How to Play Poker?
Learn how to play poker with this comprehensive guide. With this article, we will take you through everything you need to know about poker step by step, so that you can easily navigate around your future poker games.
How To Play Poker in 8 Steps
Step 1: Poker Hand Rankings
One of the first things any novice poker player must know is how each poker hand ranks compared to other hands. The best way to win is by forming the strongest poker hand but to do that, you must be well versed in “what beats what”.
Ranking each poker hand in ascending order, these would include: high card, pair, two pair, three of a kind, straight, flush, full house, four of a kind, straight flush and, best of all, the royal flush. These poker hands are the standard poker format and are used in most poker games, like the popular Texas hold ‘em, for instance. With that said, there may be poker variants that utilise slight poker hand variations, as in games like Three Card Poker.
Step 2: Table Positions
Your position at the poker table alters your strategy for the game completely. Classic community card poker features a button, small blind and big blind. Whoever holds the button will be the dealer. The small blind and big blind are positioned to the left of the button and act first after the flop (the first three community cards).
The dealer always acts last in a poker round. Acting last gives you a major advantage as you will see how every other player acts and moves before it’s your turn. This would give you an idea of where each opponent stands and, ultimately, helps you determine your own winning poker strategy. By contrast, you would be disadvantaged the most when acting first, as you would have no idea of what hands your opponents have. Remember that your position determines how much leeway you have in the way you can play. The better your position, the more confident you’ll be in the way you play your hand.
Step 3: The Pre-flop
Once two hole cards have been dealt to each player, the pre-flop action begins with the player seated to the left of the big blind. As each player takes their turn to act, they may choose to either fold, call or raise. The betting round ends once every player has made their move. This round is where your knowledge of poker hands and rankings comes into play as well. Depending on your poker hand, your position at the table and other players' actions, you will be able to determine whether to call, raise or fold your hand.
Step 4: The Flop
One every player has acted, three community cards are dealt to the table. This is known as the flop. Once the cards have been dealt, another round of betting begins, where players can check, bet, call, fold or raise. On the flop, the first player to act is not facing any bet; thus, they can check or make a bet. In turn, this means that it’s possible that the entire table checks on the flop. Once a player makes a bet, the rest of the table’s options will be limited to calling, folding or raising. Again, your action depends on the poker hand you are hoping to build. In other words, your decision will depend on the strength of your hand. If you have not been able to form a strong pair or a draw, then it may be wise to fold. For example, if you’re holding a jack-10 and the flop brings a nine and a queen, then you have an open-ended straight draw and it may be worth a gamble to see what the next card brings to the table.
Take the time to examine how other opponents play. The way they act may be indicative of the hand they have — remember, they might be trying to bluff as well!
Step 5: The Turn
The turn is signified by a fourth community card being dealt to the table, followed by another betting round. This betting round is a tricky one. Now that you have four community cards, as well as the two cards dealt at the start of the round, you should be able to determine the direction of where your hand may go. Act wisely here, as there may still be players trying to bluff their way to the top.
Betting is similar to the pre-flop and the flop, allowing players to check, bet, call, raise or fold. Don’t forget that the first player to act isn’t facing a bet and players can check until the first bet is made. After that, players will only be able to call, raise or fold. The same applies to the following step, the river.
Step 6: The River
The river is the final step to a fully formed five-card poker hand with the fifth and last community card. Here, you will be able to fully assess the strength of your hand — or put your bluffing skills to the ultimate test. How you form your poker hand may depend on the poker variant you play. For example, Texas hold ‘em allows you to form a hand out of one, both or none of your hole cards as well as the five community cards. By contrast, players must form a hand out of exactly two of their four cards and three of the five community cards in games like Omaha. After the river, the final betting round takes place. The first of the remaining players (usually two or three) to act can check or bet and, once a bet has been made, the other player(s) can call, raise or fold.
Step 7: Showdown
A showdown can only take place if at least two players remain, during which time each player would reveal their cards. The winner is the player with the strongest five-card hand. The player who gets called will reveal their hand first. If there are more than two players, the next player to the left will show their hand and so on, clockwise. If all players check on the river, the first player to show is the player who acted first.
When your opponent shows his cards and has beaten your hand, you have the option to muck (discard) your cards. Mucking can be a strategic move — if other players don’t know what you’ve been playing with, they won’t be able to get a good read on you. It is also possible to win without a showdown, and winning is possible during any betting round. If all opponents fold and you are the last man standing, the pot is yours. Whether you show your cards or not also ties in with your strategy. Flex your bluff and your opponents may pay you off when you have a strong hand. Showing a strong hand may put you a step ahead of the competition if you’re running a bluff the next time. Not showing at all may be even better, keep your opponents guessing!
Step 8: New Round
Once the winner has been determined, the deck will be shuffled, and a new round will begin.
Remember to take this guide with a pinch of salt, as not all poker variants have the same gameplay. These steps closely resemble the gameplay in Texas hold ‘em, a popular poker game that can be found at many online casinos. Poker games like Three Card Poker, though, are actually quite different. While the poker hands are similar, Three Card Poker is played against the house rather than multiple opponents, and the aim is to build the strongest three-card hand.
For this reason, we highly recommend checking out the rules of the game before you play, especially if you are a novice when it comes to Live Casino gaming. In contract to land-based tables, almost all online poker games are played against the dealer, not other players. Fortunately, you will be able to find a greater variety of poker games at an online casino. Many of these games were created based on Texas hold ‘em, the only difference is that you will be pitted against the house. Games like Casino Hold ‘em, Ultimate Texas Hold ‘em, Texas Hold ‘em Bonus Poker and 2 Hand Casino Hold ‘em might be right up your alley.
If you are hesitating to wager real cash, you might want to take a crack at LV BET’s demo play to become more familiar with how poker works. While we do not have a demo for Live Casino games, our RNG/First-person and video poker games offer free demo modes, like Double Double Bonus Poker. If you want to try out poker for free, make sure to head to the Casino lobby instead, and filter your search by ‘Table Games’.
This way, you can play and test out strategies without risking your bankroll. Once you feel confident and knowledgeable enough, try your luck at a real table!
Play Poker at LV BET
Put your skills to the test at LV BET, where you will find a premium selection of authentic poker tables. You may be lucky enough to come across a Live Casino bonus or two along the way as well, so keep your eyes peeled for new casino deals on our ‘Promotions’ page. If you would like to switch things up, we highly recommend our other Live Casino games, such as classic roulette, baccarat and blackjack, as well as interactive live game shows like Crazy Time and Mega Ball. We can’t wait to see you there!