Poker rules: How to play Poker for beginners

November 12, 2021 0 By Oha

Want to learn how to play poker? There’s some good news: despite what professional poker players might claim, and what many films might indicate, poker rules aren’t nearly as complex as they might appear. Poker is one of the most popular card games in the world, and can be easily picked up by casual players.

We’re here to help you learn how to play poker, so you can start throwing down chips and raising your bets in a jiffy. We’ll be running through the basic poker rules, poker hand rankings, the rounds of a game, and some of its variants. We’ll be focusing primarily on Texas hold’em, the most popular variant of poker in the world, although most of the core rules apply the same to all the forms of poker out there.

Once you know the rules of poker like the back of your hand, check out our guide to the best free card games to start testing out your newfound skills. Also, a word of warning, we recommend learning poker with some friends or on free online games in which no real-world money is involved. Poker is just as fun when no money is at stake.

This is how to play Poker

Poker rules how to play poker a pair of cards and chips, credit to Unsplash Michał Parzuchowski

Poker rules

Poker is a game of bluffing, betting, and building. You’ll be trying to construct specific card combinations (called hands) that outrank your opponents’, while keeping your cards close to your chest and bluffing about the strength of your hand to win the pot at the centre of the table. After several rounds of betting, raising, and card dealing, if you’re the last player left in the game, or have the strongest hand out of every player left, you’ll take all the winnings for yourself.

Poker games are split into a series of rounds, in which a pair of cards are dealt to each player, several more cards are dealt in a pool on the table, and players are given opportunities to raise their bets or bluff their way to victory.

Card strength: These are the poker hand rankings

Before you start playing, however, make sure you have the right number of players. Games of poker generally find their sweet spot at six to eight players, although higher and lower player counts aren’t unheard of.

As well as the players, one person should also be the dealer, responsible for dishing out the cards. In casual circles, players usually take turns dealing, passing a ‘dealer’ token around the table.

Alongside the dealer, two more roles are assigned to the players that force players to bet: ‘small blind’ and ‘big blind’. The player to the left of the dealer is assigned the small blind, and must bet half the usual minimum bet; the player to the left of them is assigned the big blind, and must make the minimum bet. Both blinds are made before cards are dealt. After a full match is played, the dealer, small blind and big blinds rotate clockwise around the table.

Poker rules how to play poker a row of cards next to a pile of chips, credit to Unsplash Dylan Clifton

Poker rounds:The small blind and big blind are made.Each player receives two cards dealt face down. These are called the ‘holecards’.First round of betting.Flop: the dealer places three cards face up in the middle of n the table.These are called the ‘community cards’.Second round of betting.Fourth Street: The dealer adds a fourth, face-up card to the community cards.Third round of betting.River: The dealer adds the fifth, and final card to the community.Final round of betting.Showdown: All remaining players turn over their cards. The player with the highest hand takes the pot.

Poker rules how to play poker a pair of kings being thrown into the air, credit to Unsplash Michał Parzuchowski

Poker betting options

In each round of betting, players have several options available to them. You might base your betting decision on how confident you are in your own hand, as well as how confident you are of your opponents’.Call – Make a bet equal to the previous bet.Raise – Make a bet larger than the previous bet.Fold – Withdraw from the match, surrendering your hand and any bets you’ve previously made. You might do this if someone has made a bet that you’re unwilling to match.Check – Decline to bet but reserve the right to call or raise later in the round. This option is only available until the first bet in a round has been made.All in – Bet all of your remaining chips. This might be done when you don’t have enough to call a bet but still want to play the match, or if you’re very sure of your hand and want to risk it all.

Betting continues until every player has called (meaning every player has matched one another’s bets) or every player has gone all in, pushing all of their chips to the middle of the table (a fairly unlikely scenario).Betting limits

In many games of poker, particularly those played in casinos, limits are imposed on the size of bets players can legally make. These limits take three main forms:

Fixed limit – Players can only raise by fixed amounts. This prevents huge bets being made to massively increase the pot.

Pot limit – Players may only raise by an amount that’s less than or equal than the total pot. Again, this prevents huge bets, but gives more leeway.

