How to play poker

Texas Hold’em Poker is the main poker game that is played in the Fitzwilliam – in addition to being the most popular form of Poker, it is the easiest to learn and if you are new to the game, the following guide should provide a good introduction to get you started.

In Texas Hold’em, the player who “acts” as the Dealer is called the “button” (although almost all tournaments in the Fitzwilliam are professionally dealt) and play proceeds clockwise from the button. The Player to the immediate left of the button must post the “small blind”, which is half a “small bet”. The next player on the left is the “big blind”, and must post a whole “small bet”. The two blinds are forced bets which make sure there’s money in the pot on every hand. Initially, the Dealer shuffles up a standard deck of 52 playing cards and each player is dealt two private cards face down – these are called your “hole” cards or “pocket” cards. A round of betting is then started with the player to the left of the blinds. This is the “pre-flop” betting round and like most games of poker, players can call, raise, or fold.

After this betting round ends, the Dealer discards the top card of the deck. This is called a “burn” card and is done to prevent cheating.

The Dealer then flips the next three cards face up on the table. This is called the “flop”. These are communal cards that anyone can use in combination with their two pocket cards to form a poker hand.

The player to the left of the Dealer starts another betting round and after the betting concludes, the Dealer burns again then flips another communal card onto the table. This is called the “turn”.

The player to the left of the Dealer begins another round of betting and once again, the Dealer burns a card and places a final card face up on the table. This is called the “river”. Players can now use any of the five cards on the table or the two cards in their pocket to form a five card poker hand.

There is one final round of betting starting with the player to the left of the Dealer and following that we have the “showdown”. All of the players who haven’t already folded have to reveal their hands. This begins with the player to the left of the last player to call. Players use a combination of their pocket cards and the community cards to form a five card poker hand and the player who shows the best hand wins, unless more than one player have hands of equal value and in that case they split the pot.

Ranking of poker hands from the best hand down

Ranking of Poker Hands

Poker Basics

While the various forms of Poker can range wildly in style of play, rules and betting, the basics of the game remain the same:

  • The setup: Poker games are played with a standard 52 card deck. Each player is dealt an allotted number of cards depending on the rules of the specific game being played. In some games, such as Ultimate Texas Hold'em, community cards are also dealt.
  • The objective: Each player uses their cards and the community cards to try to create a combination of cards that outranks their opponents. Hands are ranked in order of value, or strength, based on their difficulty to obtain. For example, four-of-a-kind beats a pair. Each Poker game sets rules on the strongest hands or the strength of hand needed to qualify for a win.
  • Betting: Bets are made at standard intervals set forth by the game's specific rules. Players assess the strength of their hands or the perceived weakness of the dealer or other players' hands while betting. Some forms of the game, such as 3 Card Poker, offer multiple ways to bet, and win. Whatever you do, don't splash the pot.
  • The fun: At the end of betting, the player with the best hand wins. Rake in the chips!
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♦ Poker Cheat Sheet

Get started with Texas Holdem poker with this easy to use Texas Holdem poker cheat sheet. New players love our poker cheat sheet as it tells them everything they need to consider before playing the game we all love.

♦ Range Construction

Find out how to build ranges in our range construction post. I also give away free templates and databases so you can get working on your game straight away.

Richard Jenkins HowToPlayPokerInfo ownerHello! My name is Rich and I am the owner of HowToPlayPokerInfo and if you are new to poker or you are struggling to beat small stakes or home games then this website was created for you!

I have been playing poker online, on and off, since I turned 18 (and maybe a little before then too!)  but never took it more seriously than playing part-time during university.

I fortunately did not need a job while in university and was able to be financially independent because of poker, so I have a lot to thank for the great game.

I was only able to play full-time during the summer months, as studying always took priority over playing poker. Now I am working on my PhD in Mechanical Engineering so poker still only gets my attention during weekends and evenings.

Here are my results back in 2015 with about 375 hours of play which works out at about $45 an hour  – not bad for a part time student of the game.

I mostly play cash games poker but also dabble in tournaments from time to time. The hands shown above were all played at zoom on PokerStars which is a fast variant of poker that is very competitive.

I don’t claim to be a world beater at poker but I do know my way around the poker table and learned a lot along the way which is why I made this website.

I want to help you bring you the best information for learning how to play poker targeted towards beginner to novice poker players. My goal is to help you increase your win rate and become a successful poker player – after all, poker might be fun, but it’s more fun when you are raking in some chips!

It doesn’t matter if you have only ever played 100 hands of poker in your life, or ground out 100,000 online and haven’t made a penny – there will be something in here for you.

Poker Training For the Ambitious Beginner

Poker training for beginners learning pokerFor players who want to learn to play poker very quickly, I recommend some paid training options. I ranked the best 7 in my popular post here but they include some advanced options.

PokerNerve also has an awesome course called the Road To Success Course which is perfectly suited to beginners learning to play poker from scratch. I really enjoyed this course and it starts from complete basics of poker so is suitable for all levels.

A complete beginner should check out the upswing poker lab which has all the tools and content to bring you from a complete novice to a low stakes crusher in a couple of months. I highly recommend this training site!

You can also check out my very first YouTube post which is a video review of the upswing poker training lab:

Finally, another popular post with more advanced poker players is range construction which you can check out here.

Good luck on the felt and I hope you crush it in your poker career!

Page 2

Welcome to Poker 101 for dummies – where beginners learn to play poker.

Poker 101 will give you a grounding in the mechanics of the game and get you started with some winning strategies. Read through the following pages to get an understanding of all poker related info plus lots of extra tips and tricks.

If you are unsure of the Rules of Texas Holdem or the Hand Rankings of Poker, make sure you check them out too.

