The Basics of Poker

This guide will cover the basic rules and terms for playing Texas Hold’em poker. Texas hold’em isn’t a hard game to learn, but to master it at the highest levels takes years of experience. As with most card games, there is an element of luck involved in becoming a winning poker player but skill in the game is a much more important factor. There are many sites out there that offer in-depth strategy on how to play poker and how to improve your game. For example, is an excellent site where beginner poker players can learn a wealth of information on all types of poker.

The Objective of Poker

The objective of poker is to win as many chips, or money if you are playing in a cash game, as possible which is done by winning hands. The player which folds last is the winner or if more than one player is active in the hand at the end of betting then the player with the best hand wins.

The amount of chips a player wins on each hand depends on how much each player bets. Players take turns in betting and usually bet more either when they think have the best hand, when they think their opponent has a bad hand or to make their opponents believe they have a strong hand (This is called ‘bluffing’). All the bets go into the middle of the table after each round of betting and this collection of chips is called ‘the pot’. This is what the winner of the hand collects.

Winning hands

Each player is dealt two cards face down (whole cards) and throughout the hand up to five cards are dealt face up in the middle of the table. It is the objective of each player to make the best five card hand possible out of their two private cards and 5 public cards.

Hand Rankings

The following shows the possible hands in order of their ranking from the strongest – a ‘royal flush’ to a poor ‘high card’.

poker hand rankings

In cases where more than one player has a straight or a flush, the player with the highest card out of the five they are using wins the hand. More information on poker hands can be found at

Betting Rounds

Blinds : Most of the bets made by players in a hand of poker are optional. However, at the start of each hand, two bets are made by the two players to the left of the dealer button. The player directly to the left of the dealer button makes a bet of a fixed amount called the ‘small blind’. The next player to the left then makes a bet of fixed amount, which is always double the amount of the small blind.

Whole Cards : After the whole cards have been dealt to each player, a round of betting commences. The player to the left of the blind blind makes the first bet and can bet any amount they want, if the game is no-limit. The betting then continues proceeding left. Players can either  ‘call’ and match the big blind amount, ‘raise’ and up the stakes or ‘fold’ and sit out the rest of the hand. Betting continues until all players have ‘called’ or ‘checked’.

Flop : Once the first round of betting has been completed, three cards are dealt face up in the middle of the table. These cards are called ‘the flop’. Betting continues similar to the previous round, starting this time from the player to the left of the dealer button.

Turn : After the flop has been dealt and all players have checked or folded, another card is dealt into the middle called ‘the turn card’ and another round of betting starts.

River : last round of betting starts after the fifth and final card has been dealt in the middle of the table which is called ‘the river card. Players then continue to bet until all players have checked or folded. If more than one player is still in the hand after the final round of betting, all remaining players turn their cards over and reveal their hands. The player with the strongest 5 cards wins the pot.


These are the basics of playing poker but the only way to become a winning poker player is to practice. Organising a game of poker with friends can sometimes be difficult to do but there are many land based casino’s that offer live poker games. However, it is a good idea to play with practice money before playing for real money. Many online poker sites offer free-play tables which are perfect for beginners to practice their skills and gain experience in the game. If you are looking for an online poker site to play at, take a look at some of the sites we recommend on this site which offer excellent, secure and popular poker tables.