Basic Guide and Tips How to Play Poker

A card game of bluff and skill in which bets are made on the hands dealt, the highest-ranking hand (containing the most valuable combinations of sequences and sets of cards) winning the pool

What is Poker?

Basic Guide and Tips How to play Poker. Poker is any of a number of card games in which players wager over which hand is best according to that specific game’s rules in ways similar to these rankings. Often using a standard deck, poker games vary in deck configuration, the number of cards in play, the number dealt face up or face down, and the number shared by all players, but all have rules that involve one or more rounds of betting. Stay on BonusCasinoStar and read more about Basic Guide and Tips How to play Poker.

In most modern poker games, the first round of betting begins with one or more of the players making some form of a forced bet (the blind or ante). In standard poker, each player bets according to the rank they believe their hand is worth as compared to the other players. The action then proceeds clockwise as each player in turn must either match (or “call“) the maximum previous bet, or fold, losing the amount bet so far and all further involvement in the hand. A player who matches a bet may also “raise” (increase) the bet. The betting round ends when all players have either called the last bet or folded. If all but one player folds on any round, the remaining player collects the pot without being required to reveal their hand. If more than one player remains in contention after the final betting round, a showdown takes place where the hands are revealed, and the player with the winning hand takes the pot.

With the exception of initial forced bets, money is only placed into the pot voluntarily by a player who either believes the bet has positive expected value or who is trying to bluff other players for various strategic reasons. Thus, while the outcome of any particular hand significantly involves chance, the long-run expectations of the players are determined by their actions chosen on the basis of probability, psychology, and game theory.

Poker has increased in popularity since the beginning of the 20th century and has gone from being primarily a recreational activity confined to small groups of enthusiasts to a widely popular activity, both for participants and spectators, including online, with many professional players and multimillion-dollar tournament prizes. Stay on BonusCasinoStar and read more about Basic Guide and Tips How to play Poker.

History of Poker

Poker was developed sometime during the early 19th century in the United States. Since those early beginnings, the game has grown to become an extremely popular pastime worldwide.

In the 1937 edition of Foster’s Complete Hoyle, R. F. Foster wrote: “the game of poker, as first played in the United States, five cards to each player from a twenty-card pack, is undoubtedly the Persian game of As-Nas.” By the 1990s some gaming historians including David Parlett started to challenge the notion that poker is a direct derivative of As-Nas. Developments in the 1970s led to poker becoming far more popular than it was before. Modern tournament play became popular in American casinos after the World Series of Poker began, in 1970.

Poker on television increased the popularity of the game during the turn of the millennium. This resulted in the poker boom a few years later between 2003–2006. Stay on BonusCasinoStar and read more about Basic Guide and Tips How to play Poker.

Online Poker

Free poker online was played as early as the late 1990s in the form of IRC poker. Planet Poker was the first online card room to offer real money games in 1998. The first real money poker game was dealt on January 1, 1998. Author Mike Caro became the “face” of Planet Poker in October 1999.

There are substantial differences between online poker gaming and conventional, live gaming.

One obvious difference is that players do not sit right across from each other, removing any ability to observe others’ reactions and body language. Instead, online poker players learn to focus more keenly on opponents’ betting patterns, reaction time, speed of play, use of checkboxes/auto-plays, opponents’ fold/flop percentages, chatbox, waiting for the big blind, beginners’ tells, and other behaviour tells that are not physical in nature. Since poker is a game that requires adaptability, successful online players learn to master the new frontiers of their surroundings. Stay on BonusCasinoStar and read more about Basic Guide and Tips How to play Poker.

Types of Poker

Poker has many variations, all following a similar pattern of play and generally using the same hand ranking hierarchy. There are four main families of variants, largely grouped by the protocol of card-dealing and betting:


A complete hand is dealt to each player, and players bet in one round, with raising and re-raising allowed. This is the oldest poker family; the root of the game as now played was a game known as Primero, which evolved into the game three-card brag, a very popular gentleman’s game around the time of the American Revolutionary War and still enjoyed in the U.K. today. Straight hands of five cards are sometimes used as a final showdown, but poker is almost always played in a more complex form to allow for additional strategy.

Stud poker

Cards are dealt in a prearranged combination of face-down and face-up rounds, or streets, with a round of betting following each. This is the next-oldest family; as poker progressed from three to five-card hands, they were often dealt one card at a time, either face-down or face-up, with a betting round between each. The most popular stud variant today, seven-card stud, deals two extra cards to each player (three face-down, four face-up) from which they must make the best possible 5-card hand.

