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Poker Guide: Learn How to Play Poker Like a Pro

Poker - how to play?

Are you yearning to learn how to play poker like a pro? If you are a  beginner, tired of losing matches or watching your friends enjoy poker, you've come to the right place. The game of poker dates back to the 16th century where the Germans played a bluffing game called Pochen. The game later developed into a French version named Poque. Then in the 1830s, the game was refined through changes in rules and eventually called poker. Poker game has many versions and the game is not only played in homes for fun, but also in large casinos as a form of gambling.

Players can set the rules of poker which determine the version of poker they will play. Regardless of the version of poker, there are some basic terms that every poker player should understand

Basic Poker Terms

Play: This represents one game. From one shuffle to the next one, it's called a play.

Pair: A pair is made when a player makes two cards of identical rank.

Paint: Paint designates any cards between and including jack and ace.

Position: Refers to the specific position at the table where players are occupying. It could also be used to explain if a player is in or out of position.

Hand: Refers to the particular card combination held by a player.

Pot: This is the pool of money bet by all players during a single game.

Side pot: This is a second pot formed when one player is already all-in, but still there are players left in hand with more chips to play for.

Play the board: Refers to a situation where players formulate their hand using community cards. 

Hand tie: It is attained when two players have the same hand, therefore, dividing the pot between them. However, if there is a remainder after splitting, it goes to the player with the highest bet.

Showdown: Refers to the final act of determining the pot's winner after completing all the betting.

Ante: It is a compulsory payment by all players at the table before revealing any cards.

Backdoor: This is a draw that needs two consecutive cards to complete.

Rake:  A rake is a commission charged by poker rooms as a small percentage of the total pot won at the end of most hands. It is taken as a form of payment for running the poker game.

Rap: Also known as tap, it is a term used to describe the act of tapping the poker table twice as a visual signal for checking in a live game.

Rank: Refers to the value or number of a particular card.

Satellite: It is a tournament that awards winners for playing a bigger tournament.

Dealer: Refers to the person who deals the cards. A dealer can be a casino employee or one of the players.

Underdog: Shortened as a dog, it is a term referred to a player who is less likely to win.

Domination: A situation where a weak draw or made hand is likely to be running against a bigger draw or hand when there is a lot of action.

Draw: A situation where players are waiting on cards to complete a hand.

Equity: Refers to the likelihood of a certain hand winning at showdown assuming it doesn't fold.

Full house: Refers to a five-card hand formed by a combination of three of a kind and one pair.

Gap: The gap between cards of consecutive rank.

Heads up: Refers to a poker hand with only two players involved.

Tilt: A player is said to be on tilt when they are not playing at their best.

Betting rules

Betting rules in poker


A fold is when a player discards their hand and relinquishes their opportunity of winning the pot. After folding, a player is deemed inactive and forfeits their previous bets.


This is bet equal to the highest bet made by the preceding player to continue playing. It is also called a stay-in.


It is a pass in which a player doesn't bet on an amount, but they still stay on the game.


This is a bet equal to the highest bet made by players of a previous game plus some extra amount. The additional amount comes from the bet increase. Every other participant should either fold, call or raise again.

Learn How to Play Poker in the Following Simple Steps

The joy of playing poker comes from winning. In this section, you learn about 8 simple steps of playing poker.

1.     Poker hand rankings

While there is a mind-game aspect in the game of poker, the highest value hand determines the winner. If you are a beginner,  It is crucial to aim at making the strongest poker hand.

2.     Know the table positions

The position is critical in the game of poker since the entire game revolves around the button except for stud. Small and big blind positions are to the left of the button, and they act first after the flop. Seats to the right of the button are late position. Seats in-between are in the middle position

3.     Follow the preflop action

A preflop starts with the player seated next to the big blind. The game continues clockwise with big blind acting as the last player. Players in preflop have three courses of action; calling, folding, or raising.

4.     Follow a post-flop action

Flop is made up of the first 3-5 community cards. Post-flop players have the option to check, fold, raise, or bet, depending on their position at the table.

5.     Following post-turn action

The fourth community card is dealt with directly after completing post-flop betting round. Depending on your position, you will have the same options post-flop as preflop; call, raise or fold.    

6.     Following post-river action

When a player reaches the river stage, they should have a hand that can win.

7.     Showdown stage

Showdown happens when there are at least two players left. A player is only declared a winner after they have revealed their card with the hand. The player with the best 5-card hand is declared the winner.

8.     Beginning  a new round

After declaring the winner, the cards are shuffled ready to start a new round.

