The Greatest Gambling Game Guide to Poker
The Three Big Poker Variants
Poker is the end-all be-all table game at both land-based and online casinos. By far the most popular gambling-centric card game, poker is usually the first thing that comes to mind when people hear the word “gambling”. With hundreds of variants, it’s difficult to centralize a single set of rules that covers everything involved in the poker playing rulebook. Generally, most poker variants fall into three buckets: draw poker, stud poker, and community card poker. Let’s dive further into each one:
The Draw Poker Variant
Draw poker consists of players being dealt a complete hand of five cards, which are hidden from other players and the dealer. After receiving the hand, players attempt to improve on it by replacing their current hand with replacement cards. The most commonly-played variant of draw poker is five-card draw. Sub variants of five-card draw are:
- Five card draw “dogbutt” poker
- Five card draw anaconda poker
- Five card draw Louisiana low-flop poker
- Five card draw Jacks or better poker
- Five card draw monkey love poker
- Five card draw double draw poker
- Five card draw Don Juan poker
The Stud Poker Variant
Stud poker consists of games in which each player at the table get a combination of both face-up cards and face-down cards, spread across multiple rounds of betting. The two most common variants of stud poker are five card stud and seven card stud. These two variants each have several sub-variants that are frequently found, varying based on location and casino type (land based or online). Variants of five card stud include:
- Five card stud soku poker
- Five card stud balls poker
- Five card stud Indian style poker
- Five card stud Satan poker
- Five card stud best flush poker
- Five card stud “studded guts” poker
Variants of seven card stud are much more widely found, and include:
- Seven card stud no limits poker
- Seven card stud pot limits poker
- Seven card stud limits poker
- Seven card stud high-low version poker
- Seven card stud baseball style poker
- Seven card stud “follow the queen” poker
- Seven card stud San Francisco style poker
- Seven card stud razz poker
- Seven card stud Wall Street poker
- Seven card stud English stud poker
- Seven card stud sequence poker
- Seven card stud six kick poker
- Seven card stud “have a heart” poker
The Community Card Poker Variant
Community card poker consists of any poker came in which each of the player’s incomplete hidden hand is combined with face-up cards at the center of the table, shared amongst all players. The most common variants of this are Texas Hold ‘em and Omaha Hold ‘em. Other variants of community card poker include Greek Hold ‘em and Six-Plus Hold ‘em.
For the interest of continuity, this guide is going to put the focus on the most popular of the poker variants: No Limits Texas Hold ‘em. Many of the rules of this game apply to the other variants.
Why No Limits Texas Hold ‘em?
If a player is planning to learn one card game for tables at casinos, many would recommend it be No Limits Texas Hold ‘em. It is one of the simplest poker-based games to play, but can be one of the mist difficult to master. It is easily the most popular variant of poker on earth, and can be played by anyone from complete beginners to cards, to professionals making their living from gambling for their entire adult lives.
Texas Hold ‘em is a strangely unique combination of psychology, strategy, number crunching, and complete random chance, the blend of which is unmatched by any other game at the casino. No Limits Texas Hold ‘em is regularly played by everyone from billionaires to blue-collar workers to celebrities.
What is No Limits Texas Hold ‘em?
Sometimes referred to as No Limit Hold ‘em or Texas Hold ‘em to shorten, No Limits Texas Hold ‘em is a variant of poker where the player receives only two cards. Players utilize their two cards (or sometimes just one card) in combination with a group of shared community cards to create the strongest five-card poker hand.
Each game of No Limits Texas Hold ‘em has four rounds of betting. Any player can put all their chips in the betting area (all in!) at any time. This is the true draw of No Limits Texas Hold ‘em. You can be one hand from doubling or tripling your bankroll and winnings. But you can also be one hand from losing everything.
If you plan to focus on learning proper play for one poker variant, a large percentage of players would steer you directly to No Limits Texas Hold ‘em. While there are plenty of other variants of poker, as explained above, in terms of popularity and simplicity, No Limits Texas Hold ‘em is the clear winner. You’d be hard pressed to find a casino that did not feature No Limits Texas Hold ‘em in their repertoire of table games.
Getting Going with No Limits Texas Hold ‘em Poker: Hand Rankings
Before jumping straight into the rules of No Limits Texas Hold ‘em poker, it’s important for players to understand the basic rankings of poker hands. These poker hands are widely used amongst all variants and types of poker, and should not be anything completely new. In order of strength, they are:
- The royal flush, which is all cards being the same suit, aligned as an ace, king, queen, jack, and ten.
- The straight flush, which is any sequence of cards that are the same suit, for example the six, seven, eight, nine, and ten of clubs.
