The Art of Poker: A Beginners Guide

Welcome to this online guide for the game Of Texas Hold’em. This guide will give you a complete beginner’s crash course, and equip you with the skills to start your poker playing confidently. Poker is as much about instinct as it is tactical nous, and although our guide cannot promise you victories it can give you the best platform to only need to find your instinct.

Poker has become a global game, and in recent years has become popularized beyond the gambling fraternity. It is now enjoyed both professionally or simply as a past time by millions of people worldwide, and each day more and more are being attracted to this fun and tactical pursuit.

As Poker has become more popular, it has spread itself into the mainstream and away from a shadowy image. You can now see poker played by friends enjoying an evening together; while there are still those who play to win, and win big. Even in this aspect the game has been revolutionized as it is now seen on mainstream sports channels who air coverage of big stake tournaments. The advent of online poker has meant that people can now play from the comfort of their own home, and can take part in both huge stakes and low stakes matches.

With Poker now at the forefront of the gaming industry it will come as no surprise to learn that more and more casual punters are seeking the game out. If you are new to poker and still have some doubts about the game, or are unsure of the rules, then read our in depth beginners guide and release your inner poker star.

Dealer
If you are playing in a full tournament then the dealer will not be a participant and will merely be the one who deals the cards and officiates the game. If you are in a casual game, the dealer may be assigned to one person or it may rotate through the group after each played hand. If you are a total beginner you just need to know that the dealer is simply the one who gives you the cards.

Blinds
The blind is a forced bet that is issued to the players directly to the left of the dealer. A blind can be issued to anywhere between 0 and 3 of the players to the left. Without bogging a new player down with the technicalities of the blind in its basic sense it is there to stop players continually folding out of hands without losing money.

Now you are ready for your first game, but do not worry this guide will be here to help you every step of the way.

WINNING HANDS
Firstly it is very important to know which cards you may receive can win you a hand, and at what point those hands can become relevant. Many newcomers fail to learn all the possibilities and can often squander a great hand by not knowing they are even holding it. That is why the winning hands are at the top of our guide starting, from lowest to highest.

High Card
If no player holds a better hand then the game is determined by who is holding the highest single card in their hand. For example if player 1 had a King, player 2 had a Queen, and player 3 had a Jack, then player 1 with his or her king would take the hand.

Pair
Two cards of the same value, for example two 10′s would be a pair. This is a risky hand because a high pair will often be tempting, but as it is still a low winning hand a play is fraught with danger. If another holder also has a pair then the player with the highest pair will win.

Two Pair
Two pairs of any value, for example two 10′s and two 5′s. Again in the event of a tie the single highest pair will determine the winner of the hand.

Three of a Kind
Three cards of the same number, example three 4′s. This is a good hand and often is enough to encourage a good bet, but be wary because even though the odds are getting slimmer there could be another player with a better hand. Look out for those bluffs!

Straight
Quite simply a running sequence of cards, for example, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6; although it is not required that they are of the same suit (Club, Hearts, Spades, Diamonds). Again the highest straight wins in the event of two players holding.

Flush
A flush is five cards from the same suit, but they do not have to be in sequence, so any selection of a single suit means a flush. If two or more players are holding a flush, then the highest single card will choose the winner.

Full House
A full house is a three of a kind and a pair combined. This is a great hand to have, and bets can be confidently played from it, and in the event of a tie the highest three of a kind wins the hand.

Four of a Kind
Four cards of any value, for example four 7′s.

Straight Flush
This is a straight and a flush combined, so any cards in sequence and of the same suit. For example 4, 5, 6, 7, and the 8 of Hearts.

Royal Flush
The Royal Flush is the holy grail of poker, and it is essentially a straight flush that encompasses the five highest value cards (10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace).
That completes our look at all of the winning hands in Texas Hold’em, and also part 2 of our guide. Be sure to check out part 3 where we will look at the rounds of the game.

ROUNDS OF BETTING

Round 1 – pre-flop
The pre-flop is where each player is dealt 2 cards called pocket cards (or hole cards) in a clockwise order, beginning the game and the first hand.
As you look at your cards the options available to you in round one are to Bet, Call, Raise, and Fold (to fold is to leave that round and hand). Firstly you will have to evaluate the two card hand you are holding and then decide upon your course of action dependent on the quality of those cards. Each player will have to meet the blind and bet the same amount, but if one chooses to raise the bet the other can either fold, re-raise the bet, or Call.

Round 2- The Flop
After every player has finished the pre-flop, and has placed bets based on the cards they are holding they will be given the three community cards. These three cards are called the Flop and will give you an idea if you will be able to build a winning hand like the ones listed in part 2 of this guide. Each player can use these three cards to determine if they will stay in the game, and the cards will remain in the middle of the game surface.

The same rules of betting take place this time except that the Bet is replaced by the Check. The check is when a player does not wish to fold, but is unwilling to open the round of betting.

Round 3 – The Turn
In round 3 of the game a fourth card is added to the three already in the community at the center of the table, and this fourth card is called the turn. Now you will have six cards (2 in your hand, 4 on the table) in which to try to make the best possible winning hand. Again you can fold if the cards are not to your liking, or conversely if they are you can again Check, Raise, or Call.

Round4 – The River
After the third round of betting is finished there is a fifth card added to the four community cards, and this card is called the river. You are now left with seven cards to make the best possible five card hand that you can, and what you can come up with will determine who will win this hand.

Again your options are to Check, Call, Raise, or Fold. A mistake many make is to have too much pride to fold at this stage if things have not gone to plan, if you can learn to live to fight another day then you will win more in the long term.

The Showdown.
At the completion of all the rounds of betting any remaining players in the hand will be asked to show their hands of the best five card combination they have. If player one reveals his cards and it is clear that you have lost you are not obliged to show your cards, you can merely declare the loss and place your cards face down. If you wish to show them you can, but there is no need. However if you are holding the best five card hand then you can claim your winnings for that round.

Summary
That is the end of our beginners guide to poker. We hope that it will help you as you embark on your poker adventure, and refer back to it at any times in which you get a little lost. You now possess the tools to at least enjoy a game of poker and to take that first baby step on the bottom rung of the ladder. Although this guide can help, nothing can replace experience, so get out there and play some poker!