How to Play Poker?

Whether you're an aspiring card player or a poker novice, learn how to play poker with this handy guide.

Learn the basic rules of poker, the types of poker games (including Texas Hold'em) and the different types of hands.

Poker is a fun way to pass the time, whether you're having fun at the table with friends or testing your skills against other players online. The atmosphere is furious as the chips fall and the excitement builds. No wonder it was so popular in the pioneering days of the West, and remains so today.

Learning the basics is the first step to becoming a top poker player. Learn the basics of bluffing, raising and folding.

How Do You Play Poker

There are several variations of the basic game of poker. There are several common features of poker.

The main objective of poker is to make the best possible five-card hand with the cards you are dealt... Or, even if you don't have the best hand, to convince other players that you do! Or, even if you don't have the best hand, convince the other players that you have the best hand!

Poker card rankings

The cards in a deck are individually ranked, from top to bottom:

A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2.

When we make the best five-card hand, we usually think of one:

  • Straight Flush
  • Four of a Kind
  • Full House
  • Flush
  • Straight
  • Three of a Kind
  • Two Pair
  • Pair

... The order is from strongest to weakest. Usually, the stronger the cards in a hand, the higher their value. For example, a pair of Aces beats a pair of Queens, and 7-8-9-10-J beats 5-6-7-8-8-8-9.

Check out our full guide to poker card rankings and hands to find out how to make the most of the cards you’re dealt.

Poker positions

You usually stay in the same place at the table, but your position in poker order of play changes from hand to hand depending on who deals the cards.

If there is a dealer on the table who is not playing poker, the buttons mark the position of each hand and play continues from left to right.

  • If the "action" or order of play starts with you, then you are in it.Early Position.
  • If it comes to you last, then you’re in what is known as Late Position.
  • If you’re somewhere in between the two, you’re in Middle Position.

Poker position can affect your betting strategy for a number of reasons. It is possible to bet before you see the cards (blind betting).

If you are first in line, you have less information about your opponent's "strength" and can raise or re-raise. If you act last, you will have more information and may be able to "take" blind bets with an obvious raise if everyone else folds.

When learning poker skills, you will learn that position is an important factor in determining the winning percentage of a particular hand or player.

Don't forget to mark the guide.

Poker order for Texas Hold’ Em – step-by-step

Here's a brief overview of the eight steps of how things can work in Texas Hold'em, the most popular form of poker. How things play out is up to you and your opponents.

  1. The dealer shuffles the pile and deals the cards to all seated players.
  2. Once the cards have been dealt, it’s time for the pre-flop. Here you can retreat, call, raise or raise again, depending on the players in your hand.
  3. The flopwhen the first three community cards are shown. Only then can you consider a full hand, so it may be best to fold if your hand is small at this point.
  4. The turn comes with the ‘turn’ of the 4thCommunity Cards. As before, you can check, match, surrender and increase. Now that your position and the direction of your hand are clear, consider the overall picture of your hand.
  5. The riveris the fifth and last community card. Now that you know your cards (Texas), you can make a safer bet depending on the situation! You can also bluff!
  6. Post-riverindicates the end of the arm. Now use the hole cards and community cards to make the best hand.
  7. If you’re still in for the showdown,It's time to call the rest of your opponents or be called to reveal your hand.
  8. The best combination usually wins the way! Bluffing can be your best friend or your worst enemy when it comes to laying down your cards.

In some games, such as Omaha, the poker sequence is very similar to the hold'em sequence.

How to Play Poker for Beginners – Useful Basics

If you're a complete newcomer to this exciting game, we're here to help. Check out our tips and learn the basics of poker, then move on to more advanced guides.

Poker meaning

Poker is a general term for a classic card game in which you have to make the best five-card hand and bet that the value of the cards you hold is greater than the value of your opponents' cards. This can also involve bluffing.

Playing poker and winning may take a bit of luck, but beating other players through strategy, betting and timing is an equally important skill.

Basic poker rules

  • The aim is usually to have the strongest five-card hand or to convince others that they have the strongest five-card hand.
  • When the game starts in each round, you can place a bet, call or raise an existing bet, or fold (turn your cards face down and do not join the game).
  • When it’s your turn to bet, you can fold at any time.
  • If more than one player remains at the end of the last betting round, a showdown occurs and that player reveals his cards. The player with the strongest hand is the winner.
  • If you bet or raise and everyone else folds, you are the winner of the game, even if you haven't got to showdown yet. This is where the bluffing emotion comes in, as smart players can act as if they have a better hand than they really do.

Read our more in-depth guide to the rules of poker – including the rankings of poker hands.

How to deal in poker

In casino poker games, the dealer is usually called. If you're venturing into the poker world with friends, you can deal the cards and manage the middle chip (the pot) yourself.