- The four of a kind, which is four cards that are the same face value, for example a three, three, three, three.
- The full house, which represents a combination of three cards of the same face value and a pair, meaning only two card types in the full hand. An ace, ace, ace, four, four is a full house.
- The flush, in which all five cards are the same suit. A four, eight, six, king, and ace of diamonds is a flush.
- The straight, which is a basic sequence of five cards, such as two, three, four, five, and six, regardless of suit.
- Three of a kind, which is three cards that have the same value, regardless of the value of the other cards. A seven, seven, seven is a three of a kind.
- The two pair, which is comprised of any two pairs, regardless of suit or value. An ace-ace, with a two-two in the same hand is a two pair with aces and twos.
- The pair, which is a single pair of any card value, regardless of suit. If you have two sixes in your hand, you’ve got a pair.
- High card. If you’ve got absolutely nothing, your best hand option is the highest value card out of the five in your hand and the two on the table.
It’s important to memorize the rankings of the above ten hands. It’s also important to note these three common misconceptions regarding poker hands:
- A straight beats a flush. This is incorrect. Flush beats straight, and an easy way to remember this is that all one suit beats a sequence of numbers.
- A two pair beats a three of a kind. This is also incorrect. In poker, a player would benefit much more having three aces than having two aces and two queens.
- Strength of the cards is irrelevant. This is also incorrect. An ace-high flush is going to beat a queen-high flush every time. Strength of cards is important in breaking ties between hand combinations.
Getting Going with No Limits Texas Hold ‘em Poker: Basic Rules
No Limits Texas Hold ‘em Poker is a typical gambling-based card game utilizing a standard fifty-two card deck of playing cards. This is the case even when played online. A single deck of cards is vital to ensure accuracy of hands, and that nobody gets outlandish results like a seven of a kind. No Limits Texas Hold ‘em Poker has elements of skill and elements of luck ingrained in the playing process.
No Limits Texas Hold ‘em Poker can be played by anywhere between two and ten players at one large table. With enough tables and playing space, hundreds of players can play simultaneously in poker tournaments.
Basic Game Process for No Limits Texas Hold ‘em
The game begins with the dealer dealing each player two cards face down, starting with the player on their left, and ending with themselves. The player on the dealer’s left is the first player to act after everyone has looked at their cards. This first player has the option to bet any amount they would like, or check and do nothing.
If any player at the table decides to bet, the rest of the players have three options. They can call, which is to put the amount of the raise into the pot at the center of the table. They can fold, which means forfeiting the hand and all chips currently committed to the pot. Or they can raise, which is putting more chips into the pot than you would when calling. Raising means everyone else must match the bet.
This process continues until all players have called, or all chips are in the middle. From this, the dealer places three cards face-up on the playing surface. These are community cards that are used by all players. The first three cards are referred to as the flop.
Once again, everybody still in play has a chance to call, fold, or raise. The dealer then puts a fourth card on the table. This is also a community card, and is referred to as the turn. Yet again, everyone has the chance to bet, check, raise or fold. Then, the dealer places a fifth card on the playing table that can be used by anyone. This fifth card is referred to as the river. For one final time, all players have the opportunity to bet, check, raise, or fold.
How does the Big Blind and Small Blind play into No Limits Texas Hold ‘em Poker?
Players have likely heard these terms before, and were under the impression that they were an integral piece of the No Limits Texas Hold ‘em Poker process. This is true; however, the process is not as complicated as one would think.
The big blind and small blind are relatively small bets that the first two players directly to the left of the dealer are required to put into the pot. These values are put into the pot before the players can look at their cards, hence the term “blind”.
This can be thought of as an ante. No Limits Texas Hold ‘em Poker features blinds to increase action in hands that may otherwise result in everyone folding. If the blinds weren’t in place, players could just fold every hand without any consequences, which would be very problematic and extremely unexciting.
How does bluffing play into No Limits Texas Hold ‘em Poker?
Bluffing is a vital piece of poker. As a beginner, players don’t want to delve too far into that though, unless they feel truly confident they can pull it off. Why is this the case? Players are still learning how to determine hand strength when they start out. This might lead to bluffing when they don’t need to, or not bluffing when they do. This leads to hands lost and bankrolls dwindled.
There are many other poker related strategies that should be learned before the concept of bluffing. With that being said, if players wish to start the concept of bluffing, it is suggested to perform semi-bluffs. For example, the player doesn’t push in massive stacks of chips with a two and a six that are different suits, but instead bets large on hands that have the potential of winning rounds, like a small pair or a nine-ten of the same suit.
