A Beginner’s Guide to Poker
Since the early 2000’s, Texas Hold’em has been one of the most popular forms of poker due to its popularity on TV (The World Series of Poker) and the Internet (online poker). Every Sunday we host a No Limit Texas Hold’em Poker Tournament in our Poker Room, and because it’s one of our favorite games, we found it fitting to give you a little Poker 101 to increase your odds of winning. Let’s start with a rundown on what exactly poker is and how to play Texas Hold’em.
Poker is a game played from a standard pack of 52 cards by two or more people who bet on the value of the hands dealt to them. A player wins the pool either by having the highest combination at the showdown or by forcing all opponents to accept without a showing of the hand, sometimes by means of bluff also known as a “poker face”. Cards are ranked from high to low starting with Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10…all the way down to Ace (which can also be a low card) and with 4 different suits; spades, diamonds, clubs and hearts (in no particular order as no suit is higher or lower than the other). Poker is played in hands that consist of 5 cards with the highest hand winning. Each card has a different value and the scoring is based off that value. By understanding the value of each hand, it allows the players to bet “smart” or play with little difficulty. So, let’s talk about card value and scoring:
- Royal Flush: 10, J, Q, K, A all the same suit.
- Straight Flush: is 5 cards in order that are all of the same suit. If an ace is part of the straight flush, you can have it being either high or low.
- Four of a Kind: is four cards of the same rank. If there are two or more hands that qualify, the hand with the higher-rank four of a kind wins.
- Full House: is a three of a kind and a pair, such as Q-Q-Q-3-3. Ties are broken first by the three of a kind, then pair.
- Flush: a hand where all of the cards are the same suit
- Straight: is 5 cards in order, such as 2-3-4-5-6. Again, an ace may either be high or low.
- Three of a Kind: three cards of any rank, matched with two cards that are not a pair.
- Two Pair: two distinct pairs of card and a 5th card.
- Pair: One pair with three distinct cards.
- High Card: is any hand which doesn’t qualify as any one of the above hands
Your next question may be, where does the betting come in to play and how do I bet? In order to bet, which happens in clockwise order, you need to have chips and you need to know how to manage them. When playing poker, you’re required to place your “bet” or “ante” up before the dealer deals the cards in order to start the game to build the pot. Each round of the game starts with players placing their bets. At the end of the hand, the highest hand wins the “pot”. When betting, you have one of three choices…call, which means you match what has been bet since your last bet, raise, or put in more chips than the call or fold which means to put in no chips and are out until the next round of betting. You can check as well which means no bet or pass to the next person.
So now that we’ve touched on the basics of poker, let’s talk about the basics of Texas Hold’em and how to play so you can join us in our tournaments.
Texas Hold’em is a game that requires 2-20 players. The 2 players to the left of the dealer will put out blind bets, which are forced bets by those players. The first player to the left of the dealer will place a small blind and the second player to the left of the dealer will place a big blind (which is usually twice as much as the small blind). Once the bets are placed, the dealer will deal two cards face down to each player, which are known as hole or pocket cards. Once the cards are dealt, the first move falls on the player to the left of the big blind in which they can either call, raise or fold. If the player chooses to raise, the raise must be at least twice the size of the prior bet. After that, betting then continues around the table clockwise. Once the betting round is complete, three cards are dealt in the middle of the table which are referred to as board cards. The first three cards in the game, “community cards”, are called the “flop”. The “community cards” are for all the players to use (and they will need to use at least three of them) to combine with their own hole cards to make the best hand possible.
Next up is the “turn” and this happens once the betting round on the “flop” is complete. The dealer will then deal one card face down and another card face up and once the “turn” is complete, the third round of betting starts, which is the same as the “flop” betting round but now the bet for this round and for the final round must be a minimum of the big blind or higher. All of this leads up to the “river” which is the final “community card”. Once it is dealt, the final round of betting happens. Each player who is remaining in the game is holding their final hand. During this round, the players hand will consist of the 5 best cards (of the 7, 2 hole cards and 5 community cards) and this is when the final round of betting starts and it’s time for the “showdown”. The “showdown” happens after the final “river” bets are placed by the players. Starting with the player who made the initial bet, they show first and then in clockwise order, the best hand shown wins the pot. If everyone checks then it goes to the dealer’s left in clockwise order.
Now that you know a little more about Poker and how to play Texas Hold’em, be sure to “ante” up and join us every Sunday at 11 am in our Boomtown Poker Room for our Boomtown No Limit Texas Hold’em Tournament. A $40 buy in = $2,500 in tournament chips.