Poker | Learn how to Bet, Play and Win at this Game

How to bet/play Poker

Learning the fundamentals of poker

The game of poker hails from the middle of the 18th century and comes in many forms. The most famous of these variants are Omaha and Texas Hold ’em, which this tutorial will aim to address.

Many players are put off from trying poker as they consider it to be too strategical and complex. While this is true, it is also remarkably simple at the same time, and you really only need to memorize the hand rankings to win at poker.

It is a game that takes no time at all to learn, but where winning is an altogether different thing. Take this world-famous quote from poker legend, Mike Sexton, “Poker takes five minutes to learn but a lifetime to master.” Never has a truer word been spoken about the wonderful game of poker.

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Poker Variants

While there are other variants -- Open Face Chinese, 7-Card Stud, 2-7 Triple Draw, 5-Card Draw, Badugi, H.O.R.S.E, Razz, and Short Deck, for example -- that have been addressed on other pages, our intention here is to introduce you to Omaha and poker's most popular and common variant, Texas Hold 'em.

No limit (where players can bet what they like) and pot limit (where players cannot bet more than the pot) can be applied to either of the games we are looking at here. Abbreviated into a short form these are PLO, meaning Pot Limit Omaha, and NLHE, which naturally enough stands for No-Limit Hold 'em.

In Hold 'em, the aim of the game is to put together the strongest five-card hand made up from your two hole cards plus the five community cards. A player can even use all of the community cards and no personal cards to form a hand. 

In Omaha, however, players must use two hole cards and three community cards to build their best possible five-card hand.

First things first, though, and it is important to state that both games play off the same card values. Listed below, are the poker hand values in descending order:

The Poker Hands

Royal FlushThe strongest hand in poker consists of 10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace, all of the same suit.
Straight FlushThis hand is made up of five consecutive cards of the same suit.
Four of a kindA hand containing four cards of the same rank.
Full HouseA full house is a five-card hand made up of three of a kind plus a pair.
FlushThis hand has five cards of the same suit.
StraightFive consecutive cards in a hand are called a straight.
Three of a kindA three of a kind is composed of three cards of the same rank.
Two pairTwo-pair hands are made up of two pairs.
PairA pair is composed of two cards of the same rank.
High cardIf there are two players at showdown who do not have a pair or better, then the one with the highest card wins.

Texas Hold 'em

To play Hold 'em, two players must post a blind bet, known as a blind. The reason for their obscure name is that players must post these bets before a single card has been dealt. So players have no idea what they will be holding when the game actually gets underway. There is one small bet which is the small blind. Another is the big bet, called the big blind, which is twice the size of the small blind.

The two players sitting to the left of the dealer post these blind bets. The dealer being a player at the table is responsible for this moving clockwise around the table after each hand. The current dealer of the round has a chip, known as a button, placed in front of them.

The order of the deal

The dealer then deals each player, including themselves, two cards facing down. These are called hole cards or sometimes as pocket cards, and players can see their own, after which there is another round of betting. This part of the game is commonly referred to as pre-flop.

The dealer then deals three community cards face up for all players to use. This part, known as the flop, precedes a betting round where players have the options of calling, raising, or folding. 

Afterward, the dealer then turns over the next two community cards one at a time with a round of betting after each card. These two card reveals have names referring to them. The turn refers to the first card reveal and the river refers to the final card turn.

After this final round of betting, assuming that there are some remaining opponents in the hand, the players go to a showdown, where they reveal their cards to determine a winner. Essentially, there are two types of poker winners. Either the player with the strongest hand or the player who bluffed that they had the strongest hand and got all of their opponents to fold.

Omaha

Omaha is not a million miles away from Hold 'em in that the betting rounds, dealer rules, and blinds are the same. Where the game differs is the hand construction.

Here, the dealer deals four hole cards to the players and must again make the best possible five-card hand. However, a player MUST use precisely two hole cards and three community cards to make up their hands.

Other than that, the game works in much the same way. Once players reach the showdown, the best possible five-card poker hand wins the pot. 

In games of hi/lo, the pot is split between the holder of the highest hand and the holder of the lowest hand. However, it is possible for the same hand to win both the high and the low half of the pot, called scooping.

Where To Play Online Poker

Which online poker room you decide to sign up to and deposit with is a decision that only you can really make. There are players, perhaps even newcomers to the game, that are looking for rooms where there may be less skilled opponents at the table and which are typically referred to as soft. 

In this situation then, be careful not to be a fish, or feed for the sharks, who are the skilled players at the soft tables looking to exploit the pots on offer. And above all, make sure to pick a fully licensed site that has been certified as safe by the appropriate regulatory body.

Common Poker Terms

Poker TermsDefinition
DealerA player at the table with the chip receives the last card dealt. In every round, the dealer chip is moved clockwise.
Small BlindA bet played before the cards are dealt. The player next to the dealer post this bet and is dealt the first card.
Big BlindA bet double the amount of the small blind. This player is nexrt to the player who posted the small blind.
Hole CardsThese are the two cards dealt to players also known as pocket cards. Players must keep these cards secret until the community cards are dealt or there is a showdown.
Pre-FlopPlayers can see their hole cards and decide to start betting before the flop is revealed.
FlopThe first three community cards players see. Players must make a decision here to bet, call or fold.
TurnThe fourth community card revealed. Players can once again decide to bet, call or fold.
RiverThe fifth and final community card revealed. The remaining players can choose again between betting, calling, or folding. Once betting is complete the hole cards are revealed and a winner is determined.

How To Bet/Play Poker FAQ

Is online poker legal in the United States?
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Yes, online poker is legal in the United States on an individual state level, although unfortunately not federally.

Are My Personal Details Safe And Secure at Online Poker Sites?
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Yes, of course. Most of the time, these are the same operators you have been betting with safely for years and employing all of the same encryption-based security features.

Can New Players Practice Free Poker First?
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Yes, not only can they, but they should. It would be smart to get the hang of the game before you risk money on it.

Which Games Can Be Played at These Poker Sites?
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You can certainly play the games we have listed above, Texas Hold ’em and Omaha Hi/Lo.

How Good Is The Software At The Top US Online Poker Sites?
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If you choose to play online poker in the US, you will be playing at government-regulated, well-funded, highly-secure operations.

About Cole Paganelli
Cole Paganelli author profile

Cole is really big into Major League Baseball, but really - the big four Pro US sports are his passion. Cole grew up a Yankees fan, but married a Red Sox fan. It's tough around the house during those big games, but his hatred for the Red Sox has waned a little. Cole has a goal of seeing every Major League Baseball Stadium before the end of 2022!

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