Poker Strategy: Tips for Beginners, Intermediate, and Advanced
It’s one thing to understand the basic rules and concepts of poker. It’s a completely different animal to put those rules and concepts into action and determine proper strategic efforts to grow your bankroll and end up in the green when you walk away from the table or computer.
Below are some tips that should provide No Limits Texas Hold ‘em Poker players an edge over those who are clueless when it comes to strategies. There are three levels of strategy covered below: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. All tips and tricks are simple enough for beginner players to understand.
No Limits Texas Hold ‘em Poker Tips for Beginner Players
The number one tip that can be recommended to beginner players of No Limits Texas Hold ‘em Poker is that they should only be playing roughly twenty percent of the hands at a standard nine-hand table. Typically, players just starting out should only be playing the good hands they receive.
But what is considered a “good hand” in a round of No Limits Texas Hold ‘em Poker? Generally, the best hands to start playing are nine-nine, ten-ten, jack-jack, queen-queen, king-king, ace-ace, ace-jack, ace-queen, and ace-king. Basically, any pairs from nine up to ace, and then aces paired with any face card. This idea can be loosened up slightly when there are less than the standard eight other opponents at the playing table.
Avoid Consistent Calling
The call is one of the most utilized plays for beginner players to the world of No Limits Texas Hold ‘em Poker. It is simple to understand why this is the case. New players are not sure what the power of the hand they have is.
Beginning players to No Limits Texas Hold ‘em Poker would rather call a play than to bet, as they don’t want to risk more on something that might not be as strong of a playing hand as they would have thought originally.
The thing about betting in No Limits Texas Hold ‘em Poker is this: betting/raising is a far stronger position than calling! Why is this? Players can win the entire pot without even showing their cards by betting. The same cannot be done through calling alone. The facts are that simple to see.
Additionally, experienced poker players and well-taught No Limits Texas Hold ‘em players will take newer players for a ride. Once an experienced player finds themselves a good hand, they will bet a moderate, unobtrusive amount of money on every turn around the table, as the beginner player calls on every bet and loses their bankrolls.
For the above reasons, it is worth it for new players to put in a bet, or re-raise, even if they do not feel completely comfortable doing so.
It’s Okay to Lose a Hand
No Limits Texas Hold ‘em Poker has this incredible way of making the most experienced, professional players look like complete amateurs. That is just the nature of the game! There are going to be times where beginner players are caught with the absolute worst hands imaginable. Players will lose large pots and misplay hands.
There are times when learning that these mistakes seem constant. Fear not! Continue playing and working on brushing up on strategies and hand rankings, how to play and how not to play, when to call and when to raise. While a simple concept, No Limits Texas Hold ‘em Poker is in no way an easy to master game.
No Limits Texas Hold ‘em Poker for Intermediate Players
The Value of Sets and Straights
Without having the contextual knowledge of a hand, there is no way for a No Limits Texas Hold ‘em Poker player to arbitrarily determine which hand is going to win and which hand is going to lose. However, there are hands that tend to result in wins more often than others.
Let’s assume that Player One has pocket fives (two fives as the cards in hand). The flop that comes about is an ace, an eight, and a five. This flop is ideal for Player One, as their hand strength is for the most part hidden. Other players are going to have a difficult time determining that you have that hand, and they may even be holding an ace, thinking they have the hand in the bag.
The same argument can be said for straights and full houses. These hands are the elusive silent killers in No Limits Texas Hold ‘em. Conversely, there are hands that are incredibly difficult to conceal properly. If you have something called “trip sixes”, which is one six in your hidden hand, and two sixes in the community cards, it should be expected that at least one player is going to have the three of a kind.
The same goes for flushes. These can be simple for even beginners to clearly identify. However, players might be able to catch other players betting and raising high when they have a low flush, which is great for reeling them in with larger bets. No Limits Texas Hold ‘em is a numbers game.
The Unexpected Importance of Positioning in No Limits Texas Hold ‘em
Position is one of the most important aspects in No Limits Texas Hold ‘em poker. But what is “position”? In poker, the position is the order in which the players bet, check and fold. After the flop (first three community cards) is placed, the order begins with the player to the left of the dealer.
Typically, it is always best to go last, as players get to see what everyone else before them are doing and betting. Here are four huge reasons to play in position:
- When it is your turn to act on a bet, you have a stronger set of information than your opponents.
- The positioning of your seat gives you something called “bluff equity”. These are incredibly simple and effective bluffing opportunities in comparison to other players.
- Being the last one to act means that you will place far more accurate bets, as you’ll have more information to work off.
- Having the final say in a round of No Limits Texas Hold ‘em gives you control over the final size of the pot.