Draw poker

Five-card draw: A complete hand is dealt to each player, face-down. Then each player must place an ante to the pot. They can then see their cards and bet accordingly. After betting, players can discard up to three cards and take new ones from the top of the deck. Then, another round of betting takes place. Finally, each player must show his or her cards and the player with the best hand wins.

Community card poker

Also known as “flop poker”, community card poker is a variation of stud poker. Players are dealt an incomplete hand of face-down cards, and then a number of face-up community cards are dealt to the centre of the table, each of which can be used by one or more of the players to make a 5-card hand. Texas hold ’em and Omaha are two well-known variants of the community card family.

Online Poker Games

There are many variants and versions of the game of poker, all created with the aim of luring in new players or else to boost the entertainment factor for players. Some of these games are well known and played globally, while others are less common. The most popular games are typically the ones found on poker sites, land-based casinos, and other poker rooms. While Texas Hold’em is the most popular version, poker players also favour other variants.

Additionally, poker games are available in various formats. One of the biggest distinctions is between cash games and poker tournaments. There is also speed poker, a most recent poker variant that is played at a much faster pace. Stay on BonusCasinoStar and read more about Basic Guide and Tips How to play Poker.

Texas Hold’em

The most popular of poker variations, Texas Hold’em is a game that is commonly spotted in movies and other TV series. With two hidden hole cards and 5 community cards face-up, Texas Hold’em is packed with action and strategy. Whatever your level of knowledge or skill, there is a game version that fits your skills to a tee.

If you are a beginner at the game of Texas Hold’em, it would be best to check out our online poker section to learn more about the rules of the games as well as some solid strategy tips. Stay on BonusCasinoStar and read more about Basic Guide and Tips How to play Poker.

Pot Limit Omaha

While Texas Hold’em is considered packed with action, Pot Limit Omaha takes that to another level. Gaining increasing popularity in recent years, the game of Omaha is similar to that of Texas Hold’em, both in terms of rules and betting options but with one distinct difference.

When it comes to game-play, Omaha starts off with four hole cards compared to two in Texas Hold’em. Ultimately you can only use two cards to create your final hand. When it comes to variables and hand combinations, this game entails 4 hole cards instead of two. Omaha creates action on every street.

Caribbean Stud Poker

What makes Caribbean Stud Poker stand out? The fact that you are playing directly against the dealer instead of other players adds a touch of excitement to the game. The rules are like those of 5-card stud, with the exception that the dealer has to show one of his cards through the entirety of the game.

Both the player and the dealer are dealt 5 cards each. If the player’s hand succeeds in beating a qualifying dealer’s hand, then the player wins 1:1 on the bet made. On the other hand, if the dealer’s hand doesn’t qualify, you receive your stake back. Additionally, there is a progressive jackpot in play, which can lead to some thrilling times.

Video Poker

One of the simplest forms of online poker games, Video Poker is available in either the standard version or else as other variations that offer features such as jokers wild and deuces.

Casino Hold’em

Like Caribbean Stud Poker, the game of Casino Hold’em sees you sitting across the dealer with the aim of creating the best five-card hand. The one key difference is that you and the dealer are only dealt 2 cards each. If your hand beats the dealer’s, you win.

Pai Gow Poker

The main goal of this game is for you to beat the banker, which is represented by the casino or else, against one player at the table. There is also a joker in the mix for added entertainment. The game starts off when you are dealt 7 cards, which you must then split into a 5-card hand and a 2-card hand. Your 5-card hand would need to rank higher than the 2-card hand.

The joker can be used to fill in a straight or flush. You can also use it as an Ace. To win the game of Pai Gow Poker, both the player’s hands must beat the banker’s. If one hand wins but the other one loses, it’s a push, and the stake is returned.

Poker Cards Value

There are 52 cards in a deck, divided into four suits of 13 ranks each. The suits are all of equal value – no suit is higher than any other suit.

In Poker, the Ace is the highest card and the 2 card (Deuce) is the lowest. However, the Ace can also be used as a low card, with the value of 1.

What is the Strenght of your Poker Hand?

Royal Flush

Royal flush is hands down (no pun intended) the ultimate poker hand. It contains the cards A, K, Q, J and 10, all of the same suit. But don’t get your hopes up. The odds of you getting a Royal Flush is 649,739 to 1. That’s the same as a probability of 0.000154%.

Straight Flush

Straight Flush is like the Royal Flush, except that it doesn’t have to contain the 5 highest ranking cards. That means that the odds of you getting a Straight Flush is simply 72,192.33 to 1. Easy.

Four of a Kind

Four of a kind is a pretty good hand. Four of a Kind is 4 cards of the same number or letter.

