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Our Top Guide on How To Play Poker – 2024 Update

The allure of poker lies in its unique fusion of chance, skill, and media glamour. Curious to learn how to play poker and try your hand at the top online poker casinos out there? Our comprehensive guide delves into the heart of this captivating game!

What Is Poker?

At its core, poker is a card game that revolves around understanding hand rankings and strategic gameplay. Being so popular worldwide, it inevitably comes in a myriad of variants, each with its own set of rules and intricacies. The basic premise, however, is simple: the player with the best hand, wins. Today's poker typically employs a standard deck of 52 cards and involves betting with chips.

Skill or Chance? Skill or Chance?

Contrary to games of pure luck, such as roulette and slot machines, poker is widely regarded as a skill-based game, where the individual’s knowledge and strategic prowess play a key role in winning each round.

The game is super versatile and can be enjoyed from anywhere. You can sign up and play at online casinos poker for real money, play poker online using streaming platforms, or even try your luck for free on various demo poker sites.

Many of the top online casino sites also offer free poker games to try out before hitting the tables for real.

The variants which have become the most popular poker games in 2024 are Casino Hold’Em, Texas Hold’Em, Omaha, and Seven-Card Stud.

How To Play Poker

Playing with a standard deck of 52 means you will have four of each card and four different suits: hearts, spades, clubs, and diamonds.

In most instances, a poker hand consists of five cards. The value of each hand will be determined by a fixed ranking, called the hierarchy of hands.

Poker Basics & Gameplay

A round of online poker begins with one or more players making a forced bet or a minimum contribution to the pot, called a blind or an ante. Each player then gets two cards face down, and their goal is to complete the best poker hand possible.

If you play against a real dealer, they will provide these starting cards and determine the order of the blinds and betting rounds. Most commonly, the dealer passes out the cards in a clockwise direction, starting from their left-hand side.

In community card games, such as Texas Hold’Em or Omaha, the dealer puts three cards face up on the table, which all players can use to build their hand. This is called “the flop”.

For betting, poker chips are used instead of cash. These have a fixed monetary value, and are present in poker predominantly because they’re easier to stack and count.

The next players then take turns wagering on the value of the hands.

Basic Poker Moves Basic Poker Moves

Participants can either call (match the amount bet by the previous player), raise (increase the opening bet), check (place nothing in the pot; pass the action to the next player), or fold (surrender their hand and lose the chance to win the pot).

At the end of all the betting rounds, the player with the winning hand takes the pot.

The Hierarchy of Hands

Poker Heirarchy of Hands Infographic
The main pillar of poker is the hierarchy of hands. Once you understand each card ranking, it becomes easier to play the game — even as a beginner.

In some poker variations, such as Texas Hold’Em and 7-Card Stud, the highest ranking hand wins, whereas in Hi/Lo poker games, both high-ranking and low-ranking hands win.

Winning Cards Winning Cards

Here are the most important hands in poker, from highest to lowest:

  • Royal Flush – As the best possible hand in poker, this is made up of five consecutive cards of the same suit in order of value (A, K, Q, J and 10).
  • Straight Flush – Five cards of the same suit in sequence (e.g.: 8, 7, 6, 5, 4 of clubs).
  • Four of a Kind – Four cards of the same rank and any fifth unmatched card.
  • Full House – Three matching cards of one rank and a pair of cards of another rank.
  • Flush – Five cards of an identical suit in any order.
  • Straight – Five cards of sequential numerical value with at least two different suits.
  • Three-of-a-Kind – Three cards of the same rank and two of different ranks.
  • Two Pair – Two cards with the same rank, plus another pair of cards of another rank.
  • Pair – Two cards of a single rank and three cards of other ranks.
  • High Card – Also known as no pair, this involves a hand that doesn’t fall into any of the above categories.

Steps to a Basic Poker Round

  1. Two starting bets are placed: the small blind (worth half of the minimum bet) and the big blind (worth the minimum bet or more).
  2. The dealer hands each player two cards, starting from the left. You are not allowed to reveal your hand until the showdown.
  3. When it’s your turn, you can either check, call, raise, bet, or fold your cards.
  4. The dealer puts three community cards face up on the table (“the flop”). Players can then use these to complete their hand. If you play draw poker games, you can replace your existing cards or draw new ones.
  5. After multiple betting rounds, each remaining player participates in a showdown and reveals their cards face up, starting from the left of the dealer.
  6. The best hand wins. In case of a tie, the players split the pot.