What this means for the player is that they might want to make a few more bets when the dealer button is in front of them, as everyone else must place their bets before they do. In these cases, it is advantageous to be in the dealing position.
Growing Attached to “Good” Hands is a Killer
Pocket kings and pocket queens are incredibly strong hands to play. However, the fact stands that an ace in the flop can spell out failure if you are holding two kings or two queens. While an ace in the initial community cards does not necessarily spell out trouble for twin face cards in the hand, it should bring about caution for players.
Furthermore, if the board has a good number of cards of the same suit (flush cards) or straight cards, players should be wary regardless of what their pocket hand holds.
Ace-Queen: Be Careful, Be Cautious, Be Smart
You know how we said that sets and straights are fantastic, as their value is concealed from most players? Ace-queen is the complete opposite, in that it looks great in the pocket, but tends to be a massive loser in an inexperienced players’ hands.
Ace-queen is singlehandedly the biggest trouble hand in No Limits Texas Hold ‘em poker (with pocket jacks as a close second). Why is ace-queen such a bad hand? It tends to happen that, in massive-sized pots, ace-queen is statistically a losing pocket hand. Ace-queen is dominated by ace-king when an ace lands on the flop, and can also fall prey to two-pair type hands quite easily. Pocket jacks are also a troubling hand, but they have much more value if you manage to get a flop with no over-cards (aces, kings or queens, or cards that are higher than the card in question).
No Limits Texas Hold ‘em Poker for Advanced Players
Make Sure to “Play the Player”
Once a player has the fundamentals of beginner and intermediate level strategy of No Limits Texas Hold ‘em poker, it’s a solid idea to begin paying closer attention to their opponents.
Players might be surprised to learn that a large percentage of No Limits Texas Hold ‘em poker reads do not come from subtle physical tells, like scratching at the nose, fidgeting with the cards, or playing nervously with chips. Instead, these reads come more often from examining patterns in player actions.
If a player is betting constantly, the chances are high that they are playing some subpar cards in the pocket. Similarly, if a player is folding on a regular basis, it is easy to assume that they are only playing when they have relatively strong hands.
This is a simplified concept, but the basis behind reading other players is a vital piece of advanced No Limits Texas Hold ‘em poker strategy.
Familiarize Yourself with Basic Poker Odds
No Limits Texas Hold ‘em poker heavily involves mathematics, probabilities, and percentages. However, there is no need for a player to be a numbers genius to improve their gameplay or strategies.
Understandings of basic odds behind hitting certain hands is incredibly beneficial for all players, regardless of play level, skill level, and experience in No Limits Texas Hold ‘em poker. For example, the odds of getting pocket aces (an ace and an ace in the initial hand of two cards received) is 221 to one. This means that, statistically, in any given hand, a player will only get pocket aces on average every 221 hands.
- The odds of being dealt a pair is 17 to one, or 5.9 percent.
- The odds of being dealt a pair of aces, however, is 221 to one, or 0.45 percent.
- The odds of being dealt a suited ace-king combination is 331 to one, or 0.3 percent.
- The odds of flopping a set with a pocket pair in hand is 8.5 to one, or 11.76 percent.
- The odds of flopping a two-pair without having a pair in the pocket cards is 48 to one, or 2.02 percent.
- The odds of having the river card make a flush (flopped four cards of one suit) is 1.9 to one, or 35 percent.
- The odds of creating an open-ended straight by the river card is 2.2 to one, or 32 percent.
- The odds of having a full house by the river card (a flopped three of a kind) is two to one, or 22 percent.
No Limits Texas Hold ‘em poker: Gathering Speed
Players by this point should have a solid understanding of how hand rankings work, as well as the basic gameplay and strategies behind No Limits Texas Hold ‘em poker. The next step of this would be to start actually playing some hands, whether online or land-based.
There is no faster way to get up to speed with how things go, and up to speed with the general concept of making quick decisions correctly than to dive in. Play a bunch of hands of No Limits Texas Hold ‘em poker in a low stress environment. This is where online poker comes into play, even posting the blinds for you, so there is one less potential issue/hangup to consider.
Sure, you could sit around waiting for all your friend to show up for a home game, but that might take some time, and there is a strong chance that the rate of play would be incredibly slow over the chatter and banter. Sure, you could head to your nearest casino and sit down at a table and actually dive into No Limits Texas Hold ‘em poker. But guess what? The pace and stress level at the big boy tables are ridiculous, and you’ll quickly eat through your bankroll without some experience under your belt.