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Get the PDF version of the complete Poker 101 guide for offline use (30+ pages of poker goodness). Use one of the buttons below to unlock:

Thank you for the support. Get your Poker 101 Guide here.

Simple structure, complex game

complex pokerThe structure of poker is very simple: you have a bunch of people (usually a maximum of nine players per table), dealt two cards face down each and they battle it out who has the best five-card combination.

In game theory, poker is classified as “fixed game” with strict rules and an expected payout.

The player who has the best hand wins and gets paid while the rest ends up with nothing. In other words, poker is a zero-sum game. There’s only one winner.

It looks so simple, as poker greats used to say, “it takes a few minutes to learn, but a lifetime to master.”

What’s so hard about poker?

You have several players taking turns clock-wise and they’re given choices whether to call or fold, raise or re-raise.

The crux of poker being a complex game lies in vast probability and psychology the game is known for.

True, there are a finite number of cards in a deck, but the probability of landing a monster hand and getting the nuts is infinite.

Also, if you’re not prepared for the swings, poker can drive you “nuts.” I’ve seen many big men figuratively down on their knees with each bad beat and some even try to control tears from running down their cheeks.

It’s drama in real life with a thousand “what ifs” – what if I’ve played this hand differently?

What if the donkey player didn’t call?

What if I just stayed home and didn’t lose sleep?

Poker is very emotional right through a person’s core that’s why it’s a complex game.

It’s not just about cards; it’s poker.

To get money, you need money

make moneyThis is the stark reality of poker as a recreational game and professional sport.

You need to be ready to shell out cash if you want to play in the game. As the cliché goes, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

If you’re after the recreational side of poker and hope to win a little bit of cash, you need money.

It’s no different from watching a blood and gore movie.

You have to pay for the ticket.

Do you want to play bowling with your friends?

Then you should be ready to pay for bowling lane use.

How much more if you want to learn how to play poker like the pros and win every time? Those who are considering making a living out of poker need to make a considerable investment.

You need funds for your buy-ins. You can’t enjoy your dinner if you only have a fork and a knife. And you need a steak.

Now, let’s put these things aside temporarily and look at the following tips how you can play poker like the pros.

Opening hands to play

opening hands poker

Although highly criticized, Phil Helmuth’s top ten opening monster hands have been guiding beginners to help them quash low- to mid-level games.

These poker hands made me start winning morewhen I first started playing poker and decided to play more seriously at the beginning of my career. From time to time I still play with these opening hands whenever it suits me and I play it aggressively.

These opening hands are very helpful especially if you’re at the beginner level and you don’t yet have an arsenal of a wide range of hands that you can play with.

Bear in mind these opening hands are not etched in stone.

Of course, you can vary your opening hand choices, but putting Helmuth's hands would help a lot.

However, this strategy of playing “only” these monster hands fell under heavy criticisms from other professional poker players.

They argue that such advice won’t play well for beginners who are playing low-stakes games. In most low-stakes poker games (usually house games), players would play almost any hand just for the fun and recreational part of it.

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Be that as it may, being dealt with monster hands is sweeter rather than just playing any suited and non-connected cards.

They will also allow you to test your strength and emotional game state how you would play each monster hand.

As you play along, you would develop the knack to develop your strategy on how to go about your game.

On Calling, Raising and Re-raising

When do you call a bet?

Do you raise?

When do you re-raise?

How much should you bet?

How much should you re-raise?

These are the common questions beginners ask as they explore poker and learn more about the game.

The answer: It depends. Really. A good barometer for calling, raising, and re-raising depends on the following factors:

  • The hand you’re playing
  • Your position at the table
  • The size of your stack
  • How you read your opponents’ tells

Table position

poker tableIf, on the other hand, you’re holding a medium pair or suited connectors like double eights, theory suggests that these hands are good to play when you’re in mid-table position and there are no raisers.

And if there are raisers in this particular hand, don’t immediately fold.

Assess the amount raised whether it’s worth playing or not.

I like playing suited connectors especially when I’m the last to act (or especially when I’m on the button).

I could hope for many possible variations of hitting something on the flop or the chance of getting a draw like a straight or a flush.

Stack size

poker stackThe size of your stack is as important as the hand you’re holding.

The bigger your stack, the wider your hand range becomes.

You can experiment with different hands, but always be careful not to overdo it.

Poker is a game of attrition.

The more poker chip towers you have, the more you can dictate how you and your opponents play.

When you get a monster hand together with a huge size of chips, you can limp to suck more players in or play aggressive and go for the immediate kill.

The downside to big stacks, however, is when you get outdrawn in a play and you’ve committed a sizeable portion of your stack.

Most poker players, including pros, tend to tilt and lose composure.

In most cases, players who tilt find it difficult to shift gears and play their best as they’re sucked into a series of bad beats and bad plays.

Invest in the game

investing pokerEarlier we said that poker requires money to get money.

Well, there’s another form of cash beginners tend to overlook: Time.

Time is gold as most people say. It is. Time is the equivalent of money in its strict business sense.

In poker, you need to play at least 2,000 hours for you to get a reasonable statistics of your game to generate ample data on how you play.

To learn how to play poker like the pros and win every time means putting in the hours just like everybody else the way a bank employee kills his own time in front of a teller machine.

Apart from the 2,000 hours that you spend at the table, you also need to invest in books and videos to read and to watch how the pros do it.

Poker is an evolution in card games – it’s survival of the fittest. And the fittest are those who could adapt, mimic, and incorporate the good and throw away the bad.

How many poker books have you read so far?

How many WPT series have you seen online or on cable TV?

Have you joined poker forums and discussed your plays and exchanged ideas with other players?

This is what we mean by investment.

It’s more than the amount of money you put on the poker table both live and online.

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