How to Play Poker

Poker is a game where players bet money into a pot in the center of the table. The highest hand wins the pot. The first step to playing poker is to understand the rules and how the betting process works. Players must ante something (amount varies by game, in our games it’s a nickel) to be dealt cards and participate in the betting phase. Then the dealer shuffles and deals three cards face up on the board called the flop. Players then take turns betting on their hand or raising someone else’s. If you don’t have a good enough poker hand you can fold and not play the rest of the hand.

Before the flop is dealt you will have 2 personal cards in your hand and 5 community cards that anyone can use. If you have a strong poker hand on the flop, then it is worth continuing to bet and forcing your opponent to call you. This will make the later streets (the turn and river) more profitable for you.

If you have a weak hand, like a pair of threes, then it is better to fold before the flop. This will keep you from betting money at your weak hand and potentially losing a lot of chips to your opponents. However, if you are the first player to the left of the dealer and your original two cards are a pair, then you can say hit me. This will let the dealer know that you want another card and you’ll get one.

You’ll have a strong poker hand if you can beat your opponent’s range. A range is the scale of hands your opponent could have in a given situation, for example top pair, middle pair, bottom pair, a draw or ace-high. Advanced poker players try to figure out their opponent’s range and make decisions accordingly.

Once the flop is dealt, you’ll have 7 cards total to create your best poker hand of 5. You’ll have your two personal cards in your hand and the five community cards on the table.

To make a poker hand, you must have at least three distinct cards of the same rank. A pair is two matching cards, such as jacks or queens. A straight is five consecutive cards of different ranks, such as 4-6-8-9. If a pair and a straight tie, then the higher high card breaks the tie. A flush is five consecutive matching cards of the same suit, such as heart, diamond, club, and spade. If a flush and a straight tie, then the higher flush wins. A full house is three cards of the same rank, and two unmatched cards that don’t form a pair. If a full house and a pair tie, then the higher pair wins. If there is no pair, then the higher three of a kind wins. If a high pair and a high three of a kind tie, then the higher high card breaks the tied hand.