Whether you’re a new player who wants to learn how to play poker or a seasoned bettor who wants to brush up on your poker fundamentals, you are in the right place. We take you through everything you need to know, from the basic poker rules to the hand rankings, how to play, and the bets you can lay down.

You can also learn about the different poker variations like Texas Hold’em, Omaha, and Stud Poker. You will gain insights into must-know poker strategies and pick up valuable tips on playing poker and winning.

The Objective of a Poker Game: How Do You Win at Poker?

There are two ways to win a game of poker:

  • The first is by genuinely having the best hand based on the game’s rules and hand rankings.
  • The second is through bluffing – where you make the other players believe you have the best hand when, in fact, you don’t.

When you have achieved either of the two objectives, you win the pot – which contains all the bets that players made through the betting rounds.

Sometimes, you may be dealt good cards, making it easier to form a good poker hand. Other times, you may have bad cards, so you must bluff to win.

An Ace pair is the best pair you can have in Texas Hold 'Em poker.

Bluffing is convincing your opponents that you have a superior hand and thus, getting them to fold – even when you don’t. It’s a strategic move that involves high risk but can yield high rewards if executed correctly. Bluffing focuses on playing the players, not just the cards.

That’s why poker is not just a game of chance; it is a game of skill, strategy, and reading your opponents. Winning at poker often means outsmarting your opponents. So, whether holding a Royal Flush or bluffing with a high card, the objective remains the same – to have the best hand on the table, or at least make others believe that you do.

Poker Hand Rankings

The essence of poker lies in getting the strongest possible hand or the hand with the highest value. All poker variants revolve around these poker hand rankings.

There are several hands in poker, each with a different rank and value.

According to poker rules, the highest-ranked hand is the Royal Flush. This hand consists of five sequential cards of the same suit, starting from 10 through to the Ace. The next highest-ranking hand is the Straight Flush, where the cards are all from the same suit and are in consecutive numerical order.

Following a Straight Flush is the Four-of-a-Kind, then a Full House, the Flush, the Straight, Three-of-a-Kind, Two-pair, Pair, and a High Card.

The poker card rankings are neatly summarized in the table below:

Rank Hand  Description Example
1 Royal Flush The strongest hand is the Royal Flush, which consists of the face cards A, K, Q, J, and the number card 10, all from the same suit. For instance, they must all be diamonds. A♦️, K♦️, Q♦️, J♦️, 10♦️
2 Straight Flush A Straight Flush is any straight from the same suit. For example, all the cards must be spades and run in consecutive order 6♠️, 7♠️, 8♠️, 9♠️, 10♠️
3 Four-of-a-Kind Also called “Quads,” the Four-of-a-kind sees a hand where you have four cards of the same face value – one from each suit. The fifth card is called the “Side Card.” A♣️, A♠️, A♥️, A♦️, K♦️
4 Full House A Full House lands you with a hand that has three cards with the same face value and two cards of another. K♣️, K♠️, K♥️, Q♣️, Q♦️
5 Flush A Flush is a set of five cards all from the same suit but not in any particular order A♠️, K♠️, J♠️, 7♠️, 4♠️
6 Straight A Straight is a hand where all the cards are in consecutive numerical order but not necessarily from the same suit A♠️, K♣️, Q♥️, J♦️, 10♣️
7 Three-of-a-Kind Sometimes referred to as “Trips,” a Three-of-a-Kind is where you have three cards of the same face value and two side cards. These side cards can be of different values A♣️, A♥️, A♠️, J♦️, 9♥️
8 Two-Pair A Two-Pair is where you have a pair of cards of the same face value, and then another pair of cards of the same face value, and one side card A♣️, A♥️, J♠️, J♦️, 9♥️
9 Pair A Pair is where you have one pair of cards with the same face value and three side cards of differing values A♣️, A♦️, 5♠️, 4♦️, 2♣️
10 High Card Five cards that don’t work together to make any of the combinations discussed above rely on the highest card. This could be Ace high, King high, Queen high, Jack high, and so on A♣️, Q♠️, 6♥️, 4♣️, 2♦️

Draw Poker, Stud Poker, and Community Card Poker Explained

Before looking into the rules and gameplay of poker, we must familiarize ourselves with the game types. Poker games usually fall under three categories: Draw, Stud, and Community. Each of these poker variants offers a unique twist on the classic game, providing strategic possibilities for players of all skill levels.

Draw Poker

Draw Poker is a classic variant that goes back to the very roots of poker. In this game, players are dealt a complete hand, hidden from their opponents. The real strategy comes into play when players can improve their hands by replacing cards, a process known as “drawing.” The most common variant of this type is the Five-Card Draw, where players engage in two rounds of betting – one before the draw and one after. This game is a great starting point for beginners due to its simplicity and emphasis on basic poker strategy.

