Whether you’re using casino chips or crunchy, edible ones, you need to “walk the walk” and “talk the talk” during poker night. Seems simple, right? Just show up on your A game and you’re good to go. But wait…there’s one issue. Having watched too many quick-paced tutorials and downloaded countless poker game apps, you’re starting to wonder if understanding poker is even in the cards for you.
You’re in luck! Here’s our master poker cheat sheet and guide to Texas Hold’em for beginners. It’s all you need to join the game!
Basic Poker Lingo
Get out your flash cards because it’s definition time!
- Texas Hold’em: A common variation of poker, played with a standard deck of 52 playing cards (no Jokers).
- The Pot: Sum of money waged by all the types of card players throughout the game. Whichever player has the best 5-card combination wins the pot.
- Act: A player decides what to do with their hand when it’s their turn to play.
- Bet: How much money you want to wage/contribute in(to) the pot.
- Check: Knock on the table or say “check” if you decide to not act in a specific round.
- Community cards: Five cards dealt face up in the center of the board. These cards are available for all players to complete their five-card hands. Players mentally configure their 5-card hand as each community card is dealt.
- Fold: If you don’t have a strong hand, or you think someone else’s is stronger, forfeit your hand and all the chips you’ve put into the pot. This means you are not allowed to act during the rest of the hand.
- Call: When you match the amount bet by the player who acted before you.
- Raise: When you increase the betting stakes for the participating poker players (only if your bet, or someone else’s, was previously matched). The original bettor will have the option to match your raise if he/she wants to continue participating in the hand.
- No-Limit Poker: No limit is placed on how much you can bet.
- Limit Poker: A limit is placed on how much you can bet.
Poker Basic Positions
Players rotate clockwise and will represent each of these positions over the course of the game.
- Button/Dealer: Player who is dealing the cards and chips. If you’re playing at a casino, he/she does not play during the game. If you’re playing at home, the dealer usually plays and is the last person to place their bet.
- Small Blind (SB): Player who goes first in every round and is seated directly to the left of the dealer.
- Big Blind (BB): Player seated directly to the left of the SB. He/she goes second after the flop (flop, step 4)
- The SB and BB are required to contribute a certain amount depending on the type of game being played.
- If you are playing a 2-5 no-limit poker game, then the SB wages $2 and the BB wages $5 before any action commences (during the pre-flop, step 4)
- The Cut Off (CO): The position just before the button. If the button is not playing, then this player is the last person to bet. If the button is playing, then this player is the second to last to act. Whoever is the last player to act has the best betting advantage because he/she gets to see everyone else’s actions.
What is a Strong Hand in Poker?
(P.S. there are 5 cards in a hand)
The 5-card combination hand rankings from highest to lowest value:
- Suit: ♣️Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, ♠️ Spades
- Rank: Card value. For example, a King has more value than a Queen.
1. Royal Flush: An unbeatable hand, consisting of these cards in identical suits.
2. Straight Flush: Five cards in numerical order with all identical suits. The highest possible flush is a Royal Flush. (See image above)
3. Four of a Kind: Four cards of the same rank and one kicker card, which is used to break ties if your opponent has the same hand. Whichever kicker card is higher, wins the hand. In this case, Jack is the kicker card.
- Another player cannot have Four of a Kind unless all four cards being used come from the community cards.
4. Full House: Three cards match in rank, with two additional cards matching in another rank. To create the strongest Full House hand, the three matched cards should be higher in rank than the other two matched cards (suit doesn’t matter).
5. Flush: These five cards must all belong to the same suit. If there’s a tiebreaker, the player with the highest card will determine the winner.
- The highest possible Flush hand is an Ace.
6. Straight: Five consecutive cards of different suits. For this hand, Aces can act simultaneously as the highest and lowest card.
7. Three of a Kind: Three cards of the same rank and two kicker cards.
8. Two Pair: Two pairs of the same rank. The higher the pairs are ranked, the better chance you’ll have to win.
9. One Pair: One pair of the same rank. The best possible scenario would be a pair of Aces, as shown below.
10. High Card: While this is the lowest-ranked hand, it is not completely useless to play. The five cards are not consecutive and do not belong to the same suit or rank. If your opponent has a High Card, too, and your highest card beats their highest card, then you win the hand.
A Guide on How to Play Texas Hold’em (For Beginners)
Five community cards are dealt during the four rounds of play, and bets are waged.
Pre-Flop: Two hole cards are dealt to each player face down, sculpting your 5-card hand foundation. These two cards should be viewed privately before the betting begins.
Pre-Flop Betting: The BB and SB place their bets. The amount bet depends on the type of game played (2-4 no limit, 2-5 no limit, etc.). The action starts with the player seated to the left of the BB.
One card is burned, or discarded, before the playable community cards are dealt.
Flop: The dealer places three cards face up for all players to use in their hand. The rotation from player to player moves clockwise from the dealer position.
Flop Betting/Checking: Unlike Round 1, the SB acts first and has the option to either bet or check; both cannot be done at once. If the SB decides to bet, then all other players are not allowed to check. These other players must either call the bet, raise or fold. If the SB decides to check, then the option to bet or check falls in the hands of the next player.
Turn: The dealer burns another card and then places a fourth card face up (next to the three community cards already on the board) for any player to use.
Turn Betting/Checking: This is the same as betting on the flop. The SB will decide whether to bet or check. When all bets are equalized through calling, then the round ends. The player who initiated the last bet or raise wins the pot if all remaining players decide to fold.
River: The dealer burns another card and then places the fifth (and final) card face up for anyone to use.
River Betting/Checking/Winning: This is the same as betting on the flop and turn. The difference is when the round ends, either with everyone checking or all players having bet or raised, the remaining players must reveal their two hole cards and the pot is awarded to the player with the highest possible 5-card hand. If one player makes a bet or a raise that is not called by anyone else and all other players fold, the pot is awarded to the last remaining player in the hand.
If there are at least two players who have not folded after the River, then those players must reveal their cards to determine who has the best hand. This player will ultimately win the pot.
Win the Pot.
If you have the best 5-card combination hand after all community cards are dealt, then you win the entire pot. If you and another player have the exact same hand, then you traditionally split the pot.
Poker is a mind game, and your deceptive persona can be used to convince your opponents to abandon their hand (even if theirs is stronger). Remember, if you overuse the bluffing technique it may hurt your game more than it helps. Strategizing when and how often you should use this game of trickery depends on who you’re playing with, your level of skilled deceitfulness and your hand.
Playing each hand is not advised. It’s important to know when to check and fold if you’re not confident in your hand. For players who constantly itch for action and continue waging regardless of their hand, remember the money you already have is just as valuable as the money you can possibly earn.
Yes, this may sound cliché, but what’s the point if you’re not having fun during a game? Poker can be extremely competitive, so it’s important to kindly accept the outcome, win or lose.
Make it Personal
Consider customizing your own 54-card poker-sized deck in Shuffled Ink’s Design Shop, where you’re able to personalize your signature custom poker set. Use your go-to deck in a game setting with friends or while practicing after hours.
Even if you’re not the best player at the table, at least now you have a better understanding on how to “walk the walk” and “talk the talk” poker style, and you’ll have a one-of-a-kind playing card deck, too.
About Shuffled Ink
Shuffled Ink is a multigenerational family business that specializes in printing custom playing cards, tarot & flash cards, custom card games, packaging and more for businesses and individuals worldwide.
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