Full House

Full House – a combination of Three of a Kind and one Pair – all in one hand.


Flush. The flush consist of 5 cards of the same suit. In any order.


Straight is five cards of sequential ranks like 2-6, 7-J or 10-A. Be aware that Aces (A) can be both the highest and lowest card in a Straight.

Three of a Kind

Three of a Kind poker hand consists of three cards of equal rank. The chances of you having a Three of a Kind poker hand is 46.3 to 1. So it’s definitely not impossible to land this dreamy threesome.

Two Pairs

Two Pair combination which is two different pairs of cards. Like 10, 10, K, K for instance.

One Pair

One Pair. This is two cards of the same number or letter.

High Card

High Card. Simply just pick out the person with the highest card in the rank from Deuce (2) to Ace (A).

Rules and type of Bets in Poker

With Texas Hold’em each player is dealt two cards facing down. These two cards are for your eyes only and must be kept a secret for the other players. These are called hole cards and are just for you.

Once all cards are dealt, the two players sitting clockwise from the dealer button (the player who is dealing) will have to put out the small- and big blind. This is also called the ante. These blinds make sure that we always have chips on the table each round. The big blind is usually double the amount of the small blind. Let’s set the blinds to $1 and $2 for this example.

All players will have to at least match the big blind in order to continue to the next round. This is called to Call. Players also have the option to Fold and Raise. Folding means to quit the current round and you will have to give up your two cards. If you Raise you not only match the current bet but raise the price for further participation. Stay on BonusCasinoStar and read more about Basic Guide and Tips How to play Poker.

Play Poker

The Flop

After the initial betting round, three new cards will be put out on the table for all players to see. This is called the flop. See the image from EasyPoker.

The cards on the table are called Community Cards.
These are for all players to combine with the cards in your hand.

After the flop comes another round of betting – starting with the player sitting left of the dealer.

All players who wish to stay in the round have to match the highest bet (just like in the initial betting round).
Unlike the initial round, players now also have the option to check, which means not to bet or fold. This will simply let me go to the next round – but only if nobody makes a bet. If one of the other players bet, you will have to either fold, call or raise.

The Turn

The dealer “burns” the top card of the deck (meaning it’s removed and put aside) and then proceeds to add another card face up on the table. This means we now have four community cards on the table.

Players then have another round of betting – following the same format as last time.

The final Card (River)

The dealer burns another card from the top of the deck and draws a fifth and final community card for the table. After this we have one last round of betting before players have to show their cards.

The player with the highest 5 card combination wins and gets all the chips betted during the round (the pot).

The role of the dealer then changes clock wise as well as the role of small- and big blind before all cards are shuffled and you starting all over for a new round.

Tips and Strategy of Playing Poker

Decisions for the New Poker Player

Decide whether you want to play poker to win or to play for fun. To play at a consistently winning level requires both time and effort. In other words, it takes work. There is nothing wrong with playing poker for fun, but there is no reason to plan to lose, even when you are playing for fun. However, deciding which type of poker player you want to be before you start will make your decisions and sessions easier. Stay on BonusCasinoStar and read more about Basic Guide and Tips How to play Poker.

Make Good Decisions – the Results Will Follow

Even the best poker players in the world have losing sessions. Don’t make the mistake of expecting to win every time you play. Your goal should be to play to the best of your ability in every session. If you do, the cards and winnings will take care of themselves as you improve.

Many players make the mistake of judging their poker playing ability based on the results of each session. Your goal should be to make the best possible play every time. The closer you come to this, the better your results will be.

The Mathematics of Poker

Poker is a mathematical game, and it’s a game of incomplete information. That may sound complicated, but it really isn’t. On a very basic level, winning poker starts with the selection of which starting hands to play. If you enter the pot with the best hand more often than your opponents do, you will win more times than your opponents.

Beyond Starting Hands

Starting hand selection is fundamentally important, but it’s only one piece of the poker strategy puzzle. Once you have mastered solid starting hand guidelines and understand how they change by your position at the table, the next area you should work on is your play for the rest of the hand. The area that separates professional players from amateurs is that professional players tend to play much better than their opponents during the remainder of the hand, after the starting hand decisions are made.

This is especially true concerning the decisions made at the very end of every hand. These skills involve calculating pot odds, recognizing betting patterns, bluffing, and using position. The years of practice necessary to master the middle and end game play are well worth the effort, because even small improvements in a player’s abilities can have a tremendous effect on that player’s lifetime winnings. A great way to learn is to use the free resources available at our PokerStars School, where you’ll find plenty of opportunities to practice and improve your game.