How Different Poker Variations Work

Given poker’s popularity and age, it’s no wonder that different variations of the game have evolved over the years. Some of these simplify the rules, whereas others introduce additional limitations that raise the stakes for all those involved.

How To Play Texas Hold ‘Em

This is probably the most popular variant of poker you’ll come across at the top poker casinos online. Unlike other forms of the game, some of the cards handed out by the dealer are shared by all the players at the poker table. Each player’s hand’s strength depends upon the combination of their own cards along with those that are shared.

  1. Cards are dealt and players bet depending on the strength of their own hand when combined with the shared table cards.
  2. Forced bets called the “big blind” and the “small blind” push players toward a potential showdown between each other.
  3. The player with the strongest combined hand (his own cards and the community cards) wins and takes the pot!

How To Play 3-Card Poker

3-card poker introduces limitations to the classic poker game, which are intended to streamline and simplify poker gameplay. Instead of competing against other players on the table, 3-card poker players compare their hands to that of the dealer.

This easier-to-understand ruleset and casual play style makes 3-card poker a better choice for beginners.

  1. 3-card poker players place their bets before the cards are dealt.
  2. Players are dealt just three cards, with no community cards — unlike in other variants.
  3. Cards are compared and the player with the strongest hand wins.

How To Play Video Poker (Including Live Video Poker)

Video poker can also come in many different shapes and forms. The basic difference is that it’s played online, hence the ‘video’ part in its name. You’ll be playing against the computer while following the same rules for a given style of poker game.

Live video poker, on the other hand, while also played online, sees gameplay and bets against a real-life dealer and players. A video of the dealer is usually livestreamed in high quality along with the quickly-updated actions of other players around the poker table.

How To Win at Poker

Poker games online are unique in the overall landscape of gambling due to their complexity.

For that reason, they are typically aimed at intermediary and professional players. However, there is poker for beginners as well, for example video poker or Casino Hold’Em, in which you play against the house run by computer software.

Ultimately, although elements of luck are also involved, it’s skill that separates beginners from the pros.

To win at the best online poker sites, you have to understand that the outcome of each hand is determined by chance. However, in real-life or live poker, it is your actions, your understanding of psychology, your ability to read your opponents, predict odds, keep calm, and even bluff, that will secure you a spot at the winning table.

Pro Poker Tips

As much as we’d love to tell you the opposite, it’s impossible to arrange your poker cards in the best order and win each round.

With that said, here are some quick tips the pros use that can transform your next gaming session:

  • Understand the poker variation you’re playing — Not even the most effective tips for playing Texas Hold’Em Poker will work for other types of poker, so make sure you understand the rankings of each hand and rules of your game of choice in great detail.
  • Perfect your poker face and understand opponent psychology — In other words, keep your bluff aggressive to make your opponents believe you have a strong hand, even if you don’t. And, if you believe another player has a weak hand, use that to your advantage.
  • Be analytical — Probability has a strong bearing on the outcome of most gambling games. Allocate some time to study poker odds or use a calculator online. This will help you determine the probability of a certain card appearing multiple times.

How To Play Poker – Our Final Thoughts

Now that you have a better understanding of the amazing world of poker in its various forms, we hope you’re just as enamoured with the game as we are. That only leaves you with one question: where to play — and for that we’ve got a simple answer: head over to our online poker page and take your pick!


Poker is a game of chance and skill, and is based on the comparison of your own hand of cards to that of other players around the poker table.

Since poker is played with a standard deck (or multiple decks) of cards, the four types of cards are the Clubs (♣), Diamonds (♦), Hearts (♥), and Spades (♠).

You can practise free poker either by playing with friends or by finding a free online poker website.

Poker sees players betting money based on how strong they think their hand is when compared to that of others (according to the hierarchy of hands). The player with the strongest hand wins the table’s bets.

The best poker casinos are those which have the features you’re specifically looking for. Check out our top online poker sites page to get started on the right foot.

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Iggy Fenech

Iggy Fenech

Author Expert

Iggy is a seasoned writer, editor, and strategist with over a decade's experience in content creation. Having contributed posts to the Malta iGaming Seminar 2014 blog and written content for the Malta Gaming Authority’s website, no topic is alien to him. Iggy especially likes to scrutinise casino operators and games to give his readers the best possible gambling experience.


ticksEditor since: 2020
ticksTotal posts: 580
ticksLanguages: English


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