There's no particular secret to becoming a good poker dealer, but here are some simple tips:

  • Shuffle the cards really well between each hand.
  • When the flop, turn or river is dealt, the top card is often "burned" by being placed face down on the table and removed from play. It is advisable to check in advance whether other players prefer this method.
  • Deal one card to each player at the table, starting with the player to the left of the button, and continue until everyone has received their first card.
  • Different poker types have different numbers of starting, or ‘hole’ cards, to deal. In Texas Hold’em, it’s two. In Omaha, it’s four.
  • Accept bets and manage chips in the pot. It is usually the dealer's responsibility to make sure the bets are correct, but beginners can ask for help and an experienced player can show them how to do it.
  • At the end of the hand, the dealer usually announces which hand is the highest, or names the remaining player after everyone else has folded, and then hands the pot of chips to the winner. If you are a novice, ask a teammate for help or watch other players do it before you do it yourself.

Get more information about how to deal in poker with our in-depth guide. If you want to upgrade your knowledge with a professional one, we also offerhow you can make those dreams a reality.

How to bet in poker

Poker is about trusting that you can make a winning hand - you either have it or you don't!

Poker betting is played round-by-round, allowing you to evaluate your hand against the cards held or drawn by your opponents.

When it's your turn to bet, you usually do one of the following.

  • Check- Until the first bet of the round is placed, the player has the option to "check". This means that the opportunity to bet is waived until the action returns.
  • Open- This is the first bet in the round, and any subsequent bets are in conflict with the first bet.
  • Fold- If they consider it unsafe to continue, they can resign, but they will lose everything they have already invested in the bank.
  • Call – you can choose to match the highest bet made at the table so far.
  • Raise- you can increase the previous maximum bet. "Check-raise" means that the same player first checks and then raises in one round. A re-raise is called a "re-raise".

There are non-verbal ways of checking what is being done, but players usually communicate what they are doing out loud.

Tapping the table is a "pass", and handing cards face down to the dealer without saying a word is essentially a "fold".

Once you have bet, place or push your chips forward and ask the other players and the dealer to confirm the amount. The dealer adds the chips to the pot.

Seeing and raising

When betting on poker, it is useful to understand that some people don't like the way you bet.

"See and raise" is a practice seen in many films and TV shows, where someone declares that they will call a previous bet,and then announces they will also raise. This is not allowed at most tables,This is because bets usually need to be announced at once or paid in one go.

That's because you have two chances to gauge their reaction and what to do next.

The amounts you can bet are also determined by whether the game is fixed limit, no-limit or pot-limit. This can affect the way you bet strategically in games.

It must also be clearly stated whether the original bet is included in the an amount or raising to an amount?

Read our comprehensive guide on poker betting and bluffing.

Poker etiquette

Although some of the rules at the table are not firmly established, there is a labelling in poker that ensures that the game runs smoothly and is enjoyable for everyone, regardless of their level of experience.

  • Don’t play out of turn.If you bet or fold before your turn, it may unfairly affect the play of other players. This should be avoided.
  • Be clear on your betting.Don't mislead other players about the number of chips you are betting, and don't hide the size of your bet by hiding a stack of chips.
  • Avoid interfering.For example, if you are knocked out of a round, you must not tell the players what you would do if you found yourself in that situation. It is usually best to observe and learn.

These are just a few examples - find out more about the unwritten rules of poker etiquette.

Want more poker tips for beginners?

Once you've familiarised yourself with the basic rules of poker, it's time to expand your knowledge - 888poker offers a number of guides to help you learn more about the game. strategies to learning all the right lingoWe help you improve your game and have more fun while doing it.

Types of Poker

There are many different types of poker, each with its own characteristics and rules that make poker twice as fun. Here are some of the most popular types and what you should look out for when playing.

Texas Hold’em

If you want to play Texas Hold'em like a pro, you first need to know the basics.

  • Players are dealt two ‘hole cards’
  • Up to five ‘Community cards’ are dealt into the middle
  • Players use their private cards and community cards (which can be used by anyone) to create the strongest five-card hand.

Ready to get started? Head to our interactive Texas Hold’em guide and kick-off your journey.

Omaha Hi

  • Players get four ‘hole cards’
  • There are five community cards in the middle
  • Your hand is made of two hole cards, plus three community cards.
  • More cards mean that stronger hands are possible, and the chances of winning the pot with high Aces are much lower.

Check out our guide to Omaha Hi and enjoy this fun spin on the poker experience.

Omaha Hi-Lo

  • This typically fixed-limit game is also known as Omaha 8 or better
  • The pot is split 50/50 at the end of each hand
  • Half goes to the hand with the highest value cards
  • The other half goes to the hand with the lowest value!

