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Poker Fundamentals - Learn the Game

Posted 05-04-2021, 01:01 AM
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Welcome to Poker Fundamentals. This guide is written primarily for beginners who want to get into the worlds most popular card game; Poker. Poker has many variants but in this guide, I will be mainly focusing only on No-Limit Texas Hold’em Poker (NLHE). By the end of reading this guide, you will have a sound understanding of the game and how to play at an intermediate level. However you cannot play poker just by reading, If you want to play competitively and up your game, you have to practice for many months and master the fundermentals. This guide will give you a introduction to the worlds most famous sport. Good luck. 

With that in mind, let us dive into the world of poker!


Like I mentioned in the introduction, I will only be covering No-Limit Texas Hold’em in this guide. However, it is essential to have a brief idea regarding the various variants on the game.

Fixed Limit - Sometimes referred to as “Pot Limit” are the games where players are only able to bet a specific amount which is usually predetermined by the house. AS you can probably figure out, “No Limit” is where there are no betting restrictions and you are allowed to bet all of the chips you have at any given time during the game. You cannot buy more chips during a game. You may only fill up on chips after a round is complete.

Due to the no-limit betting policy, these games can become very competitive and unpredictable. Players can lose everything or win big. Nothing is certain. This is mainly the reason why this particular variant is very popular among players.


As a beginner, it is very unlikely that you will be playing any tournament games anytime soon. Due to this reason, I will not be discussing tournament games in this guide mainly as I do not want to flood you with unnecessary information. However, feel free to do your own research.

Cash Games - Simply, a “Cash Game” is a game which is played with chips that have a real cash value. Players can join or leave anytime they want making cash games endless. The majority of games you will be playing will be cash games.


Texas Hold’em is played using a standard 52 card deck and played between two to ten players. Prior to each game, a “Dealer” button is passed from player to player in clockwise.
A “Dealer” button next to a player does not mean the player is the one dealing the cards but as a form of identification marker. All card dealing is done by the actual Dealer of the casino and in online games, the cards are dealt automatically.

The position of the dealer is used to determine the players who are to pot the “Big Blind” and “Small Blind”. The two players to the left of the dealer button are to post the said blinds where the small blind is potted first. The big blind is usually twice the value of the small blind.

The “Small Blind” and “Big Blind” are compulsory bets that must be made in order to encourage further betting by other players.

After the blinds have been posted, two cards are dealt to all players face down. These “Hole” cards should then be used with an additional five “Community Cards” to form the best hand possible to win the round. “Hole Cards” are private cards and are only for the player’s eyes.

The Flop - These are the first three community cards dealt after the blinds.
The Turn - This is the fourth community card dealt.
The River - This is the fifth and final community card dealt.

The Pre-Flop - First betting round

There are four rounds of betting in a game of poker. The first round being “Pre-Flop” as it is the round of betting that takes place prior to the “Flop”. Players bet in this round according to the strength of their cards. Players with weak “Hole Cards” usually fold in the Pre Flop. The plate to the immediate left of the “Big Blind” is to act first. Due to this, his position is called “Under the Gun / UTG”. Afterwards, betting continues in a clockwise pattern.

Players have many options when it’s their time to act. (Excluding Small & Big Blind)

Fold - You no longer want to play the hand and you give your two hole cards to the dealer.
Call - This means you agree to play the hand by matching the size of the previous bet.
Raise - This means you bet more than the previous bet.

The Flop - Second betting round

Once the Pre Flop betting is complete, The first three community cards - The Flop, is dealt. Here the players analyze the best combination they can possibly make with the five cards and bet accordingly. If no one bets, a player is able to CHECK which means the turn is passed to the next player to the left.
The Turn - Third betting round

If at least two players are still remaining after the Flop, The third round of betting takes place. This round starts after the fourth card - The River is dealt. Once again, the players analyze their cards and bet/fold/check accordingly.

The Turn - Third betting round

If at least two players are still remaining after the Flop, The third round of betting takes place. This round starts after the fourth card - The River is dealt. Once again, the players analyze their cards and bet/fold/check accordingly.