Instead, a stellar option is to grab a free poker play application online. Most of the major player poker sites on the Internet have play money versions of their incredible software. The idea is to just play a bunch of hands and get comfortable with the flow of the game. You may get confused by a few things at first but the apps never make mistakes so you know the pot is going to the right player.
Once you’re comfortable you’ll probably want to retire the play-money app because people play very differently when they aren’t playing for money.
Online Poker Versus Land Based Poker: Which to Choose?
Some players would argue that nothing in the world compares to the atmosphere of sitting around a poker table, feeling the tension rise with each deal of the cards and each bet added to the pot. However, that tension can also be detrimental to the poker game. This can lead to terrible decision making on the player’s end. If players truly want to play their best, that means using your head and making intelligent decisions. In this case, the best option is to play poker online.
The World Trending to Online Poker
Of course, games of poker are still being played religiously at land-based casinos. Sometimes it’s almost impossible to find a placement at a table, depending on the casino itself and time of day! However, there is a definite trend nowadays towards playing poker online. There are quite a few advantages to playing poker at online casinos. One of the strongest advantages is that you can play a far more relaxed (and thusly a more calculated and stronger) game of poker, especially No Limits Texas Hold ‘em poker.
Another advantage is that when you play poker online from the comfort of your own home, you are better able to concentrate on your poker game. Concentration is very important when playing poker, but it can be very distracting if you are surrounded by hustle and bustle and people looking over your shoulder, pointing and making comments the whole time. This is what often occurs in land-based poker casinos, but it can’t and won’t happen when you play poker at an online casino.
Play Practice Poker Games, or Poker for Money
If you’re looking to try out a new variant of poker that you’ve never played before, online casinos offer the player’s options to play practice games for free. Practice games can be played without betting real money. This way a player can learn all the rules of the poker variants, and practice their poker strategy without risking anything. Once the players feel confident of their game and poker strategy, they can begin playing poker for real money. Online poker games have minimum bets as low as fifty cents to a dollar, making online poker accessible to everybody, although players can of course bet higher if they’d prefer.
The Abundance of Online Poker Variants
There exists so many variants of poker, and not every one of them is going to be available at land-based casinos. Or they won’t run all variants at the same time, even if they did offer most of the variants. With online casinos, players can play whichever online poker game they wish, whenever they wish. Since the internet is endless, there is always space for one more person at the online poker table.
Online casinos consistently offer special introductory promotions, gifts, and welcome bonuses. The most you might receive from a land-based casino is a free drink or an extra roll of the dice in craps. These special promotions and incentives can be strongly beneficial and represent a large advantage to playing at an online casino. These online poker sites often have terms and conditions, so it’s important to read all the fine print before committing. Regardless, it is worth taking advantage of what these online casinos offer to keep their customer base heavy and strong.
Players Can Win Progressive Jackpots at Online Poker Casinos
Progressive poker games are online poker variants where there is no maximum available payout. The jackpot available for a royal flush (the strongest possible hand in almost all variants of poker) continues to grow until it is won by a player. It works like the lottery. Once won, the progressive jackpot reverts to the original starting point and starts growing again.
Progressive player jackpots offer reach sums of sometimes over one hundred thousand dollars. Don’t even think that you’re going to rake in a hundred grand at land-based casinos. You’re not going to win that amount without having bet at least that much in the first place. Land-based casinos have nothing to gain from adding a random massive sum of money to the pot. Progressive poker is only found at online casinos, and that’s another great reason to play poker online.
Of course, players can still win at many poker variants without hitting the royal flush progressive jackpot. All regularly winning poker hands (flushes, straights, pairs, even high card) have great payouts in online poker games. Regardless, in terms of house edge, the royal flush progressive jackpot games are the strongest way to win at online poker. Does this mean that it’s the only profitable way? Absolutely not.
Concluding the Greatest Gambling Game Guide: Poker
Poker is a high stakes, high impact game. There are strategies to gain an advantage over those not using them, but in the end, the house is meant to always win. Regardless, workarounds exist to attempt to put the odds in the favor of the player for standard poker games.
In this guide, we touched upon some high-level rules to poker, including the three largest poker variants (draw, stud, and community card). We dove incredibly in-depth into No Limits Texas Hold ‘em poker, explaining the processes and strategies inherent in proper gameplay.
We compared online poker to land based poker, including the pros and cons of each, and what we suggest for getting accustomed to the game. We also went through some of the most frequently asked questions regarding poker play both through online casinos and land-based casinos.
Poker is a beast of a table game. Regardless, we are highly confident that if you’ve read this full guide, you have a strong amount of information to get started in the wild world of poker. Whether real world, live online, or simple online poker gameplay, you have the tactics and tricks to come out the other side with some winnings. Happy gaming!