Poker Hand Rankings

Poker hands

It is important to understand how the cards rank from low to high. They rank in the following order; 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10, jack, queen, king, and an ace. Whenever necessary, the ace can double as the lowest card. No ranking exits between the suits. For example, both the queen of hearts and the queen of spades are equal. Poker ranks are based on five cards only. Hands are named in order of increasing value; one pair, two pairs, three of a kind, straight, flush, full house four of a kind, straight flush and the royal flush.

One pair

This refers to a single pair. It could be the starting hand such as J-J and aboard of A-10-9 for a pair of aces.

Two pair

Refers to two different pairs of cards and one another card. For example; J-J-10-5 or A-A-8-8-K. The lower pair are compared when the higher pairs are equal.

Three of a kind

This poker hand means a set where you a pair such as 7-7 matched with another 7 onboard. It refers to three cards of similar numerical value and two other cards.


Refers to five cards in similar sequential order of different suits. For example; Q-J-10-9-8 or 6-5-4-3-2.


Describes five cards in non-sequential order in the same suit. For example; K-J-8-6-3. If the highest cards are equal, the second-highest are compared. If they too are equal, the third-highest are compared and so on.

Full house

Full house refers to three cards of similar numerical value and a pair. Example 7-7-7-K-K.

Four of  a kind

Refers to four cards of the same numerical value and any other card. Example 5-5-5-5-A

Straight flush

Describes five cards of the same sequential order of the same suit. Example 9-10-J-Q-K.

Royal flush

It is the highest of all poker hands, and it's also the best straight flush. It comprises of sequential cards up to the ace beginning with 10. For example A-K-Q-J-10

High card

High card happens when the five cards do not form a combination of the above. When comparing two such cards, the combination with the better highest card wins.

Types of Poker Games

Texas Hold 'em

This is the most popular type of poker game in the world. It can be played by a minimum of two players and a maximum of ten. It consists of four betting rounds. Each player gets two private cards faced down and five community cards face-up in the middle of the table to be shared by all the players. At showdown, the player with the highest hand wins the pot.

Texas hold'em - one of the poker variations

Omaha Hi

This type of poker is also popular, played by 2-10 players. Each player gets four private cards faced down, and five community cards faced up, placed in the center of the table to be shared by all the players. In Omaha Hi, each player creates the highest valued hand using any two of their four private cards and three of the five community cards.

Omaha Hi-Lo

In this type of poker, there are two winning hands; a Lo and a Hi hand. The pot is therefore divided into half.

Seven Card Stud

This is among the class variations of poker. Players are only allowed to use the cards on their board to make the highest card hand.

5 card draw

It is the oldest and one of the best poker games. 5 card draw is played between 2 and 5 players. Betting on this poker variant consists of an initial ante followed by two betting rounds.

Betting Limits

Refers to the amount poker players can open and raise. Poker games consist of the following limits:

Pot limit: invariants of poker with pot limit, each player can raise or bet by any amount up to and including the total pot size at that point.

No limit: Each player in a poker game with no limit structure can bet or raise any amount up to including their full stack in any betting round if their turn to act comes.

Fixed limit: Each player can choose to call, raise, or bet but only on a fixed amount. This fixed amount is set in advance.

Poker Strategy: Tips and Tactics

Learning the tactics and strategy of playing poker will give you a better chance of winning games.

Make good decisions

In poker, don't expect to win all the time. Even the best poker players lose. The objective should be to play to the best of your ability in each game. Settling on the type of poker before beginning any play will improve your decisions. A good strategy to improve your poker prowess to play is the best possible way every time you enter a new game.

Don't be the first player to limp

  • Calling the big blind preflop is not advisable in poker because
  • A player cannot win the pot before the flop
  • The players behind get exciting pot odds.

Do the maths

Poker is a mathematics game. In many occasions, winning poker begins at the selection of which starting hands to play. If a player enters the pot with the best hand than his opponents, he gets more chances to win.

Avoiding tilt

As mentioned earlier, tilt is when a player is not participating at their best. Always avoid such circumstances because it could lead to bad decision making and consequently, loss of money.


Poker is, without a doubt, one of the most exciting games in the world you can play for a profit. It attracts fame due to its interactivity. While many people think of poker as a game of luck, it requires skills to win more than other players. Before you decide to play poker, it is advisable to learn the terms used in the game and the rules. Although there are many variations of poker, there are some common rules that every poker player should understand. Anyone can become a poker master if they understand the rules for playing, the terms used in the game, tactics and strategies for playing.


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