In part two of the How To Play Poker For Beginners free online poker lesson series we will step on from part 1 where we outlined the bare bones of the game. Now it is time to get into specific detail and learn each part of a hand of poker so that you can (cautiously!) start to play.
In part 1 you learned that the 2 “Blind” players have to place bets before cards are dealt. If you are not sure what is meant by blind bets, small and big blind then you need to go back to part one of the guide for a definition.
So, the action starts as the blind bets are laid by the Small and Big Blinds (SB and BB). Now it’s time for card dealing!
Moving clockwise around the table from the Dealer (DB), each player receives two cards dealt face down, one card at a time. These are also called Pocket Cards or hole cards.
Now the betting begins; and, after all, isn’t that why you decided to take up the game of poker? That is why I’m sure you now find yourself seated at a free online poker tournament table isn’t it? Isn’t that betting and winning buzz thing the reason why you’ve joined a free online poker site?
Of course it is, the game of poker is all about winning money! With the possible exception of the social side anyway, the table and lobby conversations, though if you are at all serious about money then this is a very minor reason.
At this stage in the hand (holding 2 pocket cards), each player is betting on what hand they feel their pocket cards may lead to.
The betting starts with the player to the immediate left of the Big Blind (BB).
This player is often referred to as the ‘Under The Gun’ (UTG) position at the table. This is because the Small and Big Blind position players were forced to lay down bets before they got any cards.
Thus, both the SB and BB are already taking part in the hand; albeit not voluntarily, at least not yet; they’ll have to wait until the betting comes around to them.
And, with this round of betting, each player has three choices:
1) To fold. You do this if you think you have rubbish cards, also called “rags” cards. You won’t lose anything as you have no chips in play but you will now sit out the rest of the hand.
2) To raise. You raise if you think you’ve got good cards.
3) Or to call, (match) the Big Blind. Usually when you think that your pocket cards hold some potential.
A 4th option you might have heard about, checking, often available in subsequent betting rounds, isn’t an option at this stage.
Once the betting comes round to the SB (Small Blind) if this player wants to fold then they lose their blind chips, if they have terrible pockets then this may well be the best thing to do. Or, this player can call the Big Blind (by simply putting up the difference between the Small Blind and the Big Blind).
Or as SB you can choose to Call whatever Raise has been made, make a new Raise or Re-raise the bet amounts to a new level. I advise you watch and learn this process at the start and as SB keep it simple and just Call the BB unless you have awful cards in which case fold them.
Next it is the turn of the BB (Big Blind). If there has been no raise then the BB can Check (do nothing and let the play pass by), or Call, Raise or Re-raise.
As this is a No Limit Texas Hold Em tournament, the amount of any one raise is only limited by the number of chips the player who is doing the raising is in possession of. If say the chip stack is 1500 then the player can raise by any amount upto 1500.
Should he opt to make a 1,500 chip bet, it would be called an All-In bet. Any time a player raises with all their chips it is called Moving All-in.
And, of paramount importance, especially since you are at the introductory level of the game, make certain that YOUR usage of an All-In bet is significantly limited.
Please do not become yet another free online poker ‘chip-flinger’ (someone who tosses chips around without regard to the quality of their cards).
Once the opening round of betting is completed it’s time to see ‘The Flop’. Things will now start to get really interesting!
The Flop is the set of three cards that are dealt face up in the center of the table by the Dealer.
1) Each player can use these community cards’ to build their hand.
For example, you have pockets of 10 and Jack Diamonds (suited)
The flop shows Queen, King, Ace Diamonds…well, you’ve won already, stay calm (poker faced) so the others don’t know, you’ll want to be moving all in at the end to win maximum chips…
OK extreme example, highly (incredibly) unlikely but this is the principle. Read up on what hand beats what to learn about card combinations.
2) Again, as afore mentioned, the middle of the table where these cards are dealt is typically referred to as ‘The Board’.
3) With ‘The Flop’ exposed, it’s time for another round of betting. And, the betting that will occur is based on the 5 cards currently available to each player, i.e., 2 Pocket cards and 3 Board’ cards.
The betting commences with the player to the immediate left of the Dealer Button, regardless of whether the Dealer is still active in the hand or not.
The player to the left of the Dealer Button will keep the initial betting action for the rest of the hand. Later, you’ll come to learn that this is the worst position to be in at the table.
Apart from that, the betting process is the same as it was in ‘pre-flop’ betting. However, keep in mind, all of the players who were dealt ‘Pocket’ cards may not be currently playing the hand as they could have folded during the opening round of betting.
So, whichever remaining player is ‘to the immediate left’ of the Dealer Button (DB), it is that person who is the first player to act; throughout the hand providing he doesn’t fold.
He is able to check or bet.
A) If he checks, he’s simply passing the options of checking or betting to the player who sits to his left.
B) If he doesn’t check, and decides to bet, then those who follow will have 3 choices:
1) They can fold
2) They can call
3) Or they can raise. But, since a bet was made, those that follow don’t have the option of ‘checking’.
Once the round of betting has finished, it’s time for another card to be dealt face up on The Board.
This fourth card is called The Turn card, or 4th Street, and, again, the card can be used by all of the remaining players (those players who have not folded). It’s another ‘community card’.
Thus, each remaining player now has access to 6 cards, 4 Board cards, and 2 Pocket cards. Now there are 4 cards on The Board, one additional card to come.
It is now time for the fifth and final community card to be dealt: The River, or 5th Street.
And, given that all the cards have now been dealt, each player remaining in the hand can see what their best five card hand is. Therefore, it’s now time for the final round of betting. And, once the betting ends, the hand is over.
It’s time to see who wins.
Each player who has remained in the hand shows their cards, starting with the last person to initiate a bet. At a cash or free online poker site the software will handle the process of showing the cards.
The winner is decided via use of the universal poker hand rankings. You’ll find that my article ‘What Beats What’.
If a player wins a pot because every other player has folded, he can decide whether or not to show his cards or not.
The majority of people don’t, and it’s typically advised by me never to show your cards. If you’re not required to do so; keep ‘em guessing!
Yet, when you reach an ‘advanced level’ of play, you will get a whole different perspective from me. You see, there are occasions when ‘deceitful strategies’ will be added to your acquired set of playing skills. And, a part of the ‘deceitful strategies’ will have you showing your cards. Not now though.