In Omaha Hi-Lo, it's fun to choose the best strategy to win both pots. NOW.our 8-step guide.

Other poker types

Five-card poker is a classic game, but there are also some obscure but interesting games, such as Badugi, Horse and Razz.

Check out our guide to popular poker variants if you’re keen to try something a little bit different.

How to Play Poker Online

Online poker is different from live poker in some ways, but it's just as exciting and offers budding poker masters an even more convenient way to play.

To get started, simply register on a poker site like 888, choose your stakes and join a virtual table.

Key differences between online poker and live poker play

  • Speed of the game.Playing online is faster, as manual tasks such as mixing and dealing are almost instantaneous.
  • 24/7 convenience.When playing poker online, a seat at the virtual table is almost guaranteed. Cash games and online tournaments are usually available 24 hours a day, whether you're relaxing in the afternoon or looking for a game in the evening.
  • In-person play vs online play.One of the most interesting aspects of face-to-face poker is the ability to "read" your opponent's style of play, from the way they are betting to whether they have any "picks" in their favour. In online poker, you can't read your opponent's style of play, but you can identify their strategies and betting habits if you watch closely.
  • Socialising with players.Online poker rooms have a chat feature that allows you to chat with other players in the same way as in live poker.

Variety of online poker games

In addition to traditional poker games, online games offer unique twists on the traditional format.

  • Sit n Gois the fastest. There is no set start time and play begins when there are enough players at the table; SNGs take about one hour, sometimes less.
  • Multi-table tournamentsIn the Poker Challenge, you play as one of a number of players competing for a share of the prize pool. This format means that you can win a lot of money with relatively small stakes.
  • Cash gamesUnlike tournaments, chips represent the amount of money you have bought. In organised tournaments, each player starts with the same number of chips.

If you’re new to online poker, why not check out our top online poker tips for beginners?.

You can also play poker for freeYou can practice your new skills before playing for real money.

How to play poker online with friends

Many poker sites allow you to organise and play private games with friends. Even if you don't get together in the same place, you can register for a private online poker room and have fun with your friends while you play.Find out more.


Can you play poker with two people?

Yes, this is so-called heads-up poker, which is used in some two-player games or in cases where two players are left at the final table of a tournament. There is no reason why you shouldn't enjoy playing poker with another player.Find out more about  heads-up poker and how you can make the most of a ‘two-handed’ game.

What is the highest hand in poker?

A royal flush is a combination of 10-J-Q-K-A (all of the same suit). A straight flush is a combination of the highest hand (including face cards) and the five highest cards of the same suit that is the king of the poker hand.

What does muck mean in poker?

The term "muck" refers to the pile of cards that a player discards during a poker game. The dealer usually "burns" the top card of the deck during the betting round to increase the muck. A muck is also when a player folds without showing his cards.

 What is the ante in poker?

An ante is a small bet placed by each player before the start of the actual round. "Ante" means "before" in Latin. In hold'em, the ante is usually replaced by the blind, which is paid by two players in each round.

What is a small blind in poker?

In each round, the player to the left of the dealer's button is the "small blind". The player with two blind bets places his bet before looking at his cards (i.e. he is "blind" to the cards he has). This is the start of the betting process. The player to the left of the small blind places a double bet, the so-called 'big blind'.

How many poker chips do you start with?

This depends on whether it is a tournament or a cash game. In tournament games, all players receive the same number of chips at the start, but may have the option to refill or rebuy at certain times. In cash games, you receive chips that directly represent the value of the chips you have paid in. However, at many tables there is a minimum and maximum buy-in amount.

Is one suit higher than another in poker?

Unlike other card games such as bridge or ninety-nine, all suits are the same when the cards are face down. For example, a high line beats a low line.

What is a wraparound straight?

A straight flush is a sequence of cards that starts high, continues with an Ace and ends low or vice versa. For example, Q-K-A-2-3 is a straight draw. When learning poker, it is important to remember that in most poker games, the order of the hands does not count as a hand. In this case, a hand would be, for example, a king with a high ace that does not even beat a pair.

However, in Omaha games, wraparound straight is important, and some versions of dark poker recognise wraparound straight as a hand.Find out more about wraparound straights.

Show Cards


Show Cards

You can now show your cards at the end of the round, even if you have folded. Simply click and select the card you wish to show at any point in the game. This feature is available on all poker tables, including Omaha, but not on SNAP.

* "Card View" is not available in web apps or instant playback clients.


Rabbit Hunt

The Hare Hunt feature allows you to see which cards would appear if you decided to play a game without folding.
Hare Hunt is available at poker tables, including Omaha, but not in SNAP.


* This feature is not shown in web apps or instant replay clients.