The most important rule for improving at any game is having a solid foundation. For poker, that means learning the rules for betting and hand values. Once one gains that understanding, the layout of each round becomes clearer.
Of the five cards dealt, they can combine to create one of ten basic hands:
- No Pair: all of the cards match neither in suit nor rank
- One Pair: two of the five cards share the same number and the other three hold no relation
- Two Pair: two sets of cards that share the same number with an unrelated fifth card
- Three of a Kind: three of the five share the same number value and the remaining two are inconsequential
- Strait: the five cards create a numerical sequence (i.e. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
- Flush: all five cards sharing the same suit, but the numerical values hold no consequence
- Full House: three cards of one numerical value, and the other two sharing a different numerical value
- Four of a Kind: four cards sharing the same numerical value
- Strait Flush: the five cards not only create a numerical sequence, but also share the same suit
- Royal Flush: a hand of the same suit that has the cards 10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace
The betting rules are different depending on which style of Poker you’re engaged in. Poker is a bluffing game, so be wary of if people start to sway from their typical betting pattern. Should someone begin to bet very highly, it is a good indication that their hand is strong. If one isn’t confident in what they’re holding, the smart move might be to fold. However, if an opponent begins to bet a lower amount of money, their hand might be weak, and they could be doubting its ability to win the hand. If this happens, try to raise the bet and gauge their response. Most players won’t want to risk money on a poor hand. Although these are standard human responses, be aware that opponents may employ the tactic of betting low to make you falsely think their hand is weak or betting high in an attempt to intimidate you even though they are hiding something weak. Lastly, make sure to keep your emotions in check, as even the slightest excitement when dealt a good hand could dissuade other players from betting highly over fears that theirs may not measure up.