The River - Fourth and Final betting round

After the betting is complete in the Turn, the fourth and final community card is dealt - The River Card. Once again players analyze the cards and act accordingly.


After the River Round is complete, all players remaining show their hands. The player with the best hand combination wins the pot. Afterwards, a new round begins.

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In order to win at poker, you need to make the best hand using the two hole cards and any of the five community cards. A poker hand must have five cards. It is possible to use only the community cards as well.

Hand Rankings

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Royal Flush
Five cards in numerical order belonging to the same suite. (Best hand)

Straight Flush
Five cards in numerical order belonging to the same suite.

Four of a kind
Four cards of the same rank with one kicker

Full House
Three cards of the same rank with two cars with matching rank.

Five cards of the same suit

Five cards in sequence

Three of a kind
Three cards of the same rank and two other cards.

Two pair
Two pairs of two cards of the same rank and a kicker

One pair
Two cards of matching rank with three other cards

High Card
Any combination that does not suit any rank mentioned above.


High Card

This is the weakest hand out of the lot. If you do not have any other hand say single pair, two pair, three of a kind, straight, flush etc. This will be your hand. In a high card hand, the card with the highest value is important. Say you have the following hand,

8♠ 9♥ 2♥ A♥ J♣

The hand above is referred to as a “High Card Ace” because it has a Ace kicker.
Ace > King > Queen and so on.

One Pair

A “One Pair” is a hand consisting of, as the name suggest a single pair of cards. They can be in different suites. Take the following hand as an example,

9♥ 9♥ A♥ J♣ 7♠

In the hand above, the player has a pair of Nines. The “Kicker” in this case would be the highest value card out of the remaining cards, which in this hand is A♥. So, the hand is referred to as a Pair with an Ace Kicker.

Two pair

A “Two Pair” is a hand with two different kinds of pairs. It is more valuable than a “One Pair” The pairs are not required to be in the same suit. Take the hand below as an example,

9♥ 9♥ A♥ J♣ J♣

In the above hand, the player has two pairs of Jacks and Nines with an Ace Kicker. In hands such as Pair and Two Pair, the ranking of the cards is important. For example, Two Pair Ace and Kings beat a Two Pair Queens and Tens.

A♥ A♥ K♥ K♣ J♣ > Q♥ Q♥ 10♥ 10♣ J♣

If in any situation, the two players have the exact same pairs, the fifth card or “Kicker” is chosen. The player with the highest kicker will win the pot. Example,

Player 1 - A♥ A♥ K♥ K♣ J♣
Player 2 - A♥ A♥ K♥ K♣ 8♣

In the above scenario, the two players have the same Two Pair hands, when this occurs, the hand is ranked according to the value of the kicker. Player 1 wins the pot since his “Kicker” is a J♣ which is higher in value compared to Player 2s “Kicker”, which is an 8♣.

Three of A Kind

A “Three of A Kind” is a hand where a player has three matching cards of similar value. Similar to One pair and Two Pair, it can be in different suits. This hand is also known as “a Set” or “Trips”. Take the following example,

The Board (Community Cards) - 8♠ 9♥ 2♥ A♥ J♣
Your “Hole Cards” - 8♠ 8♠

Your Final Hand - 8♠ 8♠ 8♠ A♥ J♣ (Three of A Kind Eights \w Ace Kicker)


A “Straight” is a hand where the player has all five cards in consecutive order. If two players have a Straight, the player with the highest card wins the pot. Example of a Straight,

9♥ 10♦ J♥ Q♦ K♥


A “Flush” is a hand where a player has five cards in the same suit. They need not be in consecutive order. If two players have a Flush, the player with the highest card wins.

A♥ 3♥ 9♥ Q♥ 9♥ (Ace high Flush)

Full House

A “Full House” is a hand where a player has “Three of A Kind” and a “One Pair” making his hand. A Full House is also called as a “Boat”. A High value “Three of A Kind” will beat a low value “Three of A Kind”. For example,

Player 1 - A♥ A♥ A♥ 10♦ 10♦
Player 2 - K♥ K♥ K♥ J♣ J♣

In the above scenario, Player 1 beats Player two because of his “Three of A Kind” beats Player 2s “Three of A Kind”.