Avoiding Tilt

Another meta-skill that should be part of a winning player’s poker strategy is avoiding tilt. Your opponents will use your emotions against you, but only if you let them. Emotional play results in poor decisions and lost money. Tilting and steaming can happen to anyone, and sometimes the only cure is a break from the game. That’s okay; the game will still be there ten minutes from now. In fact, it will still be there tomorrow.

Understanding the Importance of Position

The dealer, or ‘button’, is usually the last player to act in a betting round, and acting last is a tactical advantage as you already know how your opponents have acted. The dealer position changes after every hand so this advantage is shared between all players to help keep the game fair.

To use this tactical edge in your favour, it’s generally wise to play more hands when in ‘late’ position (e.g. after most players have already acted) than ‘early’ position. Good players will often relax their starting hand requirements in late position, as the added benefit of position affords them greater flexibility and more options as the hand plays out.

If you’re playing opponents who have to act before you, it is said that you ‘have position’ on them, while they are ‘out of position’. This advantage can be significant. Stay on BonusCasinoStar and read more about Basic Guide and Tips How to play Poker.

Ensure Your Bluffs Make Sense

Good hand selection is always important, as is understanding that the more players you’re up against, the greater the possibility that at least one of them will have a strong hand. But you will also find situations where a well-timed bluff could win you a pot you might otherwise lose.

When a poker player bluffs, what are they trying to achieve? They are attempting to get their opponent to fold the best hand. It’s that simple. In most poker games the majority of your hands will be junk that you want to fold before the flop, or marginal hands you don’t want to commit too many chips with. When that’s the case, bluffing becomes very important because it gives you a second chance to win.

A successful bluff will convince your opponent that you hold cards that will beat them, so it’s important to consider how your play looks to them. If you really held the cards you want them to think you hold, would you have played the hand the way you did? Is the ‘story’ you are telling with your actions at the table consistent and logical?

When bluffing, make sure that you think through the whole hand to see if the story you are telling makes sense. If you just decide to put a bet out there as your last hope to win the pot then the chances are high that a smart opponent will see through it. Stay on BonusCasinoStar and read more about Basic Guide and Tips How to play Poker.

Knowing Your Odds and Outs

Odds are a way of expressing the probability of something happening. When tossing a coin, for example, there is an equal probability of the coin landing on ‘heads’ or ‘tails’ – we could express this probability as one to one (1/1, or ‘evens’) – for every one time it lands on ‘heads’, it’s likely to land on ‘tails’ one time as well. Now think about the odds of rolling a six on a six-sided die: for every one time it does land on a six, it’s likely to land on a different number five times, so we could express the odds of rolling a six as 5/1.

Now let’s look at a common situation in a poker game: you have four clubs and are waiting for that last club to fall on the river, which will make your flush and win you the pot. There are 13 clubs in a 52-card deck, and two of them are in your hand and another two are on the board, leaving nine clubs remaining. Discounting the two cards in your hand and the four on the board, there are 46 cards that could come on the river, nine of which will win you the pot – these nine cards are known as your ‘outs’.

So the odds of you making the flush are 37/9 (37 cards of the 46 cards will not make your flush, while nine cards will). This ratio of 37 to 9, and therefore your chances of making your flush, are approximately 4 to 1. Stay on BonusCasinoStar and read more about Basic Guide and Tips How to play Poker.

Odds in Poker

Once you know how many outs you’ve got (remember to only include “good outs”), it’s time to calculate your odds. There are many ways to figure the actual odds of hitting these outs, and we’ll explain three methods. This first one does not require math, just use the handy chart below:

As you can see in the above table, if you’re holding a flush draw after the flop (9 outs) you have a 19.1% chance of hitting it on the turn or expressed in odds, you’re 4.22-to-1 against. The odds are slightly better from the turn to the river, and much better when you have both cards still to come. Indeed, with both the turn and river you have a 35% chance of making your flush, or 1.86-to-1.

The Rule of Four and Two

A much easier way of calculating poker odds is the 4 and 2 method, which states you multiply your outs by 4 when you have both the turn and river to come – and with one card to go (i.e. turn to river) you would multiply your outs by 2 instead of 4.

Imagine a player goes all-in and by calling you’re guaranteed to see both the turn and river cards. If you have nine outs then it’s just a case of 9 x 4 = 36. It doesn’t match the exact odds given in the chart, but it’s accurate enough.

What about with just one card to come? Well, it’s even easier. Using our flush example, nine outs would equal 18% (9 x 2). For a straight draw, simply count the outs and multiply by two, so that’s 16% (8 x 2) – which is almost 17%. Again, it’s close enough and easy to do – you really don’t have to be a math genius.

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