Related Content: How to Play 5 Card Draw Poker Guide

Stud Poker

Stud Poker takes the game to the next level with face-up and face-down cards dealt over multiple betting rounds. The most popular variant is the Seven-Card Stud, where each player receives seven cards throughout the hand but only the best five-card hand is used to determine the winner. With no community cards and fixed betting order, Stud Poker requires a keen eye and strategic thinking, making it a favorite among seasoned players.

Community Card Poker

Community Card Poker, including famous variants like Texas Hold’em and Omaha, adds a communal element to the game. These are also known as ‘Flop’ games. Players are dealt incomplete hands, supported by the community cards dealt face-up on the table in steps. All players can use these shared cards to form their best possible hand. The most popular community card game, Texas Hold’em, is often the go-to choice in poker tournaments and has become synonymous with professional poker play worldwide.

The Basic Poker Rules

The general rules of poker will remain the same across all game variants. Whether you are learning how to play poker online or in a poker room at a casino, the sections below provide a brief overview of what to remember when playing poker for the first time.

  • The Dealer: The dealer shuffles the deck, deals the cards, and controls the game’s flow. In a casino setting, a professional dealer handles the cards for every hand. However, the dealer position still rotates among the players to determine the betting order and blinds/antes. It is usually tracked with a button – a small round disk that is always at one spot to the right of the small blind.
  • Order of Play: Poker is played clockwise. The player to the left of the dealer usually starts the betting round, and the action continues clockwise until all players have acted.
  • Dealing the Cards: At the start of the game, the dealer gives each player a certain number of cards. The number of cards dealt depends on the type of poker game being played – Texas Hold ‘Em has two, Omaha has four, and so on.
  • Betting Rounds & Actions: After the cards are dealt, players bet on their hands in several rounds of betting. During each round, players can perform one of the four actions: Check, Call, Raise, or Fold.
  • The Showdown: After the final betting round, the remaining players reveal their cards. The player with the best hand (or the last remaining player after all others have folded) wins the pot.

How to Bet in Poker: The Actions

The “action” refers to the choices you can make when it is your turn to bet in a round. These are:

  • Call – This is where you match the current highest open bet or big blind in the round. It allows you to stay in the game without raising the stakes.
  • Raise – Instead of merely matching the big blind or highest current open bet, you raise the ante or increase the current highest bet. Players do this when they believe they have a strong hand or want to bluff. All other players must then match this new higher value when it is their turn for action to be able to continue playing in the round. Players who cannot meet this new higher value must opt to fold.
  • Fold – If you think your hand isn’t strong enough to win, you can choose to fold and give your cards to the dealer. By folding, you are quitting the current round. When you fold, you must place your cards face-down on the table so no other players can see them and slide them away. While you won’t need to add any chips to the pot in the round you fold, you also do not receive back any chips you have contributed thus far.
  • Check – If no one has made a bet yet (there is no open bet or raise before you), you can check by gently tapping the table. It means that you choose not to take any action (raise or fold) and pass it to the next player.

Stakes in Poker: Blinds & Antes

When you learn to play poker at a casino or online, three betting terms that crop up regarding the amount you put in are stakes, blinds, and antes. These are mandatory bets made before the cards are dealt, creating the initial pot.


In games like Texas Hold’em and Omaha, one player must post the small blind and the player next to them must post the big blind to start the betting. This happens before the cards are dealt – hence the name blinds.

Small blind is always to the left of the dealer and the big blind is to the left of the small blind.

The player to the immediate left of the dealer posts the small blind (usually half the big blind), and the player to their left posts the big blind. For instance, if the big blind is $2, the small blind will be $1. In most poker games, the minimum bet amount is set as the big blind.

The blind rotates with each new hand, moving one player to the left. Hence, every player gets to be the big blind and the small blind.

The blinds are usually denoted in the listing in live poker games at online casinos. For example, a table with a $4/$8 cash game means the small blind is $4 and the big blind is $8.


In some poker variants, all players may be required to post an ante, a small bet contributed by every player. It is in addition to blinds and is usually used in the later stages of the game to stimulate action.

Antes are also mandatory bets. Generally, all players at the table must post the ante, but in some variations, the big blind player will post the ante.

When learning how to play poker basics, you’ll find that to play poker with antes, you and all others playing must put in the ante before the hand begins. Once everyone has paid their ante, the dealer pulls these chips into the pot and then deals the hand.

For example, where the game is played for cash at $5/$10 with a $1 ante, each player at the table must put $1 into the pot before the hand begins.