Four of A Kind

A “Four of A Kind” is a hand where a player has four matching cards of similar value. Similar to One pair and Two Pair, it can be in different suits. If two player has “Four of A Kind” the player with the high-value cards wins the pot. Example,

J♣ J♣ J♣ J♣ 2♥

Straight Flush

A “Straight Flush” is a hand where a player has five consecutive cards in the same suit. If two players have “Straight Flush”s, The player with the highest card wins the pot.

Player 1 - 9♥ 10♥ J♥ Q♥ K♥
Player 2 - 3♣ 4♣ 5♣ 6♣ 7♣

In the above scenario, Player 1 wins the pot since he has the highest card, K♥.

Royal Flush

This is the most valuable hand in Poker. A “Royal Flush” is when a player has all five cards from Ten to Ace all in the same suit.

10♥ J♥ Q♥ K♥ A♥ (Royal Flush)


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Early Position

The players who are the “Small Blind” and the “big Blind” are the ones considered to be in early position. The two players to the left of the “Big Blind” is also considered to be in “Early Position” They are more commonly referred to as “Under the Gun 1” & “Under the Gun 2” or UTG 1 or UTG 2.

Middle Position

The players whos seats are between UTG2 and to the right of the dealer is know as the middle position. Middle Position is not the worst place, however, you will require a strong hand to keep on betting.

Late Position

Late position is the seat which is to the dealer’s immediate right. This position and the Dealer position are the best seats to play because you get to analyze the table and how other players are playing, their bets and reactions before you place your bet. Poker is a game of information. There more information you have regarding your opponent, the easier it will be to defend yourself or attack.

In concluding Position Playing, you should generally play fewer hands in the Early and Middle position and play more in the late position. However, this is not a hard rule that you must follow.

Read more about position playing:



Now comes one of the most important acts of Poker - Betting. The amount and way you bet depends on three main factors,

How strong your hand is
Your table position
Opponent behaviour

Grouping Hands

There are three groups for starting hands in Poker. Monsters, Very Strong hands and Trash hands. The strongest hands are called “Monsters” while the weakest hands are called “Trash”. Ability to assess the strength of your starting hands is a vital skill any poker player needs to learn.

Monster Hands

Big Pairs are often considered as the best starting hands in poker. The best possible starting hand you could get is a pair of Aces. Apart from this the following hands are also considered to be “Monster” hands,

K♥ K♣
Q♣ Q♣
A♣ K♥

If you get a “Monster” you should definitely play the round. Since you have a “Moster” you can play quite aggressively by betting and raising, forcing others to bet or fold while making the “Pot” larger which is the main objective of poker. Try to win as many chips from your opponents.

Very Strong Hands

These hands are not as strong as “monsters” however, they too can be used to play aggressively. Examples for Very Strong Hands,

10♥ 10♣
J♣ J♥
A♥ J♣
A♥ Q♣

Apart from the above, any pairs below Ten should also be played but with caution. Although they are pairs, they are not as strong as “Monsters” so you should always play with caution.

Trash Hands

All other hands are considered “Trash” and must not be played. Once again, this is not a rule, but as a beginner since bluffing takes some practice and understanding, you should never play with trash hands.

2♥ 7♣ (Trash Hand - Not a pair, the gap between the value is more than 3. Meaning, forming a straight is highly unlikely.)

Read more about Starting Hands



Read more about Calculating Outs



A proper bankroll manager is an extremely important skill that every poker player must learn. Bankroll is the amount of money you reverse exclusively for Poker. This is NOT your entire life savings. In a case where you lose all the money in your bankroll, you should be able to continue with your life without it having any financial impact on you. If it does, it means your bankroll is too much.


Read more about Bankroll Management




To wrap things up, I hope you found this thread helpful and it gave you a basic idea about the art of poker and how to play the world's most popular card game.