can win both ways and thus take the entire pot.
The most popular forms of lowball are ace-to-five lowball and deuce-to-seven lowball (also known as Kansas City lowball). Ace-to-five lowball gets its name because the best hand at that form is 5-4-3-2-A. In ace-to-five lowball straights and flushes do not prevent a hand from being low. You win by simply having the five lowest cards. Deuce-to seven lowball gets its name because the best hand at that form is 7-5-4-3-2 (not of the same suit).
Tournament is a poker game in which players start with an equal number of chips and continue to play until one player has collected all of the chips.
Tournament is the most thrilling part of the poker game allowing considerably increase one's bank.
Each tournament has a buy-in as well as a fee. Minimum buy-in is put into the prize pool of the tournament, fee is kept by Poker BTC. The size of the prize pool depends on the number of participants playing in the tournament and will be completely paid to the winners.
Each player is dealt the cards. The player having the highest card combination starts the game as a dealer. Each player's goal is to collect as many chips as possible. Players who lose all their chips leave the game.
These tournaments have a fixed time of starting and always are announced in advance. Player has to register to take part in tournament. The registration closing time is announced in the lobby and ended usually a few minutes before the tournament start.
There are many types of tournaments which can be considered as Scheduled, for example Regular Buy-in tournaments, Guaranteed tournaments, Freeroll tournaments, etc.
A tournament with guaranteed prize pool. The wining sum is fixed and does not depend on the number of players. To start the tournament the minimum number of players is necessary.
The player's participation is free of charge; the prize pool is provided by Poker BTC. Freeroll tournaments are held to attract new players or for those players who have played a specified numbers of hands and allow to win without money investing.
Sit and Go:
These tournaments are available 24/7. They start as soon as the number of registered players amounts to a specified level. The standard poker tournament rules apply to all tournaments in addition to any rules which apply to a particular tournament.
It is probably the most common type of Poker tournament wherein the player is not allowed to rebuy or add-on more chips when he/she runs out of it. All the players are given some specific number of chips and once a player runs out of his/her chips, he/she is eliminated from the tournament.
The tournament gets over when all the players except one are eliminated from the table and this remaining player has all the chips. Another important aspect of ‘ Freezeout Tournaments’ is, the tables are merged as the players are knocked out.
In simple terms, a ‘ Freezeout Tournament’ is basically an online Poker tournament in which no rebuys and no add-ons are allowed.
Different than freezeout tournaments, a ‘Rebuy Tournament’ is one wherein a player is allowed to buy more chips when he/she runs out of chips during the tournament. However, there is generally a specific time is allotted for rebuying more chips. Some facts about rebuy tournament are explained herein:
- There is generally a rebuy period for the first hour of the tournament; however, this rebuy period may vary.
- Players can rebuy chips if they lose all their chips or have less than they had when they started the game. However, the eligibility for rebuys may vary for the tournaments.
- There can be fixed number of rebuys available or the rebuys can be unlimited, it entirely depends upon the tournament.
- Generally, the rebuy tournaments have an add-on period at their end, which may vary, however. Players can add-on same amount of chips with which they started this tourney. Add-on is generally offered to everyone regardless of the size of the stack.
- As soon as the rebuy period is over, players can no longer rebuy into the event.
Satellite tournament is basically a less expensive way to enter in a large buy-in Poker tournament. Generally, it is a modest way to give the entry tickets to all those players who have skills, but cannot afford to pay big buy-ins of large online Poker tournaments. For example, Poker Btc may organize a Satellite tournament that gives a ticket to enter in a big tournament may have entry fees USD 100 to all its players. The Satellite tournaments mostly have very nominal buy-in such as USD 10 so that it can easily be approached by players of all categories.
Bounty tournaments are sometimes known as knock-out Poker tournaments because it rewards a player for knocking-out some pre-determined player or players. Generally, there is a special cash prize for the player for eliminating this specific or bounty player. It is not compulsory to cash in the tournament to be rewarded and the amount of the bounty will be announced prior to the tournament in the tournament lobby itself. However, these tournaments are generally rare online tournaments.