Poker is easy to learn, but hard to master. Texas Holdem Strategies are straightforward but every hand has its story to tell and can make or break your tournament. What we are about to learn here is how an online poker game usually runs, which are the options a poker player has every hand step by step and the value of the cards and points that determines who’s taking the chips home and who’s leaving empty handed.
Online poker rules
How many card in a poker deck? The deck is a full one, 52 cards, but how many people join an online poker game? It depends on the game mode but the most commons consider:
- 2 people (one vs one), also called heads-up
- 6 people, also called short handed table
- 9/10 people, regular full ring table
Poker Hand Ranking
As often mentioned while we were studying the poker rules, the essence of the game is scoring the highest point using one or both the hole cards, in combination with the community cards on the board.
The lowest score playing in a sit and go or multi table online poker tournament is high card, which means you were not able to make not even a pair. The highest as you probably already know is the super famous royal flush.
Find below the table with all the possible scores ranked from the weakest to strongest.
The highest hand in poker! An ace-high straight flush
Five cards of the same suit ranked sequentially in order
Four cards of the same numerical value
Three cards of the same numerical rank combined with two other cards of the same numerical rank
Five cards of the same suit
Five cards ranked sequentially in order regardless of suit
Three cards of the same numerical rank
Two cards of the same numerical rank and two other cards of the same numerical rank
Two cards of the same numerical rank
The card with the higher numerical value e.g. A high
Does a flush beat a full house?
No, in Texas Holdem Poker a full house is better than a flush
How to play poker?
Assuming we are playing a regular 9 people table, each player receives a card and the one who got the higher face value will be the “dealer”. The two players sat on the left of the dealer will be the “small blind” and the “big blind.” Blinds are mandatory and the amount is always fixed; the small blind will always be half of the value of the big blind.
The card are dealt!
From left to right, the dealer distributes the cards, covered, two for each player in two dealing rounds. If you are sit at the table, you are now officially a poker player who’s holding his “hole cards”.
Preflop betting rounds
Players are now allowed to see their cards and they can start to evaluate the next moves. The first person to act is the one sat on the left of the big blind and his possible actions are:
- fold, which means he’s not interested in his hand at all
- call, which means bet the same value of the big blind
- raise, which implies he has to “raise” the big blind’s bet, at least doubling it. (e.g. if big blind is valued 10, who raises needs to bet at least 20 or more). When you play Texas Holdem NO LIMIT, it means that you can bet all your stack. This move is called ALL IN.
Following the action of this player, still from left to right every player can decide what to do with their hole cards. That’s the preflop phase and basically people is trying to see the flop, which consists in three more cards, to improve the strength of their hand.
The round ends when the action arrives to the big blind, who can decide to check (which means to accept to see the flop) or raise and start another round of bets.
Preflop Pocket Card Naming
- Pocket Pair
- Suited connectors
- One-Gap suited connectors
The flop: new cards and second round of bets.
The players still in the game (who haven’t folded preflop, accepting to bet to move ahead in the hand) are now allowed to see the flop. The dealer discards the first card of the deck and then turns face up three cards on the table (called “community cards). Each player in the hand can and will use the community cards plus the two hole cards to make the strongest combination possible.
The first player to act is now the small blind, the one on the left of the dealer. He can decide whether to check (which means leave the things as they are and wait) or to bet, but not to fold, cause there’s no reasons to fold at this point of the hand, given nobody did bet yet. The betting rounds ends when all the players have made their action (bet, raise, re raise or call). Obviously if a player bets and everybody folds, he can claim the pot and the hand is closed.
The turn: the fourth card is here!
The action is the same as happened on the flop, the dealer deals the 4th card, and the first player on the left who’s still in the hand has to act first, betting or checking.
The river and the last round of bets!
Starting from the first player on the left of the small blind, now that we have all the 5 community cards the last round of bets can start. By the end of the hand, we will have a winner. It can happen in different ways. As seen before, one possible outcome occurs when a player bets and the remaining(s) decide to fold. In that case the winner doesn’t have to show his hand and can take the pot. The more exciting outcome, though, is when the hand arrives to the showdown.
After the last round of bets, the players still in the hand (e.g. player 1 did bet and player 2 called, or player 1 did check – player 2 did bet – player 1 called) turn their cards face up.
How to make a poker hand?
The winner will be the player with the highest score using one or both his hole cards, in combination with the 5 community cards on the board. After the first player revealed his hand, the second one can muck, which means toss his hand away and concede the pot, or reveal his hand and claim the pot with an higher score.
If both players have a score lower than the value of the community cards (e.g. a flush is on the table and neither of the players involved in the hand have a card of the same kind), they go ahead and split the pot in two equal pieces.
How to win at poker?
Playing poker is pretty simple. It’s just a sequel of actions and reactions, based on the strength of the hand hold by the players involved. Check, bet, call or raise will be soon part of your skills, among many other aspects, but for now just focus on these three points:
- the hand starts when all the players have the cards and they begin the preflop actions (fold, bet or raise)
- postflop action is split between flop, turn and river
- there are two ways for winning: either showing the highest score or betting and force your opponents to fold
Now that we made clear how a poker game works, we can move ahead and dig deeper in the poker strategy.