Learn the Basics of Poker


Poker can be a fun activity, but it also requires serious attention and a high level of skill. It’s not as much fun as tossing a Frisbee in the park with friends, but it does generate feelings of accomplishment and challenge that are more rewarding than most activities.

The first step in learning poker is understanding the basic rules of the game. The basics include knowing the types of hands you can play, determining your odds of winning and losing, and learning how to analyze the game and predict what other players are likely to do.

Understand the Hands

In poker, a hand is made up of two personal cards and five community cards. There are many different ways to combine these cards to make a hand. Some common combinations are:

Full House

A full house is a set of three cards of the same rank and two cards of another rank. It can also be made up of a flush and straight.


A pair is a set of two cards of the same rank and one card of another rank. It can also be made out of two pairs and an unmatched card.


A straight is a set of 5 cards, regardless of suit. It can be made up of any combination, but usually consists of 3 cards of the same rank and 2 cards of another rank.


The ability to bluff is an important part of any poker player’s skill set. Bluffing is when you use your cards to trick other players into folding their weak hands, or putting more money in the pot. This strategy can be a very effective way to win games, but it should only be used when you think you have a good chance of getting the other player to fold their strong hand.


If you are playing in position, you can control the size of the pot and make a more informed decision about whether or not to bet. This is particularly important if you have a hand that is not strong enough to bet, but not weak enough to fold.


You can always check-raise a hand if you’re in position, but you should not do this too often. This will put you at a disadvantage against aggressive players who bet early, so make sure you are in a strong position before checking-raising.

Listening to your opponent’s play

If you listen closely to your opponents, you can tell a lot about their range and strength of their hands. Pay attention to how they bet, how often they call and how they fold their hands.

Watching Previous Hands

There are plenty of online poker sites that allow you to review previous hands. These can help you determine what type of hands you should be playing next time you’re in the same spot. It can also give you an idea of how to improve your own playing style if you have some bad habits to change.