A step-by-step beginner's guide on how to play poker | LeoVegas NZ

How to play Poker


Learning how to play poker involves understanding basic principles and rules, including poker hands and actions. Each player is dealt at least two cards, and the game progresses with betting rounds. The primary goal is to have the best hand or bluff opponents.

Poker hands range from the powerful Royal Flush to the basic High Card. Actions include Call, Raise, Check, and Fold. Betting involves the ante, calling, raising, and other strategic moves.

Table of Contents

How To Play Poker Step by Step

You have probably watched tense poker games in films or heard poker terms such as call and raise and would like to learn how to play poker. While there are many different poker variations, the basic principle of how to play poker is as follows:

  • Each player is dealt at least two cards.
  • The first player can call, bet or fold.
  • The game continues clockwise around the table. Each player must bet, call, raise, check or fold.
  • Further rounds determine the winner. PLAY ONLINE POKER

Basic Poker Rules

The basic rule of poker is to beat your opponents by having the best hand or by making them think you have a winning hand by bluffing.

Poker Hands

Poker hands refer to the set of cards each player receives in a poker game. Let’s take a look at the rankings which classify the strength of a poker hand from best to worst.

  • Royal Flush: This is the best poker hand. For a royal flush, you need an ace, king, queen, jack and ten. They must be of the same suit, i.e. all diamonds, spades, hearts or clubs.
  • Straight Flush: This is the second-best hand in poker. It consists of five consecutive cards, i.e. three, four, five, six and seven. The cards do not need to be of the same suit.
  • Four of a Kind: This hand consists of four cards with the same value, i.e. four 10s.
  • Full House: This hand consists of three of a kind and a pair, so three cards of the same value plus two other cards with the same value, such as three 10s and two jacks.
  • Flush: A flush is a hand consisting of five cards of the same suit, for example, the four, six, eight, nine and ten of hearts.
  • Straight: This hand consists of five consecutive cards, not of the same suit, for example, five, six, seven, eight and nine in different suits.
  • Three of a Kind: This means three cards of the same value, i.e. three 10s.
  • Two Pairs: This is a hand with two different pairs, for example, two kings and two aces.
  • One Pair: A pair refers to two matched cards, i.e. two kings.
  • High Card: This is the lowest-ranked poker hand. If none of the players has one pair or better, the player with the highest card wins.

Poker Actions

No guide on how to play poker would be complete without an explanation of the various poker actions.

  • Call: When you call in a poker game you are matching the amount another player has put in the pot.
  • Raise: A raise means increasing an opening bet. If your cards are good, you can raise. You can also raise if you want to bluff your opponents.
  • Check: Checking refers to moving the game on to the next player without having to place a bet in the pot.
  • Fold: When you fold, you no longer wish to participate in a hand.

How To Place Bets in Poker

The main bet at the start of the game is the ante, a mandatory bet placed before the initial cards are dealt. Players can also bet by calling, which means placing a bet which matches another player’s bet. You can also raise by increasing the amount you want to bet.

Main Poker Variations

When learning how to play poker, it is useful to be aware of the different poker variations and the rules of these games.

Hold'em Poker

Also known as Texas Hold'em, this is the most popular poker variation, so it is useful to understand the game when learning how to play poker. In Hold'em poker, each player receives two cards dealt face down, known as hole cards.

There is then a betting round known as the pre-flop where each player has the chance to check, bet or fold. Then three shared cards are dealt face up, this is known as the flop and there is another round of betting. Next, another shared card is dealt, known as the turn. After another round of betting, the final shared card is dealt, known as the river.

The winner of the game is the player with the best five-card hand made up of their hole cards and the five shared cards. If all other players in the game have folded, the last remaining player wins.

Omaha Poker

Omaha poker is similar to Texas Hold'em, but the main variation is that players are dealt four-hole cards, while five shared cards, also known as community cards, are dealt face up. Players make their five-card hand consisting of two hole cards and three shared cards.

Before the game starts, blind bets are posted by the two players sitting to the dealer’s left. This ensures that the pot contains money when the game starts. The player sitting left of the dealer posts what is known as the small blind and the player next to them posts the big blind. The betting begins with the player sitting to the left of the player who posted the big blind. They can call, raise or fold.

The flop involves three shared cards dealt face-up, followed by another betting round. In the turn, a fourth shared card is dealt face up followed by another round of betting. The fifth card, known as the river, is dealt face up and there is a final round of betting.

The game ends with a showdown if two or more players are left. The cards are revealed and the player with the highest hand wins. The pot is shared if other players have an equally strong hand.

Three Card Poker

In this poker variation, each player competes against the dealer. Players are dealt three cards face down and must make the best three-card hand. The rankings are different in this variant: straight flush, three-of-a-kind, straight, flush, pair, and high card. The betting options are also different.

You must place an ante bet on whether you will beat the dealer before you see your cards. If, when you look at your cards, you decide to fold, you lose your ante bet. If you play, you must place a bet equal to your ante.

You can bet on pair plus, for which your cards must be a pair or better, and the ante bonus which pays out on a straight, three of a kind or a straight flush. If either bet wins, you receive a payout even if your hand loses.

In the showdown, the dealer’s hand must contain a card queen high to qualify. If not, each player is paid 1:1 for their ante bet. If the dealer’s hand contains at least queen high, the players must beat the hand to win a payout of 1:1 on the ante bet and the play bet.

Video Poker

Video poker is traditionally played on consoles in land-based casinos. It provides an easy introduction to the game when learning how to play poker. You play against the dealer and the rules are simple: you begin by placing a bet and you receive five cards. You can hold the cards or fold them. If you have a winning hand, you receive a payout based on the hand ranking.

How To Play Poker in a Casino?

Online poker differs from poker in land-based casinos mainly because you cannot see other players in online casinos. So, they cannot guess the cards you are holding based on tells or the non-verbal clues which may reveal the strength of your cards. This is good for beginners as you will not give away the strength of your cards to experienced poker players.

Poker Rules FAQ

How To Play Draw Poker?

In draw poker, each player is dealt a full hand of cards. Then the bets are placed. In the next round, known as the drawing round, each remaining player can replace any of their cards and receive new ones from the deck. If any players remain, in the final round the player with the best hand wins.

How To Play Two-Player Poker?

Two-player poker, also known as Heads-up poker, is a fast-paced way to play poker variations such as Hold'em or Omaha. The odds of having a good hand are higher in two-player poker, so bluffing is a big part of this game.

What Are the Blinds in Poker?

Blinds are forced bets placed by certain participants in a poker game before any of the cards are dealt, hence the term blinds.

What Is the Ante in Poker?

The ante is a forced bet all players make before the initial dealing of the cards. This means each player must put a certain amount of their chips in the pot.

What Is the Highest Hand in Poker?

The highest-ranking hand is a royal flush, which consists of a ten, jack, queen, king and ace in the same suit, i.e. all hearts or spades.

What Is the Weakest Card in Poker?

The weakest card in poker is the two cards, also known as the deuce.

What Hand Is Unbeatable in Poker?

The royal flush is the best possible poker hand and is therefore unbeatable. In the event of two players with a royal flush, the result is a tie.