Stakes is another term you’ll often see when you learn how to play poker.

This term refers to the amount you can bet or buy-in for, or the current size of the game. You’ll find that the stake can outline a specific value or will simply be highlighted as high, mid, or low stakes. For example, the stakes may be highlighted as the buy-in value (say, a $1 million cash buy-in game) or the amount of the blinds (a $500/$1000 cash game) in a $1 million buy-in cash game with $500/$1000 blinds.

Understanding Limit, Pot Limit, and No Limit Poker

When you learn how to play basic poker, there are sometimes limits set on the bets you can make, or you can play with no limits and go “all-in.” Each game will stipulate whether there are betting limits and what these are before the hand starts. Below, we look at the different options you may come across when learning the poker betting rules.


You will find that several poker variants, like stud poker, for example, come with betting limits. However, betting limits may apply to poker games, so always verify this before playing at the best online poker sites.

As an example, a game of Texas Hold ‘Em with a limit of $4/$8 highlights that the blinds are $2/$4. Since limit games feature a small bet and a big bet, the small bet typically equals the value of the big blind. In our current example, the small bet would be $4 and the big bet – usually twice the small bet – would be $8.

The most commonly used structure for a limit game is where the maximum bet or raise equals the small bet during the beginning betting rounds. However, this increases to match the big bet value as the game progresses. The betting in each round is capped after three raises, and those still to play may only call after that.

Pot Limit

Pot limit poker rules outline that the pot’s current size (the number of chips in the pot) sets the upper limit on how much you can bet or raise, so you cannot go “all in” or bet more than what is in the pot currently.

However, in many cases, when the pot limit poker game rules are in play, a maximum limit is set overall, for instance, 50 chips.

No Limit

Another of the top poker rules for beginners that you’ll want to learn is no-limit poker. This rule allows you to bet all of your chips or go “all in” at any point in the game.

No-limit games typically use the blinds and button system. In an example, where six players are seated around a table, each with $200 chips, and the small and big blind have posted and the cards are dealt, the first player to the left of the small blind starts off the betting round. They can choose to bet all $200 chips and go “all in.” Keep in mind that to go all in, you must bet all the chips in front of you when the hand starts regardless of whether it is higher or lower than the amount placed by the previous player going all in.

How To Play Poker – The Texas Hold ‘Em Variant

At this stage, you are familiar with the basic lingo of poker. Now, we will walk you through what a poker game in action looks like – taking the example of Texas Hold ‘Em Poker – the most popular poker variant at the best offshore poker sites.

Here is what a typical round looks like in Texas Hold ‘Em:


To begin, each player receives two cards placed face down. These are called hole cards, and you must not reveal them to the other players; they are for your eyes and your eyes only.

Once all players have two hole cards each, the two players sitting clockwise from the dealer or the dealer button must put out the ante or big and small blind.

Next, all players at the table must match the big blind – also known as call – to move on to the next betting round.

However, you may decide you have a bad hand already and choose to fold, where you return your cards face-down and opt out of the hand. You may also choose to raise, where you meet the current big blind value, and then raise the price for further playing. Other players will then need to match or raise the bet to continue, or fold. Once all players have taken action, you move on to the next betting round.


In the next betting round, the dealer places three new cards on the table, face up, visible to all players. We call this action of showing the community cards the flop.

There is now another round of betting. This betting round begins with the player sitting to the dealer’s left. If you or any other players in the round want to stay in the game, you must meet the highest bet. You also have the option to check, provided no bets are made in that betting round, or raise, if you have good cards or want to bluff.


In this next round, the dealer removes or “burns” the top card of the deck and puts it aside. Next, the dealer places another card face-up on the table, leaving you with four community cards in total. You and the other players then have another round of betting, during which you can call, fold, raise, or check.


The drawing of the final community card is called the river. Here, the dealer burns another card from the top of the deck and then places a fifth community card – also known as fifth street – on the table. This is the last community card. You and those playing with you place one last round of bets. Following this round of bets, all players must reveal their cards. The player who ends up with the best five-card combination wins the pot and gets all the chips.

The next player sitting in a clockwise direction from the dealer now gets a chance to act as the dealer, and the two players clockwise from the new dealer are then responsible for the big and small blinds for the next round. The cards are all shuffled, and then a new round begins.

Types of Poker Games: Popular Poker Variations

Mentioned below are the most popular poker games you may find in top real money online poker sites.

Texas Hold ‘Em

  • Each player is dealt two private hole cards.
  • Five community cards are dealt face-up on the board.
  • The aim is to make the best five-card hand using any combination of your two hole cards and the five community cards.


