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PokerSchoolOnline - Poker Rules - How to Play Poker

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In this article we will look at the very basic poker rules involved in playing a hand of poker. If you are new to the game we recommend you study our Poker Basics Course and when you feel confident enough attempt the Poker Basics Quiz at the end of the course. This will really help you improve your skill level when playing poker. There are many different poker game variants but for the example in this article we will focus on No-limit Texas Hold'em.

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Every poker hand begins with the two players to the left of the dealer button making their 'forced' bets. These wagers are called the 'Small Blind' and the 'Big Blind'. The purpose of these forced bets is to make sure that there are always chips in the middle of the table worth playing for as if there was nothing in the pot nobody would attempt to play without really good cards.

Even with a really good starting hand players should always be observant at the table and watch closely what actions their opponents are making as their actions could be telling a story of how strong their hand is. Above all else though, knowing your poker rules is key to playing successfully.

When the action comes around to you then you will have different options of what to do next as follows:

Check - If nobody has raised before the action comes to you then you have the option to 'check'. This means you do not have to put money into the pot and you pass the action on to the next player to your left at the table.

Bet - If nobody has raised before the action comes to you then you may 'bet'. This means you put some money into the pot and other players must at least match your bet if they wish to continue in the hand.

Fold - If a player has bet before the action comes to you and you don't like the strength of your starting hand then you have the option to 'fold'. This means you no longer take any part in the hand.

Call - If a player has bet before the action comes to you and you think that your hand is strong enough to continue then you also have the option to 'call'. This means you match the value of the bet made by the player who acted before you.

Raise - If a player bet before you and you hold a really strong starting hand it's advisable to 'raise' the bet as this puts pressure on your opponents.

Here's a short video explaining some of the more basic poker rules.

And don't forget that if you have any questions about poker rules you can ask them in our poker forum. There are many members that would be happy to answer your questions and help you become a better poker player. Finally, see below for a handy Odds Chart that shows at a glance what the chances are of you hitting your outs by the Turn or River card. Try to memorize these odds if you can!


Outs Odds flop to Turn Odds flop to River Example
1 45:1 22:1 Smaller set vs. Higher set
2 22:1 11:1 Smaller pair vs. Higher pair
3 15:1 7:1 One overcard
4 10:1 5:1 Gutshot straight draw
5 8:1 4:1 Middle pair vs Higher pair
6 7:1 3:1 Two overcard
7 6:1 2,5:1 Gutshot straight draw plus overcard
8 5:1 2:1 Open-ended straight draw
9 4:1 2:1 Flushdraw
10 4:1 1,6:1 Gutshot plus two overcards
11 3:1 1.4:1 -
12 3:1 1.2:1 Gutshot and flush draw
13 2.5:1 1.1:1 -
14 2.4:1 1:1 Straight draw plus two overcards
15 2:1 1:1 Flush draw plus two overcards

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Learning poker can be fun, and playing poker will really increase your chances of improving your game. Download the PokerStars client now and get practising.

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