No limit – Players can raise as much as they like.

Poker rules how to play poker a pile of playing cards, credit to Unsplash Erik McCean

Poker hand rankings

In the showdown, the final round of the game, all remaining players will compare their hands to determine which of them has won. All players simultaneously reveal their cards, before assessing which of them can create the strongest hand using their holecards and the community cards in the centre of the table.

Poker hands consist of five cards, and are ranked according to their relative strength. These are the poker hand rankings from highest to lowest.Royal flushStraight flushFour of a kindFull houseFlushStraightThree of a kindTwo pairPairHigh card

For a more detailed rundown, read our poker hand rankings guide, in which we walk you through what makes up each hand.

Poker rules how to play poker a river of cards next to four pairs of holecards, credit to Unsplash Clifford Photography

Poker bluffing

Remember, poker is just as much a game of bluffing as it is a game of careful hand building. Even if you hold a weak hand, projecting an air of confidence through the manner in which you present yourself and cast your bets might win you the game. Manipulate your opponents into folding so you won’t even reach the showdown, eliminating them from play before you’re even in a position to reveal your weak hand.Poker variations

Not all games of poker play the same. While we’ve laid out the basics of Texas hold’em here, there are plenty of other poker variations that introduce subtle rule changes. Here’s some of the more popular variations:

Stud poker – There are several ‘stud’ poker variants (for example, seven-card stud, six-card stud, and razz), in which players are dealt a combination of face-up and face-down cards between betting rounds. This provides more information to the opposing players, and removes all shared community cards.

Game goodies: Check out the best free card games

Draw poker – Also spanning many poker variants (such as five-card draw), in draw poker, players are dealt a complete hand before the first betting round begins. Each player develops their hand in later rounds by drawing replacement cards, trying to curate the highest-ranking hand possible.

Community card poker – The most popular form of poker, this is the category that Texas hold’em falls into. This variant involves a number of face-up cards being dealt in the centre of the table, which every player can use to form their hand. Omaha hold’em also falls into this category. In this game, players are dealt four holecards, instead of two as in Texas hold’em,, and must construct their final poker hand using exactly two of these cards plus three of the five community cards.

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Giannis Antetokounmpo Uno

UNO Tournament in Las Vegas to Crown First World Champion

Move over poker … UNO claims to be “the world’s #1 card game®” and is celebrating 50 years of making families shout by hosting its inaugural World Championship tournament in Las Vegas. The winner goes home with $50,000 (just less than 162nd place in the WSOP Main Event) and a title that I thought I claimed in my parents’ dining room in 1986.

Giannis Antetokounmpo Uno

Giannis Antetokounmpo, aka the “Greek Freak,” is part of the celebrity roster promoting the Uno World Championship. (Image: Instagram/uno)

The first-ever UNO World Champion will be crowned Thursday at the HyperX Esports Arena in the Luxor.

Mattel, UNO’s publisher, promoted the UNO Championship Series Vegas Invitational tournament through its game app and website. Almost 2 million UNO fans played more than 28 million matches in tournaments throughout the summer where seats were won. Ten other players were randomly selected, and several were simply invited to play. 

Players — UNOers, UNOites, I’m not sure — will start by playing three five-minute games under the traditional UNO rules. Points will be tallied and the winners will advance to the winner’s bracket, while all the other players will move to the consolation bracket. The final round for the money will consist of three 15 minute games: winner takes all.

The action is being streamed on UNO’s new TikTok channel from 6-7:45 pm PT. It will also be featured on the app’s “discover page” starting at 7 pm PT. Tennis star Venus Williams, NASCAR vet Clint Bowyer, Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, and singer Ashlee Simpson Ross are some of the celebs scheduled to appear and play in exhibition matches.

The tournament is hosted by professional video gamer and Twitch streamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, who has more than 17 million subscribers on the platform. (By comparison, the most popular poker streamer in the world is Lex Veldhuis, with 826K Twitch subscribers.) Are you playing it wrong?

Traditional UNO rules, you say? Yes, the cut-throat version that families around the globe play where players get knocked out and the last player standing wins isn’t the official way to play. 