  • Each player is dealt four private hole cards.
  • Five community cards are dealt face-up on the table.
  • A player’s hand is formed by exactly two of their hole cards, plus exactly three of the community cards.
  • With more hole cards, stronger hands are more common, making ‘aces high’ less likely to secure the pot.

Seven-Card Stud

  • There are no community cards in Seven-Card Stud.
  • Players are dealt seven cards throughout the course of the hand, but only the best five-card hand possible for each player is used to determine the winner.
  • It starts with each player being dealt two hidden hole cards and one visible card.
  • Following this round are four more rounds, in which each player receives an additional card. The player with the best hand at the end then wins.

Five-Card Draw

  • Easiest poker game to learn; highly recommended for beginners.
  • Each player is dealt five private cards (‘hole cards’) that belong to them alone.
  • There is a single round of betting, then players can ‘draw’ – trade in their cards for new ones to improve their hand.
  • There is another round of betting, then the player with the highest-ranking hand wins the pot.


  • This is a form of Seven-Card Stud Poker but is played to form the ‘lowest hand.’
  • The aim is to make the best five-card low hand from the seven cards you are dealt.
  • The Ace always plays low.
  • Straights and flushes do not count against a hand.
  • The best possible hand is 5-4-3-2-A, known as a ‘wheel’.

Related Content: How to Play Razz Poker

Tips & Strategies for Playing Poker

Once you have mastered how to play poker online, there are several strategies you can implement to further your chances of winning. Remember, poker is a game of skill as much as a game of chance. The more you refine your strategies and understand the game, the better your chances of coming out on top.

  • Practice & Learn Continuously: The more you immerse yourself in the game, the better you become at making decisions like when to bet, fold, or raise. Continuous learning and practice also help you perfect your poker face and extend your stay in the game.
  • Think in Ranges, Not Hands: Instead of focusing on the specific hand you have, consider the range – the entire spectrum of hands you could potentially have at any given moment. This broader perspective allows you to contemplate all possible outcomes, not just one.
  • Master the Art of Bluffing: Bluffing is a powerful tool in poker, but it’s a double-edged sword. While a well-executed bluff can help you win even with a weak hand, bluffing too often or predictably can be detrimental, especially if you’re caught in a showdown with a weak hand.
  • Defend Your Big Blinds: The big blind position is a crucial one in poker. Since you tend to play more loosely here than in any other position, it’s essential to defend your big blind effectively. Doing so can diminish the impact of raises made by other players.
  • Know Good Starting Hands: Knowing the value of your cards and their potential to form a strong hand is fundamental to poker. Make sure you’re familiar with the hand rankings and the probability of forming each hand.
  • Observe Your Opponents: Pay close attention to your opponents’ behavior, betting patterns, and tendencies. This can tell you about their possible hands and strategies, and even give you a glimpse of their ‘tell’ – things they do when they are bluffing. These insights can help you make better bets.
  • Change Your Betting Pattern: Avoid being predictable in your betting. Switch your betting patterns to keep your opponents guessing and make your strategy harder to decipher. An unpredictable betting pattern also makes it hard for other players to tell when you are bluffing.
  • Embrace the element of luck: There is a fair bit of luck involved in poker – professionals call this variance. Bad beats and nuts are bound to happen, as are bad runs and good runs. Over time, however, a skilled poker player can turn the tide in their favor by being disciplined and following sound poker strategies.

Play Responsibly

Responsible gambling is key to a positive gaming experience. We encourage setting boundaries and playing within your means. Only play with money you can afford to lose and never play on a tilt. Should you find that your poker playing habits are becoming a problem, seek help and guidance. We recommend the following resources:


Learning how to play poker can be challenging at first. But with a good understanding of the poker rules and how all the parts work together, you can get your head around it in no time. One of the best ways forward is to start with one of the easier variants like Texas Hold’em and learn the game well, from there, you can build on your skills and strategies.

How to Play Poker FAQs

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Chirag Dubey
Sports Editor

Chirag Dubey brings to the table a combined expertise of iGaming, poker, and sports. His passion runs particularly deep with soccer and tennis, but he is open to following other games as well. Poker and sports betting are also two strengths of his, and he is now leveraging his experience into providing best value for all readers on the site. With an emphasis on quality, minute details, and user experience on Sports Casting, Chirag strives for excellence through his content.

Get to know Chirag Dubey better
Author photo
Chirag Dubey Sports Editor

Chirag Dubey brings to the table a combined expertise of iGaming, poker, and sports. His passion runs particularly deep with soccer and tennis, but he is open to following other games as well. Poker and sports betting are also two strengths of his, and he is now leveraging his experience into providing best value for all readers on the site. With an emphasis on quality, minute details, and user experience on Sports Casting, Chirag strives for excellence through his content.

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