Traditional rules say the person who is the first to go out gets the total remaining points held by their opponents; it’s just like the deadwood in Gin Rummy. The numbered cards are worth their face value, the actions cards, like Draw 2, Skip, and Reverse are worth 20 points, and the Wild cards, 50.

The first to 500 points earns the right to run around the table mocking their opponents.

Traditional rules also say that players don’t have to keep drawing cards from the pile until they can discard, which eliminates one of the more entertaining aspects of UNO: seeing your relatives trying to hold and organize a dozen cards or so while wiping their tears from laughing. 50 years of Wild!

That’s how game maker Mattel is celebrating 2021, the 50th birthday for UNO. The company should celebrate. It says it sells more than 10 million decks each year, which equates to 17 decks each minute. The Uno app has been downloaded more than 180 million times, according to the company. 

Invented in 1971 by Ohio barber Merle Robbins, he produced the game and sold decks out of his shop for a few years until selling the rights for $50K and royalties of 10-cents per deck to a funeral director from Illinois named Bob Tezak and his friends who wanted to get into the game business. They called themselves International Games. 

UNO’s popularity exploded when K-Mart began to stock their games in the late 70s. The company was sold to Mattel for an undisclosed stock swap in 1992.  

With literally thousands of versions of decks in 80 countries, UNO is constantly one of the best-selling toys each year. Who knows how many poker players cut their teeth playing the game, but for many, UNO is the first time kids have fun playing cards. 

Do you have UNO memories? We’d love to hear them in the comments below. 

Written by

Bob Pajich

Bob Pajich is a poker news reporter, creative writer, and poker player who never met suited connectors he didn’t like.

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Poker Pro Accuses WSOP Competitor of Hiding COVID-19 Virus

Justin Bonomo has accused a fellow WSOP competitor of having COVID-19 and playing anyway.

The World Series of Poker is in full swing at the Rio All Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. The WSOP did not take place as it normally does in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, organizers decided to allow gameplay but with stipulations, including players must be vaccinated to take part. This did not sit well with some players, but for the most part, players were willing to take the vaccine or already had to compete.

One player has now accused another of having the virus but playing anyway despite the rules for player safety. On Twitter, poker pro Justin Bonomo decided to create a post, accusing a fellow player of breaching the protocols and competing while affected by the virus, essentially putting fellow players at risk.

According to Bonomo, a player sat at the same table he did for two days while exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. Accepting that everything was relatively okay, Bonomo did not say anything to officials. However, he soon found out that the individual tested positive for the virus after the tournament was over.

Proof of vaccination is required to compete, but players with the vaccine can still spread the virus, knowingly or without their knowledge. Masks are not required, so having the virus and playing does put other players at risk because everyone is sharing cards and chips.

Once Bonomo made the Twitter post, people got to work trying to figure out who he was talking about. Eventually, Chris Hunichen came forward as the player. According to Chris, he was the player that Justin was talking about and that the whole issue was ‘dramatic and overblown’.

Chris says that he did not have the virus until after the event was over. After he played, he decided to visit a group of friends and was with his wife and cousin. He smoked with those in the group and that is apparently how he caught the virus.

Chris bought 40 rapid tests and everyone that was with him at the party tested negative. He says that since all of them were negative, then there is no way that he infected anyone during the $50k event.Betting on COVID Deaths

This is not the first time that Chris Hunichen has been connected to COVID in a negative way. Last year, not long after the virus was spreading rapidly throughout the United States, he bet his followers on Twitter that over 100,000 people would die by September in the country from the virus.

He won $10,000 on the bet, one that he said he hoped he would lose. At the time, he said that he wanted to raise awareness about the virus who he said was not taking it seriously. However, many people looked at the bet as a negative and not a form of support or awareness.

The issue involving Bonomo and Chris does raise questions about hosting such big events. Should people with COVID-like symptoms be tested while attending the tournament? Should officials of the WSOP be aware of such symptoms and decide if a player should be secluded or removed from the competition?

It is certainly something to think about and consider. However, it does not seem likely that any changes will be made unless an individual has a fever and severe symptoms at the poker table. Surely at that point, officials would ask the individual to leave and no longer compete in the event.
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